The following review is from COMICS BULLETIN.COM ( I did not write this article )
I've been kind of down on Incredible Hercules since the end of the Amazons arc, and try as I might, I just haven't been able to get back into the series. I've kept up though, and was almost won back by the Amadeus solo chapters over the past nine months, but I just felt like the humor had overpowered the character work that really made that first year or so shine. Hercules became more of a joke than he was at first, it seemed to me.
Especially when he started dressing like Thor and bedding Elf Queens. It was fun and entertaining, but it felt like fluff. Once we finally started focusing on the threat of Hera, and the even subtler threat of Athena, things started looking up again.
And now Hercules is dead, betrayed by Athena, and his friends and allies have gathered at the Parthenon in Athens to celebrate his memory. It's still a little too campy and silly at times for me, but it's a nice that we're not bogged down by sad recollections and emo posing.
Instead, Pak and Van Lente provide a very entertaining--and at times, touching--tribute to the history of Hercules, complete with footnotes signaling where the adventures the heroes share were first published. There's a lot of good stuff here, even if we do still have moments where characterization and plot are given over to just telling a joke.
And that's really what keeps me from fully engaging with the story, just like it's done for the past year or so. I guess I'm just taking it too seriously, and I know that the women's tribute to Hercules in this issue is supposed to be funny, but I thought it fell flat. Again, it was just so silly. And ultimately, that's what most of Pak and Van Lente's run has become for me. Just silly fluff, to be read and forgotten. Disposable.
The back-up feature by Tobin, on the other hand, shows a very nice balance between humor and sadness, as Venus and Namora travel around the world settling Hercules' financial affairs. There are plenty of jokes, but there are also many moments where the characters feel real. They feel and think and act like real people would in these situations and never are sacrificed to the almighty joke.
There's actual character development going on as these two characters spend time together. It's not as goofy or funny as the main story, but it's better crafted from start to finish.
Visually, both stories are quite nice, as Ariel Olivetti provides what might be his best work yet and Brown and Paz provide a slightly rough-around-the-edges take on Venus and Namora. The two stories couldn't look more different from one another, but both are excellent pieces of work. Olivetti has reined in his urge to grotesquely over-muscle everyone on the page, providing a very nice variety of body types and excellent facial expressions. His visual storytelling is getting better and better, although the lack of backgrounds continues to bug me a little.
Yes, it allows the reader to really focus on the expressions and the body language, which is a good thing. But it still seems like the work is practically unfinished, waiting for the scenery and sets to be filled in later.
Brown and Paz fully ground each panel in their story in the settings, whether those settings are a board room, a city street, or a small apartment. And then, when the scenes need to open and provide some breathing room, sparser backgrounds are suited to the situation.
They also provide very meaty versions of both Venus and Namora. These women look powerful and realistic. Neither is a wispy, frail-looking thing, instead having thick legs and strong arms. They look like heroes. They have weight and really feel like part of their environments, rather than decorations or cheese-cake. But don't get me wrong. They look good.
All in all, this is another mixed bag. I really want to like Pak and Van Lente's story as much as I used to (and as much as I like their other work), but it all just feels so inconsequential that it's hard to justify continuing to spend money on it. On the other hand, the Agents of Atlas back-up provides a little more depth of emotion and characterization, pulling the overall rating up. Thanks to Venus and Namora, I'm giving this one four bullets.
I guess the reviewer uses a rating system that consists of bullets - as in BULLETIN? I guess, good review though.
Sunday, April 25, 2010
Friday, April 16, 2010
Monday, April 12, 2010
In 1963 American producers tried their hand at a sword & sandal adventure with emphasis on fantasy. And what better technician than the master of fantasy filmmaking himself, Ray Harryhausen to undertake the task. Generously laced with monsters and fantastical elements, JASON & THE ARGONAUTS (1963) became one of the most enduring fantasy films of all time. Portions of this film had been the source for a number of Italian entries but here, instead of hydraulically controlled creations, Harryhausen relied on the then popular method of stop motion animation to bring his monsters to life.
All but the giant, Poseidon, were created using this process. One of the most famous characters from the Italian made features, Hercules, also has a role here. Nigel Green portrayed the Greek demi-God. However, Green was not a bodybuilder and although stout, he in no way resembled the standard muscleman inherent in the European mythological movies. Furthermore, this was the intention on the part of producer Charles H. Schneer and Harryhausen to avoid a musclebound performer in the role of Hercules for fear it may steer attention away from the main character of the film, Jason.
Green's performance as Hercules is an older and irresponsible interpretation. His penchant to cause havoc is the one conceit borrowed from the Hercules of mythology. The "real" Hercules was quite violent and displayed murderous tendencies. A fair number of the Italian epics featuring Hercules subtly touched upon the darker side of the mythical man
Thursday, April 1, 2010
Strong men and mythical heroes have been a part of our culture for thousands of years.
Which hero of myth and legend came first? Samson? Hercules? Their stories are remarkably similar in that they both are imbued with God like strength and have performed feats and deeds that no ordinary mortal man could. Samson's power came from the length of his hair. Herky's came from his heritage and lineage being that his father was Father to the Gods of Olympus. Whenever someone refers to the Jedeo Christian God they refer to him as Father.
Both legends fought and killed a lion with their bare hands. I know that many legends are based on some story right out of some theological belief's whether they be Roman , Greek ,Catholic and so on.
When in fact many of these different religious theories are so basely similar it is tough to tell.
How many Apostles did Jesus have? How many labors did Hercules perform? How many miracles, feats of strength beyond human capability are there revolving around Samson , Hercules , Thor , Jesus , Conan , Tarzan, Superman , Luke Skywalker and on and on. One day be they fictitious or religious figures or comic book super people one day because of legends and myths all of them will be viewed as religion one day.
In fact...Star Wars does have it's own religion. You know what? I believe!