Athena's tenuous alliance with the Chaos King reaches a tipping point, and the universe itself might spill into the chasm. The "Chaos War" story started off with a really loud crash, a deafening noise that threatened all who heard it, but the story since has slowed considerably. Tendrils from this main story have allowed fan favorite characters to enjoy another few pages in the spotlight, but the action has advanced as much as a stationary bike moves during a spin class despite the furious pedaling of the spin student.
That's not to say the stories in and around "Chaos War" haven't been enjoyable; they just really haven't gotten aware of significance. At least not yet. With one issue remaining (and a handful of tie-ins), something's about to give.
Pham, Palmer, and Gho continue to give the figures in this book the high-gloss treatment. I wasn't very keen on the look initially, but the more I see of it, the more it grows on me. Actually, in this issue, with a slightly higher profile granted to Galactus, I can see an almost Moebius-like quality to the work that synthesizes nicely with Pham's strong character work.
While some skeptics have dismissed this as a shadow of "Infinity Gauntlet" (or any of the series spawned from that) Pak and Van Lente clearly aren't re-writing that tale. This story is the tale of a god gone mad in a quest for ultimate power and another god mad with ultimate power. The parallel between the Chaos King and Thanos is only there in that both were antagonists. "Inifnity Gauntlet" didn't have a protagonist akin to mighty Hercules. This isn't a Marvel Universe sweeping story, it's a Hercules story, and the ripples of Hercules' connectivity to the Marvel Universe involve the rest of the Marvel Universe.
Imbued with the power of an all-father, Hercules has the remaining gods of Earth's pantheons rallied behind him, ready to charge into battle, but chooses not to use them. That speaks volumes to the development that Van Lente and Pak have dumped into the character, and the fact that Hercules is still a skirt-chasing flirt and boisterous ruffian despite it all. It illustrates how well the writing duo understands and wants to continue developing this character.
"Incredible Hercules" was a fun title when it was around, and I have no doubt that this story would have been told there, save for the fact that it was able to grab a little more recognition by being a free-standing tale. This tale has been a fun ride, and I'm definitely anxious to see where the Lion of Olympus winds up from here.