Review - Hercules: The Knives of Kush #4-5

Well readers…we've come to the end of this five issue run. Hercules has provided us with some epic battles, a few twists and turns and a fun overall story. Hercules left Greece on the run and ended up in Egypt; there he became involved in the war between Seti and his brother Amenmessu for control of the land. Seti seems to be the rightful Pharaoh, of course that could just be because Hercules ended up on his side. There are a few moments in the series where Hercules begins to doubt whether Seti is as pure and good of a leader as he appears to be. Throughout the course of the story Hercules has been fighting a battle on two fronts. His public purpose that is divulged to the people and advisors of Seti is that Hercules and his group are the bodyguards of one of the queens, Tiaa. In private, however, they are tasked by Seti to root out a spy in his own house. This group of Greeks, however, can not be kept off the battlefield for long and has searched high and low to find out what is happening in this mysterious and foreign land of Egypt. Read on for a review of these final two issues and a wrap-up of the series. Enjoy! Issue four involved quite a bit of running around the castle and revealing that Seti was almost as murderous when it came to defeating his brother as Amenmessu is with his tactics. I actually liked that as it gave Hercules some moral questions about who he was serving, while also making up his mind to leave Egypt as soon as humanly possible. This issue DID have the coolest scene in the entire series though as Hercules and Khadis faced off. The artwork as lightning rained down from the sorceress unto the son of the God of Lightning himself was pretty epic, and leaves both heroes a little worse for wear. While nothing was learned of the spy, the battle was well drawn and the tide of battle shifted enough times that it was never clear who was going to win. I’m also starting to really enjoy the wonders of modern security as getting in and out of key places that should be much more difficult to escape from seems easy in these old times. Overall this second to last issue really seemed like it was going to set up an epic final issue…and for me it just seemed VERY anticlimactic. So, while trying not to give too much away, we start issue five still in battle after Hercules has absorbed, released and subsequently fallen unconscious from something like 20 lightning strikes. The battle is starting to turn against Seti’s forces when suddenly Hercules is awake and just takes apart Amenmessu’s army. While his group is worried about him being fully recovered, I don’t see how he is any weaker. This is forgivable I suppose, he IS the son of Zeus. Personally I would have liked to see a retreat here and then some strategy to get back at Khadis and Amenmessu. One member goes on a suicide mission and easily accomplishes her goal, and then escapes. To me as long as Hercules lives you can do a sequel, but I would have liked to see some of his crafty group members die. Who do they keep escaping easily from what should be inescapable places? Another similar situation happens. So the battle ends and it's all good, but the spy is still in Seti’s palace! Is there a clever plan to flush out this spy? Yes. Does it work and is there a minor twist? I guess so, although the reasons that are revealed aren’t all THAT surprising. Did I care in the least? No. Here's why. To me it felt like wrapping up a sub-storyline after the main arc had already been concluded. The order of events in the end just left me feeling like I was simply finishing the series because I didn’t want to stop halfway through the final episode. I did like how the spy wasn’t the most obvious person that it could have been. The story and artwork throughout this series were really well done. I thought there was a nice mix of humor, but it wasn’t overdone given the rather dark circumstances. The characters were well developed and there was at least some backstory to them and why they act the way they do. I thought this could have been a six issue run instead of five with just a little more time for a more thought-out finish. It was four long issues of set up and background for everything to end unceremoniously in half of the fifth issue. So I have mixed feelings about the way that this series ended. Would this particular ending prevent me from purchasing this and other Hercules titles in the future? No way! The final pages have a nice little twist, and all's well that ends well I suppose. Overall this was a good effort from Radical Comics, the writer Steve Moore and the artist Cris Bolson. The artwork was consistent throughout and it flowed really well. If they take the positives from this and build on them, I could see many more Hercules titles in the future.