Hera manipulated Hercules into killing his family, and now he must repent by following the orders of the gods. He killed the robotic Nemean Lion, but now, within a secret military prison, his next target awaits. Titan Comics’ HERCULES: WRATH OF THE HEAVENS #3, written by JD Morvan and illustrated by Looky and Olivier Thill continues its futuristic interpretation of the hero’s mythical labors.

A New Type of Hydra

At first, I was worried that HERCULES: WRATH OF THE HEAVENS was veering too far away from the source material — the first enemy Hercules and his nephew/side-kick Iolaus fight in this issue is a crab-man in a power loader for gods’ sake. However, when their true target appears the comic completely won me over. Traditionally, Hercules’ second labor was the Lernean Hydra — one of the most iconic monsters from Greek Mythology. HERCULES: WRATH OF THE HEAVENS #3 doesn’t have a traditional many-headed dragon beast. Rather, Hercules fights I-DR: a genetically altered commando, multiplied by seven. His consciousnesses is linked among all seven copies, and the kicker is he can’t die from normal means.

Image courtesy of Titan Comics.

I think this is a really cool take on one of the most recognizable of Hercules’ enemies. It could have just been another robot monster or something more immediately apparent as a hydra. This is a creative approach that not only sets itself apart from other depictions of the hydra; it also allows for the writers to delve deeper into Herc’s character. Both the hero and the hydra were commandos under the leadership of corrupt gods and men. It would be much harder to find a point of similarity between Hercules and a mindless beast after all.

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A Chaotic Mess

As much as I love the design of I-DR, something about the art and composition of this issue seemed off to me. For most of it, I found myself straining to make out what was happening in a lot of the scenes. The red filter over almost everything makes it really difficult to parse out what is actually in the frame. It took me a solid few minutes to figure out that Hercules killed the crab guy by extending his lion helmet over his head and attacking with it. I love the ideas the creators of this comic are coming up with, but if I can’t see those ideas that’s a pretty big problem. Thankfully there’s a blue filter over most of I-DR’s scenes, which does make it a lot easier to understand. Since he’s the main draw for this issue, this is a good design choice that salvages the issue.

Image courtesy of Titan Comics.

More Depth, Then None At All

This issue doesn’t delve into the minds of the heroes. I’m not too torn up about it though, the last issue really focused on them. This time it’s all about I-DR, but does his personality really hold up? His backstory is incredibly interesting — I love the scene where he describes how all seven copies of him attempted suicide simultaneously, only to heal immediately after. However, his interaction with Herc is just so cheesy.

I-DR has a great set up, but an imperfect execution. I’m sick of villains immediately explaining their plan to the hero. However, ancient myth has never had the deepest characterization, so I’m willing to overlook I-DR’s personality somewhat. The fight has barely even begun, so I’m sure there’s more good writing to come. Just be aware that if you’re looking for some Game of Thrones level writing, you might want to search elsewhere.

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While the series is still wildly interesting and enjoyable, HERCULES: WRATH OF THE HEAVENS #3 dips in quality. The art is cluttered, and the writing needed to be tightened up. On the other hand, some of the ideas introduced this time — for example, the concept of I-DR — drew me in regardless. Despite the flaws, I’m still looking forward to seeing where this story goes.

HERCULES: WRATH OF THE HEAVENS #3 by JD Morvan, Looky, and Olivier Thill
HERCULES: WRATH OF THE HEAVENS #3 has some really interesting ideas, including an awesome take on the classical hydra. However, the art was sub-par and the characterization could have been better.
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A New Take On An Old Beast

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