Assault on New Olympus #1

The indicia of this book calls it "Assault on New Olympus Prologue" #1, but it may have been better served -- for continuity nuts -- to be called "Incredible Hercules" #137 1/2. The story and action pick right up from the most recent issue of "Incredible Hercules." Unfortunately for Spider-Man, that continuation of story includes a major mistake and a massive misunderstanding. It also leads to Hercules delivering the line, "And shut it!" to his long-forgotten wife, Hebe.

Pak and Van Lente are masters of the recap page, and this issue is no exception. The #1 on the cover is sure to draw in a fan or two, just as the cover image of Hercules and Spider-Man is certain to coax an unsuspecting reader to take a peek inside. Once in those potential readers' hands, this issue is certain to win them over with the irreverent recap of what's come before. Even my lovely wife, who is more likely to view motion comics than read the floppies, got a chuckle from this page. Jump in here and the rest of the issue swims along nicely.

Rodney Buchemi carries over his enjoyable artwork from the regular "Hercules" series. As I mentioned in a previous review, Buchemi's art reminds me of Andrea DiVito's work on "The Thing." As DiVito's time there was a thematic descendant of "Marvel Two-in-One," this issue bears a direct correlation to the fan-favorite "Marvel Team-Up" stories of yesteryear. Buchemi's art is pitch perfect for this tale of a misunderstanding between everyone's favorite Friendly Neighborhood Wallcrawler and the Prince of Power.

The next issue of "Incredible Hercules" seems primed to be the issue where things really start happening. That's not to say nothing happens in this issue -- quite the contrary. Next issue, however, is primed to take the action to a higher level as Avengers join the fray. The gods who fled Olympus following Zeus' demise are primed to battle as Hercules leads a group of Avengers into battle to strike against Hera and her nefarious plot. Hera, by the way, has an agreement -- and an interesting twist to that agreement -- with Norman Osborn. While this story may not be flying the "Dark Reign" banner, there is no mistaking that "Dark Reign" has soaked into the entire Marvel Universe.

An added bonus in this issue -- and if you ask me, a proper justification for the $3.99 price tag Marvel has been pimping for too long -- is a back-up tale featuring the Agents of Atlas. Spinning out of their adventures in "X-Men vs. Agents of Atlas," Jimmy Woo and his pals have found Venus, just as she is summoning Phorcys. This story sets the Agents on a path certain to intersect with Hercules' own. Parker and Hardman (along with Breitweiser and the incomparable Tom Orzechowski) bring an Agents story every bit as fantastic as fans have come to expect from the now-classic, no-longer-published "Agents of Atlas" series.

With the Agents set to be a regular backup in "Incredible Hercules" this book is well worth looking into, buying, and enjoying thoroughly. Hercules has consistently presented enjoyable reads equivalent to the kind you once purchased comics in hopes of reading. "Agents of Atlas" has been a critically acclaimed title in its own right. Now, it's like peanut butter and chocolate.

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