Hercules (Marvel Comics)
|First appearance||Journey into Mystery Annual #1 (1965)|
|Created by||Stan Lee (writer)|
Jack Kirby (artist)
Heroes for Hire
|Notable aliases||The Prince of Power; The Lion of Olympus; Victor Tegler; Harry Cleese|
|Abilities||Superhuman agility, durability, endurance, and strength|
Debuting in the Silver Age of Comic Books, the character is based on Heracles of Greek mythology. The character has starred in three self-titled limited series and been a perennial member of the superhero team the Avengers. In 2008, Hercules debuted in his own series titled The Incredible Hercules. The character was ranked 21st in IGN's list of "The Top 50 Avengers", and has appeared in various forms of media including television series and video games.
Hercules debuted in Avengers #10 (Nov. 1964) as a minion of Immortus, although his appearance was revealed in the limited series Avengers Forever #1 - 12 (Dec. 1998 – Nov. 1999) as being an impostor. The character's first formal appearance in the Marvel Universe became Journey into Mystery Annual #1 (1965), which established Hercules as being a rival of the thunder god Thor.
Hercules became a regular guest star in the title Thor, appearing in issue #126 (March 1966). The character guest-starred in Tales To Astonish #79 (May 1966), and his deadlocked battle with the Hulk, as told by Lee, Kirby, and Bill Everett, has come to be regarded as a classic. The tale parallels Hercules and the Hulk's titanic strength, short temper, and simple-mindedness, while contrasting their lot in life: Hercules being a beloved hero and pampered celebrity, while the Hulk is a hated and feared fugitive. The character teamed up with the Avengers in issue #38 (March 1967), but was not yet an official member; he was merely a guest of the Avengers during his banishment from Olympus. In issue #45 of The Avengers, Hercules became a "full-fledged Avenger" by way of Goliath's announcement to the press during the first annual "Avengers Day". Hercules also guest starred in Marvel Team-Up #28 (Dec. 1974) and Marvel Premiere #26 (Nov. 1975) before starring along with four other heroes in The Champions which ran for 17 issues (Oct. 1975 – Jan. 1978). After this, Hercules made a guest appearance in Marvel Two-In-One #44 (Oct. 1978).
Hercules starred in two limited series by writer-artist Bob Layton, with both set in an alternate universe. A 24th century version of Hercules starred in Hercules, Prince of Power #1 - 4 (Sep. – Dec. 1982), which was popular enough to spawn a sequel, Hercules, Prince of Power vol. 2, #1 - 4 (March – June 1984). The storylines dealt with Hercules's exile from Olympus, completion of a series of quests and opportunity to leave his past behind and create a new identity.
Hercules remained a constant guest star in both Thor and the Avengers, playing a significant role in the "Avengers Under Siege" storyline in Avengers #270 - 277 (Aug. 1986 – March 1987), involving supervillain team the Masters of Evil. The story lead directly into the "Assault on Olympus" storyline in Avengers #281 - 285 (July 1987 – Nov. 1987), in which Hercules left the team.
The character starred in the self-titled limited series Hercules vol. 3, #1 - 5 (June - Sep. 2005), and guest starred in the limited series Thor: Blood Oath #1 - 6 (Nov. 2005 - Feb. 2006), a retrospective story that depicts the second meeting between the Hercules and Thor.
At the conclusion of the "World War Hulk" storyline, Hercules received a self-titled publication when Marvel changed the name of the third volume of the Incredible Hulk series to The Incredible Hercules, effective as of issue #113 (Feb. 2008), and written by Greg Pak and Fred Van Lente. The series concluded with Incredible Hercules #141 (April 2010), and was followed by the 2-issue mini-series Hercules: Fall of an Avenger (March - April 2010). The mini-series is scheduled to lead into the relaunched new title, Prince of Power #1 (May 2010), also written by Pak and Van Lente.
Fictional character biography
Hercules first appears when pulled from the past by the villain Immortus to battle the Thunder God Thor. This story is not referenced in the character's next appearance, which depicts Hercules and Thor as apparently meeting for the first time. The discrepancy is eventually explained when it is revealed that the first "Hercules" encountered was actually an alien Space Phantom in disguise.
Hercules guest-stars in an extended Thor storyline, defeating a depowered Thunder God (punished by Odin for loving the mortal woman Jane Foster). Hercules unwittingly becomes the slave of fellow Olympian god Pluto when he signs a contract which he thinks is for a film, but actually states that he will now rule the Netherworld instead of Pluto. Hercules is eventually rescued by Thor (now at full strength) who battles and defeats Pluto's underworld minions. Pluto opts to void the contract rather than accept the destruction of his realm. While under the contract, Hercules has a chance encounter with the Hulk, fighting the monster to a standstill.
Hercules reappears as the thrall of the Asgardian villainess the Enchantress who is using water from the spring of Eros and tries to use him to destroy the Avengers, but after being freed from the spell by one of Hawkeye's arrows using brimstone, and being banished from Olympus for one year by Zeus for going to Earth without permission, aids the team for an extended period against foes such as the Mad Thinker; Namor the Sub-Mariner; Diablo; Dragon Man; the Red Guardian; Whirlwind and the Titan Typhon who has imprisoned the Olympians in the Land of Shades, until leaving for Olympus. The character returns briefly during a storyline set directly after the Kree-Skrull War in which the returning Avengers witness an amnesiac Hercules being abducted by two Titans. After dealing with a disruption in New York City caused by the Olympian Ares, the Avengers travel to Olympus and free both Hercules and the Olympian gods who have been turned to crystal by Ares using the Ebony sword. They find out from the Black Knight's spirit he lost his memory after being thrown from Olympus and drifting for six days and nights.
Hercules continues to aid Thor in several connected storylines. Thor mistakenly battles Hercules when trying to rescue an Asgardian goddess from the underworld, but together they defeat instigators Ares and Pluto who are trying to take over Olympus; battle the Destroyer and then Herald of Galactus Firelord before a confrontation with Ego the Living Planet on Galactus's behalf, as Galactus has been defeated by Ego. Hercules is temporarily possessed by the entity the Dweller-in-Darkness and guest stars with hero Spider-Man in title Marvel Team-Up. before reappearing in the title Thor, aiding Asgardian goddess Sif locate an artifact called the Runestaff of Kamo Tharnn. Hercules also visits California and battles old foe Typhon.
Hercules becomes a founding member of the superhero team the Champions, aiding the mortal heroes against the machinations of Olympians Pluto and Hippolyta. The character appears during the Korvac saga, and after being kidnapped by the Elder of the Universe the Collector is freed (with the other Avengers) by comrade Hawkeye to battle the cosmic entity Korvac who has absorbed power from Galactus's ship, giving him god-like power, and traveled from the 31st century to remake the Universe. Although killed in battle, Hercules and many of the Avengers are resurrected by the entity before dying. Hercules also appears in a humorous story with Fantastic Four member the Thing.
Hercules reappears during the "Celestial saga", joining an invasion force comprising Olympian gods and other allies that storms the realm of Olympia (occupied by the Eternals). After a cameo appearance with the Avengers, Hercules reappears and aids the heroes of Earth against an invasion of New York City by the legions of the fire demon Surtur. Hercules rejoins the Avengers and aids the team against threats such as Maelstrom; the Blood Brothers; the android Vision when malfunctioning; Terminus; the space pirate Nebula and the villains Kang the Conqueror and Immortus.
During the "Avengers Under Siege" storyline, Baron Helmut Zemo assembles an army of supervillains to form the fourth version of the Masters of Evil. Courtesy of a paid pawn, Hercules is drugged at a bar in order to incapacitate him. Hercules, however, manages to return to Avengers Mansion and singlehandedly engages the Masters of Evil, being eventually beaten unconscious by Goliath, Mister Hyde, and the Wrecking Crew. Although the Masters of Evil are defeated, Hercules remains in a coma as a result of his injuries. The next storyline, titled, "Assault On Olympus" deals with the consequences of Hercules's injuries, as he is taken from the hospital by fellow Olympian Hermes and returned to Olympus. The Avengers eventually pursue - also aided by sometime member Namor the Sub-Mariner who is kidnapped by Greek god Neptune - and discover they are being blamed by Zeus for Hercules's condition, as Hercules mentioned them in his coma. As the Avengers battle several of the gods and Zeus himself, the Titan Prometheus restores Hercules to full health using part of his life force, Doctor Druid uses his powers to restore Hercules's sanity, and Zeus accidentally attacks Hercules, after which he stops the fight. He hears from his son that the Avengers are not at fault. After that Zeus decides to ban the Olympians from Earth.
During the "Evolutionary War" storyline, Hercules defeats a misguided High Evolutionary by mutating "beyond godhood". Hercules eventually returns to his normal form and aids Thor against villains such as the Mongoose and Doctor Doom. After Hercules stars in a Hollywood film of dubious quality as a fictionalized version of himself, Zeus punishes him for this "travesty" by sending him on a mission to restore the lost faith of Magma, an active worshiper of the Greek gods. Hercules's demonstrations of strength and heroism fail to convince Magma that he is the real Greek god, and Zeus ignores his pleas to show her Olympus. However, she comes to believe Hercules after witnessing his eloquent reaction to a mortal's death.
Together with Thor, Hercules confronts the Wrecking Crew once again, and recovers his confidence and defeats the villains when the Thunder God feigns defeat. After a brief appearance in the "Black Galaxy" saga, where he is trapped inside a Celestial, Hercules rejoins the Avengers as a reserve member and is upgraded to active status during the "Collection Obsession" storyline, aiding the team against Thane Ector and the Elder of the Universe the Collector and then during the Operation: Galactic Storm storyline.
The other gods continue to feud with Hercules, with Ares - possessing the body of Eric Masterson who currently wields a missing Thor's power - launching an unsuccessful attack. When Hercules falls in love with a mortal woman called Taylor Madison, the goddess Hera intervenes and attempts to kill her, although this is prevented when Ares warns Zeus. Hercules discovers that Madison was actually a construct created by Zeus to lure out Hera, and attacks his father. Zeus is angered by "his son's lack of respect", and strips Hercules of his immortality and half his strength, forbidding him from ever returning to Olympus.
A despondent Hercules helps the Shi'ar warrior Deathcry return to her homeworld, and on returning to Earth is devastated to learn that the Avengers - and the Fantastic Four - have apparently sacrificed themselves to stop the entity known as Onslaught, although they have really been sent into a pocket universe. Hercules briefly joins the commercial superhero team Heroes for Hire, and travels to Greece with Spider-Man to meet the threat of Dr. Zeus. He eventually reunites with his Avenger comrades, aiding the team against Morgan Le Fey. before choosing to remain an inactive member.
After a misunderstanding Hercules is manipulated into fighting Thor, but aids the Thunder God (together with the Asgardian entity the Destroyer) against the Dark Gods, who have conquered Asgard.
Hercules decides to locate Erik Josten - now reformed and renamed "Atlas" and a member of Thunderbolts - who as "Goliath" participated in the beating of Hercules by the Masters of Evil. Hercules finds and attacks Josten until former Avenger Hawkeye (now leader of the Thunderbolts) convinces him to stop, although at the cost of their friendship. Hercules also aids the Avengers against the avatar group, the Exemplars.
Hercules becomes a drunkard, dismayed at the dissolution of the Avengers during the "Disassembled" storyline, and the destruction of Asgard and disappearance of Thor. Hera takes advantage of Hercules's vulnerability and via her pawn Eurystheus (an ancient rival of Hercules during the Twelve Labors) proposes he complete a modern version of the classic Labors for a reality television show. Despite opposition from villains such as the Abomination, the organization HYDRA, and awkward tasks such as retrieving the shield of Captain America, Hercules is successful. Hercules is also forgiven by former wife Megara, who Hercules accidentally killed (together with his children) - a deception revealed by a humbled Hera.
Hercules encounters Thor for the second time in a retrospective story; and guest stars in a humorous story with heroine She-Hulk, Hercules being successfully sued by the villain Constrictor for injuring him. Hercules also aids fellow Greek god Ares against the Japanese gods when they attempt to overrun Olympus. Hercules eventually wins back his lost fortune in a poker match with the Constrictor.
During the "Civil War" storyline Hercules is depicted as an opponent of the Superhuman Registration Act, and calls the pro-registration heroes "traitors". Taking the alias of "Victor Tegler" - an information technology consultant with help from Nick Fury - to hide from pro-registration forces, Hercules is dismissed by Iron Man, believing he cannot even spell 'registration'". Hercules helps the Secret Avengers escape after the cyborg Thor clone is first released. Hercules, however, kills the cyborg Thor clone in the final battle between the two sides, claiming that it is an insult to the Odinson, before smashing its head open with a hammer while yelling 'Thou art no Thor.'
Hercules also stars in the "World War Hulk" storyline, featuring a flashback to a period when the superhero team the Champions are still together. In the flashback the team mistakenly attack the Hulk, with the delay almost killing a gravely ill Jennifer Walters. Hercules and former Champions teammate Angel reconcile with the Hulk. Together with several other super beings, Hercules forms a loose-knit group called the "Renegades" to attempt to stop the Hulk when he invades New York City, then helping with rescue and recovery operations in the ruins of the destroyed city then departing before being apprehended.[volume & issue needed]
After the conclusion of World War Hulk, Hercules embarks on series of adventures with companion Amadeus Cho, a teenage genius and "sidekick". Hercules encounters long-time foe Ares, who poisons the hero with venom from the mythical Hydra. After being driven mad by the venom and embarking on a destructive rampage, Hercules is eventually stopped by former Champions teammate the Black Widow (who also neutralizes Cho when he attacks spy organization S.H.I.E.L.D.).
Hercules plays a pivotal role in the "Secret Invasion" storyline, forming a team called the God Squad (consisting of Ajak; Amatsu-Mikaboshi; Demogorge and Snowbird) to neutralize the Skrull gods directing the invasion of Earth. Hercules is made leader of the team, as the representative of the Western Gods. When Nightmare asks for the team's fears as they try to get his help to get to the Skrull gods, he sees Hercules's fear from losing his armor bearer Hylas. Hercules and Snowbird form a romantic attachment, and together slay Kly'bn, the leader of the Skrull pantheon by impaling him with the dead Atum's spine (with Amatsu-Mikaboshi assuming this role and ending the intervention by Skrull divinity). This event is immediately followed by the storyline "Love and War", in which Hercules and allies Cho; Namora and the goddess Athena attempt to thwart Amazon leader Artume, who reshapes so that the world is dominated by the Amazon females. Hera and Pluto take advantage of the chaos and an absent Zeus to attempt to kill Hercules and Athena. Hercules aids Cho's lover - Delphyne - slay Artume and take her place as queen, and with Athena is able to reset reality.
Although successful, Athena dispatches Hercules and Cho to Hades to find Zeus as he is needed to counter Hera. The pair are waylaid in Hades by the Dark Elf Malekith the Accursed - disguised as the Asgardian god Balder the Brave - who requests the characters embark on a mission into Svartalfheim, the home of the Dark Elves. Despite Pluto using the spirit of Hercules's adoptive father, they are able to retrieve Zeus. During a humorous series of events, Hercules is forced to disguise himself as Thor and eventually marry Alflyse, the Queen of the Dark Elves.
During the "Dark Reign" storyline Cho finds out that the activities of the Elder God Chthon are causing a "chaos cascade". To meet this threat Cho and Hercules form a new team of Mighty Avengers along with U.S. Agent, Vision, Hank Pym, Stature, Quicksilver and Jocasta. The team goes on to break into the Baxter Building, battle the Unspoken in China, visit the Inhumans to return their stolen Xerogen crystals, fight a cosmic cube empowered Absorbing Man, and capture Loki for information about the Scarlet Witch. When Pym requests that Loki join the team, Hercules and the others lose faith in him as a leader and quit.
Hercules teams with both the Mighty and New Avengers to stop Hera from remaking the universe with a device called Continuum. Hercules battles Typhon in the alternate Continuum universe and defeats him. Athena appears after the fight, but instead of coming to help she seemingly destroys the Continuum universe with Hercules still inside. She explains that he had to die so that Amadeus Cho could replace him as the new "Prince of Power". A funeral service is held at the Parthenon in Athens, where many of Hercules's comrades pay their respects and share memories. Athena appoints Amadeus as the new leader of the Olympus Group. Amadeus travels to Hades, only to discover that Hercules is, in fact, not dead. Cho tells Athena he intends to use all their resources to find Hercules and bring him back. Cho teams with Bruce Banner to build a machine that can scan all of reality, but discovers it would take over a billion years to locate Hercules. Amadeus then embarks on a quest to gain the power of a god, competing against Vali Halfling and the Pantheon and teaming up with Thor. Once Cho becomes a god and attains omniscience, he realizes that he is inadequate to wield such power. First he returns Hercules to Earth, then transfers all his new powers into him.
During the events of Chaos War, Amatsu Mikaboshi arrives on Earth with an army of slave gods, destroying the dream dimension and causing people all over the world to enter a sleep-coma. He then destroys the afterlives of all the cultures of the world, freeing the dead to walk the Earth. The newly super-powered Hercules assembles a second God Squad to battle Mikaboshi, who now calls himself the Chaos King. The combined efforts of the God Squad, Alpha Flight, the Hulk family, and deceased members of the Avengers and X-Men manage to keep the Chaos King's armies at bay, while Cho and Galactus work on a way to transport the entire Earth into the safety of the Continuum universe. Hercules is able to seal off the Chaos King in the Continuum, saving the world. Hercules then expends all his new powers in order to restore the universe, leaving him reduced to a mortal man once again.
Hercules reappears in Brooklyn, armed with a new array of Olympian weapons stolen from Ares's armory. They include a magic sword called the Sword of Peleus, the Shield of Perseus (an unbreakable shield that turns anyone who looks at it to stone), arrows that can penetrate through anything, and the Helm of Hades (a helmet of invisibility). He gets a job bar tending at a Greek run bar and restaurant in Brooklyn. He later battles Hobgoblin in a construction site, who was attempting to intimidate the owner of the restaurant into selling it to the Kingpin. After defeating him, Hercules discovers that the owner's daughter sold him out to Hobgoblin and confronts her, until Kingpin appears and tells the owner he can keep the restaurant, taking Hobgoblin with him. After his victory becomes public, the restaurant becomes successful and Hercules becomes a local hero and celebrity.
During the Fear Itself storyline, Hercules comes across Basilisk, Griffin, Man-Bull, and an unidentified fourth character robbing a bank. They had just escaped from the Raft during the breakout caused by Juggernaut, who was transformed into Kuurth: Breaker of Stone. Hercules soon discovers that the amnesiac fourth person with them is actually the witch goddess Hecate. During the fight, Hecate looks into the Shield of Perseus and regains her memories of taking over Brooklyn. She then teams up with Kyknos in order to take over the city. The pair manage to turn some people against Hercules due to the chaos that the Serpent's Worthy created. When Hercules uses the Shield of Perseus to turn some people to stone, Basilisk and Man-Bull flee. The Griffin reacts to the magic forces at work, devolving into a savage beast. He saves Hercules's life and becomes his new steed, allowing him to fly around the city. Hercules recovers upon hearing the prayers of his worshipers and finds himself in the Griffin's care, only to discover that Brooklyn has been reshaped into a nightmare landscape. Hercules and the Griffin manage to find where Basilisk and Man-Bull are hiding and recruit their help. The villains approach Hecate and Kyknos using a ruse involving Hercules being turned to stone. Hercules quickly revives and saves the villains by killing Kyknos, then prevents Ares's resurrection by kicking over his altar. Hecate flees and Brooklyn is returned to normal.
During the Spider-Island storyline, the Greek owners/operators of the bar where Hercules works have fled the dangers of New York City and returned to Greece, leaving Hercules in charge. He befriends an elderly African man named A. Nancy who loves stories. One night Herc is bitten by a bed bug that gives him spider powers, which he uses to fight crime. The Queen of Spider Island reveals herself to Herc and makes him her slave. She sends Spider-Herc against the X-Men, who were in town after fighting lizard people in the sewers. They try to reason with him, but he attacks them with the Sword of Peleus. Due to the mutagenic properties of Spider-Man's powers, Spider-Herc mutates into Herc-Spider mid-battle. Shortly after, the X-Men are trapped in a magic web, and the Greek goddess Arachne appears. Instead of fighting, it is revealed that Arachne is very attracted to Herc's new form and they embrace, while the X-Men are forced to watch. While Arachne is preoccupied, A. Nancy breaks into her home and steals her mythical woven tapestry. He reveals himself as the African spider god Anansi, a collector of stories, when he's attacked by Elektra, who takes the tapestry from him. Hercules is later cured of his spider transformation by Peter Parker, along with everyone else infected.
Hercules later encounters Zeus, who was depowered by his wife Hera because of his infidelity and womanizing. During that time, he discovers Elektra stealing a museum artifact from the Hand. After battling the Hand ninjas, Hercules discovers, through Kingpin, that Elektra is stealing mystical artifacts for Baba Yaga, a Slavic witch who was summoned by the Russian mob, who plans to absorb the magic of the artifacts to gain a youthful appearance and increase her power. He manages to locate Baba Yaga after Elektra steals his weapons. Herc and Zeus infiltrate the witch's home and Herc, with Elektra's help, defeats Baba Yaga. He then lets Zeus absorb the magic from the artifacts, restoring his godly powers, and they part ways.
Hercules is called upon to act as a guest instructor at Avengers Academy when most of the main faculty are preoccupied with the events of Avengers vs. X-Men. Tigra is shocked by his nakedness while demonstrating the ancient Greek art of wrestling and forces him to wear clothing. The school is suddenly visited by Captain America, who asks that the facility be used to hold the younger members of the X-Men until the fighting is over. Kavita Rao and Madison Jeffries urge their students to comply with the Avengers, but many are resentful of the confinement. Hercules arranges an Olympic competition between the two schools in order to ease tensions and avoid an actual fight from taking place. Sebastian Shaw (who was also being held at the Academy) escapes and the faculty members of both schools try to keep him from reaching the students. Hercules is defeated because Shaw is able to absorb the magic energy from his weapons. Shaw then tells the X-Men students to escape before fleeing himself. Hercules urges Tigra to let the kids join the fight if they want to, believing they had no right to hold them there against their will in the first place. Some of the X-Men students remain at Avengers Academy while many join the fighting, and Hercules reflects that while the older generation has only found war, at least some of the kids were able to find peace.
As part of the All-New, All-Different Marvel event, Hercules, isolated and shunned by the hero community, attempts to regain his reputation as a true hero, by adapting himself into modern society. During that time, he takes on the threats of the Uprising Storm, a group of new gods consisting of Catastrophobia: God of War, Horrorscope, and Cryptomnesia: God of Data as they plan to wipe out the old gods.
During the Civil War II storyline, Hercules is seen at a bar talking to Amadeus Cho, who has become the new Hulk, when the city is suddenly under attack by a Celestial and both spring into action. During the battle, while Amadeus helps the other heroes, Hercules encounters the Uprising Storm, who tell him of their plan to destroy the world and turn him into one of them by teasing him into believing that the other heroes don't want him anymore. Back home, he confines his encounter to his friends and, after a pep talk from his landlady Sophia, decides to reunite the ancient heroes in order to battle the Uprising Storm. Upon gathering the ancient heroes, known as the Gods of War, Hercules informs them of the situation when the Uprising Storm suddenly show up. They begin to battle, with the Uprising Storm getting the upper hand. In the middle of the fight, Hercules begins to destroy the city when Cryptomnesia uses the brand he placed on him to turn him into a God of Chaos, forcing the others to fight him while the Uprising Storm watch. During the battle, Hercules is confronted by Steve Rogers, Captain Marvel, Spider-Man and Medusa who attempt to stop his rampage. After a brief fight, the Gods of War inform the heroes of the Storm and the curse placed on Hercules, though they don't see them. Steve and Gilgamesh then go to free Hercules from the curse which Steve does by yelling "Avengers Assemble". After the brand disappears and the other heroes leave, Hercules informs his friends about the Storm's true intentions, total destruction, and that they must be stopped. Later, while Hercules, Sigurd, Gilgamesh, Beowulf and Theseus ambush the Storm in their hideout, an abandoned hotel, Ire, Lorelei and Tiresias perform a ritual to weaken the Storm. Initially, the ritual has no effect until Horrorscope is defeated and killed by Ire and Lorelei, when she teleported to the apartment to kill them, while Catastrophobia and Cryptomnesia are killed by Gilgamesh and Hercules respectively. After killing Cryptomnesia, Hercules is congratulated by Athena, who offers him a place in Olympus. Hercules turns it down so that he can continue to live on Earth as a true hero.
In the aftermath of Civil War II, Hercules rejoins the Avengers, where they foil an ambush by Kang the Conqueror. While the others are trapped in limbo as a result of time paradoxes created by Kang, Hercules (immune to Kang's current tactics of targeting the infant Avengers as nobody knows exactly where or when he was born) goes to Vietnam where he fights two versions of Kang attacking a temple who were looking for an infant version of Kang. After Hercules finds the child, the Avengers return from limbo and start fighting until Vision sends Wasp back in time to return baby Kang to his era. After Wasp succeeds, the Avengers make a plan to defeat Kang for good. They assemble the original Avengers from the past and join forces to attack Kang's alternate versions at the same time. After defeating Kang, each of the Avengers return to their timelines. The Avengers are then recruited by a reformed Doctor Doom operating as Iron Man to defeat a coven of young witches. They later battle Avenger X, a member of the original New Avengers, who attempted to eliminate the team until Wasp shrinks her to sub-atomic levels.
During the Secret Empire storyline, Hercules appears as a member of the Underground following Hydra's conquest of the United States. Hercules and Quicksilver lead a strike force to find the Cosmic Cube fragments so that they can use it to restore Captain America to normal. Upon convincing Sam Wilson to smuggle them out of the country, the team goes to locate a Cosmic Cube fragment which is in possession of Ultron. Upon arriving, they encounter Hydra's Avengers led by Steve Rogers and are captured by Ultron. They later manage to escape while Ultron gives the team his fragment. During a mission in Madripoor, Hercules got turned to stone by Gorgon though he managed to knock him down amongst his petrification. Back at their hideout, Hercules goes to the infirmary to heal until Hydra arrives and attacks the base. The heroes then battle Hydra's Avengers and a revived Bruce Banner as the Hulk until the base explodes. After their hideout is destroyed, the heroes witness Sam Wilson reassuming the mantle of Captain America. With the use of the Cosmic Cube fragment, they manage to help destroy the Planetary Defense Shield and the Darkforce dome over Manhattan and liberate all the imprisoned Inhumans. While attacking Hydra forces at the Capitol, the Underground are surprised by Steve Rogers, who was wearing a Cosmic Cube-powered armor. They later witness the final battle between the Hydra Steve Rogers and the real Steve Rogers and the restoration of America. In the aftermath of the event, Hercules and Vision go to a coffee shop where they discuss about immortality and its ups and downs. They're later signaled by Sam and Thor, who received a call about a supervillain attack, and spring into action. Hercules and the other Avengers joined forces with the Champions in order to prevent the High Evolutionary from merging Earth 1 and Earth 2.
The original Champions (Hercules, Iceman, Angel, Ghost Rider and Darkstar) reunite at the location of their former headquarters in Los Angeles to mourn the death of the Black Widow. They battle a group of decommissioned Sentinels while out at a West Hollywood nightclub.
When the Human Torch starts losing his powers he asks Hercules for advice on how to restore them. Hercules had recently found a way to get his own powers back after losing them fighting the Chaos King. Johnny and the Thing find him at a bar in Brooklyn drinking non-alcoholic beer. He tells them about how he was healed by a scientist named Rachna Koul. He takes them to her secret lab ( located somewhere in the forests of Colorado ) where she explains that she was able to repair the biological conduit connecting Herc to the source of his godly power.
During the events of No Surrender, Hercules is sent to the Roman Colosseum with Rogue‘s team of Avengers in order to battle the Lethal Legion. The team then traveled to Antarctica to fight against the Black Order. Later Hercules, and his teammates attempt to stop the Hulk from rampaging through Avengers HQ. Hercules and Sunspot use their combined strength to stabilize the "world-engine" that is protecting the Earth while Thor and Lightning recharge it. Herc, Thor and Wonder Man travel to Asgard to celebrate their victory.
When Hercules tried to track down his resurrected family, he instead was captured by them. He was freed by the reformed Guardians of the Galaxy. He aided the Guardians in stopping the mad gods, but at the cost of Star Lord's life. Following the battle with Gamora's West Spiral Arm Guardians, Hercules began a relationship with Marvel Boy (Noh-Varr).
Powers and abilities
Hercules possesses the typical powers of an Olympian god, including superhuman strength, durability, speed, reflexes, stamina and endurance. He is the strongest of the Olympians, being capable of feats such as lifting and hurling a giant sequoia tree, smashing rocks to powder, sealing an entire cliff around an opponent with his bare hands, knocking out a yellow-crested Titan, and dragging the island of Manhattan (though this was later retconned to be merely a boast he had made, and not a genuine feat). His superstrong legs allow him to run at speeds of over 100 mph, and leap over a hundred feet into the air. He can withstand blows from Thor, and possesses a complete resistance to high caliber bullets.
Hercules is highly skilled in archery, boxing, Greco-Roman wrestling, and claims to have invented the martial art Pankration. In combat he occasionally wields a golden-looking adamantine mace - stated and shown to be equal in durability to Thor's own mystical hammer Mjolnir (though it is not enchanted with additional abilities as Mjolnir is) - forged by the Greek god Hephaestus. As an Olympian, he is resistant to all earthly diseases, possesses a healing factor, immortality, and also has some immunity to magic. However, his strength can be taken by significant Olympian magic, such as that of Zeus.
Hercules sacrificed his godly powers to save humanity in the wake of the Chaos War, and was completely powerless. Despite this, he retained his exceptional physical condition compared to a normal human, incredible skills in archery and hand-to-hand combat and access to magical weapons and items that help in battle. At the start of the 2015 Hercules series, his powers made an unexplained return. They were later revealed to have been restored through scientific means. At this time, Hercules made use of both antique and modern weapons, such as assault rifles, tasers, grenade launchers, and others.
Other Marvel characters named Hercules
- Varen David—In 1940, Timely Comics (Marvel's predecessor) published the adventures of a strongman called "Hercules" in Mystic Comics #3 & 4. In 2009, this character was profiled in Marvel's Marvel Mystery Handbook and identified as "Varen David".[volume & issue needed]
- Unnamed member of the Order-A member of the Order codenamed "Hercules" first appeared in Civil War #7 (2007).
A zombiefied version of Hercules appears alongside She-Hulk, Firestar, and Starfox in Marvel Zombies vs. The Army of Darkness when Scarlet Witch explains to Ash Williams and Dazzler about the S.O.S. that Colonel America put in the Avenger's comlink. Later he participates in a multi-zombie attack on the castle of Doctor Doom. There were human Latverians inside.
Later, he is seen in the ruins of New York. He is one of the many casualties in the conflict waged against the Silver Surfer; he is crushed to death by the zombiefied version of Hulk when he tries to get Silver Surfer's head from his mouth.
24th Century Hercules
An alternate universe version of Hercules stars in a humorous limited series titled Hercules, which depicts the adventures of Hercules in the 24th century. Banished from Olympus by Zeus in order to learn humility, Hercules travels into deep space where he meets the Rigellians who loan him Recorder #417. After adventures on several planets, Hercules arrives in the Omacron star system where he confronts the cosmic entity Galactus and, after being completely humbled, manages to save the world Galactus intended to devour.
This was followed by a second series with a darker tone. Set forty-one years after the first series, Hercules and Recorder #417 meet and eventually befriend an alien Skrull called Skyppi (initially using his shapeshifting abilities to pose as a gorgeous human female). The demigod and his allies then face a cosmic version of the hero Red Wolf and a villain - devoted to the Titan Thanos - who breaks into the tomb of Kree hero Captain Marvel and steals the character's Nega-Bands. Hercules eventually returns to Olympus, and after a battle with Zeus (who has apparently gone insane and killed the other Olympian gods) proves he has learned humility by sparing Zeus's life. Zeus reveals the other gods are not dead, but now exist on another place of existence where Zeus himself will also reside. Hercules is advised that he is now free of his past, and that the character can found his own dynasty.
Hercules, Skyppi and the Recorder next all appeared in the graphic novel Hercules, Prince of Power: Full Circle. The trio are captured by Emperor Arimathes, who turns out to be a son Hercules never knew existed, the product of one of his romantic adventures in the first limited series. Having been manipulated all his life by his bitter and vengeful mother, Arimathes is a cruel tyrant and Hercules must do what he can to prevent a war and save his son from his destructive path. A three-part storyline in the anthology series Marvel Comics Presents served as an epilogue to the events of the graphic novel.
The final adventure of this version of Hercules was presented in a third limited series, Hercules: Twilight of a God. Set 75 years after the events of the first limited series, this story introduces the three grandchildren of Hercules, a new alien Silver Surfer, and the Galactus Black Hole that threatens all life in the galaxy. The fates of Skyppi, Recorder #417 and Arimathes are revealed as Hercules sacrifices himself to stop the expansion of the galactic threat and, in doing so, alters the destiny of both himself and Galactus.
When the Hulk initially found Dystopia, Hercules was in charge of the collection of human survivors, now calling himself "the Maestro". An encounter with Rick Jones confirmed for the Hulk that Hercules is now only interested in ruling humans and having sparring matches or sex. Although the Hulk expresses little interest in helping ordinary people for the sake of helping them after they caused the apocalypse, he infiltrates the remains of Alchemax to create the Dogs of War to oppose Hercules's forces.
X-Treme X-Men vol. 2 #7 (2013) depicts an alternate version of Hercules who is in a same-sex relationship with that dimension's Wolverine, the British Governor General of the Dominion of Canada, who is known as Howlett. In issue #10, it is shown that when the pair revealed their relationship, Zeus banished them into the pit of Tartarus as he is the only god allowed to consort with mortals. During the X-Termination crossover, AoA Nightcrawler's trip home resulted in the release of three evil beings that destroy anyone they touch. Several casualties resulted, including the AoA's Sabretooth, Horror Show, and Fiend, as well as the X-Treme X-Men's Xavier and Hercules.
In other media
- Hercules is a recurring character in the Mighty Thor segment of the animated television series The Marvel Super Heroes, voiced by Len Birman.
- Hercules makes a cameo appearance in the X-Men: The Animated Series episode, "One Man's Worth".
- Hercules makes cameo appearances in the Fantastic Four episodes "To Battle the Living Planet" and "Doomsday".
- Hercules appears in The Super Hero Squad Show episodes "Support Your Local Sky-Father" and "So Pretty When They Explode", voiced by Jess Harnell. While in the disguise of Gyros: God of Pitas, Loki tricks Zeus and Odin into holding a contest between Thor and Hercules. In "So Pretty When They Explode", Hercules and She-Hulk help the Super Hero Squad into rescuing Nova from Thanos.
- Hercules appears in the Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H. episode "The Tale of Hercules", voiced by Townsend Coleman. Besides Hercules' mythological history and being the protector of Greece, he is shown to have a history with Hulk, always mispronounces Charon's name (which annoys Charon), and causes more problems than he can solve while sporting a big ego. It was stated that the last time Hulk was invited by Hercules, they ended up fighting a Chimera. In the episode "Planet Monster" Pt. 2, Hercules is among the superheroes that help the Agents of S.M.A.S.H. and the Avengers fight the forces of the Supreme Intelligence
- Hercules appears in the Avengers: Secret Wars episode "The Incredible Herc", voiced by Matthew Mercer. Here, Hercules had stolen a weapon from Ares that also acts as a key to Tartarus, so he decides to join the New Avengers as a means of hiding. The Greek god quickly infuriates Black Panther with his ego and destructive nature. Ares quickly shows up, having sent various Greek beasts to apprehend his brother and fights the New Avengers. After the damages are done, Hercules was forced to clean up his mess.
- Hercules appears as a non-playable character in the video game Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2, voiced by Sean Donnellan. He serves as a boss on the Pro-Registration side. He is captured by the heroes at the HYDRA base in New Jersey. He and Cable are sent in a convoy truck but are later rescued by Captain America. Hercules is also shown to wield a sword in one of the cutscenes in addition to his normal weapons, but is quickly disarmed by Wonder Man. He is seen at the funeral service. Hercules helps guard Stark Tower and manages to escape after it is invaded by the Fold while the heroes were fighting the Fold in Wakanda.
- Hercules appears in Marvel Super Hero Squad: The Infinity Gauntlet, voiced by Jess Harnell. Loki and Enchantress set up a contest between Hercules and Thor with the prize being the Rhythm Infinity Gem. Thor managed to defeat Hercules in the contest.
- Hercules is a playable character in the Facebook game Marvel: Avengers Alliance.
- Hercules appears in Marvel Heroes, voiced by Travis Willingham.
A number of Hercules's stories have been collected into individual volumes:
- Essential Thor: Volume 2 (includes Journey into Mystery Annual #1 and Thor #126, 128-130, 584 pages, October 2008, ISBN 0-7851-3381-X)
- Hercules: Prince of Power (collects Hercules: Prince of Power #1-4, 192 pages, hardcover, September 2009, ISBN 0-7851-3955-9, softcover, September 1997, ISBN 0-7851-0555-7)
- Hercules: New Labors of Hercules (Collects Hercules (2005 3rd Series) #1-5, 120 pages, softcover, October 2005 ISBN 0-7851-1752-0)
- Thor: Blood Oath (collects Thor: Blood Oath #1-6, hardcover, April 2006, ISBN 0-7851-2274-5, softcover, January 2007, ISBN 0-7851-1852-7)
- Ares: God of War (collects Ares #1-5, 120 pages, November 2006, hardcover, ISBN 0-7851-2333-4, softcover, ISBN 0-7851-1991-4)
- Hulk: WWH - Incredible Hercules (collects Incredible Hulk #106-111, 152 pages, June 2008, ISBN 0-7851-2991-X)
- Smash of the Titans (collects Incredible Hulk #106-112, Incredible Hercules #113-115, and "Hulk vs. Hercules: When Titans Collide", 296 pages, hardcover, July 2009, ISBN 0-7851-3968-0)
- Incredible Hercules:
- Against The World (collects Incredible Hulk #112 and Incredible Hercules #113-115 and "Hulk vs. Hercules: When Titans Collide", 136 pages, premiere hardcover, July 2008, ISBN 0-7851-3312-7, softcover, October 2008, ISBN 0-7851-2533-7)
- Sacred Invasion (collects Incredible Hercules #116-125, 264 pages, hardcover, March 2010, ISBN 0-7851-4256-8) previously collected in:
- Secret Invasion (collects Incredible Hercules #116-120, 128 pages, premiere hardcover, November 2008, ISBN 0-7851-3333-X, softcover, March 2009, ISBN 0-7851-2829-8)
- Love and War (collects Incredible Hercules #121-125, 128 pages, premiere hardcover, March 2009, ISBN 0-7851-3334-8, softcover, June 2009, ISBN 0-7851-3246-5)
- Dark Reign (collects Incredible Hercules #126-131, 160 pages, premiere hardcover, October 2009, ISBN 0-7851-3830-7, softcover, January 2010, ISBN 0-7851-3537-5)
- The Mighty Thorcules (collects Incredible Hercules #132-137, 144 pages, hardcover, January 2010, ISBN 0-7851-3831-5, softcover, April 2010, ISBN 978-0-7851-3677-4)
- Assault on New Olympus (collects Incredible Hercules #138-141 and Assault on New Olympus Prologue, 128 pages, premiere hardcover, May 2010, ISBN 978-0-7851-4545-5)
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