Read about one of the Outhousers' favorite characters in the weekly Character Spotlight! This week, we look at Marvel Comics' Hercules!
In an Internet filled with overwhelming negativity and pointless hatred of frivolous stuff, it's sometimes necessary to take a step back, take a deep breath and remember why we enjoy comics in the first place. Character Spotlight is a new weekly feature showcasing some of the Outhouse's favorite characters that epitomize why we read comics in the first place. Maybe you'll learn something, maybe you won't, but regardless we hope you enjoy the Outhouse's Character Spotlight!
Character Spotlight: Hercules
In a nutshell, Hercules is the Greek/Roman demigod brought into the modern Marvel Age. He was introduced to the Marvel U in Journey Into Mystery Annual #1 to answer a simple question: who could win in a fight, Thor or Hercules? The answer: Not Olympus. That place got torn up. Zeus ended up intervening so that he would still have a kingdom to rule. This tale took place in the distant past, though, so Herc couldn't just walk right into the modern day. To handle that, we flash forward to Journey Into Mystery #124 where Zeus kicks Hercules out of Olympus for brawling too much.
From that, we get a good look at the character of Hercules and his usual motivation. After some recent events, Hercules has lost most of his godly powers as well as his immortality. In their place, he still has all those muscles as well as an array of mythical devices to help him on his latest hero journey. In Brooklyn.
Some might think of Hercules as a poor man's Thor but they aren't looking very closely. Herc is a drunken Thor. No, but seriously, the Prince of Power is a more down-to-earth god with less nobility and regalness, without losing one lick of his heroic character. In the best writer's hands, Hercules combines humor, over the top action, and mythological factoids.
One of my teachers back in high school described a statue in some Greek city where "Heracles" is drunk, naked, and peeing in a fountain with a goofy grin on his face. I have never been able to track down a picture to confirm this statue's existance but it sums up an aspect of Hercules nicely. He's the greek god/ hero people loved because he was sort of goofy and usually very drunk. In mythology, Heracles would let his passions get the better of him and he'd do something monumentally stupid. When he'd come to his senses, the hero would do whatever he could to atone for his mistakes. This would lead to stuff like the twelve labors where Heracles would hit the opposite end of the spectrum and solve puzzles in unique, inspired, and very "Herc" ways.
So Marvel had a lot of good stuff to work with to make their Hercules character interesting but for most of his history, he was relegated to a supporting role in Thor or maybe joining up with the Avengers, Champions, or Heroes for Hire. He was fun but no one was able to make him work as a solo series until the writing team of Greg Pak and Fred Van Lente gave him a try after World War Hulk. The duo made Incredible Hercules a buddy book, pairing the Greek hero with genius teenager, Amadeus Cho. Add in a comedic writing style and you've got a great comic.
In recent history, Hercules has been pretty involved in Marvel Events, playing a part in Captain America's resistance in Civil War, teaming up with a new Champions team during World War Hulk, leading a squad of gods against the Skrull dieties in Secret Invasion, teaming up with Hank Pym's Mighty Avengers in the Dark Reign, and his commanding presense in Chaos War. What you really need to read, though, is the entirety of Incredible Hercules (Incredible Hercules #'s 113-141). It's just a great comic throughout it's run (though the art could have used a boost at times). The run is filled with great moments like the afformentioned "God Squad" Secret Invasion tie-ins (IH #'s 116-120), Hercules and Thor trading places (IH #'s 132, 134, and 136), and the wrap-up storyline, Assault on New Olympus (IH #'s 138-141). If you've stayed with me this long, this is either a run you've already read or one that you should be looking for.
Old School Hercules DOES have his moments, of course. I recommend checking on Silver Age issues of Thor for more Stan Lee and Jack Kirby goodness. Journey Into Mystery #'s 124 and 125, Thor #'s 126, 128-131 are a good place to start. These are all collected in Essential Thor volume 2 so you can get black and white versions of these tales for a good price.
Hercules Can Even Beat Superman:
As powerful as Hercules usually is, he'd probably give Big Blue a run for the money but where the Lion of Olympus really would beat Supes is in bed. I bet he could bed Lois Lane AND Wonder Woman. If he played his cards right, Herc could do this AT THE SAME TIME. Say what you will about Hercules, he's pretty much a man whore to a level that would make Tony Stark blush.
Even better, he wouldn't cry when it was over.
Where the character is today:
After being brought back to life in Heroic Age: Prince of Power and slugging it out with the Chaos King in Chaos War, Herc is back to his own ongoing series. It's called... Herc. Everyone's favorite Greek hero is depowered and living in Brooklyn, using various mythological items to aid him in his fight against extremist vigilantes led by the resurrected son of Ares. Right now, the Prince of Power is slugging it through a Fear Itself story arc but is doing it so well that you really don't need to be reading that event to enjoy some Greek heroics.
Written or Contributed by: SuperginraiX