By Marc Strom
For months, Hercules has found himself at odds with the goddess Hera and her New Olympus group. Now, beginning in November with the ASSAULT ON NEW OLYMPUS PROLOGUE and INCREDIBLE HERCULES #138, both written by Greg Pak and Fred Van Lente, the Prince of Power takes action.
The storyline begins as Hera's actions imperil the larger Marvel Universe, but her motivations don't exactly fit in line with those of your typical super villain.
"It's true Hera's not evil," remarks Van Lente. "She's more just a fundamentally unhappy person whose life hasn't gone the way she wanted it to. Her husband cheated on her, her legitimate heirs have been ignored in favor of bastards-I mean that literally-like Hercules, and so on. So Hera, as befits her godlike status, is declaring a big 'do-over' to the cosmos, to form a new world forged in her image. In the process that will utterly destroy the universe we currently live in, unless Hercules and his motley crew of gods and Avengers, both New and Mighty, can stop her."
"Which, I guess, might make her evil after all?" quips Pak.
The "Assault on New Olympus" storyline will also pay off a number of threads that Pak and Van Lente have had percolating for months now as part of their larger plan for the series.
"Since about Secret Invasion, Greg and I have conceived the current uber-arc for [INCREDIBLE HERCULES] of being approximately eight story arcs," explains Van Lente. "'Assault on New Olympus' is arc #6. It pays off a lot of stuff we've been building to, including the conflict with Hera and the Olympus Group obviously, as well as Delphyne Gorgon's desire to kill Athena [as well as] her relationship with Amadeus. Also, we reveal-at last-what the heck Athena has actually been up to this whole time. And trust me, whatever you think it is, it's not what you think it is."
"It's also worth noting that as we move into this climactic cycle of stories, the scale of everything is ramping up in an insanely huge way," adds Pak. "'Assault on New Olympus' is the first of these big, big stories. It'll have massive payoffs with major themes and characters and will set up even more titanic payoffs to come."
For months now, fans have wondered as to the exact nature of the mysterious Continuum that Hera has touted around, something that will have a role in the coming story.
|ASSAULT ON NEW OLYMPUS PROLOGUE cover by Adi Granov|
The friendship between Hercules and Amadeus Cho came under a bit of strain recently, but the duo will reunite for "Assault on New Olympus."
"Herc and Cho are back together, fighting side-by-side, when 'Assault' opens, but that doesn't mean they're best friends again," teases Van Lente. "There's been a serious rift in the relationship thanks to the events of Arc #5, aka 'The Replacement Thor,' and one of the main plotlines of 'Assault' is whether their relationship can ever be mended again. I will say that the shocking climax of 'Assault' means big, big changes for INCREDIBLE HERCULES, and the reveal of Herc's brand-new, critical role to the Marvel Universe!"
Pak, on the other hand, went further in divulging the future of Herc and Amadeus' friendship:
"I'm gonna go out on a line here and make a big reveal: Herc and Amadeus are and will forever be best friends. But that doesn't mean they have to like each other. In fact, it's the people who we're closest to that can drive us the most nuts. Let's just say that these two heroes have a huge amount to learn about who they are and who each other are. And there's no telling what kind of crazy that might bring out."
INCREDIBLE HERCULES #138 will also kick off a new series of Agents of Atlas back-up features, from writer Jeff Parker. And while the Agents might not interact directly with the "Assault on New Olympus" storyline, they will certainly have some deity issues of their own.
"The Agents intersect mainly with one Olympian in particular: Aphrodite, who you may know also went by the Roman name, Venus," Parker reveals. "Aphrodite is a jealous and vengeful sort, and does not like that someone on the Atlas team has been parading around the world looking exactly like her and using her name! And when a god marks you to be plagued and bedeviled, that is exactly what happens.
"Also, I don't think any of us can resist reintroducing the world's most powerful hook-up friends, Hercules and Namora."
"They're 'teammates with benefits,'" adds Van Lente.
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