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Defying Destiny

January 2, 2010

     So, the big storyline that’s been building from day one of Incredible Hercules, Assault on New Olympus has begun.  And it started in a rather silly fashion, I might add.  Athena and Amadeus Cho go to visit Aphrodite and her boy toys to get her to assist in the fight against Hera, but she really only cares about having sex and dealing with Venus of the Agents of Atlas.  Amatsu-Mikaboshi attacks the Shi’ar pantheon, and Hera has very snake-y sex with Typhon.  Hercules finds Hebe dating Spider-Man (they’re smooching!), and ol’ Herc gets pissed.  This leads to an outright brawl between Hercules and Spider-Man that ends only once Hebe convinces Herc of her love.  Hera reveals to Norman Osborn’s allies that Continuum is a plan to wipe out humanity, and Herc calls on some Avengers to help deal with Hera.  In a flashback, we find out that Cho is actually intended to replace Hercules, and that Hercules will die in the coming battle.  Needless to say, Cho will do anything to keep that from happening.  The combined Avengers/Olympian forces manage to infiltrate the Olympus Group’s headquarters by using Hebe to distract Hera and her guards, and Hera brings out the entirety of her forces, which are really quite formidable.  Aphrodite distracts Ares with her amazing… sex, and the god of death, Thanatos, shows up to stand around and look menacing.

     Continuum has already become popular around the world as the fight between the allied Avengers/Olympian forces and the Olympus Group goes underway.  Each Avenger fights a mythological figure who is comparable to them, including Spider-Man vs. Arachne, Spider-Woman vs. Lamia, Wasp (Hank Pym) vs. Argus, Wolverine vs. the Huntsman (who is actually Cephalus, the greatest hunter ever), and U.S. Agent vs. Eros.  Ah yes, and Quicksilver and Zeus start to like each other.  Great little character moment there.  Cho tries to convince Delphyne to stop, but to no avail.  She ends up turning Athena to stone, restoring her own humanity in the process.  And Hera takes Zeus to reveal that Continuum involves using one of the bubble universes Pythagoras Dupree spoke of to create a brand new world, one for Hera to rule.  In the Agents of Atlas back-up, Venus and her pals take on Phorcys, the god who created her, and subsequently invade the Olympus Group by underground, using Venus’ similarity to Aphrodite to sneak by the guards.  Of course, the guards do figure things out, leading to a brawl both above and below the surface.

     Well, this is a great storyline.  Although the comparisons involving mythological archetypes may sound odd, I find it to be quite refreshing.  One of the reasons why comic books aren’t normally considered “true literature” is because they don’t possess enough allusions.  And these comparisons really throw that idea out the window.  Which is not to say that I want my comic books to be like classic American novels.  Then I might not like them anymore.  But it’s nice to see them being written more intelligently.  This story really is a culmination of all but a couple of the plot threads from this series (that would be the Amatsu-Mikaboshi and related threads that are left), so it’s great that Greg Pak and Fred van Lente were really thinking things through when they started writing Hercules.  I do wonder what will happen, though, once Hera and Amatsu-Mikaboshi are finished, if this series will last.  Rodney Buchemi’s art continues to be absolutely superb, and it’s nice to see some artistic continuity in this series, for once.  Jeff Parker’s Agents of Atlas backup is also really good, even though I’ve never really read anything about those characters.  That’s a mark of a truly good writer, someone who can make you instantly like characters you’ve never even cared about before.  Gabriel Hardman’s art is also quite good, in the same kind of vein as Steve Epting and Butch Guice.  He and Buchemi are definitely two unsung heroes of Marvel’s artists.  I’m sure Hercules won’t actually die, but I’m really looking forward to every upcoming issue.  This series hasn’t been this good… ever!

Plot: 9.2      Art: 9.0      Dialogue: 9.1      Overall: 9.1

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