Hera manipulated Hercules into killing his family, and now he must repent by following the orders of the gods. First, he killed the robotic Nemean Lion and the clone squadron of I-DR. Now, Herc embarks on his third labor. Titan Comics’ HERCULES: WRATH OF THE HEAVENS #4, written by JD Morvan and illustrated by Looky and Olivier Thill, continues its sci-fi adaptation of the myth of Hercules — to varying degrees of success.

I was a bit ambivalent towards the last issue: the art and writing had some serious flaws, but overall I appreciated the interpretation of the Hydra as a commando linked with 7 clones of himself. This time my feelings are equally complicated, but I am starting to lose patience. Going into this issue, and with it the third labor, I was excited to see how they’d depict the Ceryneian Hind — a legendary deer sacred to Artemis. Although we only get its reveal at the very end, I can’t say I’m too happy with it.

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Sexual Nightmare Fuel

Let’s start from the top. The issue begins with some exposition and world building — which I really appreciated. Humans are kept in the dark about the very existence of the universe outside their territory, with a secret unending war on the frontiers marking this boundary. However, even soldiers that have finished their service cannot return home alive, for if they share their knowledge of the alien civilizations everyone will panic and the economy will collapse. I think that’s a pretty cool concept.

HERCULES: WRATH OF THE HEAVENS #4
Image courtesy of Titan Comics.

The deep space city that caters to these soldiers comfort, however, is less well-made. Yeah, soldiers like sex, no doubt about it. But holy shit — if you want some nightmare fuel, read this issue for genetically modified prostitutes with vaginas on their faces instead of eyes. In what reality is that sexy? That’s not even mentioning the ethical side of things. Look, guys, I’m down for space stations resembling enormous genitalia — this is just a little over the line though. You can’t even justify it with a classical reference. The ancients were huge fucking pervs, true, but they were a little more subtle than the ‘women with pussy for eyes’ featured in this issue.

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I Don’t Think The “Hind” Refers to a Deer This Time

Anyway, the plot and characterization in HERCULES: WRATH OF THE HEAVENS #4 could be worse. I always find the interplay between Hercules and King Eurytheus amusing. King Eurytheus is clearly scared shitless of the hulking demigod but tries to hide it. He tasks Hercules with finding a murderer. Something with horns has brutally murdered a number of elite soldiers that operated behind enemy lines after they received blowjobs. There’s our Ceryneian Hind I guess.

HERCULES: WRATH OF THE HEAVENS #4
Image courtesy of Titan Comics.

Athena also directs Herc to the hero of the Trojan War — the infamous Odysseus. It’s always a treat to see the witty and conniving Odysseus in fiction, but he’s underplayed in this story. While he does point Hercules in the right direction, the issue shows neither his great intelligence nor his self-destructive weakness to vice. He’s got a magnificent beard though, but his cringeworthy tattoos ruin it.

Final Thoughts on HERCULES: WRATH OF THE HEAVENS #4

And that’s pretty much where we leave off. Like HERCULES: WRATH OF THE HEAVENS #2, WRATH OF THE HEAVENS#4 isn’t as hard-hitting as the odd-numbered issues. I think this has to do with a serious pacing problem. The even numbered issues only act as a set up for the following confrontation. I think the writers ended up too fixated on the 12 labors. It’s like they couldn’t decide between an episodic series where each labor presents a self-contained adventure and a more continuous narrative that gives them more freedom. It ends up awkwardly in the middle. Apparently, this is also the penultimate issue, so I can’t fathom how they’ll come up with a satisfying ending.

HERCULES: WRATH OF THE HEAVENS #4 by JD Morvan, Looky, and Olivier Thill
Plot
Characterization
Art
Summary
HERCULES: WRATH OF THE HEAVENS #4 rapidly decreases in quality within the issue, and for the series as a whole. The writers veer away from classical myth, but fail to replace it with something substantial and satisfying.
63 %
Rapidly Dipping in Quality

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