Saturday, December 4, 2010

Superheroes I Love # 7: Hercules

PhotobucketYes, that Hercules. The icon of Greek mythology has made the leap to comic books several times in various incarnations -- why not use the legendary strongman as a superhero, after all? The most lasting portrayal of Hercules in comics has been Marvel Comics' version of him, who first appeared in Journey Into Mystery in 1965 as a sparring partner for the Mighty Thor. Hercules as proper superhero has had a long life in the Marvel universe, joined the mighty Avengers and fought Wolverine and all that kinda jazz. He's been an arrogant yet chivalrous force for good.

Who: The son of Zeus and a mortal woman, the demigod Hercules is a fearless warrior renown for his strength and courage. In the Marvel Comics, Hercules is part of the modern world of superheroes and villains. It's always a bit interesting when a centuries-old mythological figure is shoehorned into modern stories, but Hercules fits better than most.

PhotobucketWhy I dig: Herc has always been the down-to-earth, impulsive braggart counterpoint to Thor's stuffy restraint. Thor always struck me as thick and impenetrable in the comics too much of the time (unless done by Walt Simonson or Jack Kirby). Too much thee-ing and thou-ing. Hercules is the god you'd sit down and have a tankard of mead with. The best portrayals of Hercules combine his chummy bravado with heroism, while in lesser ones writers err too much toward making Hercules an addled man-child. Hercules has had an excellent revival as the star of "The Incredible Hercules" comic, teamed up with a teenage boy genius and having various adventures, loves and epics. Writers Greg Pak and Fred Van Lente have provided some interesting spins on Hercules' character -- notably focusing on the fact that this demigod has lived a very long time and is no stumbling buffoon, while he still has a sense of humour about himself.

Read this:
The classic 1982 "Hercules: Prince of Power" series by Bob Layton were sci-fi action mixed with godly feats, and funny to boot. They're set deep in the future when Hercules -- banished yet again from Olympus by his angry dad Zeus -- is roaming the stars. Then pick up any of the recent "Incredible Hercules" paperbacks by Marvel which nicely weave in a variety of world mythologies and other Marvel hero storylines into a complex, witty and wild ongoing epic.

1 comment:

  1. K, just realized you started blogging again. What the F?!?!? How long has this been going on!?!?!???