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A Well Written, Bruttaly Accurate Hercules Story,
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This review is from: Hercules: The Thracian Wars (Hardcover)
If you like gritty, thoughtful, real-world stuff, this is the Hercules story you've been waiting for. Steve Moore's been writing comics since most of the current comic readership's parents were born, and he's not a guy who spent those years not figuring out what makes good writing. He's created the most real-life look at Hercules yet. Instead of DC's once-upon-a-time Planet Apes meets Kamandi series in the late sixties & early seventies or Marvel's formers purely superhero Hercules (1970s - 80s) or their now ultra-cool Big Jim-Hip Godster Herc (2004 & beyond), you get a look at what Hercules might have been had he been real and dominating the Greek Bronze Age. Thus stories circulate about his legendary birth including the bawdy tale of Alcmene's three-day heavenly (not) rape at the hands of Zeus and Herc's infant snake-killing feats (laughably apocryphal to the average Thracian on the street in the time of this comic); tales abound about his murderous, mindless rages in which he supposedly kills his own children, but when he gets to town he says not a word about them, merely finding the best deal for a professional mercenary bent on doing his job and doing it well. That's the background to a story in which Hercules's seemingly simple desire to make lots of money training and serving in the Thracian army turns into a king's devious plot to undermine if not utterly destroy Greece. I don't want to say more in fear of destroying the story, so suffice it to say that it's a grand tale that is 100% all-out action, intrigue, suspense, and plot reversals. You get an amazing group of characters alongside Hercules: Iolaus (the young but worldly wise narrator), Meneus (the youngest of the group; perhaps Hercules's male lover), Autolycus (supposed son of Hermes, thief extraordinaire), Atalanta (a raging woman with a suicide wish that no man can fulfill), Tydeus (an absolute psychotic nut of a killer who, in some bizarre ways, provides lots and lots of bloody comic relief throughout the series), Amphiaraus (a hawkeye archer of a prophetic seer). As to the trade and hardback edition, everything is reproduced here: all the covers, the complete series, all the advertising and prototype art. You also get a rather nice interview with Steve Moore explaining why he chose the Bronze Age for this tale and why, even though the comparisons will be inevitable, he didn't and won't see or read Frank Miller's 300. This tale reflects Moore's desire to make this as historically accurate as possible, so all the details are true: the pictures of shields reflect real, Bronze Age shields, as do the crowns, cups, belts, weapons, etc. But that doesn't touch the absolute beauty of the artwork. The art here is astounding. Every single artist used for the covers seemed absolutely inspired at the prospect of drawing a realistic Hercules and crew. And for the series, Admira Wijaya did such an unbelievably fine job, he'd be "Admirable" Admira Wijaya were he in Stan Lee's bullpen instead of Nic Simmons's. This is truly one of the best comic series of the year, and if it's an indication of where Radical Comics is going, be ready for that comic to shoot off like a rocket. This tale has already been optioned for a movie, so get your first editions while you can.