This column has always been there for lesser known, forgotten, or frequently recharacterized superheroes from various ages. Today, though, I’ll be discussing Amadeus Cho, former Mastermind Excello and future Hulk.
Thing is, he’s not really misplaced, but he’s also probably something of a mystery to a lot of potential readers. As such, here goes…
Amadeus Cho came from the mind of writer Greg Pak. Amadeus, Korean-American like Pak, first appeared in the pages of the Hulk’s book as a kid who was a big fan of the Hulk. Now, being a big fan of the Hulk seems to be somewhat odd when you consider the Hulk routinely breaks things and terrorizes people, but Amadeus was different than most in that he was a genius.
Seriously. Amadeus was a genius. He could do rapid mathematical calculations in his head to do neat stuff with trajectories and things of that nature. The downside was quick, advanced math tended to drain him, so he needed to pop a candy bar or something to keep his energy levels consistent. Traveling around alone with a coyote pup he adopted (named “Kirby” by readers), Amadeus might have been the sort of kid who could be a breakout hero in the Marvel Universe.
Too bad he was kind of an obnoxious punk.
A buddy of mine, unfamiliar with the character, was complaining at one point that fans online were excited about Amadeus getting kicked in the head by Black Widow. My buddy’s complaint was kicking a kid in the head isn’t cool. My reply was, quite frankly, Amadeus Cho probably deserved it. Amadeus tended to manipulate those around him to get what he wanted, and often spoke condescendingly to those around him. He was among the smartest people on Earth, and he knew it and didn’t mind letting other people know it. I mean, who doesn’t hate a know-it-all kid? Particularly one who walks around acting like he knows better than, say, every hero in the Marvel Universe that isn’t the Hulk?
But Amadeus did do some cool stuff. During the World War Hulk storyline, Amadeus finally met his idol in the giant green flesh. Amadeus basically puts it to the Hulk that Hulk is much, much smarter than he appears to be, because no matter how much property damage Hulk does, no one ever gets seriously hurt. Amadeus believes the reason for this is simple: Hulk does advanced mathematics himself to calculate just how to smash things without killing anybody. Amadeus basically saw the Hulk as being a lot like himself.
But the thing that made Amadeus truly likable was pairing him off with a completely different character: Hercules.
The genius of this was Hercules was not the Hulk. Hercules never calmed down into a nuclear physicist, and no one would accuse Herc of secretly being a genius who knows precisely how to break things without killing anyone. In many ways, he was the anti-Amadeus. Amadeus was smart and youthful. Hercules was dumb and immortal. And why Hercules? When the aforementioned World War Hulk broke out, Amadeus gathered a team, largely through manipulation, to assist him in keeping the Hulk at least a little contained, and when the storyline was other, Hercules was the only one who could stand to be with Amadeus at all, and didn’t mind protecting the young genius.
Spending time with the big lug actually calmed Amadeus down, making him less manipulative and more likable. He even got a gorgon girlfriend.
Hey, those two look primed to hook up again in the Secret Wars edition of Runaways!
Amadeus was actually chosen by Athena to replace her brother as the “Prince of Power,” reasoning that the era of force had to give way to the era of brains.
That didn’t last, but Amadeus did build a machine to try and save the day in the Chaos War storyline. Who was his lab partner? Galactus.
Basically, aside from when he joined the Mighty Avengers as Herc’s sidekick, Amadeus rarely was seen outside of Greg Pak’s work, which may be why he could be something of a question mark for many Marvel fans who, for one reason or another, haven’t read Pak’s work. He was seen as a member of the Illuminati during Jonathan Hickman’s lead-up to Secret Wars, but he didn’t do much with it. Amadeus was captured by S.H.I.E.L.D. and that was about it.
Oh, say, did you know he’s in the Edward Norton-starring Incredible Hulk movie? Most of his scene apparently hit the cutting room floor, but you can spot him briefly in a computer lab:
I was thinking the new “Totally Awesome” Hulk was going to end up being longtime Hulk companion Rick Jones. But having Pak return to the Hulk and making Amadeus the new Hulk is a real enticement for me. I was thinking of cutting way back on my comics reading once Secret Wars ends, but this new Hulk series sounds very promising.