AVENGERS #281-285 (1987): Assault on Olympus (PLUS: Who can lift Thor’s hammer?)

After the great storyline about the Siege on Avengers Mansion, Roger Stern and John Buscema bring the Avengers to Mount Olympus…To fight the Greek pantheon!  This is the final story of Roger Stern’s Avengers run—easily one of the top five runs of all time.

Here’s Thor vs. Hermes.

Then Haephestus.

Cap and Druid get captured, and Namor goes to help.

Here’s Sub-Mariner vs. Cerberus.

Here’s Dr. Druid fighting the illusions of Psyche.

And that’s She Hulk knocking out Dionysus up there.


And that’s Thor proving that Norse power is stronger than Greek.


Although, Haephestus does lift Mjolnir.  Now, I’ve probably read a dozen “Who Can Lift Thor’s Hammer” articles over the years, and seen it on tons of forum sites.  None of them ever mentioned Hephaestus.  I guess you could argue that he didn’t lift it–he just touched it as it was moving towards Thor, but that’s not what it looks like to me.  Plus, he’s clearly lifting the handle in a preceding panel.  I think I just scooped Wiki!

The Avengers punch their way through the Greek pantheon until, inevitably, the Norse God of Thunder goes against the Greek God of Lightning (it really should be Zeus vs Odin, not Thor, but Odin doesn’t have his own comic).


It’s all based on a misunderstanding.  During the Avengers Mansion siege, Hercules got knocked the hell out and wound up in a coma.  Right before that, he’d stormed off when Wasp tried to get him to act like a teammember.  In fact, it was as a result of this hubris that he ended up getting so badly hurt.  (Like the way I worked in a Greek word there?).

The big battle against Zues…

He’s struggling, but Captain Marvel shows up to help.

The gloves are off!

During the fight, Zeus finds out what happened to his baby boy and hijacks Hercules up to Mount Olympus.  Naturally, The Avengers want to help him so they follow.


Anyway, Herc wakes up and he’s lost his mind (temporarily) so the battles continue until they all figure out that they’re friends after all and it wraps up.  Most heroes vs. heroes battles end this way.  It’s probably not a cop out, since it’s what we all expected to happen, and along the way it was a rip-roaring yarn.


Roger, you were one of the best.

And we’re at the end of Stern’s run.  He plotted the next, really, really odd arc, but the scripting went to Ralph Macchio (who is nowhere near as good).

The end of era.  But what a great story to go out on.

On the art: John Buscema (breakdowns), Tom Palmer (finishes).

1 thought on “AVENGERS #281-285 (1987): Assault on Olympus (PLUS: Who can lift Thor’s hammer?)”

  1. This particular ‘Avengers’ storyline, which played out across most of 1987, is one of the greatest Marvel Comics epics ever published! It accomplishes three things: 1) Roger Stern is one of the comic-book industry’s best writers. 2) The late, great John Buscema, along with John Byrne and Neal Adams, are the comic-book industry’s three greatest artists. 3) The Mighty Thor is Comicdom’s Most Valuable Player. Whenever the Avengers have an adventure in Olympus, Thor really proves his worth to the team. Both in this adventure, and the team’s previous excursion to Olympus in issues# 98-100, I shudder to think what would have happened to our heroes if Thor had not been with them. This epic is the best Marvel Super-Heroes super-jamboree since the first Secret War, in 1984, wherein Thor also earned his ‘MVP’ status, and the 1973 Avengers-Defenders War, before that. I don’t have enough bio on Hephaestus to state whether or not I believe he could lift Mjolnir, but, as a Greek god, and a weaponsmith at that, I am confident that he meets the strength-of-arm requirement, ( according to the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe, Mjolnir weighs a whopping 800 lbs., which MEANS that, even if you DO meet the “worthiness” requirement, you STILL have to be able to lift an 800 lb. object! Which, it should be noted here that Dr. Jane Foster, who has undoubtedly never hefted anything heavier in her entire life than a bedpan, CANNOT!!!! ) but as to whether he possesses the necessary nobility of spirit- I just don’t know. It does appear that Thor was able to wrest Mjolnir out of Hephaestus’ hand by sheer force of will. ( and when did Thor develop THIS power, anyway??? I know the hammer returns to his hand boomerang-style when he throws it, but I did not know he can summon it pyschokinetically from a dead stop. When I saw him do this in the first ‘Avengers’ movie from 2012, I thoroughly and exhaustively explained to all my fellow comics-buffs of the time of the impossibility of this feat. Well, apparently, what the hell do I know-?? ) I enjoyed seeing the Black Knight in this epic. All he has to make him a super-dude is a magic sword, but he certainly does a lot with it, enough to justify his presence among the Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. In recent times, he has-finally-recovered the Ebony Blade, of which I am glad. Yes, the Ebony Blade is cursed, but it’s LITTLE DETAILS like THAT which makes Marvel Super-Heroes so much more interesting than their Distinguished Competitors, right??? Right!!! I don’t think Dane Whitman could rid himself of either the sword OR it’s curse, even if he really wanted to! And why WOULD he want to, anyway??? The Ebony Blade is what makes Dane Whitman the Black Knight- it’s what makes him SPECIAL!! The Ebony Blade always finds itself back in Dane’s hand, where it knows it BELONGS!!! You know, the Spell of Merlin?? I always enjoy seeing Hercules in action, too, because, even though the Prince of Power is arguably the world’s first super-hero, he is not a superhero in the purest sense of the term. Hercules is always going to put finding the next party at the top of his priorities, and battling evil is always going to come in somewhere around Number Three. Nevertheless, I do enjoy seeing him in action- he is Thor without all the supernatural powers, but, in spite of this, Hercules has succeeded in making superstrength such a specialty, that he proves on a regular basis that there is no problem in life that cannot be solved through a sufficient application of brute force, and it’s very interesting to watch! Finally-whereas I am not happy or comfortable with the ‘chickification’ that has befallen our country over the past four decades, it was nevertheless fun to watch Captain Marvel knock Big-Daddy Zeus around a little bit. I do not believe that she could have gotten away with it all day, but it was fun while it lasted. Captain Marvel is very easy on the eyes, ( especially since she gave her hair the “Becky-look” ) she has a very noble spirit, ( meaning, that if she only had enough physical strength to heft 800 lbs., she , too, could wield the hammer of Thor!! ) and, of equal significance, she has never been obsessed with her race! This makes she and Storm unique among black superfolk! Is it the possession of power that makes them unconcerned with their racial status-?? Whatever it is, it works for me! Four topics that I am totally done with are 1) Racism/racial inequality 2) Diversity 3) Inclusivity, and 4) Multiculturalism. Iron Man once told the US Government in the person of Henry Peter Gyrich that “The Avengers will never submit to quotas. ” ( Avengers#181- of course, by the end of the same conversation, the Falcon had been instated into their ranks by governmental edict, so what does Shellhead know?? ) As Captain Marvel and Hercules put it themselves in issue#250, Captain Marvel: ( hefting a glass of champagne ) “To the Mighty Avengers!” Hercules: ( hefting his glass )”And to the beauteous new Captain Marvel!!” Captain Marvel: “And to all of those who have EVER brought honor to the name!” Indeed.


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