Last month when I posted the annual review I questioned on who would want Zeus back and in the end concluded that despite all his faults as a leader he was needed to keep the other gods in check. The previous issue explored this with Hera and her abuse of power to pursue personal vendettas. This month explores that in context to Pluto.
Pluto, despite only appearing at the end is one of the main characters of this issue since this issue focuses on death in the MU. If anyone has seen the previews then you already have some idea of the main issues about the revolving door that is death in the MU and why it is that way. Resurrections are common due to it all being won by chance in a casino. Also, turns out without Zeus around Pluto has been neglecting his duties as lord of the dead and the rules of reward and punishment that are supposed to govern the afterlife are falling to pieces since one of the main enforcers of those rules is too focused on the mortal world and not his godly duties. Finally, we find out why people who never worshipped the Greek gods are in Plutoâ€™s underworld and what happened to Zeus after he died.
Herc and Cho seek entrance to the underworld to retrieve Zeus to act as a check against Heraâ€™s madness. They canâ€™t just force their way in due to any breaking of the rules would immedietly alert Pluto to what they are up to. Even getting in does not go as smoothly as planned thanks to Charon, the boatman of Hades.
I think one of the key points of this issue was not so much going to the underworld, but the little character moments and tid bits of information we got throughout it. Hercâ€™s loss of patience with Athena over her manipulations. Herculesâ€˜s reservations about meeting Zeus again. On one hand has Herc relates Zeus was the one who made him a god and saved him from the underworld. To try and have peace between Hera and Hercules Zeus wedded Herc to at the time Heraâ€™s favorite daughter, Hebe. On the other hand for all of Zeusâ€™ talk about Hercules being his favorite son Zeus spends about half his time yelling at Hercules or banishing him for some slight.
The other character we get deeper in is that of Hebe. Hera quickly figured out she was the one who tipped off Osborn and what she does to Hebe is not pretty. On the other hand Hera gives some insight into Hebeâ€™s character and why she was selected to be the cupbearer of the gods. At the rate Hera is going, Olympus is going to be nothing left but a collection of monsters with all the decent parts driven out.
I think one thing that will catch peopleâ€™s eye are the numerous cameos throughout the whole thing. I think I saw Hippolyta, Darkstar, Jack Oâ€™lantern, the skrull queen Veraneke , the Abomination, the original Baron Zemon, and others I didnâ€™t even recognize. Even a recent dead Avenger is given a spotlight and this personâ€™s crack about Bucky coming back to life is well worth it and understandable to people who used to think the only people that stayed dead were Bucky and Uncle Ben.
One item that stuck out for me is the mention of Herculesâ€™ divine half being made a god and his mortal having going to the underworld. This is something in myths and I canâ€™t help but wonder if Pak and Lente are going to follow up on it.
Artwise I think the art was solid. I was a bit hesitant on a few panels had drawings looking too rigid, but on a second look they were fine. The coloring also did well.
Overall, I think this was a solid issue. I have no major complaints and nothing storywise or artwise stood out as bad or questionable. The dealing with death is a tricky subject and I think Pak and Lente handled it well.
Overall, Hercules is an incredible read (sorry, PUN!) every month. But the issue of Death in the MU has been addressed a lot. One point made in the story is that all the various lands of the dead (Hel, Valhalla, Hades, etc.) are all the same place, but like a different port of entry based on the beliefs of the dying. In Thor Annual #10, this was said to be not the case, and that every place was different. When the Death Gods tried to merge their lands, it brought forth the attention of the Demogorge, and had to be separated to make things right again. I'd like to see Mr. Pak (whose writing and knowledge I am very impressed by) review that issue and perhaps add some more light to it.
Also, I would like to know how the Cosmic Entity of Death relates to the gods/demons we've seen. Are all death gods just front men for Death?