Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Written by Greg Pak & Fred Van Lente
Art by Rodney Buchemi
Holy crap, this issue surprised me on every level. With my general disinterest in Amadeus Cho's storyline, I honestly was not expecting it to be this good. I believe credit goes to the entire Incredible Hercules team. Pak and Van Lente managed to tell a story where half of the issue was basically a table top, Dungeons & Dragons-like game between Cho and Pythagoras Dupree while Buchemi provided some expressive and pretty to look at artwork. The combined package was just too good for words, but this is a review and I'll do my best to describe it for you.
For starters, the recap page consisted of a 'choose your adventure' description of events and will most definitely be showing up in the Moments of the Week. Combined with Hercules's hilarious recaps, which consist of him bashing Thor, I find myself constantly anticipating the recap page for Incredible Hercules more than I do some issues of other comics and that's only the goddamn recap page! I'm sure you can imagine how much you are missing out on by not reading Incredible Hercules.
From here, the story immediately jumps into Cho as a super spy infiltrating the evil Japanzi's castle. Two pages in and he's dead, impaled on one of the spires of the castle after his parachute flails in the wind. It's here that we find out this is all a Dungeons & Dragons game and that Cho, now a child, failed his parachuting roll and his young friend, the mysterious Pythagoras Dupree he was searching for last issue, rolled a critical on his impaling damage. If this table top talk is making your eyes glaze over, know that I have no actual experience with table top games and absolutely loved this. It doesn't get hung up on the conventions of that niche and only a cursorary knowledge of it, most of which is explained or obvious from reading this issue, is required.
The table top adventure concludes when Cho meets up with Doctor Japanazi, a man with not one, but two evil (yes, he explicitly tells us the brains are evil) axis brains. I could not make up a villain this good if I tried. This is why Dupree is the sixth smartest man on the planet and I merely write comic book reviews. Sadly, we don't see much of Japanazi since, well, Cho drops dead due to an odorless gas he failed to check for earlier in the game finally does him in.
From there, things go from hilarious to insane, in the "I think he likes it" kind of way, as the floating "Boltzmann Brains" show up, there's talk of hypercomputers and various SCIENCE! mumbo jumbo from Cho. Turns out the "flashback" to Cho's and Dupree's childhood and the actual boardgame they were playing are just a facet of some kind of mental defense Dupree set up and Cho's brain is a hypercomputer itself, allowing him to manipulate both realities. Once he finally realized this, he wasn't "dead" in the game and could dispel the quantum realities, effectively reverting the town to its natural state (aka a big hole in the ground). It's not complete mumbo jumbo and is based on some actual physics, but, clearly, it's also comic book physics at work and makes enough sense to sound plausible in the Marvel Universe.
What this leaves is the mystery of who this Sexton girl is and what Dupree has been hiding from in the lone shack at the bottom of the crater. Dupree will have to wait til next issue, but Sexton was revealed to be Athena in disguise. I'm not sure if they were implying she destroyed the town or that she was the one after Dupree, but it's clear she was and has always been testing Cho to be her new champion ever since she entered the book and this was the logical progression for her. Curious to see where this leads next time.
Verdict - Must Read. This was just too unique and too much fun not to give a Must Read verdict. It works as a single issue and as something for longtime readers, so don't be afraid to just jump right in on this issue. Crazy fun that you can only see in comic books.