The dark god Typhoon stands triumphant over Hercules’ still form.
A week ago:
“Hold on, wait!” Amadeus Cho demands of the Greek goddess of Wisdom Athena, after their adventure in Excello, Utah.
Amadeus will be the next Prince of Power, Athena repeats. That doesn’t make any sense! the teenager insists and suggests she look at his skinny girl arm. She’s gonna have to bombard him with some gamma rays first or something!
He’s missing the point, the goddess, replies. Hercules was the greatest hero of the Bronze Age. He cleared the world of beasts and monsters so science could supplant superstition. Now they live in the twilight of the doleful Iron Age. To meet the coming threat, more than mere strength is needed. They need Amadeus’ hypermind. That is why she has chosen him as her new champion.
So what, she’s just gonna ship Hercules off to a nursing home? the boy asks. Visibly sad, Athena looks down, admitting that is not an option. Before the new age comes, the former must be wiped away. Even as she has calculated Amadeus’ ruse, and the coming of darkness he must vanquish, she knows they stand on the eve of a great battle… one that will claim Hercules’ life! Amadeus looks at her in shock.
Present at the Mighty Avengers Infinite Mansion.
Why the grim faces? Hercules asks those gathered, friends from several Avengers teams: Wasp, USAgent, Quicksilver, Jocasta, Wolverine, Spider-Woman and Spider-Man, as well as his sister Athena, his father Zeus, (rejuvenated and amnesiac in a child’s body) and his recently estranged best friend Amadeus.
Grim? Spider-Man retorts. He’s grinning up a storm behind the mask. Cause he’s totally psyched about launching an 11th hour frontal assault against the most powerful gods and monsters in the Olympian pantheon. That’s what they are doing? Wolverine asks. That’s what they are doing, Athena confirms. Beautiful, Spider-Woman sighs.
No worries, Hercules tries to assure them. Though with father Zeus stripped of his memories and reduced to the size of a child, mad Hera may seem to hold all the cards but his beautiful bride Hebe was Hera’s assistant and knows all her secrets.
Hebe is less assured. Sitting on a chair with a mechanical helmet strapped onto her head, she shyly tells Hank Pym aka the Wasp she’s never used one of these machines before. She and the rest of the world, Pym explains. He just invented the mental imager this morning. All she has to do is remember and the device will do the rest.
In front of Hebe, a picture of Hera’s HQ takes shape, drawn from Hebe’s memories. What do they see? Wasp asks the Avengers. What’s their best line of attack through the Olympus group’s defenses?
Quicksilver races around the hologram, asking who monitors the cameras on the exterior. Argus, Hebe recalls, the hundred-eyed giant, from his panopticon. And who stands sentry on the roof? Quickly now, he presses. Hera’s Huntsman, Hebe replies. He can detect the approach of an Olympian from the farthest horizon, and inside the halls are patrolled by Queen Delphyne Gorgon and her Amazons. Chicks, no problem, USAgent mutters under his breath, though loud enough for Spider-Woman to harrumph displeased.
Hera’s weapon Continuum ® lies in an impenetrable Adamantine vault at the top of the building. Adamantine? Wolverine asks. Like what’s on his claws, only godlier, Amadeus explains.
The vault is only accessible from a lift inside the Paradeisos Garden, Hebe continues, protected by glass unbreakable by any power weaker than Hera’s own thunderbolts. All of the invincible doors and unbreakable locks inside the Olympus Group were designed by Hera’s loyal son, forge smithy god Hephaestus who can create any number of unstoppable war machines on a moment’s notice. And only Hephaestus and Hera herself possess keys to operate the elevator, but Hera’s bodyguard is Typhon, last of the Titans, who once fought all of the gods, including Zeus himself to a standstill.
Don’t see how, young Zeus harrumphes as he studies Typhon.
Hebe continues that assuming the heroes get past Huntsman, evade Argus, beat up all the Amazons, pick the unpickable lock and / or break the unbreakable doors and vanquish the greatest monsters in history, the rest should be pretty easy. She breaks down crying. Who are they kidding? It’s impossible! They can’t even get into Olympus Group headquarters, much less defeat what they find when they get there. Those are gods themselves they face. Mother’s going to win, just like she always does. She hates her!
USAgent orders her to cut the waterworks. And enough with all the “god” talk. Grabbing him by the front of his shirt, Hercules warns him to watch his tongue. Watch his own, comes the retort. He doesn’t see how Hercules or the chick with the breastplate or the kid in the cape are different than any other superhumans. He doesn’t believe they are gods any more than Pym is the god of shrinking or Spidey here is the god of wisecracks. Of course not, Spider-Man agrees. That would be Chris Rock.
Maybe the Greeks did worship them in old-timey times but that was a tragic mistake. There’s only one god and he ain’t any of them – or Hera and her band of jokers, for that matter. So drop the idolatry and the pearl clutching and maybe they can get something done around –
Pearlclutching? Zeus asks. Like what a little old lady does, Hercules clarifies. Ah, an insult, Zeus muses. Can he kill him? Athena tells her rejuvenated father to calm himself and listen. There is wisdom in what the mortal says. In truth gods are as much reflection of the hopes and fears of collective humanity as anything else. She explains that many contend that the “marvels” have usurped the primary function of myth… the latest manifestation of eternal cycles of belief. The Dark Angel Spider-Woman has all the deadly grace of the Hindus’ Kali, the Black One, Slayer of Shape-shifting demons. A wisecracking trickster spider-hero has been known to West Africa for thousands of years, but they call him Anansi. And here he thought he was so unique, Spider-Man pouts.
And in appearance and attitude Wolverine reminds her of nothing less than fierce, feral Cernunnos, horned god of the Celts and leader of the Wild Hunt And today they are led into battle by Hercules, first and still greatest hero of them all, and in whose footsteps they still follow in some way.
Though he has no doubt they will live up to his eternal standard in battle this day, Hercules adds generously. Know what he loves best about Herc? Spidey asks. His modesty.
Amadeus taps Hercules’ shoulder, asking him if he has a minute and draws him aside. Hercules coldly looks at him, still insulted. Amadeus quickly apologizes for ditching Hercules in Atlantic City. It didn’t have anything to do with Hercules. It was… he means, there’s something about Athena that…. Hercules warns him to think carefully about what he says next. Athena can be brusque at times she has always watched over him. And she holds Amadeus nearer to her heart than any pureblooded mortal who ever lived, Hercules replies.
Yeah, well, Amadeus replies, not convinced. He hands Hercules a bottle with water and explains he stole a little water from the river Lethe during their little trip down under. If push comes to shove, he can use it to wipe the memory of his opponent. Hercules doesn’t take it and replies Amadeus should keep it. He’ll need it more. Amadeus points out he can’t keep Hercules from doing what he does. He’s going to lead the main charge, take the greatest risks, play right into… he’s not doing this alone! Hercules slaps his back and cheerfully announces: no more tedious debate! They will take their enemies by surprise and run them into the ground. Nothing but glory waits!
Amadeus thinks to himself that he failed his parents and his sister, the Hulk, but he won’t fail Hercules. He doesn’t care what Athena says, he’s not going to let him die!
Wasp protests that a frontal assault on Olympus would be suicide. They need time to figure out the right plan. No, Amadeus announces, they already have it. He knows exactly how they can breach Hera’s defenses. It’s a golden-moldy… but that’s kind of the idea!
A little later from the top of the Olympus Group building, Huntsman informs Argus that a spawn of the Dodekatheon approaches. Hebe enters the building, expected by spear-wielding Amazons. Shyly she explains that she is here to pack up her desk. They have no right to stop her. The Amazon’s leader Delphyne Gorgon tells her that her mother would like to see her. Hebe is unwilling but Delphyne tells her she knew her mother would demand an audience if she returned.
Hebe enters an atrium where Hera admires some flowers. Coolly she greets her mother who chides her for pouting. Hebe reminds Hera that she busted her out of a fortieth story window. There’s no better time to pout! Tch, she is told. Her regenerative powers healed her right up, just like Hera knew she would. But Hebe is correct. She must beg her forgiveness. She merely took the side of her husband against Hera. As the goddess of marriage, Hera should have respected that, but she lost her head. She’s sorry.
Hebe is unconvinced. Hera asks him to listen. It is merciful fate that has reunited them at this moment. She’s called all her children to her side. They must all be together now that her plans are coming to fruition. Her brother, Ares, and sister, Eris, are already on the way. What is happening? Hebe asks. This universe is a bit of a disappointment, wouldn’t she agree? Hera asks. Too many gods mixing with mortals. Too many mortals challenging the gods. And when Hebe’s father died she realized she’d lost any real attachment to it. So she thought… she’ll do what gods are supposed to do. She’ll make a second creation! And to clear the way for it, all she needs to do… is kill everyone in this one!
Suddenly, Argus calls Hera over the commlink, telling her that his all-seeing eye sees a kind of miniature ship hidden inside the bracelet on Princess Hebe’s wrist. Panicked, Hebe shouts Hera can’t trust Argus. Remember how he fell asleep watching over Zeus’ lover Io? Not deterred, Hera begins to crackle with energy. Infuriated she calls her daughter a traitors witch and stares t he wrist. She has studied Hercules’ allies. One of them is that size-changing sorcerer Pym! She can see movement inside the bauble. Uh-oh, someone in the miniature ship mutters.
Hera pulverizes the bracelet. The bastard son of Zeus slinking inside her citadel like the insect he is! Let him die like one!
Furious, she shouts at her daughter- she grovels for her forgiveness, offers to bring her with her to her glorious new cosmos and she betrays her for that oaf?! She smashes her outside the atrium.
Hebe lies there, seemingly heavily injured. This all seems vaguely familiar, Typhon observes. Hera orders him to be silent. As goddess of eternal youth Hebe will simply regenerate as she did last time. Her mortal employees don’t know that, Typhon observes, as an ambulance enters. They have sent healers to aid her. She can see that! Hera replies impatiently. They’re in for quite a surprise when halfway up the morgue she’ll sit up and-- She suddenly notices the name on the ambulance – “Trojan” – and realizes what’s going on. But too late…
The ambulance door opens and out of it storm Hercules, Athena, Zeus, Amadeus and the Avengers, ready for battle. Quicksilver tells them to hurry. Pym’s holograms of that phony shrunk ship bought them the element of surprise. Don’t waste it!
Into the breach! Hercules orders, leading the attack as he swats aside Amazons with his adamantine mace. He gently gathers up Hebe who assures him she is fine. He tells her he did not want Amadeus to involve her in his scheme, but she played her part like the bravest of gods.
As they assure each other their love Amadeus makes retching noises while behind him two Amazons are about to attack him. Get a room willya? he mutters while easily dodging, making the two women take each other out.
Feel like a modern-day permutation of a mythic icon yet? Spider-Woman asks Spider-Man in the middle of the battle. He lives his life by a simple rule, he tells her: “if someone asks you if you are a god, say yes!” Ghostbusters? Wolverine asks. Doesn’t make it any less true, Spidey defends himself. Get yer enlightenment anywhere you can find it, Wolverine agrees.
Crackling with energy, Hera warns Hercules and Athena they have only led their mortal allies to their deaths. For the full legions of Olympus are Hera’s to command, and they shall not rest until her walls are caked with their blood. At her orders more gods and monsters appear. And shortly, Hera continues, attacking Athena, the god of war himself, her fiercest son Ares, shall arrive to lead them to victory! Athena replies she wouldn’t be so sure about that.
With good reason. As Ares gets ready for the battle in his apartment in Avengers Tower a voice tells him to put down the gun and pick up what it represents. It is Aphrodite, seductively draped across his bed. She reminds him of how during the Trojan War she’d find her way to his bed while her crippled git of a husband Hephaestus slaved away at his forge. Their heat alone could have fuelled his bellows for centuries…
She touches his chest as he states that Athena sent her to distract him from going to mother. So focused on trivia, she chides. Maybe the goddess of prudes did her a teensy-weensy favor with regard to her enemies, the Agents of Atlas, in return for this assignation but she swears often has she thought fondly of their reunion over these centuries. She kisses him as she hints she could show him how much she has learned since then.
Calling her a temptress, Ares turns away. She seeks to deny him glorious battle! She beckons him to come to her, asking him to make love to her like he were going to war! Finally, he succumbs to her charms. Sex and violence, together again, she purrs.
Back at Olympus, Typhon and Hercules do battle. Amadeus orders Hebe to hide until the fight is over. She refuses to leave her husband. Amadeus tells her to just do it. He got Herc past the outer guard and headed off Ares. He’s not gonna blow it now by having her distract him from protecting his own—Hebe gently interrupts him, assuring the boy he has nothing to fear from her. As Hercules has been a surrogate father to Amadeus… she would be happy to love him as any foster mother could. Sure, great, he replies sarcastically. He loves it. They’ll paint their nails and talk about guys! Until then, plant your back in the back of the frickin’ van! he shouts.
Oh no, he mutters a moment later when a newcomer arrives. It is Thanatos, god of death, which means that one of the Olympians will die!
In San Francisco a bespelled Venus has returned to her original calling, calling mortals to feed the kraken Phorcys, who currently holds the other Agents of Atlas prisoner in his tentacles. Jimmy Woo pleads with Venus to stop singing. Phorcys is going to eat those people!
He’s about to eat them, Gorilla Man reminds him, worrying the next moment which end Phorcys is putting them in.
Jimmy still tries to reach Venus, telling her she is not a siren anymore. This isn’t what she is. She is a hero.
Venus finally seems to have heard him. Confused, she sees what is going on and orders Phorcys to let her friends go.
The people who were about to throw themselves off the bridge to regain their senses. An enraged Phorcys asks how can that be? His loyal creation no longer obeys!
Namora flies Venus to safety welcoming her back while Venus exclaims she almost killed again.
M-11 transports Jimmy and Gorilla Man to safety. Phorcys decides to leave, announcing that the cosmos is changing Soon there will be no place for gods!
Wah, I didn’t get to eat a buncha drowned people, so I’m taking my toys and going home, Ken mocks. Jimmy fears there’s something more to it than that and asks the Uranian to take course for Manhattan. He’s done with waiting for the gods to come after Venus.
On the saucer, Venus realizes matters, telling the others that Aphrodite implied in her temple that something major was going to happen. Something that would affect her and the other gods and Hera was the cause.
Juno too? Namora asks, using Hera’s Roman name. The ancients have been active in the world lately. She herself battled Atlas when she was helping Hercules.
Happily, Venus points out that maybe Namora can see Hercules again when they arrive. More soberly Namora fears he doesn’t want to see her. Hercules realized she and Namor had an attraction. Venus comforts her she is sure Hercules will change his mind.
They reach the Olympus Group building. Jimmy muses that the Atlas Foundation has been affiliated with the gods through business and they didn’t even know it. They’re all part of the Olympus Group, hiding in plain sight. Can Bob locate the one who looks like Venus?
Venus corrects him that she is the cheap copy of Aphrodite. Ken tells her to knock off that talk. She’s a goddess! He knows one when he sees her! Touched, Venus hugs him.
Bob announces he can’t scan the building or project the tractor beam through the walls. That leaves the underground option and so they try to enter via a cavern. Of course, a moment later, they are confronted by monsters.