Herc #10A comic review article by: Danny Djeljosevic
Back in August, hot off the heels of the release of supposedly new-reader friendly Issue #6.1, word got out that Marvel was ending Herc with its tenth issue. As a result, it looks like writers Greg Pak and Fred Van Lente got a chance to wrap up their story with a 28-page story (you'd be surprised what a difference page count makes) in exchange for an extra buck on the book's price. I dunno about you, but I'd rather pay a dollar more for a proper finale than read an incomplete comic book.
Herc #10 concludes the story arc started the previous issue, with Hercules' dad Zeus (maybe you've heard of him) being sent to Earth as a fat, drunken mortal, our hero fighting Elektra (maybe you've heard of her) before the assassin rides off in Baba Yaga's chicken-footed cottage (maybe you've heard of it) and the Kingpin (etc.) appearing to -- as readers might guess -- make one of those Offers You Can't Refuse™.
Even though this is the last issue and the end of a two-parter, Pak and Van Lente admirably still script like this might be someone's first issue of Herc. Rather than pick up straight from where #9 left off, they open with a gay hipster couple discussing a public performance, dropping names like Mummenschanz and Bruno Bettelheim (I love anything that sends the fanboys to Wikipedia to check things that aren't other comic books) just before the aforementioned house with chicken feet comes in for the scary splash page attack. Then we cut back to Hercules, Zeus and Kingpin, as the rotund malefactor explains the situation to our heroes (and the readers).
Pak and Van Lente do their best to wrap up any major dangling plots. With no room to deal with minor bits like Herc's relationship with Rhea the now-owner of the restaurant/bar Herc works, the pair stick with the major elements (Kingpin, Baba Yaga, Zeus) while leaving the world of the book open enough for a potential return if the market/demand ever allows for it. The Zeus subplot feels somewhat rushed -- I can't shake the feeling that he was meant to be around as a lecherous lush for much longer than a couple of issues -- but they wisely incorporate it into the story in a way that underscore's Herc's own heroic character. Ultimely, it all adds up to a satisfying ending, even though you know it's not where they wanted to conclude it.
David Hahn, of such comics as Bite Club and his Image Comics creator-owned miniseries All-Nighter, drew the last two issues, which is a cruel tease as I'd have loved to see him continue with the series. His solid, consistent and accessibly breezy style jibes well with Pak and Van Lente's script, and his storytelling abilities were clearer and more dynamic than some of the other artists that worked on the book.
And, as another great but not superstar/event-driven book comes to its untimely end, I can't help but be bummed. There's an overwhelming sense of "Why bother? It'll be cancelled anyway" in comics culture, but that's a self-fulfilling prophecy, isn't it? Frequent cancellations are enough for some readers to just stay away from anything that flies under the radar, but fuck that. Enjoy the ride. It sucks that Herc is over, but I guarantee you'll enjoy eleven issues of a good comic way more than you'll enjoy a comic you're reading only so you'll understand other comics.
Oh, yeah, and if you want some more Herc in your life (and you should), check out the Top Ten Issues of Herc.
Danny Djeljosevic is a comic book creator, award-winning filmmaker (assuming you have absolutely no follow-up questions), film/music critic for Spectrum Culture and Co-Managing Editor of Comics Bulletin. Follow him on Twitter at @djeljosevic or find him somewhere in San Diego, often wearing a hat. Read his comic, "Sgt. Death and his Metachromatic Men," over at Champion City Comics and check out his other comics at his Tumblr, Sequential Fuckery.