Earlier this week, I mentioned that “Incredible Hercules” co-star Amadeus Cho — whose solo miniseries “Prince of Power” launched this week — was the best kid sidekick of the past 30 years, and while that’s true, I didn’t really have that much of a chance to go into the reasons why, and if you’re not one of the lucky people to have been following “Herc,” you might be wondering just what’s so great about him.
Well, aside from being generally well-written (a key factor in any character’s success), Cho’s defining feature is that he’s smart. Really smart. Infuriatingly smart. So smart that he can manipulate a team of heroes into punching out a Helicarrier:
So smart, in fact, that he’s consistently referred to as the 7th Smartest Person in the World, which would be a pretty impressive achievement for a teenager even if the world in question didn’t have guys like Reed Richards, Tony Stark and Dr. Doom. But all things considered, it’s pretty easy to say someone’s smart–showing it’s a whole different matter, and that’s exactly what Greg Pak, Fred Van Lente and a host of awesome artists have done. So today, for those of you who want to know more (or fans who want a refresher course), I’ve put together a list of The 7 Most Brilliant Moments of the World’s 7th Smartest Man!
#1: OUT-MATHING A MISSILE
Although Amadeus Cho first appeared as one of the new characters introduced in “Amazing Fantasy” (v.2) #15, most readers first saw him in the “World War Hulk” crossover, in which he fights… with math.
Pretty ironic, considering that the rest of “World War Hulk” is pretty much just about Hulk straight-up smashing everything. But it sets the tone for Cho, not only in that he uses his brain and whatever’s handy to do the impossible, but in that the creators found a way to make “super-intelligence” a visually interesting super-power without necessarily having it result in awesomely gigantic Reed Richardsy Kirby machines.
#2: DEATH’S HEAD 3 GETS CHOWNED
Let’s be honest here, folks: In Marvel comics, you’re not really a super-hero until you fight a killer robot from outer space, an achievement Cho knocks out pretty handily in the sewers of Manhattan during “WWH.” It’s another great example of his ability to use anything, but it also makes him the only guy in Marvel Comics who can honestly say “I took out Death’s Head with a pebble.”
#3. HACKING IRON MAN
Again, hacking into allegedly unhackable technology is pretty much de rigeur
for super-heroes — in fact, whenever something shows up that can’t be hacked, it’s a pretty safe bet that it will
be hacked in about four pages — but Cho manages to break into a cutting edge Iron Man suit… with a friggin’ GameBoy
I mean, look at that thing! It’s not even a GameBoy Color!
Okay, okay, if you want to get technical, it’s pretty easy to write it off as just a GameBoy case wrapped around a homemade super-computer (the original Gameboy being large enough to contain four iPhones and a sandwich), but still: hacking into Iron Man with only four buttons and a D-Pad. That’s pretty impressive.
#4: EROMENOS OR EROMENOT?
With super-genius characters, it’s very easy to fall into the trap of making them so smart that the reader has a hard time relating to them, but Pak and Van Lente have gone out of their way to make sure that doesn’t happen with Amadeus Cho. I mean, who among us hasn’t had to explain to a foxy, snake-haired Gorgon in a Naughty Schoolgirl outfit that we’re not the eromenos of the massive, hairy-chested, skirt-wearing bodybuilder we hang out with?
For those of you who don’t know, “eromenos” — which straight up redirects to “Pederasty in Ancient Greece” on Wikipedia — was an Ancient Greek term for a teenage boy taken as a lover by an older aristocratic man, and as Delphyne Gorgon says, it wasn’t exactly uncommon. But outside of fan-fiction, it’s not a role Cho fills for Hercules, and while his argument might not look very convincing, it was good enough to convince Delphyne. And really, that’s the tricky part.
#5: MACKING ON THE AMAZONS
The infamous thumbs-up panel is going to go down as one of “Incredible Herc’s” lasting contributions to Comics Internet Culture, but what most people leave out is the accompanying reaction shot from Cho, who — after successfully convincing the Amazons of his non-eromenos status — is attempting to mack on their queen, the Suicide Girl-ish Princess Artume.
And for Cho, “macking” means “figuring out ancient encoded Atlantean maps.” Unfortunately, she only wanted him for his mind.
#6: SAVING THROWS
During a confrontation with the sinister Pythagoras Dupree — essentially Cho’s predecessor, who defines himself as the sixth
smartest man in the world — Cho comes to the realization that he is himself a “living hypercomputer,” capable of analyzing a situation from an infinite number of angles and determining the best course of action. And he discovers this, of course, through a scenario based around tabletop roleplaying games.
Which makes perfect sense. After all, where else do nerdy kids learn to manipulate random chance in their favor?
Like Cho, Dupree is also has the mind of a hypercomputer, and his entire motivation for trapping his younger counterpart — which began with the murder of Cho’s parents — was to force a final confrontation wherein he was going to try to shoot him in the head.
It sounds pretty simple, but Cho’s intelligence gives him the ability to predict where the bullets are going and dodge accordingly, so the challenge was for Dupree to determine where he was going to dodge and shoot there instead, unless Cho could out-think him by two steps ahead.
It is, quite possibly, the most tense scene in comics ever of two guys staring at each other while doing math.
Until Cho decides to end things “War Games” style.
By which I mean “War Games” the 1983 Matthew Broderick nuclear-annihilation-by-computer movie, not the former World Championship Wrestling event where two teams would beat the mess out of each other in a double-sized steel cage. Either one would’ve worked, I suppose, but only one really shows how smart a guy is.
So there they are: Seven of Amadeus Cho’s greatest moments, and that’s just from “Incredible Hercules!” And now that you’re caught up, why not catch his newest triumphs in the pages of “Prince of Power?”