The Incredible Hercules #134

Hercules is disguised as Thor in a bid to stop the Dark Elves before they attack the mortal realm. He’s babysitting his amnesiac father, Zeus, inconveniently de-aged to childhood, but still possessing many of his godly powers. After briefly battling a bunch of marauding trolls, they then run from them, then ally with them, then turn on them again.

And when they get to the castle of Queen Alfyse of the Dark Elves, instead of battling, Hercules, as usual, lets himself be fooled by a beautiful woman. He mostly fails the Drow’s tests… but Alfyse is willing to let herself be fooled, too. So a lengthy night of revelry begins, and Herc learns about obscure elvish customs that decree that if he sleeps with the queen, they’re married — and the Dark Elves celebrate the wedding by preparing to invade the mortal realms. Luckily, Asgard’s Warriors Three have a plan to stave off disaster…

Verdict: Thumbs up. Even if I hadn’t loved every page of this comic, from Zeus’ exasperation with his demigod son to Herc’s semi-clueless references to Midgard pop culture, this would’ve been worth six or eight thumbs-ups just for the plot twist on the last page, which actually had me laughing out loud because it was so wonderful.


The Brave and the Bold #27

Robby Reed, owner of the legendary H-Dial that lets him transform into different superheroes, is visiting Gotham City with his grandfather, just as the Joker decides that he’s finally waited long enough, he’s not getting any younger, and it’s time to kill off the Batman once and for all. What follows is an intense city-wide crime spree designed to wear the Dark Knight out. When Robby spins the dial to try to help out, he comes up with a precog super-psychic called Mental Man — and when he looks into the future, what he sees scares him so badly that he gives up, turns back into Robby, and runs off to huddle under his bedcovers.

The next day, a desperate hard-luck case named Travers Milton breaks into the Reeds’ motel room to steal a few valuables and snags the H-Dial. When he spins it, he turns into a flying brick called the Star. He quickly gets busy saving lives and meets up with Batman — Milton’s background in the underworld means he knows a lot of the details about the ongoing crime wave, which he eagerly shares with Bats. The Star runs off to fight crime and save more lives, and in the end, he saves Batman from a bomb the Joker had left for him, but at the cost of his own life. Batman later returns the H-Dial to Robby, who reveals that his psychic powers revealed that the next person to use the dial would die, so he chickened out and left it for someone else to use instead. Bats says he’s okay with this, because it gave a no-hope loser like Milton the opportunity to be a real hero.

Verdict: Thumbs down. I actually liked most of this comic, but that bizarre ending, where Batman shrugs off Robby’s spectacularly craven cowardice, is a complete deal-killer. It’s actually monumentally out-of-character for both Batman and Robby, and I can’t thumbs-up a story that screws up those characterizations so easily.

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