|HERC #1 cover by John Romita Jr.|
WARNING: SPOILERS FOR CHAOS WAR #5 AHEAD
By Ben Morse
The Chaos King’s bid to destroy all reality has failed. For the full story, read CHAOS WAR #5—on sale now—but know this: victory did not come without a price. Hercules sacrificed not only his new All-Father abilities, but also his traditional powers, to set the universe right and heal the upheaval.
So having saved all existence and ceded his Prince of Power title as well as his fabled mace to protégé Amadeus Cho, will the Olympian Avenger be retiring to a life of even more leisure?
If you answer in the affirmative, you obviously don’t know Hercules; but beginning this April, you’ll have the opportunity to get to know HERC, a brand new ongoing series from writers Greg Pak and Fred Van Lente, along with artist Neil Edwards. As one chapter closes, a new epic begins with our hero settling not among the gods on Olympus, but in Brooklyn, where he will continue battling the forces of evil on a whole new level.
“The new book is a genuine clean start, a great chance for new readers who like the idea of a seven foot tall god-turned-man raising Hades in Brooklyn to jump right on board without knowing Chaos War from cannoli,” says Pak. “Got friends who haven’t read comics in ages? Start them right here!”
For over two years now, beginning with INCREDIBLE HERCULES in 2008, Pak and Van Lente have chronicled the adventures of Herc and Amadeus, with CHAOS WAR representing a major culmination of the journey.
|HERC sketches by Neil Edwards|
“I’ve got a novelist’s brain, so I like it when things end,” notes Van Lente. “I want to see big explosions, bodies heaped up on the stage, and the characters moving on with their lives. That’s definitely something that [happened] in CHAOS WAR.”
“It’s a near miracle that we were able to run so long and so far with a crazy book like this, so I’m thrilled we were able to finish out the story as we hoped,” reflects Pak. “Many thanks, as always, to the readers and retailers who gave the book so much love.”
Herc will make his first post-CHAOS WAR appearances in issues #621 and #622 of INCREDIBLE HULKS before hitting the streets in his own book.
“HERC opens with our hero depowered but wielding the most powerful weapons of Olympus and arriving to Brooklyn for a gritty battle with the worshippers of Ares, the Warhawks,” Van Lente says. “I know comics creators say some variation of this six times before breakfast, but, seriously, this is Hercules as you’ve never seen him before.”
Ares, the recently-deceased God of War and Hercules’ own half-brother, returned to the land of the dead at the conclusion of CHAOS WAR, but will nonetheless remain a presence in HERC through the Warhawks—and perhaps more directly, if his disciples get their wish.
“The last time Ares and Herc had it out, they were hitting each other with exploding missiles atop a burning Helicarrier; it will be interesting to see how the fact that Herc’s gone mortal affects their relationship and the nature of their roughhousing,” Pak teases.
|HERC sketches by Neil Edwards|
“The Warhawks are a mysterious band who promotes ‘War of All Versus War,’ a kind of perpetual anarchy that appeals to a surprising number of people across all walks of life during our rather troubled and uncertain current moment,” divulges Van Lente. “Herc is after them because they seem to be fostering a lot of fear in the community that he needs to stop. You know. A lot of fear. Itself.”
While the Warhawks will present a persistent threat, they won’t be Herc’s only adversaries, as the new Hobgoblin from the pages of AMAZING SPIDER-MAN makes a trip to Brooklyn, and not as the welcome wagon.
“In essence, Herc spends six hours in Brooklyn and manages to piss off The Kingpin, Hobby’s boss,” Van Lente reveals. “[He] will also be facing one of his greatest enemies from his mythological past—and that guy is still godly.”
“There’s a tease about just who that enemy might be in a book from Fred or me in the upcoming months,” adds Pak. “We’re not saying which book—guess you just have to buy ‘em all!”
Along with fresh enemies, thankfully for Hercules, there will also be friends and allies aiding him in his endeavors.
“Let’s just say we’re treating the Olympians much different in this series than in the past,” hints Van Lente. “Herc [also] has new worshippers, and their prayers are what bring him to Brooklyn. He also has a new boss and new love interest—er, interests. He’s the same brash, boozing skirt-chasing warrior we’ve come to know and love, but without the god stuff backing him up. He has to make his own way in the world now. He’s got to rely a lot more on his cunning. He can’t just punch his way through problems—though he still tries.”
|HERC #2 cover by Carlo Pagulayan|
But while Herc will greet these new faces, he bids farewell at least temporarily to his best buddy.
“Amadeus Cho fans should add INCREDIBLE HULKS to their pull lists starting with issue #626 in April,” says Pak of where the freshly minted Prince of Power will land next.
“To me, there’s something unsatisfying and a little dishonest about having a series about a mentor/student where the student never graduates and moves on with his life,” expresses Van Lente. “It’s an amicable parting, but Amadeus is off doing his own thing and we’re concentrating solely on Herc now.”
Joining the creative team will be Neil Edwards, no stranger to depicting deities in action with his work on WARRIORS THREE. Van Lente feels the artist brings an important piece of the puzzle to HERC:
“He’s a great choice to bring the, for lack of a better word, realistic world of HERC to life. People who dug his [recent work] are gonna see him kicking it up to a whole new level.”
For those who have thrilled to Hercules’ journey over the past several years, HERC promises to be a dynamic continuation of the immensely enjoyable ride, while those new to the game will be able to jump in and join the fun you’ve heard so much about.
“This is a sequel to INCREDIBLE HERCULES, using many of the same characters and taking them in a whole new direction,” says Van Lente. “We’ll start layering old characters in—including, yes, one Mr. Cho—but we’re going to let this storyline stand on its own two feet first, so new readers can be inoculated with the awesomeness that is HERC.”
CHAOS WAR #5 is on sale now and HERC #1 heads your way this April!