When I picked up Chaos War #1 I assumed it was going to be another throw away mini-series like Marvel has been doing lately. Boy, I was really wrong there especially after I saw the check list immediately before the actual meat of the comic. My first thought was "Oh no, not again." Let's face it both Marvel and DC have been cross-over heavy lately. Between Sinestro Corps, Blackest Knight, Dark Reign, Siege and Age of Heroes/Brightest Day it's been a "buy all our comics or don't get the whole story" situation going on lately.
However I found Chaos War to be interesting, not Civil War or Sinestro Corps insteresting but more of a House of M insteresting. I want to see where this one goes before I get annoyed by it. In admit that Marvel is sort of clustered by crossovers, or at the least over-arching stories right now. X-Men have the Five Lights and the Vampires and the rest have Age of Heroes stuff going on. That's not even mentioning War of Hulks and the possibility of another Spider-Man reboot after a Moment in Time.
The basic premises is that Amadeus Cho has brought Hercules back from the dead except more powerful than he ever was; oh and someone called the Chaos King is destroying all the other Marvel Deities. So Hercules does what all heroes do; recruits all the other heros to help him defeat it.
Yeah it feels really contrived. This story has been done atleast a dozen times by Marvel and fifty times by DC but it's a cliche because it works. There is even a serious of jokes by the Marvel characters that admit that Hercules is usually a goof and not to be taken seriously. It's only when he uses his new-found powers to take everyone with him that he is taken seriously. And the cliffhanger, rather than annoying me as it usually does, actually makes me want to see what happens next.
Interesting enough I noticed that Greg Pak is once again working with another writer; in this case Fred Van Lente (of X-Men Noir and Marvel Zombie fame) and it shows. Gred Pak is like George Lucas (Star Wars) or Vince Russo (WWF, WCW, TNA) he needs someone to filter out his bad ideas and it shows in Chaos Wars. It feels edited, as if some one took a pen to Greg's work and said "NO!" The over the top style is there, but it is successfully reigned in before it goes too far. Don't believe me? Look at Phoenix: War Song and notice what happens when some one agrees with Pak. It doens't end well.
On the art side Khoi Pham continues to deliver. I have never seen a piece of art by Pham that I don't like and Chaos Wars is amazingly drawn. In fact the whole art team (Sunny Gho and Tom Palmer) deserve alot of credit for making the comic beautiful to the eye.
Overall, Chaos War as a cross-over reminds me alot of the Infinity Gauntlet. Amazing in it's own right but largely inconsequential to the continuity as a whole. I want to be proven wrong; but honestly after Civil War, Secret Invasion, Dark Reign and Siege, something has to fall through the cracks.