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Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Hercules Unbound 11 - the Anti-Gods

Jerry Serpe joins Simonson on the art for Hercules Unbound 11 (June/July 1977), which is easily the most visually impressive issue of the run. And that's a darn good thing, because Cary Bates' story goes totally off the rails.

Right from the first page this book has a different feel, as Hercules gets a new costume, forged by the Atomic Knights at one of the car plants opened in Detroit. It's made from a special ore that is all but impervious, although Hercules seem fairly invulnerable anyway. At least he looks cooler.

Kevin flies Hercules, Jennifer, Gardner Grayle and Douglas Herald back to the base of the Atomic Knights, but on the way there suddenly seems to go crazy, as well as gaining powers far beyond anything hinted at. He power beams the Knights out of the ship, and tries to crash into their base.

Hercules manages to rescue the Knights, and bring down Kevin's ship. They chain the boy up for a while, but he appears to regain his sanity, and gets released.

Not such a wise move, that. We briefly see the Olympian gods, shown as negative images, watching the events unfold. Zeus and Athena are the only two of the four named. They know that Kevin is more dangerous than Hercules believes, and make mention of the Anti-Gods.

Athena tries to communicate with Hercules through Jennifer, but a massive fire breathing dragon show up to interrupt. Hercules defeats the dragon, but Jennifer just sort of dies anyway, apparently from fear.  They bury her in the graveyard of the Atomic Knights (that's what it is called. Have the other Knights all died?) and then Kevin goes crazy again, grabs the flying wing and zips off back to Europe. 

Hercules grabs onto the plane, and even though it doesn't seem like they travel very far they wind up back on the island in the Mediterranean where Hercules first met Kevin. The story comes to an absolutely nonsensical ending as Kevin is revealed to really be Ares. But Kevin and Ares had appeared together a few times. And if Kevin really was Ares all along, why did Ares create a second self to battle Kevin? 

The story concludes in the next issue.  Oh, and that's it for the Atomic Knights in this book. Gardner Grayle is next seen about five years down the road in DC Comics Presents.

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