Wednesday, April 01, 2009


Hercules: New Labors

The Incredible Hercules is the best book coming out from Marvel right now, which surprises me to no end. Hercules? Really? How is he even enough of a character to headline his own Marvel book? Yet it's really good, and it makes me sad that the sales on that title drop so much every month.

But I haven't read it in the last few months (and should probably pick up the newest collection), so instead I'm reviewing a collection of a miniseries about Hercules from a few years ago that I got out of the library. I picked it up with trepidation, as it is written by Frank Tieri, who's not exactly well known for writing super awesome comics.

And, well, this book pretty much makes my fears true. It's not terrible or anything, I mean, Hercules himself is written pretty much in character for the Marvel universe, as a sort of drunk buffoon who likes to fight, but still has a sense of decency. The scene where he crashes Thor's funeral and is like "What the fuck are you doing? This is not the type of funeral fit for a god!" was pretty accurate (and it wasn't a good funderal! Thor needs burning ships and stuff at a minimum).

The actual new labours are done fairly well too. The comic tries to update the old labours by having Hercules fight like, the Mole Man and Dr. Doom and stuff, and while some of the updated versions are just stupid, as a plot idea it works pretty well.

The problem is that the entire miniseries is trapped in ridiculous reality TV show trappings. In 2009 that is an incredibly tired and worn out cliche. In 2004 (when I guess this miniseries was commissioned) I think it was also a tired and worn out cliche. But whatever. So Hercules is on this reality TV show, and we get lots of terrible scenes where he's interacting with the people making it (which is a host, a camera man executive or something? I remember there being three of them), and they interact with other people. These characters are written as completely depraved idiots with no redeeming characteristics whatsoever, and really make me wonder if Tieri has personal problems with TV people. Did they not hire him to write scripts or something? He seems pretty bitter.

Ultimately, there's a good Hercules story in here struggling to get out of a terrible reality TV show idea. Unfortunately, it doesn't quite make it. Thankfully, we do have an awesome Hercules comic coming out right now. Hurray!

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