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Trial by Casino

June 3, 2009

     The newest issue of Incredible Hercules gives another take on the concept of death and the afterlife, with a twist to accommodate that ever so annoying phenomenon known as comic book death.  While in Hades, Hercules and Amadeus Cho, along with their guide, the recently killed Aegis, see the Wasp (Janet van Dyne, of course), Goliath (Bill Foster), Banshee, Jack of Hearts, Namorita, Puck, and even U-Go Girl of X-Statix fame.  There were a few characters I didn’t recognize, but it was nonetheless an interesting group of people.  After a lot of trouble with gambling, Charon, and Cerberus, Hercules, Cho, and Aegis arrive in Pluto’s realm to find a jury of twelve villains ready to try Zeus for his crimes.  These twelve villains include the Scourge of the Underworld, Baron Heinrich Zemo, the Abomination, Jack O’Lantern, the Iron Monger, Queen Veranke, Artume, Kyknos, and Nessus, the latter three all of Incredible Hercules fame, and three others who I believe to be Orka, Commander Kraken, and the Armless Tiger Man of Timely Comics fame.  What a cast.

     This whole Olympus Group arc is great.  Hera, Hebe, Pluto, and all the other characters really utilize Hercules’ rich mythological history to its fullest while keeping the story situated in the modern Marvel Universe.  The tie-in with Dark Reign was a tiny bit of a stretch, but it’s a stretch that basically every single Marvel series has had to make in the last few months.  I still love the way that Greg Pak and Fred van Lente write this book, and I love the dialogue.  The Netflix crack was a bit much, but aside from that, every page is just so much fun.  I’m excited that Jack of Hearts might be coming back, since he was a character I really liked.  Yet at the same time, I’m wary of comic book deaths.  They’re utilized far too much.  Ryan Stegman is the first artist that’s been on this series that I would actually say doesn’t fit.  He’s not as good an artist as any of the previous ones, especially with his faces.  Charon’s nose hole occasionally looked funky, and both Cho and Hercules’ face often looked… Well, I don’t know how to describe it as anything but not right.  Still, this series is good Greek fun for all, and I’m glad that it’s able to use obligatory event tie-ins to tell its own story.

Plot: 8.8      Art: 7.8      Dialogue: 8.6      Overall: 8.6

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