Interview: Greg Pak and Fred Van Lente on Prince of Power

Amadeus Cho, the 7th smartest person in the world (and likely the smartest teenager) is testing the adage "knowledge is power" in the new miniseries The Heroic Age: Prince Of Power, which hit stands just last week. In the wake of the disappearance of his friend Hercules, the Greek God of Strength, Cho has set out both to find his friend, and fill in for him while he's gone. I spoke to co-writers Greg Pak and Fred Van Lente about the series, and whether Cho can fill those rather large shoes.


Matt Adler: Amadeus Cho seems to be a rare character, in that very few new characters have caught on and taken hold in readers' minds the way he has. Why do you think that is?

Fred Van Lente: I think partly it's because his creator, Greg Pak, never gave up on him, and found opportunities use him in big events like World War Hulk, where he could get maximum exposure — and WWH led directly to Incredible Hercules, of course. 

Greg Pak: Editors Mark Paniccia and Nate Cosby deserve huge credit here.  They loved the character from the start and were as eager as I was to engineer his next appearance.  And Marvel's David Gabriel gets a gold star for suggesting the Hercules/Amadeus team up book in the first place.

In terms of the character himself, you can never predict just what readers will pick up on.  But Amadeus seemed to fill a certain niche in the Marvel Universe at the time, and by providing such a contrast, he made a great foil for established Marvel characters like Hulk and Herc.  We were also incredibly lucky to have the amazing Takeshi Miyazawa do the original character design and have fantastic artists like Gary Frank, Carlo Pagulayan, Leonard Kirk, and all of the Incredible Hercules artists put their spin on him.  Reilly's new design for Amadeus in Prince Of Power is the icing on the cake, growing the kid up a bit while maintaining that irreverence that makes him so fun.

MA: Now that Hercules is MIA, there's an opening for a Prince of Power. Is Cho the right guy for the job? He doesn't seem to want it.

FVL: The gods don't seem to be giving him much of a choice, do they? They seem to think he will be the greatest champion of this Heroic Age. And as we'll see as the story moves along, their faith in him will either be confirmed — or spectacularly crushed.

MA: Does Cho consider himself a superhero? Running around with Herc's mace and Bruce Banner's shield tech, he's looking pretty darn superheroic.

FVL: That's a good question. He certainly is a reluctant one, but the reluctant hero is a big tradition in Marvel, so I guess he qualifies as much as anyone.

GP: Knowing Amadeus, he'd probably cheerfully call himself "super."  But he might blanch a bit at the "hero" tag.  

MA: One of Cho's most prominent characteristics, perhaps even more than his intelligence, seems to be his loyalty. He was devoted to supporting his friend the Hulk when he was going through rough times, and now he's dropping everything to find Hercules wherever he may be in the multiverse. How did he develop that strong sense of obligation/responsibility to friends?

FVL: Amadeus saw his parents die horribly in a bombing meant for him at a young age and I think that's left him with some abandonment issues. He knows what it's like to lose people he loves so as long he's breathing, he's not going to give up on his friends.

MA: One of the prime movers and shakers throughout this story has been Athena, Greek Goddess of Wisdom. Readers of Incredible Herc know that Athena has been engaged in some seemingly sinister machinations, and is responsible for Herc's disappearance. Cho too seems to realize Athena's not on the level, but he's still playing ball to an extent. How do you see their relationship at the moment?

FVL: Pretty complicated at this point. As he says in the first issue, he's pretty sure she's involved in Herc's death — er, disappearance — but he doesn't want to show his full hand until he's figured out how. He's wise to be cautious since in Athena he's dealing with one of the few people — er, entities — on Earth who's probably smarter than he is.

MA: Cho's mission is also backed by the Olympus Group, a secret organization created by the Greek gods. Bruce Banner has signed on as well; as a man of science, does he have any problems working in an environment with things he can't quantify?

FVL: Well, it can't be that secret, since they have an enormous building on Wall Street with their name across it. Perhaps that's put Bruce at ease.  

GP: Banner's also spent enough time around Doctor Strange during their Defenders days to have some familiarity with the unquantifiable.  Maybe he thinks that magic is just reeeeally advanced science, and eventually he'll be able to figure it out.  In the meantime, Amadeus is keeping him pretty busy with the Hercollider and various Bannertech geegaws.

MA: Fair enough, the organization itself isn’t secret, but their true nature and a lot of their activities seem to be! Speaking of the supernatural, we’re seeing in the first issue that some unknown force is powering up monsters and sending them out to wreak havoc on the world. For the purposes of what Cho's facing, what counts as a "monster"?

FVL: All will be revealed in September. Oh, wait — the last issue of Prince Of Power ships in August? Hmmm…. I must be referring to some title that follows it, then… Or I am insane.  

MA: We also get a guest appearance in this first issue by Vali Halfling, AKA Agamemnon of the Pantheon, from Peter David's Hulk run. Do you have more plans for the Pantheon?

FVL: Yup. Keep reading. They're Amadeus' main antagonists in the series, and Aggy isn't the only Pantheon member making an appearance.  

MA: The two of you have been collaborating for some time now, as this mini leads out of the Incredible Hercules series. Why did you choose to work together in the first place, and what is your style of collaboration like?

FVL: It varies. The way we work now mostly is that one of us writes a full draft of a script and sends it to the other, who then rewrites it, and sends it back to the other guy, who then rewrites it, et cetera. One of the great thing about Herc/PoP is that over the years we've developed a unique voice for the book that really is a synthesis of our two voices. It's not something that would be the same if just Greg or I wrote it solo, and I don't think we'd have it any other way.

GP: Marvel editor Nate Cosby was the guy who first introduced us.  I had a pretty full plate writing-wise when Incredible Hercules launched; the idea was that having a co-writer would make it easier to hit all the deadlines.  Neither Fred nor I had ever co-written anything before, but we hit it off pretty much right away.  We both live in New York, so we get together for lunch every few months to hammer out the storylines, then ping pong back and forth with script pages, editing each other all the way.

There have been times when I honesty can't remember who wrote what. Both our fingerprints are all over pretty much everything.  Unless you didn't like something — then that was all Fred.  No, wait, that was Nate.

MA: What does Reilly Brown bring to the book?

FVL: Reilly really blew us — and the readers — away with his Thorcules arc in Incredible Hercules. His fluid pencils, his sense of expression, and his ease with humor makes him the perfect artist for this project, and I think he's bringing his best work so far to Prince Of Power.

GP: Reilly also comes up with some pretty awesome story-based ideas from time to time that we cheerfully steal.  Although he modestly claims not to remember it, he was the first to suggest that Amadeus run around with Herc's mace in Prince Of Power.

MA: I interviewed Bob Layton a few weeks ago, and he mentioned the two of you were instrumental in getting his forthcoming Hercules: Twilight of a God mini approved. Can you tell us a bit about that?

FVL: That's very kind of him to say that. I'm not sure we really did anything other than be really vocal and excited about the project when it was first being kicked around. We both read and loved Bob's original Hercules: Prince Of Power minis when they first came out and it was a real kick meeting him at the New York Comic Con. He's a great guy and a real inspiration so it was a pleasure to help him out in any way we could.

GP: Bob is awesome.  I realize I owe him big for two different series I've worked on — he did character-defining work with both Hercules and Jim Rhodes, aka War Machine.  

MA: What else are you guys working on these days?

FVL: I'm really looking forward to the debut of the all-new Power Man in the upcoming Shadowland: Power Man mini along with the new arc of Iron Man Legacy, Industrial Revolution, which come out at about the same time.  

GP:  I'm cranking on some insane Hulk related stuff that will be revealed as World War Hulks comes to an end.  I also have a creator-owned project that'll see the light of day in the fall as well as another super secret Marvel project that I'm incredibly excited about — and a little scared of.  Oh, and check out my short films Mister Green and Super Power Blues, screening now on Youtube.  Links at


Matt Adler is the 7th smartest Matt Adler in the world. Yes, he beat out the Teen Wolf guy.


  1. I hope they collect this mini in the oversized Hercules hardcovers.

  2. After reading the interview, I want to pick up the issues.

    Can’t though cuz I’m in the midst of the great purge all month long.