By Marc Strom
Even gods can't escape Norman Osborn's Dark Reign.
Hercules and Amadeus Cho find themselves in the middle of the Marvel Universe's new status quo with INCREDIBLE HERCULES #127, on sale March 25 from writers Fred Van Lente and Greg Pak and artist Dietrich Smith.
The trouble begins when Hera strikes a deal with Osborn, a union that Van Lente sees as perfectly logical for the Greek goddess to strike up.
"Hera now runs the Olympus Group, a major corporation, and like any big multinational, she's looking for alliances with other corps and high net-worth individuals," Van Lente reasons. "In addition to his alleged super heroics, Norman Osborn is still in charge of a similar
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company, OsCorp. She wants a buy-in from Osborn for Olympus Group's latest product line, but when Norman learns what it is he may think it's a bigger threat to his power than any group of heroes. Will you?"
Of course, the co-writer reveals that bringing the Dark Reign to INCREDIBLE HERCULES had a very simple impetus.
"Sales!" Van Lente exclaims. "What, you were expecting a different response?"
Van Lente welcomes the opportunity to participate in the larger storylines running through the Marvel Universe though, especially when they so naturally intersect with Hercules' own title.
"One of the fortunate things about HERCULES is that we've been able to integrate the book into these bigger company-wide crossovers in a very organic way that has served the purposes of our overarching storyline, our Secret Invasion story being a prime example of that," cites Van Lente. "Same thing here with Dark Reign. Hell, the book wouldn't even if exist if it weren't for intercompany crossovers since we launched out of World War Hulk!"
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And while Osborn holds sway over the Marvel U in general, Hera has established her own pseudo-Dark Reign amongst the Olympian gods. And to make matters worse, she has a serious axe to grind with Hercules.
"Hera is probably the primary villain for Herc in the Greek myths," Van Lente enlightens us. "Her hatred for him allegedly caused him to kill his entire family, and sent him on the Twelve Labors. Zeus attempted to mollify his wife's passions once Herc arrived in Olympus as a full-fledged god by marrying him off to Hebe, the goddess of youth and Hera's daughter. Didn't seem to work, though, and now Hebe is her mother's executive assistant at Olympus Group."
As for just what makes Hera such a threat to Marvel's favorite demigod, Van Lente explains that at least part of her strength lies in numbers.
"In addition to inheriting Zeus's powerful thunderbolt, which makes her formidable opponent just in her own right, Hera has also united the Olympian villains under her rule," Van Lente ominously intones.
"That means fighting by her side are Huntsman, an obscure villain with fear powers [and] a relentless pursuer of wayward Olympians we haven't seen since CHAMPIONS #3 in the 70's—that's right,
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kids, it always comes back to CHAMPIONS. [She's also brought together] Pluto, Lord of the Dead, who had made quite a name for himself as a capo of the mortal underworld; Typhon, longtime Avengers villain and created by Gaea specifically for killing all the gods; and a mystery member who Amadeus Cho may or may not be very happy to see."
And by the time this arc finishes, Van Lente promises that Herc's world will have undergone at least one significant change.
"Things build toward a major shift in status for the title after #131, the big climax to this particular storyline."
Enter Dark Reign with INCREDIBLE HERCULES #127 on March 25. And for more adventures with Herc and Amadeus, check out Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited!
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