Prince of Power #1

Written by Greg Pak and Fred Van Lente
Penciled by Reilly Brown
Inked by Terry Pallot and Jason Paz
32 pages, color
Published by Marvel

It might now be over, but I’m still slightly amazed at how good The Incredible Hercules turned out to be. Taking two non-star characters (Greek demi-god Hercules and boy genius Amadeus Cho) and handing them the old Incredible Hulk title as their own? It seemed like a sucker bet, but instead readers found a rare mixture of humor, drama, and poignancy that manages to amuse and enthrall. Having (theoretically) killed off Hercules at the end of the series, a lesser character would go home and call it a day. But if you’re Amadeus Cho (7th smartest person in the Marvel Universe), you go out and get your own mini-series, Prince of Power. Why wait for revival when you can take it over on your own?

Fans of Incredible Hercules will find that the story lines are continuing onwards from there, although Greg Pak and Fred Van Lente make sure to try and keep the book new-reader friendly. We’ve got Amadeus Cho having to defeat mythologically based villains, Athena is almost certainly plotting something, and the Olympus Group has a new device that… well, that would be telling. Pak and Van Lente keep the story moving quickly, though, hopping from one story to the next without giving any short shrift. I’d go so far as to say that their speed in storytelling is one of the two things that attracts me to Prince of Power (and likewise did so on Incredible Hercules); I never feel like they’re stalling, or lingering on a point too long. It’s a fast, snappy pace that suits its main character well.

Of course, the other half of the equation is humor, and Pak and Van Lente bring it in spades. From the girls on the falling ferris wheel saying, "Ping me?" to Amadeus, to Heimdall receiving a canned food drive from the people of Broxton, Oklahoma, there’s a lot to grin and even outright laugh at. What’s nice is that it’s never just cheap laughs, or gags that serve no other purpose. Seeing a pouting Delphyne in a prison cell reading How To Kill A God is worth a chuckle, but there’s also a ring of truth to it. Likewise, Heimdall receiving donations to help out the Asgardians is a funny sequence, but it also has to do with Amadeus’s sneaking into the city and also showing how Amadeus would use smarts to sneak past the ultimate guardian. In an age of mostly grim and serious books, the humor and general level of fun on display in Prince of Power is refreshing and welcome.

Reilly Brown’s been a regular artist over on Incredible Hercules, so it makes perfect for him to step onto Prince of Power as well. What’s nice is that he’s able to handle both halves of the Pak and Van Lente scripts. Fight scenes are big and dramatic, giving a literal and metaphorical wallop as Amadeus fights the Griffin. For what’s a rather ludicrous looking character, Brown makes sure to draw the foe as imposing and powerful-looking as possible. He’s better with the physical comedy, though; Hebe shaking Amadeus back and forth with eager excitement (complete with a "shake-a shake-a shake-a" sound-effect) is adorable, not only because of how Amadeus moves but also the look on Hebe’s face. And on the flip side, the angry, pressed lips on Delphyne as she reads How To Kill A God has such wonderful menace that it’s hard to not be a little nervous about her state of mind.

So often, books with a super-smart character end up feeling, well, not that smart. Happily that’s not the case at all with Prince of Power #1. Hopefully this will get some of the attention that Incredible Hercules didn’t, because this is a fun, engaging comic. Perhaps most importantly, Amadeus Cho is one of the very few new characters (both Marvel and DC) which has actually worked. That’s pretty rare these days, with new characters getting retired in favor of old standbys left and right. More Amadeus Cho, and more Prince of Power, please.

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