The Avengers are still reeling from the massive assault they suffered at the hands of The Masters of Evil lead by Baron Zemo II. The Avengers mansion is in ruins, both Jarvis and Hercules are still hospitalized, and the stress of leadership is hammering down on the Wasp. And things only go from bad to worse. -summary
The Avengers have enjoyed some very good runs through out the years being blessed by some outstanding writers; Roy Thomas, Jim Shooter, Kurt Busiek, and Roger Stern. Stern was probably just as good as all of them, because he also knew what made the team work. The Avengers are Earth's Mightiest Heroes and the best way to milk them for what they're worth, is to put them against the mightiest threats in believable situations against hopeless odds. In the previous story arc Avengers: Under Siege, Stern was able to do that putting them up against a horde of Earth born powerhouses that dealt the team a severe blow. In this follow up Avengers; Assault on Olympus, Stern does that again with amazing results. This is another excellent story arc that belongs in just about any comic fans collection. This TPB collects Avengers issues 278 - 285.
This book is heavily driven by its characters, as it begins with the Wasp coping with the struggles of leadership. She is terribly bent out of shape due to the Masters of Evil systematic demolishing of the Avengers. In addition, the paperwork is building and teammates are leaning on her for guidance. The responsibility becomes too much and she steps down, leaving the remainder of the team; Captain America, Captain Marvel, Dr. Druid, Thor, Black Knight, and She-Hulk to determine the next leader. The writing is very solid here, and anyone who has had to deal with the mentally taxing responsibility of leadership will be able to relate. There's another story that focuses on the butler Jarvis's decision if he should continue working for the Avengers. He suffered a very brutal beating at the hands of Mr. Hyde that has left him nearly blind in one eye, and one of his knees had to be replaced. This is an excellent story of a normal man finding the courage not to give into the negative and move on, no matter how easy it may seem to just quit.
The story doesn't at all skip on the action though; things begin to move at full speed and never let up, once Hercules is kidnapped from the hospital still comatose. Zeus has ordered the gods of Olympus to defeat the Avengers, and bring them to him for final judgment. This begins a battle against hopeless odds, as the team eventually battle Zeus who succumbs to the Warriors Madness, which is a berserker rage that completely clouds gods senses. This battle defines epic as Zeus is determined to take them all out.
The story is newbie friendly in a way, since it explains some characters situation that took place in their own book, such as the reason on Thor now wearing armor. Also, despite this book being the sequel to Under Siege, it's not really necessary to read that story first, but I highly recommend doing so because it's just as awesome as this one. Personally, I find it better than this just not by too much.
The dialog has some funny moments, and John Buscema's artwork compliments the frenetic writing during the action-filled moments. The action panels gradually build up until the last issues becoming more and more entertaining. The heavy hitters such as Thor, Sub-Mariner, and She-Hulk are used well dishing out mean punishment. There's also some nice settings, with a blood red background depicting the hellish feel of Hades. I wish there were more backgrounds to give a better feel of this creepy looking world.
Avengers: Assault On Olympus does take a while to get going. I can imagine the slow beginning putting off the action crowd and making this hard to get through. I enjoyed those moments of character study a great deal though, especially on the part of Jarvis because he's not a superhero, but he took a beating some superheros has never gotten. Overall, this is a great story arc from the 80's that shouldn't be missed if you consider yourself a comic fan.
Pros: -Strong character and story development, epic conclusion
Cons: -Slower moments may bore some
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