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By Jim Beard
In INCREDIBLE HERCULES #129, available May 27, fearless fashioners of fiction Fred Van Lente and Greg Pak brave the depths of Hades itself—but fear not for these mortals, True Believers
! For at their side strides the immortal Hercules and his faithful companion Amadeus Cho, but on a perilous quest indeed!
"Athena reveals her latest mission to Herc and Cho: venture into the dark realm of Pluto, Lord of the Dead, and bring back Herc's slain father, Zeus, king of Olympus," explains Van Lente. "In the process, they run into a Who's Who of Marvel's Most Deceased, some of whom prove to be trusted allies, but others want to make sure our heroes join them all permanent-like in the Underworld."
To some, the thought of Hercules crossing the street for his daddy dear might seem improbable, let alone braving the legendary Land of the Dead for him. The closest of family these two just ain't, but there's another factor involved: Zeus' wife, the hellacious Hera.
"Athena wants to use [Zeus] as leverage against Hera, but Hercules knows he's had a difficult relationship with his father, and isn't necessarily incredibly thrilled to see him again," Van Lente says. "The relationship between Herc and Zeus isn't something we've had a chance to explore yet in INCREDIBLE HERCULES, for the obvious reason of Zeus being dead, but now that we're venturing into the Underworld—well, let's just say it's the major throughline of this arc."
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As Van Lente revealed, some of Marvel's dearly deceased rear their moldering heads in the pages of INCREDIBLE HERCULES #129, which may stir a bit of controversy among readers on the popular subject of late characters and their seeming inability to rest in peace.
"One of the things that makes them controversial is the fact they keep coming back from the dead over and over," muses Van Lente. "And one of the fun things about this issue is that Amadeus figures out why, and it has a lot to do with how the realm of the dead actually works now that its ruler, Pluto, has been neglecting it in favor of the mortal world.
"A few big dead folks are coming back a lot sooner than fans might think! But we tried to select people, like Janet Van Dyne, for example, who have a connection to Herc but haven't necessarily been seen in INCREDIBLE HERCULES before."
The teasing scribe also offered this tantalizing tidbit of information:
"And there is one character, Herc and Cho's guide through the Underworld, that Greg and I actually killed off, which did upset some people at the time. But now hopefully they will see the method in our madness..."
Speaking of Amadeus Cho, what will the highly-intelligent, analytical young brain
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make of Hades, a mythical, supernatural realm existing outside the bounds of probability and possibility?
"That's a good question," admits Van Lente. "The state the Greek Underworld is currently in, and the fact people, like, say, Janet 'The Wasp' Van Dyne and Jack of Hearts, who never worshipped the ancient gods, are inhabiting it, is something he'll need to use his brain power to figure out.
"Of course, don't forget there are people close to Amadeus Cho who he may encounter in the Underworld as well, namely his family, [who were] killed in AMAZING FANTASY v2 #15. How Amadeus reacts to that may have significant consequences for this title—and his friendship with Hercules."
Having sojourned into the fiery place on more than one occasion, most notably as part of his legendary 12 labors and in the equally-legendary tales of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, Hercules doesn't take this latest visit too lightly; he's well aware of the high stakes this time around and the severity of his mission to recover his father.
"As long time readers of INCREDIBLE HERCULES know, the Olympus Group has been taken over by Herc and Athena's arch-nemesis, the goddess Hera, after Zeus was slain fighting Amatsu-Mikaboshi in the ARES limited series," explains Van Lente. "Athena believes that if they bring back Zeus
from the Underworld they can use him as a counter to his mad wife's power.
"But you know that crafty Athena, she has several plans operating at once. She may have a secondary reason for telling Herc and Cho to 'Go to Hell,' as it were, that may not be as beneficial for our heroes..."
Pull on some asbestos gloves and slather on some suntan lotion, because on May 27 in INCREDIBLE HERCULES #129, things heat up! And for more Herc, be sure to visit Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited!
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