EDITOR's NOTE: The second issue of Hercules will be available on Wednesday, June 25th
Iím going to start off this review by saying that the actual plot of Hercules: The Thracian Wars doesnít do much for me. Hercules is tested, proves his worth, then begins training a bunch of rag-tag 'warriors' to kill and maim like champions. Of course dignity, humility, and honor are lost on this crew and Hercules begins to see the error in his ways. That is pretty much the entirety of issue #2 of Hercules. By all accounts, the dialogue is written crisply and fits the mood and timeframe of the series. Let me make a comparison to prove my point. Northlanders, a fantastic series over at Vertigo, is set during the age of Vikings but uses contemporary dialogue. Now while I am all for reading contemporary English over ye olí speak of yesteryears, at times the slang in Northlanders is so overwhelming that is completely removes me from the story. Hercules, while also spoken in a contemporary tongue, doesnít falter as badly, staying perfectly consistent with its characters, as well as its time period. Therefore I deem it a success. Kudos Steve Moore.
What interests me more is the art of the book. Drawn by Admira Wijaya and colored by Imaginary Friends Studios and Sixth Creation, Hercules sports a look reminiscent of a water color painting. Every panel walks the perfect line of staying detailed without overcrowding and thusly, becoming a muddy mess. Another problem that is dodged with this style of art is the usual stiffness of individuals. Iím not a wizard, so I donít necessarily know how they pulled it off, but the characters in Hercules seem to retain a sense of energy in every panel, transcending the two dimensional stiffness most artists achieve when painting their work.
However, not all is well in art town for Hercules #2. Admira Wijaya seems to have a problem with layouts, often times confusing the hell out of me with the flow of panels. This forced me to re-read pages in different patterns to find out which fit best. That is a major flaw for a comic because it completely removes you from the narrative. If you donít believe me, take a look for yourself with a sample I have provided below.
Notice that to the left of the first panel in the sample you have an overlapping image, usually signifying the flow of the art. However, at the bottom of panel 1 you have a text box that overlaps the panel below it. So the question then becomes; which panel do you move to next? After reading the page, figuring something was off, and going back through, it became clear that the correct flow is panel 1 to the overlapping art panel and moving from there. The mere fact that I have to explain this is reason enough to show concern.
Hercules #2 is a decent comic book. If Wijaya can nail the panel layouts in future issue, making for a better flowing book, the art will truly shine off the page and be reason enough to drop three bucks on the counter each month. However, when it comes to Hercules #2, you can do far worse. So if you have some money to burn, give it a shot. You will be able to jump right into the story without reading the previous issue, and you get to see Hercules wearing a lionís head as a hat. Score!
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