Hercules is the son of Zeus, Sky-father and supreme ruler of the gods of Olympus, and Alcmena, a mortal woman who lived over three thousand years ago. Recognizing the need for a champion who would be powerful enough to defend both the Olympian gods and humanity from future dangers she foresaw, Athena, the Goddess of Wisdom, arranged for her father Zeus to sire a half-mortal son to be that champion. To accomplish this goal, Zeus came to and seduced the mortal Queen Alcmena in the guise of her husband, King Amphitryon of Troezen. Alcmena gave birth to the baby boy who would one day come to be known as Hercules. While Hercules was yet a newborn infant, wise and wily Athena duped Zeus' wife Hera, Queen of the Olympians, into breastfeeding the infant boy and thus, inadvertently and unknowingly, bestowing invulnerability upon him through her divine milk. The infant Hercules earned Hera's wrath by biting her while he fed. When Hera learned the infant was Hercules, the illegitimate demigod son of Zeus, and that Athena was responsible for him feeding at her breast, she swore vengeance on both Athena and the boy. Hercules first demonstrated his enormous strength and heroic potential before he was even one year old by strangling a pair of poisonous serpents Hera had sent to slay him while he slept.
As an adult demigod in ancient Greece, Hercules earned eternal world-wide fame. He made his name synonymous with enormous strength and created his timeless legend which grew to be known the world over and still is, even today, due to his many heroic deeds and adventures including; sailing with Jason as an Argonaut in search of the Golden Fleece, slaying Lord Kyknos, the bloodthirsty son of Ares, wrestling and slaying Antaeus; a Giant and son of Gaea, sacking Troy in response to betrayal by King Laomedon, defeating the shape-shifting river god Achelous in combat, taking and holding Atlas' burden of supporting the weight of the heavens and defending/saving the Gods when the Giants rose up in revolt against them.
Of all his mortal accomplishments, Hercules is best known for his celebrated Twelve Labors. He performed these labors to atone for killing his wife Megara and their children as well as to prove his worthiness of immortality & godhood to his father, Zeus. It was Hercules' weak cousin, hated rival and bitter enemy King Eurystheus who was charged with the duty of dispensing the labors to Hercules.
The Twelve Labors of Hercules:
- Slaying the Nemean Lion - whose pelt he kept for use as indestructible armor.
- Defeating the Lernean Hydra, the nine-headed serpent.
- Capturing the Erymanthian Boar alive.
- Capturing the Cerynein Hind, a deer sacred to Artemis, Olympian Goddess of the Hunt, alive.
- Slaying the man-eating Stymphalian Birds.
- Cleaning the Augean Stables, home to 1,000 head of cattle.
- Slaying the Cretan Bull, sire of the Minotaur.
- Taming the man-eating Mares of King Diomedes.
- Obtaining the Girdle of Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons - while romancing Hippolyta.
- Stealing the Red Cattle of King Geryon, slaying Geryon and his two-headed hound Orthus in the process.
- Retrieving the Golden Apples of the Hesperides - while slaying the dragon Ladon and out-witting the Titan Atlas.
- Capturing Cerberus, the three-headed hound/guardian of the underworld - rescuing Theseus along the way.
One of these Labors, the cleansing of the Augean Stables, was actually performed by the Eternal called Gilgamesh, the Forgotten One, who was sometimes mistaken for Hercules in the time of ancient Greece. In the course of these labors, Hercules incurred the wrath of three immortals who remain his enemies to this day. By slaughtering the man-eating Stymphalian Birds, he enraged the war god Ares, to whom they were sacred. In temporarily capturing Cerberus, the three-headed hound that serves as the guardian to the Olympian underworld (not to be confused with the shape-shifting giant of the same name), Hercules offended Pluto, the lord of that realm. By killing the Nemean Lion, the Hydra, and other creatures spawned by the inconceivably grotesque and powerful monster Typhoeus, Hercules gained the bitter enmity of Typhon, also known as Typhoeus, the immortal humanoid offspring of Gaea, elder goddess of the Earth. Upon completion of his labors Hercules' atonement was complete and he was freed from King Eurystheus' control.
Despite accomplishing his famous labors and ridding the mortal world of monsters, Hercules' greatest service to the Olympian Gods during his mortal life may have been fighting beside and defending them against the Giants who were then the newest and fiercest children of the Elder Goddess Gaea. The fates prophesied that no God could slay them, only a mortal bearing the lion's sign. So when Gaea sent her newest race of children, the Giants, to overthrow Zeus and the Olympians, Hercules did what the Gods themselves could not; he slayed the Giants thus preventing the demise of the Olympian Gods while fulfilling an important part of his prophesied destiny as savior of the Gods and men.
Interestingly, after Hercules had protected and preserved both mortal men and the Olympian Gods from all manner of monsters, creatures, beasts, titans and giants, it was Nessus, a common centaur, who ultimately caused Hercules' mortal demise through deception and trickery. Nessus kidnapped Hercules' wife Deianeira, whereupon Hercules shot him with an arrow that had been dipped in the poisonous blood of the Hydra, fatally wounding him. Feigning a wish to make amends, the dying centaur told Deianeira how to make a love charm from his allegedly enchanted blood, aware that it was now tainted with the lethal poison of the Hydra. Some time after Nessus' death, Deianeira, distraught over her husband's latest infidelity, rubbed the supposed love charm into Hercules' shirt and put it on him while he slept. Hercules was instantly thrown into unbearable agony. Hercules built a funeral pyre, set it aflame and threw himself upon it in an attempt to burn the poison out of his body. As his mortal body burned, Hercules plunged for three days through the abyss to Tartarus (the lowest and harshest part of the underworld). Zeus finally intervened; consuming the pyre with his thunderbolts, splitting the divine part of Hercules away from his mortal shade and bringing Hercules to Olympus to be made a true immortal. The first mortal ever to be made a God. Shortly after Hercules' ascension from being a demigod to full godhood Zeus tried to make peace between Hera and Hercules by wedding Hercules to Hera's favored daughter Hebe, Goddess of Youth. Despite the many infidelities of Hercules the marriage of Hercules and Hebe endures till this very day, which is not uncommon for Olympian Gods and Goddesses.
Before the Age of Marvels
Very little is known about the activities of Hercules between his apothesization by Zeus and the modern 'Age of Marvels.' It is known, however, that he eventually found life on Olympus to be dull and boring. Hercules craved action and excitement in the form of adventure and battle like he'd experienced during his mortal demigod days on Earth. It's during this time that Hercules first met and battled his future friend, companion, confidant and fellow Avenger; Thor several times.
The first of these encounters took place in Olympus when Thor was inadvertently transported there by a long forgotten, ancient portal between Asgard and Olympus. Upon arriving in Olympus, Thor did a brief bit of exploring before deciding to return to Asgard. While seeking a way home he crossed paths with Hercules when both wanted to use the same narrow foot bridge from opposite sides of a river. Hercules called for Thor to wait until he'd crossed first but Thor, his pride apparently provoked at the thought of going second, instead began to rush across the the bridge in deliberate defiance of Hercules. Shocked by Thor's defiance, the equally prideful Hercules physically upended the bridge, dumping Thor into the river. Thor arose from the water while defiantly taunting Hercules. In response, Hercules tossed gigantic boulders at Thor which he dodged while climbing from the river. It was then then that the battle truly commenced as the two braggarts traded threats and insults in addition to blows. As they fought, each continually surprised the other with his incredible strength, stamina and fighting prowess. It became apparent to they were evenly matched. Still, neither god, both proud and stubborn, had ever before met his equal in strength or battle so neither would admit it now. Trading ever harder blows, they fought on; each certain that he was actually the mightier warrior and would thus emerge victorious. The battle only ended when Zeus, ruler of Olympus and Hercules' father, intervened, ending the battle.
Zeus, who'd witnessed their battle, told Hercules and Thor they'd fought honorably and were both deserving of victory. Kneeling before him out of respect, Hercules and Thor paid homage to Zeus. Zeus told them to make peace. Hercules and Thor then shook hands after which Zeus transported Thor back to Asgard and sealed the ancient portal between there and Olympus shut.
The second time Hercules and Thor met was when Thor and the Warriors Three of Asgard were on a quest to obtain several mythological artifacts, including the Pigskin of Dionysus which has the power to turn rivers into wine. When Thor and his companions sought to borrow the pig from Dionysus (now aged and haggard from not having access to his wine) they learned the pig was in the possession of Hercules who was using it to create an endless supply of wine which he drank and shared with a bevy of beautiful women.
Coming upon Hercules in the midst of this revelry, Thor approached him in peace and asked him for the pig. Despite having met him before, Hercules somehow failed to recognize Thor and refused to give the pig to him. Dionysus then spoke, telling Hercules he was now in the company of Thor and no longer desired his company or friendship. These words provoked Hercules who ushered the beauteous women out of harms way before splashing the river of wine onto Thor and dealing him a mighty blow which sent him flying into the tops of the surrounding trees. As Thor came down from the treetops and the battle was joined, several Olympian Gods (including Zeus and Neptune) watched, placing wagers on the outcome. Hercules and Thor battled mightily against one and other, using many brutal techniques while ceaselessly bragging and trading insults. The tide of battle swung back and forth, with Thor eventually hurling Hercules high into the air where he was admonished by Zeus for being arrogant and lazy. Diving back to earth, Hercules readied his mightiest blow. On the ground Thor prepared in kind. When Hercules returned to earth, he and Thor struck simultaneously with their fists colliding and creating an tremendous shockwave that scattered the Warriors Three, the beauteous women, the magic pig and the river of wine in every direction. The force of the blow also created an enormous crater beneath them. The two heroes, both now barely conscious, struggled to get up and renew their battle. Hercules recovered first, quickly putting Thor in a chokehold.
Finding he was physically unable to break free from Hercules' grip, Thor mused about his predicament; even admitting to himself that Hercules is his better in hand-to-hand combat. At that point, while on the brink of unconsciousness, Thor's musings reminded him of his power over the storm which he then used to create a storm and bring down a powerful lightning bolt upon Hercules. The lightning struck Hercules forcefully, breaking his grip and freeing Thor. Hercules claimed Thor cheated by using his elemental powers. Thor countered that using his weather powers was the same as Hercules using his arms. Fandral and Volstagg, of the Warriors Three, declared the fight a draw as Dionysus drank the wine created by his pig to regain his youthful vitality and the Olympians watching from above offered their opinions to each other. Thor was rejuvenated by the rain from the storm he'd created as Hercules relinquished Dionysus' pig and, vowing to never again forget Thor's name or face, scooped up two arm-loads of beauteous women and strode away.
Yet another meeting between Hercules and Thor occurred when Hercules traveled to Asgard using the same portal Thor had once used to enter Olympus. He came to Asgard (against the wishes of Zeus) in search of Asgardian giants whom he thought somehow related to the Olympian giants and thus a threat to Olympus and mankind. Hercules found and began battling some Asgardian giants causing tremors that reached all the way to the halls of Asgard. Concerned about these tremors, Odin, ruler of Asgard, sent Thor to investigate their origin. Thor discovered the cause of the tremors to be Hercules battling Frost giants. Recognizing each other, Hercules and Thor exchanged verbal barbs as they, presumably, prepared to battle the Frost giants together. Thor, thinking Hercules was about to attack, insisted he be the first to engage their foes but Hercules stopped him, explaining that he'd already arranged a different kind of contest; a drinking contest. Hercules and Thor then proceeded to drink one giant bottle of ale after another, matching the Frost giants drink for drink, bottle for bottle for hours on end. Eventually, Hercules and Thor won when all of the Frost giants were unconscious; passed out drunk. All, that is, except the female Frost giants, whom then picked up and carried the two drunken gods away for private matters, matter which remain untold.
The final known pre-Marvel Age meeting of these two mythic warrior-gods brought about a "God War" between Olympus and Asgard. The events leading up to this war began when Thor responded to the prayers of his Viking worshipers whom sought his aid against some Greek forces. Thor answered the Viking prayers, intervening on their behalf and turning the tide of battle in their favor. Realizing the godly intervention the vikings had received was beyond their ability to combat, the Greeks responded by praying to their own champion, Hercules, who answered their prayers by promptly arriving and engaging Thor in battle. Such was the ferocity of the raging battle between Hercules and Thor that it caused both the Greeks and the Vikings to quit the field of battle, running for safety. The two godly warriors traded blows of fists, hammer and mace. They used boulders and trees as mortal men use normal weapons, fighting viciously and relentlessly. Neither Hercules nor Thor gave an inch of ground, yet, despite their best efforts, neither could gain a decisive advantage over the other. Thor finally called a stop to the battle by suggesting to Hercules that they have a temporary truce until meeting once again one week later, at such time when they would both be accompanied by the armies of their respective realms, and then renew their struggle to determine whom was mightier and which side would be victorious. Hercules agreed to the truce and both he and Thor returned to their home realms where each sought his father's approval of this war they had agreed to. Thor's father Odin refused his petition for war and Hercules was likewise rebuffed by his father Zeus. Nonetheless, thanks to the machinations of Loki, Asgardian God of Mischief, the will of Zeus was swayed and war between Olympus and Asgard became imminent.
Olympus and Asgard both marshaled their forces and, when the week-long truce was ended, the two sides met on the field of battle; the Olympians led by Hercules and the Asgardians led by Thor. Olympian fought Asgardian, Ares fought Balder and, naturally, Hercules and Thor renewed their battle. While the war raged, sky-fathers Zeus and Odin discreetly met and determined how it would end. Two days later the war was over with, due to the power and determination of Zeus and Odin, both sides believing they had won despite neither being able to reap any benefit from their apparent victory.
After these, and possibly other untold encounters, Hercules and Thor have been friends, rivals, allies and teammates. They've related to each other; both knowing what it's like to be the son of an overbearing all-powerful ruler, both being the champion of his realm and both having an undeniable affinity for earthly mortals. Hercules and Thor each believe himself to be stronger than the other and have engaged in friendly arm-wrestling matches against each other many times over the centuries. Ironically, these friendly contests of strength have proven nothing as all have ended in stalemate. The friendship of Hercules and Thor has been described as being so close it's as though they are brothers.
The Marvel version of Hercules was created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in 1965 as a super-strong heroic character to serve as a rival/foil for Thor and also to establish the presence of the Olympian Gods in the Marvel Universe. A household name; Hercules is one of the most popular figures from Greco-Roman mythology and is universally known for his immense strength. In the late 1950's and early 1960's Hercules was a well known and very popular myth-based hero in many "sword and sandal" movies. He'd been played by several actors in these movies, but was most notably portrayed by champion bodybuilder and former Mr. Universe Steve Reeves, upon whom Jack Kirby based his design and depiction of Hercules. Lee and Kirby's decision to create a Marvel version of Hercules to combat Thor made sense considering his mythological roots, his strength, his built-in name recognition and the popularity of "Hercules" movies at the time. Marvel's Hercules first appeared during the Silver Age of Comics in the first and only "Journey into Mystery Annual" in the summer of 1965.
This Marvel version of Hercules debuted during the "Silver Age of Comics" in " Journey into Mystery Annual" #1 in 1965 as the champion and mightiest of the Olympian Gods who battles Asgard's mightiest warrior; Thor. Hercules appears as a character very similar to Thor in strength, nobility, pride, divine origin, demeanor and his relationship with his father. In subsequent early appearances, during battles against both Thor and the Hulk, Hercules is shown to have a more carefree attitude and to be more reckless than Thor. These characteristics are the that first differentiated him Thor. Later, when he was exiled from Olympus, Hercules filled the role of strongman and deity as a member of the Avengers for a time. During this, his first stint as an Avenger, Hercules was shown to be a brooding type who longs to return to Olympus. It's also during this stint as an Avenger that Hercules' skill as a ladies' man was first hinted at when he dated the Scarlet Witch and also when the Enchantress, who usually makes her opponents fall in love with her, becomes enamored with him. As one of the earliest Avengers, Hercules faced several of their earliest foes such as the Super-Adaptoid, Dragon Man, the Mad Thinker, Red Guardian, Namor and Skurge the Executioner before he battled and defeated the Olympian Gods' deadliest enemy: Typhon thereby rescuing his father Zeus and the rest of the Olympian gods from the extra-dimensional realm Typhon had banished them to. In light of Hercules defeating Typhon and saving him and his fellow gods, Zeus decreed Hercules' exile to be over. Glad that his exile was over and happy to be back in his father's good graces, Hercules bid farewell to his teammates and left the Avengers to return to Olympus where he could be with his Olympian brethren.
Hercules characterization in the Bronze Age is still quite similar to that of Thor. He continues to be depicted as immensely prideful and confident. Hercules appears a recurring character in "Thor" during the early 1970's as he first battled against and then partnered with Thor for a lengthy period, facing a multitude of powerful adversaries together including; the Destroyer, Pluto, Ares, the Dweller in the Darkness, Firelord, Galactus and Ego the Living Planet. This added exposure gained Hercules popularity which lead to him becoming the lead character in a short-lived group/team comic called the " Champions" set in Los Angeles.
This was the first time Hercules was the main focus of a comic and the major hero on a team. It's also here where Hercules' nature as an impulsive hero becomes more established and expounded upon. The Champions battled for justice for a relatively short period before disbanding due to a lack of cohesiveness amongst the various members. During his time with the Champions, Hercules faced foes such as the Stranger, the Sentinels, Magneto, Dr. Doom, Rampage, Titanium Man, Crimson Dynamo, the Griffin and Swarm. While serving with the Champions, Hercules started a romantic relationship with the Black Widow, a Champions teammate whom served as the team leader. Their relationship, and Hercules impulsiveness, continued after the Champions disbanded and carried on when they temporarily returned to the Avengers to help their former team fight Korvac. Hercules even served with the Defenders superhero group for a day.
Early in the 1980's Hercules' impulsive nature as a roustabout and brawler is first revisited in the Avengers before it's given center stage in two mini-series called "Hercules, Prince of Power." It's also here that his true prowess and proliferation as a ladies' man becomes apparent as he charms, romances and hooks-up with several women including Nova (Frankie Raye), a Herald of Galactus originally from Earth and Layanna Sweetwater. These mini-series are both set in the future and focus on the prospect of Hercules learning true humility. It's here that Hercules is cast as a humorous character for the first time as he's shown as an affable and gregarious hero who's just as likely to goof up as save the day. The success of these mini's gave Hercules a boost in popularity that lead to him rejoining the Avengers in the present. During this stint as an Avenger, Hercules battled foes such as the Beyonder, Terminus, the Skrulls, Maelstrom, Kang, Kang's Growing Man and the Masters of Evil. It's also during this stint as an Avenger that Hercules' use of alcohol was shown and used as a weakness when he was ganged-up on and beaten down by a group of super-strong members of the Masters of Evil after he'd been drugged by Tanya Seely (Black Mamba) while drinking. After recovering from his injuries, Hercules aided the Avengers as a reservist against the High Evolutionary. To defeat the High Evolutionary, Hercules was evolved beyond godhood and temporarily went missing but was eventually found by Thor in the Black Galaxy where the Celestials had used him in an experiment. Thor brought Hercules back to Earth.
Hercules in the 1990's started out much the same as he was in the 1980's; he's the brawling and drinking irreverent roustabout. Upon returning from the Black Galaxy, Hercules partnered with Thor for a time and he once again served as an Avenger facing menaces including; the Collector, Thane Ector, Ares, Kang, Arkon, Terminatrix, Apocryphus and Proctor. Hercules also fought to stop the Kree-Shi'ar War during Operation: Galactic Storm. A new facet of Hercules' persona was shown when he mentored fellow Avenger Eric Masterson, who'd temporarily assumed the identity of Thor, on the use of his powers and the ways of heroism. By the mid-90's, Hercules came into conflict with his father Zeus over his callous disregard for the feelings of others in his cruel machinations and manipulations, specifically the creation and use of the woman/construct Taylor Madison as a tool to be used against Hera. Hercules was emotionally scarred by these events and defiantly stood up to Zeus. Predictably, Zeus reacted with fury and stripped Hercules of his immortality as well as half of his power as punishment for his impudence. This lead to Hercules having to face threats and foes as a mortal again which put him at greater risk of injury and/or death and tempered his usual bluster for a time.
While stripped of his divinity Hercules continued to fight as an Avenger, but was absent when the team fell, seemingly slain, to Onslaught (he was accompanying his special friend and fellow Avenger, Deathcry, on her journey back to her home world in the Shi'ar Empire). Hercules' loyalty and dedication to his missing teammates was evident when he decided to return to Olympus and, if necessary, force Zeus to reveal the true fate of the Avengers. To this end he tried to enlist the aid of the Hulk, but the Hulk refused. Hercules didn't accept his refusal and attempted to make the Hulk to help him by force of arms. With Hercules' power significantly diminished, the Hulk beat him nearly to death before Zeus intervened. After recovering from his injuries, Hercules was given the chance to regain his lost divinity and strength, but instead, to Zeus' profound surprise, wanted only to know the fate of the fallen Avengers. Even the power of Zeus proved unable to discern the fate of the Avengers, but Hercules' efforts showed in him a measure of character and selflessness seldom seen before. Hercules even joined S.H.I.E.L.D. briefly serving as an agent to prevent the machinations of Ares and his Warhawks. Still unable to locate his fallen friends, the Avengers, Hercules over-indulged in alcohol attempting to escape his guilt for both not being present when they fell and for not being able to ascertain their fate. During this bout with alcoholism, Hercules joined the newly formed super team " Heroes for Hire" which had been founded, funded and lead by Iron Fist. Unfortunately, his drinking problem lead to reckless behavior which got him kicked off the team shortly after it was formed.
The Avengers did survive their battle against Onslaught and eventually returned. Shortly after their return, Hercules aided them as a reservist against Morgan Le Fay and, later, the Exemplars. But tragedy soon struck when long-time Avenger the Scarlet Witch went insane, causing the deaths of several Avengers and the group itself to disband for a period known as "Avengers Disassembled." While the Avengers were disassembled, Hercules' close friend and rival Thor faced the threat of Ragnarok and, along with the entire Asgardian people, was seemingly slain.
In the wake of Avengers Disassembled, Thor's death and his fellow Avengers seeming indifference to and irreverence about the fate of their fallen comrade; a distraught Hercules succumbed to alcoholism. Hercules' step-mother Hera took advantage of the situation by trying to thoroughly humiliate him and destroy his heroic reputation while he was in this vulnerable state. To accomplish this she enlisted the aid of Hercules' cousin and ancient rival Eurysteus, recalling him from the underworld to set up a modern twelve labors for Hercules to perform on a reality television show. These labors were designed to be as impossible as the original twelve Hercules performed in ancient times. They included capturing Ka-Zar's sabretooth tiger partner Zabu, the Inhuman watch-dog Lockjaw, snaring Dragon Man, defeating the Abomination, Acquiring Captain America's shield, retrieving a S.H.I.E.L.D helicarrier and facing his dead wife Megara in Hades to obtain her forgiveness. Hera was certain Hercules would fail, but he completed these new labors, thus restoring his public reputation and renewing his lust for life.
Also happening during this period of his life, despite being represented by the She-Hulk, who specialized in cases involving super humans, Hercules was successfully sued by the super-villain Constrictor for for damages due to injuries the villain incurred when Hercules stopped him during the active commission of a crime; beating him up in the process. Hercules lost all his money paying this fine and subsequently had to work as a laborer for Damage Control to make a living. Hercules' financial troubles were short-lived, however, as he won back nearly all of his fortune a short time later by beating the Constrictor in a poker tournament held by Benjamin J. Grimm, a.k.a. the Thing.
When the super team known as the New Warriors tried to apprehend some fugitive super villains, while filming their efforts for a potential reality television show, one of those villains, Nitro, exploded while battling New Warrior Namorita and caused a bus to explode killing hundreds of school children. In the wake of this tragedy the public outcry against super-powered people was immense leading to the United States government passing a law requiring all super-powered citizens to make their identities and powers known to the government. The law also required them to train and use their abilities in the service and at the direction of the U.S. federal government. The law was called the Super-Human Registration Act. Many heroes complied and registered, but many heroes did not. Most prominent amongst those who chose not to register was Captain America. The government could not abide people who were required to register not doing so and they soon ordered the newly registered super-humans to arrest the now-fugitive non-compliant super-humans, often pitting friends against friends. This lead to the the Superhero Civil War which pitted former friends and allies against each other and even put super villains who had registered on the right side of the law when they confronted and battled their respective heroic foes.
During the Civil War, Hercules became a part of Secret Avengers, joining Captain America and fighting in opposition of the Super-Human Registration Act. Captain America's forces were largely street-level heroes so the addition of Hercules brought a lot of much needed power to their side. Hercules proved invaluable to Cap's team at least twice. The first time was when Cap's team was lured into a false rescue situation set up by Iron Man, who lead the registered super-human forces. The Secret Avengers responded to the false emergency only to find themselves outnumbered by Iron Man and his team. Cap and Iron Man spoke briefly before a full-blown battle erupted. For a time Cap's side held their own, but things started to go bad when Captain America was on the verge of being beaten by Iron Man. Seeing Cap's desperate situation, Hercules fought his way through several super-strong opponents and was attempting to rescue Captain America when Ragnarok (a cybernetic clone of Thor) brutally attacked, striking Hercules down with massive amounts of lightning. The battle continued and Ragnarok soon killed Goliath (Bill Foster). This brutal killing shocked everyone present, temporarily stopping the battle and even swaying some heroes to change sides. With the battle on hold, Hercules used to opportunity to strike Iron Man with a fuel tanker-truck and rescue the badly beaten Captain America. The non-registered heroes then made their escape with the unexpected help of the Invisible Woman who was appalled by the actions and very existence of Ragnarok.
Hercules' second key moment of the Civil War came during the final battle when he finally got his chance to face Ragnarok, who was arguably the pro-registration side's most powerful and dangerous weapon, one on one without first being struck unexpectedly. Hercules and Ragnarok battled fiercely, but Hercules eventually got the upper hand and even used Ragnarok's own hammer to strike the final blow; breaking open the clone's head and incapacitating him. It was also during this final battle that Captain America once again fought Iron Man. This time Cap was on the verge of defeating Iron Man when several average citizens intervened on Iron Man's behalf. Having the common man take Iron Man's side and seeing the collateral damage the final battle had wrought caused Cap to have a change of heart. He surrendered and ended the Civil War. Hercules, however, still did not register and remained a fugitive.
In World War Hulk, Hercules was recruited by Amadeus Cho, the seventh smartest person in the world, to join his group of Renegades for the purpose of trying to help the Hulk.
Major Story Arcs
The Incredible Hercules
Issue #112 of "The Incredible Hulk" series was re-named "The Incredible Herc" on the cover but it was issue #113 of the publication when the title officially changed to "The Incredible Hercules" starring Hercules and Amadeus Cho.
After Hercules convinced Amadeus Cho that taking SHIELD down was wrong, they went to Hercules' sister Athena's house in Vermont to lay low for a while. Athena advised Hercules to look over Cho as he was at crossroads and could one day become an effective hero or an unstoppable villain. Athena, Cho and Hercules then went to San Francisco for a meeting of the Council of Godheads in the shadow of the Dreaming Celestial.
While driving across the country from Vermont to San Francisco, Athena used the time to get acquainted with Cho. She told him some of the Olympian Gods' history, gave him some background info about Hercules and insight into what he's capable of. Hercules saw the road-trip as an occasion to party, most notably in Cleveland where he battled the gigantic Celtic demigod; Bran, the Blessed and romanced the She-Hulk.
Hercules, Cho and Athena eventually arrived in San Francisco where they encountered the Ikaris and Thena, two Eternals who were working for the Dreaming Celestial. The two Eternals mistook Hercules for the Eternal known as Gilgamesh, the Forgotten One (Gilgamesh had actually performed one of Hercules' twelve labors; the cleaning of the Augean stables) and tried to convince Hercules he was Gilgamesh. It turned out that the Eternal Makkari had made an error in translating the Celestial's message, the Celestials were looking for other forgotten ones. Athena was not sure what they meant, to which Athena replied "Wouldn't you like to know".
Athena soon called a meeting of the Council of Godheads to discuss a grave threat to earth; the Skrull's secret invasion. She then advised the Council to send their own invasion force to attack and slay the Skrull pantheon of gods in their own realm, thus preventing them from commanding the Skrulls to conquer Earth. Athena suggested Hercules, accompanied by Amadeus Cho, lead the Council's invading force of divine representatives consisting of Snowbird, Tecumotzin (actually the Eternal Ajak), Amatsu-Mikaboshi, and Atum the God Eater. Hercules was reluctant to lead the newly formed and aptly named God Squad because he lacked confidence in his leadership abilities, but he finally accepted the role of leader when the African God Anasi inadvertently challenged his pride by stating Thor of Asgard (a longtime friend and rival of Hercules) would be a far more suitable leader. Hercules decision was sealed when he stated "If you follow, I will lead!" and the group responded by joining him in the " God Squad." The new group then boarded their ship and embarked on their journey to the realm of the Skrull gods.
Early in their journey through the dreamtime the God Squad battled Nightmare and acquired his map of the dreamtime. Now having the means to mount an assault on the Skrull gods, the team resumed their quest while Hercules connected with Snowbird romantically along the way. Cho's pup, discovered to be a Skrull spy, was consumed by Demogorge as the Squad arrived at the edge of the Skrull god's realm where they were immediately attacked by hoards of alien gods enthralled by the Skrull deities. During the ensuing battle they lost Snowbird.
Upon their arrival at the throne of Kly'bn and Sl'Gur't, Ajak openly rebelled against Hercules placing the blame for the loss of their companion firmly on his shoulders and doubting his ability to lead them to victory. Hercules allowed Ajak to assume command and battle Kly'bn. Ajak's power proved insufficient against Kly'bn and he was seemingly slain. Meanwhile, Atum, in his Demogorge form, battled and then swallowed Sl'Gur't whole but was quickly ripped apart from within when he was unable to absorb the power she contained. Parts of Atum's body exploded in all directions with one of his bones knocking Cho into the endless void of the Dreamtime.
Enraged by the loss of Cho (which was the boy genius' plan), Hercules cut loose and battled the Skrull god-head to a stand still (impressive since Kly'bn was the god-head and most powerful of the entire Skrull Pantheon, ruling over them and all their captured Pantheons). While they battled, Kly'bn tried and failed to convert Hercules to his cause. And although they were evenly matched, Hercules eventually gained the advantage and hurled Kly'bn onto Demogorge's spinal column (which was held by Snowbird, who'd returned and rescued Cho from the void), slaying him. A battle of shape-shifters simultaneously raged between Amatsu-Mikaboshi and Sl'Gur't. And although Atum met his end at her hands, Mikaboshi was able to defeat her. By defeating and slaying the Skrull's inspirational godhead and his mate, the Squad had broken the back-bone of their spirituality-motivated invasion. Only then did the surviving members of the God Squad (Hercules, Snowbird and Cho) return home.
Love and War
In need of some rest and relaxation after defeating the Skrull deity Kly'Bn, Hercules, who had invited Namora and Amadeus Cho, took a vacation on a remote island where Hercules and Namora were able to privately romp. Unfortunately for the trio it wasn't long before they were attacked by a group of Amazons wielding modern military weapons. The Amazons managed to capture Cho whom they needed to locate the Omphalos, an ancient Olympian artifact of immense power which can be used to alter reality, which they intended to use to become the world's dominant force. Namor, the Sub-Mariner, joined the group and informed them of the capture of the Olympian sea god, patron deity of Atlantis and uncle of Hercules; Neptune. The group found and rescued Neptune after which Namor took him back to Atlantis for medical treatment and care. Hercules and Namora then headed to the new Axis Mundi (the seat of earthly world power), in Washington D.C., to intercept and engage the Amazons. Once there they met up with Athena, rescued Cho and battled the Olympian Titan Atlas. Despite all their efforts, the Amazon leader Artume, the daughter of Hippolyta, now in possession of the Omphalos succeeded in using it to reshape the world into the Amazon-dominated one she envisioned. A world she then ruled, a world where Hercules was the sole remaining rebel to stand against her empire and defy her rule.
Meanwhile, Hera and Pluto had taken over the Olympus Group/ Olympus Corporation, the modern day seat of power for the Olympian Gods, via the inherited shares of Zeus' and by the buying out of (through deception) Neptune, and had decided to use the company, it's influence and their own godly might toward a new major goal: the deaths of Athena and Hercules.
Hercules, Amadeus, Athena and others were able to slay Artume and end the Amazon threat. In the course of these events, Hercules iwa shocked to discover Namora's fondest desire was for Namor to be her love. Hercules and Amadeus reunited and continued their travels after Athena used what remained of the Axis Mundi energies to undo the damage inflicted by Artume and restore reality.
After helping defeat Chthon as members of the Mighty Avengers, Hercules and Amadeus met with Athena at Silly's Greek Diner where they are confronted by Hera and the monstrous Titan Typhon (whom she held in thrall). Hercules and Typhon nearly came to blows, but Silly's Greek Diner had been declared sanctuary for all Olympians, thus forbidding any violence between Gods while inside. Hera demanded that Athena recognize her as ruler of the Olympians and submit to her authority or, along with Hercules and Amadeus, be killed. When Athena refused, Hera told her the next time they met she'd kill her. She also hinted she'd already disposed of Athena's mortal champion; the New Warrior Aegis.
Hercules, Amadeus and Athena's search for Aegis lead them to a warehouse where they found Aegis' dead body. Hera and her allies Typhon, Pluto, the Huntsman of Zeus and Delphyne Gorgon were waiting in the warehouse intent on ambushing Hercules and company but, before they could launch their assault, Norman Osborn's Avengers (most of whom were actually villains) arrived and attacked both sides. Hercules engaged the Sentry and Spider-Man (Venom) simultaneously for an extended period, holding his own throughout the battle, while Amadeus and Delphyne aided each other against Ms. Marvel (Moonstone) and Hawkeye (Bullseye). After a time Amadeus convinced Hercules they would eventually lose and they should quit the fight. Hercules then provided a very public emergency requiring the Avengers response to maintain Osborn's heroic charade. The Avengers responded to the emergency while Hercules and his crew escaped.
Athena then prepared Hercules and Amadeus to enter Hades, while Pluto was absent, to rescue the only one powerful enough to stop Hera: Zeus. Hercules and Amadeus entered Hades through a casino in Atlantic City where they saw many fallen heroes including Aegis, who acted as their guide in the underworld. Amadeus used his genius to win enough money to pay for passage into Tartarus where Zeus was imprisoned.
Once in Tartarus, they found Zeus shackled and held by Pluto, Lord of Hades. Next, they are attacked by twelve deceased villains including the one responsible for Hercules' mortal demise; Nessus. Hercules fought the villains, eventually holding them off using the Hydra-poisoned blood of Nessus. As Hercules battled, Pluto stated Zeus would be tried for his crimes and offered to let Hercules leave the underworld with his step-father Amphitryon instead. Hercules was actually convinced to refuse this offer by Amphitryon and instead chose to attend the trial. Hercules in turn convinced Amadeus to take advantage of the opportunity to see his deceased family while in the underworld.
The trial began with Pluto blaming all manner of misfortune and atrocity on Zeus. Witnesses called during this trial included: Cronus (father of Zeus), Semele (former lover of Zeus), Typhon, Hercules and Zeus himself. The result of the trial was a guilty verdict for Zeus, whom was then sentenced to drink from the River Lethe and thus, lose his memory.
Ignoring Zeus' wishes, Hercules refused to recognize the court and rejected both their verdict and Pluto's sentence. Pluto's response was to bring forth Hercules' own mortal shade which, upon his mortal demise, had been relegated to Hades while Hercules was raised up to full-godhood. Hercules battled his mortal shade as Zeus and Pluto watched. Meanwhile, Amadeus found his parents and learned his sister hadn't died.
While watching Hercules battle on his behalf, Zeus was so moved by Hercules' devotion to him that he willingly drank from the River Lethe and was instantly transformed into a mass of glowing energy. Hercules saw this, immediately dispatched his mortal shade and pursued the energy-mass until they both emerged from the casino in Atlantic City where Athena waited. The energy-mass then struck the ground and became Zeus, bereft of his memory in the form of a boy. Amadeus then emerged from the casino and, angry that Athena hadn't told him his sister yet lived, refused to accompany Hercules anymore, deciding to go his own way instead.
The Mighty Thorcules
When the new trio (Hercules, Athena & Zeus) left Atlantic City Hercules explained to Zeus (now a child with no memory) who he was and how he came to be in his current condition. They are then attacked by harpies sent by Hera. Athena separated from the group to fight them while Hercules escaped with Zeus. Hercules and Zeus soon encountered Balder the Brave, then the Lord of Asgard, who was fleeing from some dark elves and a troll. Hercules and Zeus acted on Balder's behalf, swiftly dealing with his pursuers. Balder explained that Alflyse, Queen of the Dark Elves of Svartalfheim, was planning to take advantage of Thor's exile from Asgard by conquering it. With Asgard weakened by the loss of Thor and in need of an equally mighty champion, Balder sought out Hercules to enlist his aid against Alflyse and the Dark Elves.
Hercules was reluctant to help at first because he didn't want to put the boy Zeus, in danger but was quickly swayed when shown the comely Queen's image. Balder further explained the Dark Elves must believe that Thor still served Balder and defended Asgard. To this end, Norn magic was used to disguise Hercules as Thor and his Adamantine mace as Thor's hammer Mjolnir. They then traveled to Washington, D.C. to use the Axis Mundi to access a portal to Svartalfheim. Balder stayed behind while Hercules and Zeus found the portal and entered Svartalfheim. Once they were gone, Balder revealed his true identity; Malekith the Accursed, former leader of the Dark Elves.
Upon entering Svartalfheim, Hercules and Zeus were immediately surrounded by a troll war party with whom they made an uneasy alliance against their common foe, Queen Alflyse. The alliance was brief, however, as the trolls betrayed and attacked them as soon as Alflyse's castle came into view. Hercules had no sooner defeated the trolls when he and Zeus were met by a contingent of Dark Elves which included Queen Alflyse herself. Hercules introduced himself as "Thor" and Zeus as his son, "Moodi the Moody." Zeus asked Alflyse if she planned to conquer Midgard. She told him that under her rule the Dark Elves had renounced the aggressive foreign policy of her predecessor, Malekith.
Using his typical charm, Hercules complimented Alflyse on her eloquence and her beauty. Alflyse liked what she heard but expressed a need for proof that what he said was true. Alflyse told Hercules that she had heard Thor was banished from Asgard and his hammer was broken. Turning on the charm, Hercules responded "I am Thor. And I assure you, my . . . hammer works just fine." Alflyse smiled and blushed, but still she required him to prove he was indeed Thor by performing a series of challenges.
The first challenge began immediately when a giant forge dropped on the unsuspecting Hercules momentarily pushing him to the ground. He sprung up instantly and smashed the forge to pieces, much to Alflyse's obvious pleasure. The next challenge was a trial of wits. Hercules had to solve the most legendary endgame in three-storied elvish chess. He pondered the board and it's levels for a time and then, concluding he couldn't solve it, he "accidentally" knocked the entire board over. He then claimed victory through changing the rules to win the unwinnable. Though her advisor was unconvinced, Alflyse eagerly accepted Hercules' reasoning and called for the next challenge. The third challenge was test of character in which Hercules was surrounded and engaged by several Elven warriors. After the battle began, Alflyse pulled her dress up high to reveal her upper leg and inner thigh. Despite being in the midst of battle, Hercules couldn't resist looking at her sensual display and was struck soundly upon the head while distracted. Hercules admitted failure in this challenge, but Alflyse (who'd obviously wanted him to succeed) declared, "Two out of three. Close enough."
So the challenges ended with Hercules successfully proving he was "Thor" and they celebrated into the night. Hercules and Alflyse celebrated together; getting better acquainted and spending the night together. Zeus, however, used the time to research and study the real Thor in the Elven library. The next morning Hercules woke up feeling quite proud of his "diplomacy" but was shocked to learn he was now married to Alflyse. It was then that she told him of her new plans to conquer first Midgard (Earth) and then Asgard to reclaim Thor's birthright, the Crown of Asgard, for him. She proclaimed this as she presented to Hercules her Dark Elf forces, assembled and ready to march.
The Elven invasion of Midgard was about to begin when they were confronted by the real Thor, disguised as Hercules to avoid accusations of deception, and the Warriors Three. Seeking to stop the invasion, Thor ordered Alflyse to disperse her forces. She questioned what right an Olympian had to intervene and the Warriors Three told her their old ally "Hercules" (actually Thor) was now defending Asgard and "Thor" (actually Hercules) could claim his birthright by defeating Asgard's new defender. They even offered a written compact to bind both sides to the deal. Queen Alflyse happily accepted the terms as she was quite certain her husband "Thor" would defeat "Hercules."
Before they battled, Hercules and Thor met and discussed the circumstances leading up to the predicament in which they found themselves. Hercules told Thor he was impersonating him at Balder's request. Thor had no knowledge of that, but reminded Hercules that in order to halt the invasion he, as "Thor" must lose their battle. Thor assured Hercules he wouldn't hurt him while telling him to make their "fight" convincing. Hercules, incited by Thor's words, struck first and the battle began. The two gods traded real blows, renewing their ancient rivalry for a time before Thor told Hercules to go down. Hercules told Thor that since the Dark Elves had seen what he could do, nothing Thor had yet done would convince them he'd honestly lost. He proceeded to bait Thor, telling him "You're Hercules now. Live up to the name." Sufficiently goaded by Hercules, Thor struck decisively, giving Hercules the opportunity to concede defeat, which he did, stating; "Mighty Thor has finally, definitively and completely been defeated by Hercules, the Lion of Olympus." Thor rolled his eyes and grunted. The battle was over.
The matter of the elven invasion now settled, Hercules and Thor relaxed and shared some mead while recovering from their battle. Suddenly, Malekith and his ally Grendell attacked, catching Hercules and Thor unprepared. Before anyone else could react, Zeus struck Grendell down with a mighty thunderbolt revealing his identity to all present including Alflyse. The truth now out, Alflyse chastised Hercules for deceiving her but admitted she was quite flattered by his desire for her and even more impressed by his ability to please her. The two of them joined hands and left together, returning to the castle for more private time, leaving the boy Zeus with Thor and the Warriors Three as a new celebration ensued, carrying on into the night.
Assault on New Olympus
While Hercules and the youthful Zeus were side-tracked to Svartalfheim, Athena began gathering allies with which to oust Hera from power. First she brought Amadeus Cho back to her side and then she tried, but failed, to recruit Aphrodite, the Olympian Goddess of Love, to her cause. Athena also informed Cho that she had similarly failed to recruit Apollo, Artemis and Dionysus as well. They decide to then contact Avengers Mansion where Hercules and Zeus have just arrived upon their return from Svartalfheim. Athena brought Hercules up to speed on what had occurred during his absence, informing him of Hera's plans and telling him his wife, Hebe - Olympian Goddess of Youth - had been cast out of New Olympus for betraying Hera. Hercules summoned all available Avengers and told them of the grave danger Hera's "Continuum" presented to Earth.
Before the Avengers, Athena and Zeus could decide or do anything to thwart Hera's machinations, Hercules decided to find his absent wife Hebe. Find her he did; kissing Peter Parker (Spider-Man). Consumed by jealousy from this sight; Hercules struck Parker and knocked him flying through the air and out of the building into an alley. Now out of public view, Parker used the opportunity to quickly change into Spider-Man. Hercules soon arrived in the alley where the two of them began to fight. Spider-Man did what he could but he was sorely out-classed. Their skirmish ended when Hercules buried Spider-Man beneath a multitude of cars weighing many tons and Hebe interceded before he could act further. Hercules and Hebe then made amends and she joined the forces aligned against Hera.
Now back at Avengers Mansion, Hercules and his allies used Hebe's inside knowledge of Hera's plans to devise a strategy to stop Hera before she could roll-out her master plan - Continuum. The group managed to sneak through Hera's defenses, infiltrating the Olympus Group's corporate/godly headquarters. The heroes were soon discovered, however, and the battle was joined when amazons, monsters, gods and goddesses attacked the heroes. Henry Pym fought Argus, the one-hundred eyed cyclops and Spider-Woman engaged the demon Lamia. USAgent battled Eris, Goddess of Discord, Wolverine battled against Cephalus, Huntsman of Olympus and Spider-Man fought the Olympian spider-goddess, Arachne. Cho found his love, Dephyne Gorgon, and tied to reason with her while Athena engaged Hera herself in battle. This left Hercules to contend with the mightiest and most dangerous of Hera's forces; the monstrous Typhon. The battle went badly for Hercules' side as Zeus was captured and all but Hercules and Cho were defeated.
Zeus was taken by Hera and Typhon into their innermost stronghold where Hera finally revealed "Continuum" to be an empty artificial universe made real by her godly power and nature. She explained that rolling out Continuum would destroy the universe while simultaneously replacing it, killing everything and everyone but Hera and her followers. Outside Hera's stronghold, Hercules and Cho tried to gain entry as they squabbled about who would save which of their fallen allies. Finally deciding to act together in breaching the stronghold, Hercules and Cho were captured by Hephaestus as they attempted to dig their way in from underground. They quickly escaped the Fire God's traps, however. Meanwhile, Continuum began it's roll-out and started to assert itself in this reality as Zeus used his new appearance and fresh start in life to try and sway Hera from her plans with promises of a fresh start for their love as well. Hera's cold, hard-heart was warmed and softened by Zeus' words. Hera then, having heard what she'd always wanted to hear and having been promised what she wanted most, a faithful Zeus, ordered Typhon to stop the roll-out of Continuum. Typhon refused, calmly explaining he'd been born to destroy the Gods and it was his intent to do exactly that. Hera attempted to assert her control over Typhon but couldn't. No longer able to control Typhon, Hera attacked him with Zeus joining her in the attack. The attack, though fearsome, was to no avail for Typhon wore the Aegis of Zeus and was thus immune to all physical harm. Typhon then quickly slew Hera while purposely leaving Zeus alive so he could explain his hatred for him and their ancient enmity towards each other to the memory deprived Zeus. Once he'd finished telling Zeus these things, he slew him as well.
Though they weren't present at the time of Zeus' demise, Hercules and Cho became aware of it instantly when Athena, who'd been turned to stone previously, was struck and re-animated by the Thunderbolt of Zeus as she inherited it upon his death. Immediately following Athena's re-animation and inheritance, she, Hercules and Cho witnessed Thanatos, the Olympian death-god, guiding the shades/souls of Zeus and Hera on their journey to the underworld. Enraged by the day's events, Hercules was desperate to get to and stop Typhon while Cho was happy because Hercules, who was apparently supposed to die, now seemed safe. Athena and Cho then went to the aid of the defeated Avengers while Hercules, now able to gain access to the stronghold, went to confront Typon and stop Continuum.
Upon entering the Olympus' Group's stronghold, Hercules was saddened when he found his father's corpse. He had little time for grief, though, as Typon quickly appeared and the battle was joined. Hercules and Typhon fought savagely, raining blow after blow and strike after strike of incalculable force upon each other. The battle-tide shifted back and forth between the two behemoths, but Hercules finally gained the upper-hand. Preparing to deliver the killing blow, Hercules mustered all of his godly-strength, raised his Adamantine mace and used it to strike the all-but-defeated Typhon. Shockingly, Typhon was unharmed. It was Hercules who was struck by the force of his blow, severely injuring him. It was then that Typhon revealed he was wearing the Aegis to Hercules. Then it was Typhon who positioned himself to finish-off Hercules.
Before killing Hercules, however, the sadistic Typhon amused himself by using Hercules' mace to beat, break and cripple him. Finally tiring of beating the helpless Hercules, Typhon asked Hercules for any last words before he died. The thoroughly beaten and broken Hercules, now mumbling and slurring, drew Typhon close to hear his last words. When Typhon was close enough, Hercules pulled out a vile of water Cho had obtained from the River Lethe and put it in the monster's mouth. The water instantly took Typhon's memory causing him to no longer recognize Hercules. Confused, Typhon asked Hercules who he was. Hercules merely requested that the Titan end his pain and suffering. Typhon didn't know why, but he found pleasure in the thought of killing Hercules and so he agreed. He moved in to kill Hercules but left himself vulnerable and was instead killed by Hercules who used his unbroken arm and Adamantine mace to beat Typhon to death.
With Typon now dead, all that remained was for Hercules to shut down the machine rolling-out Continuum. As beaten, broken and injured as he was Hercules found himself struggling mightily at any attempt to move. Effectively crippled, Hercules was still trying to get to the machine when Athena appeared. Hercules rejoiced at the appearance of his beloved sister but was dismayed when she told him her plan for the future included him dying so Cho could replace him as the new 'Prince of Power.' To save the universe; Athena then destroyed the Continuum machine, sealing the new Continuum-universe off from this one, but seemingly killed Hercules by doing so. When Cho and the Avengers made their way to her, Athena told them that Hercules had been vaporized while saving the world by smashing the Continuum machine.
The New Prince of Power
The day after his apparent death, there was a funeral service for Hercules at the Parthenon in Greece. Many Greek citizens attended, paying their respects to their ancient hero. The most notable attendees, however, were many of the heroes Hercules had befriended. Counted among these heroes were Amadeus Cho, Thor, The Warriors Three of Asgard, Namor, Bruce Banner, the Black Widow, Namora, Snowbird, Wolverine and several others.
Many of these attending heroes eulogized Hercules by recounting stories times they had shared with Hercules. They described heroic adventures, personal insights and bedroom prowess. The last word went to Hercules' genius side-kick, young Amadeus Cho. Cho had barely spoken when Athena and the rest of the remaining major Olympian gods and goddesses suddenly appeared. Athena then informed Cho, and all present, that he was to be the new leader of the Olympus Group (under her guidance, of course). Cho started to speak, protesting Athena's edict, when Apollo, Olympian God of Light, objected as well. Surprised by Apollo's objection, Athena tried to bait him into battle but, after a brief display of his godly power, Apollo instead challenged Athena to a battle of proxies. Athena accepted and promptly selected Cho to be her champion. Apollo responded by choosing Phobos, God of Fear and son of the late Ares. The other attending gods then made their selections with Poseidon choosing Namor for Athena's side and Artemis picking Skaar, son of the Hulk for her twin brother Apollo's side. Next, Nyx, Olympian Goddess of the Night, selected Nightmare for Apollo while Hebe, Olympian Goddess of Youth and widow of Hercules, chose Bruce Banner to aid Cho. With the sides now chosen the battle commenced. Cho quickly gained the upper hand in his confrontation with Phobos and then, to the surprise of the Olympian gods, managed to unite both teams of proxies against them. The ensuing battle of mortal proxies against the gods who'd selected them lead to Cho gaining access to the Olympian underworld through Pluto, God of the Underworld. Cho went to the underworld seeking Hercules but was soon informed by Pluto's wife, Persephone (Queen of the Underworld) that Hercules was not there. Realizing that Hercules' underworld absence meant he still lived, Cho resolved to find him. He accepted the Olympus Group leadership position from Athena so he could use all of it's earthly wealth and godly power to find Hercules.
The first thing Cho did as leader of the Olympus Group was hire Bruce Banner to help him invent and build a device called the 'Hercollider Synchrotron.' This device was designed and built to search the entire multiverse for Hercules at hyper-speed. Unfortunately, Cho soon learned that even at it's inconceivable rate of speed, it could still take roughly a billion-and-half years for the device to search the multiverse and find Hercules.
Cho was pondering a new way to locate Hercules when he was approached by Vali Halfling (a.k.a. Agamemnon), son of Loki and former leader of the "Pantheon." Vali told Cho that he had figured out how to attain full, all-powerful, undeniable godhood. He explained this was possible by combining Olympian Ambrosia, the Asgardian Apples of Idunn, Spells from the Book of Thoth and the sacred Moon-cup of Dhanvantari. Vali also proposed that Cho join him to obtain these things and attain this higher level of being. Cho refused Vali's offer, deciding to get these objects by himself so he could use the power they would grant to find Hercules and bring him back. Cho's quest to obtain these mythological artifacts became a race when Vali sought to get them first.
While trying to secure the Apples of Idunn in Asgard, Cho found he'd arrived too late; Vali had already been there and had got them first. Before he could leave, however, Cho was confronted by and forced to battle Thor. Cho was soon defeated by Thor, but managed to convince the God of Thunder to let him go and even aid him in attempting to get the Spells from the Book of Thoth.
Unfortunately, Vali was got every ingredient except the Moon-cup of Dhanvantari first. While trying to get the Moon-cup first, Cho was defeated in battle with Vali. Seeking to get the Moon-cup while Cho was down, Vali left the objects he'd previously gathered unsecured in Cho's presence as he hastily tried to get the final ingredient. On his way to the Moon-cup, Vali was delayed by an attack from Delphyne Gorgon. This allowed Cho to get it first. He quickly combined the four ingredients and used them to attain the level of full, all-powerful and undeniable godhood.
Ironically, Cho's new found power included omniscience which quickly made clear to him that he was not the proper receptacle of this newly acquired, awesome power. Realizing this, Cho determined Hercules was the proper person to have and wield this inconceivable level of power. He then used the power to locate Hercules in the 'Continuum' universe and bring him forth. With Hercules now there, Cho transferred all of his newly acquired power to him making and calling Hercules the "God of Gods." Their reunion was short-lived, though, as Hercules instantly sensed the grave and imminent threat of the Chaos King and immediately left to begin gathering heroes to meet this danger.
Shortly after acquiring his immense new powers, Hercules became aware, due to his omniscience, of Amatsu-Mikaboshi's continued existence as the Chaos King, his acquisition of power and his plan to return the entirety of existence to the state of nothingness from which it originated. Realizing the grave danger he presented, Hercules used his new-found omnipotence to gather and further empower Earth's superheroes to fight the Chaos King/Mikaboshi and his army of enslaved alien deities. Unfortunately when Hercules and his heroic forces launched their assault, the Chaos King used the power he'd acquired from Nightmare, Lord of the Dream Dimension, to put humanity into a trance-like state leaving only Hercules, Thor and Amadeus Cho to oppose him. The Chaos King also attacked all of the various aspects of the underworld/Hell and forced Death herself to flee causing the mass release of all the souls of the deceased back into the realm of the living while also keeping those who were dying, or normally should/would die, alive. Hercules then used his power to recruit to his cause several other very powerful non-mortal beings who'd also proven immune to the Chaos King's trance. These beings included the Eternal; Sersi, half-demon; Hellstorm, former sea nymph; Venus and even the Devourer of Worlds; Galactus (though, in this case, unwillingly) and his herald; the Silver Surfer. These beings joined Hercules, Thor and Cho in forming the second incarnation of the God Squad to stop the Chaos King and save the multiverse.
It was soon revealed that Hercules' sister, Athena, was the Chaos King's accomplice which she became after deciding the current reality is irreparably metaphysically corrupt and wished to start fresh with a new universe, a new reality, after the Chaos King had finished destroying the current one. Amadeus, by then, was losing hope of stopping the spread of chaos and the end of all things but theorized that reality could be saved if it were transported to the "Continuum" universe Hera had created. Hercules was against the idea and argued they should go down fighting. Hercules was then confronted by Athena who, acting as an agent of the Chaos King, intended to kill him. Unknown to Athena, Herucles' already immense power had been even further increased by Gaea and Pele who had destroyed and recreated Hercules as a maintainer of the cycle of life. Now more powerful than ever, Hercules casually annihilated his attacking sibling. Hercules, now more powerful than ever, then used his awesome power to confront and fight the Chaos King in an epic battle of universal proportions. Hercules was wounded during the battle but was able to hurt the Chaos King in kind. Eventually, with some help of the Hulk Squad, the Dead Avengers and even the X-Men; Hercules, Amadeus Cho and Galactus managed to trick the Chaos King into entering the Continuum universe which they then sealed off forever. Hercules, despite a warning from the now normal Athena, then used his awesome godly powers to repair the damage the Chaos King had caused and restore reality to it's rightful form. The effort this feat required expended not only all of his "God of Gods" powers, it also spent all of his usual godly might as well, leaving him completely without superhuman powers making him, for the first time in his more than 3,000 years of life, a mortal human.
Despite being de-powered after defeating the Chaos King and winning the Chaos War, Hercules remained true to his character and was determined to be a what he had always been; a hero. Powerless but now armed with Ares' cache of mystical weapons, he came to Brooklyn and met a man who owns a Greek bar. Earning a job as a bouncer and a place to stay, he put the entire borough under his protection from two warring factions the Warhawks lead by Kyknos the son of Ares and the Kingpin, Wilson Fisk. Herc then confronted a group of inmates who escaped from the Raft after the events of Fear Itself only to discover the re-emergence of Hecate the Mistress of Terror and Witchcraft which only complicated things more as the populous was overwhelmed with rage and Herc was caught in the middle. Realizing that being mortal puts him in a disadvantage, Hercules hardened his resolve and pressed on but was surprised when he noticed the entire city had been engulfed by a thick forest.
Powers and Abilities
Hercules is the Olympian God of Strength and as such his principal power is incredibly vast superhuman strength. The Lion of Olympus is the strongest Olympian God as well as one of the strongest beings in the Marvel Universe (Earth-616). Hercules' strength is extremely far beyond the "Superhuman: Class 100" level and enables him to lift far, far over 100 tons with absolute ease. He has demonstrated his legendary strength many times over in the performance of several highly impressive, nigh-impossible, heroic deeds and feats of strength. These feats include: lifting and tossing Marvel's 60,000 ton version of Godzilla, holding Manhattan Island together using gigantic steel chains, supporting Greenwich Village over his head for an extended period of time, lifting and hurling a giant Sequoia tree, lifting and carrying a starship, drop-kicking a bulldozer, stopping cold a power-punch from the Sentry in the palm of his hand and forcing the Thing to submit in a wrestling match. It was during ancient times (while performing his eleventh labor), however, that Hercules accomplished what is perhaps his greatest and most impressive strength-feat when he took the inconceivably enormous weight of the heavens from the Titan Atlas and held it overhead for three straight hours before tricking Atlas into resuming the burden. Time and again the strength of Hercules has proven to be completely beyond measure - having no known limits - and at the very least rivals that the incredible Hulk and the mighty Thor (In one fight Thor was unable to break Hercules' grip because of his superior strength). The superhuman strength of Hercules is prevalent throughout his entire body, including his lower body. His highly developed leg muscles enable him to make a standing vertical leap of at least 100 feet in Earth's gravity. Hercules has cleanly severed, at the base of the trunk, an extremely large, full-grown tree with a single kick and and has effortlessly kicked over an entire tractor-trailer fully loaded with freshly cut logs.
Controversy over Pulling Manhattan Island
An incident during the 1970s, in the series Marvel Team-Up, created some controversy among fans of the character. In issue #28 Hercules is shown pulling the entire island of Manhattan back into place after it has been offset. Due to complaints both from fans and staff, the feat was later retconned out of existence. Although this feat is not inconsistent with Hercules' strength based feats, it was nonetheless argued to be logically impossible as such a feat would rupture and destroy city infrastructure among other reasons. To some degree the debate over this remains to this day but, as the company itself retconned the depiction to have not existed, this is the official standpoint. Equally, Hercules is shown in myth and elsewhere as having lifted more than this weight (even bearing the entire weight of the Earth in ancient myth).
Hercules is super-humanly durable/practically invulnerable making him extremely resistant to nearly all forms of blunt force, penetration and energy assaults. His extremely high level of durability/invulnerability is a product of being born a demigod son of Zeus, being suckled by Hera as an infant and finally, upon his mortal death, being made a full-fledged immortal god by his father Zeus. Due to these factors he has greater resistance to physical injury/harm than any other Olympian god except his father Zeus, and possibly his uncles Neptune and Pluto. Hercules is able to withstand the impact of high caliber machine gun shells, direct hits from S.H.I.E.L.D anti-aircraft missiles, falls from incredible heights, exposure to extreme temperatures and the vacuum of space without sustaining injury or being harmed in any way. Hercules has withstood powerful cosmic energy blasts from Nova (Frankie Raye), a Herald of Galactus, without sustaining injury, and was able to survive two blank-point blasts from the man-god Michael Korvac.
Hercules has fought many of the strongest heroes and villains in the Marvel Universe, withstanding repeated punches from the Hulk (while highly enraged) and numerous blows from Thor's enchanted hammer; Mjolnir with no significant effects. He has also endured and survived being ambushed and brutally beaten by a group of super-strong villains including Goliath (Erik Josten), the Wrecking Crew and Mr. Hyde. Though there is a limit to Hercules' durability it's almost impossible to reach.
As the son of Zeus, the immortal Olympian god, and Alcmena, a mortal queen, Hercules was born a half-god/half-human demigod which meant he was mortal. Because of the many heroic deeds he performed while a demigod, and Zeus' further need of a champion to defend and protect both gods and mankind, Hercules earned full-godhood and true immortality upon his death. As an Olympian god, Hercules is immortal and although he can be wounded or injured, he cannot die by conventional means. Another power Hercules gained when becoming a god is an exceptionally rapid, superhuman healing rate, which allows him to recover very quickly any time he actually is wounded or injured. Hercules is immune to all conventional/mortal diseases and maladies. Due to his godhood/immortality and durability, Hercules is almost impossible to kill. Only an assault that incinerated him or dispersed a major portion of his bodily molecules could conceivably kill Hercules. but even then Zeus or another god of comparable power might still be able to resurrect him. As a true Olympian immortal Hercules doesn't age and remains perpetually at the peak of his physical youth, strength and power despite the fact he is well over 3,000 years old.
As an Olympian god all of Hercules' physical abilities are superhuman, though in his case they are enhanced to a greater extent than nearly all other Olympians. This includes his endurance. Hercules' body produces no fatigue poisons, granting him practically endless superhuman stamina and making him virtually tireless. He was able to hold the weight of the heavens upon his shoulders for three straight hours without tiring. Hercules does not fatigue after any exertion, no matter how strenuous or it's length of duration. In addition to these powers, Hercules also possesses superhuman agility (agility greater than that of any professional or Olympic athlete; greater than what is humanly possible), superhuman reflexes and a measure of superhuman speed and quickness.
Demigod Power Levels
During his time as a mortal demigod in ancient times and at a much later point, in modern times, when his godhood was stripped by Zeus, Hercules possessed nearly all of the powers he had as a god, but only had them at a greatly reduced level. His durability and stamina suffered the greatest reductions. Strikes and blows he would normally laugh off as full-god could now cause severe injury. Though much tougher than any mere mortal, demigod Hercules also lacked the high-level godly healing factor that would later allow him to very quickly recover from almost any injury. As a demigod, climate conditions such as extremes of cold and heat also had some affect on him, requiring him to adapt to his environment and to adjust his wardrobe accordingly. As a god Hercules has virtually inexhaustible stamina but as a demigod he can eventually become tired and fatigued which requires him to rest. Strangely, Hercules has shown a wide variation of his strength level during his times as a god, a demigod and when completely stripped of his godhood. As a demigod, Hercules has at times he seemed as strong as ever, his limitless strength apparently being his birthright, while at other times his strength has appeared reduced similarly to his stamina and durability. The most drastic example of his lower level of strength as a demigod was perhaps the time he battled the Hulk in the wake of Onslaught having seemingly killed most of Earth's heroes, including the Avengers. Normally, as a full-god, Hercules can fight evenly and indefinitely with even an extremely enraged Hulk, but in this instance, as a demigod, when Hercules battled an enraged Hulk, the Hulk nearly beat him to death despite Hercules using his legendary fighting skills in an attempt to even the odds. Whatever the variations of his strength and power levels between being a demigod and a god, Hercules' physical powers, coupled with his fighting skills, were still great enough to enable him to defeat his half-brother, and full-god, Ares as a demigod during this same period of demigodhood power reduction.
Hercules' physical abilities as a demigod are much higher than when he has been stripped of all godly status and become a non-powered mortal. As such, Hercules' non-powered levels of physical ability should not be misconstrued as or confused with his power levels as a demigod.
Hercules is Olympus' greatest warrior and champion. When he was still a demigod in ancient Greece, Hercules co-invented, along with Theseus, the first all-encompassing fighting system in human history: Pankration. Pankration is quite similar to mixed martial arts of modern times, as both combine several separate hand-to-hand combat techniques, though the methods used in Pankration were much more brutal and even deadly than modern techniques. As the co-inventor and a centuries-long practitioner of Pankration, Hercules is an expert in many styles of hand-to-hand combat. These include; boxing, wrestling, joint locks, submission holds and the combining of and transitioning between these varied techniques. He has practiced, honed and perfected his fighting skills for over three millenia, thoroughly mastering them. Thor himself has admitted Hercules is his better in hand-to-hand combat. Hercules is also highly skilled in athletics such as the discus, the javelin and the hammer throw.
Hercules is a master archer; his godly attributes combined with centuries of training have made him superior to any earth born archer. His archery skill even surpasses master bowmen such as Hawkeye and Trickshot. Hercules is highly skilled in the arts of boxing and Greco-Roman wrestling (even causing the Thing to submit). Also, Hercules is a very accomplished melee fighter. He has had centuries of training, practice and experience with many types of weapons including but not limited to battle axes and long swords.
Hercules has a very confident and gregarious personality. He believes life is a gift that should always be appreciated by being lived to the fullest every day. This lust for life of his is possibly accentuated and enhanced by his mortal roots and the fact that he has experienced death. Once he has deemed someone suitably noble, Hercules is quick to assume the role of friend, confidant, drinking buddy and/or mentor - often whether the recipient likes it or not. As he has demonstrated countless times in his rather lengthy lifetime, Hercules is also a prolific ladies man and is quite adept at using his looks, charm and reputation to woo women. Additionally, he is equally adept at starting brawls with those he deems worthy of or sturdy enough to receive the greatest thing he believes one man can give another: "The Gift of Battle!" It's his philosophy that men must battle to truly know one and other. Perhaps this explains why Hercules is always ready to brawl/fight either friend or foe at a moments notice. When announcing his intent to bestow "The Gift of Battle," Hercules often abbreviates, calling it simply "The Gift", especially when using it as part of one of his battle cries, i.e.; "Prepare to receive the Gift!" Hercules' other commonly used battle cry is "Have at Thee!"
Hercules has a strong sense of duty and honor which compels him to stand up for what he believes is right and just no matter what others consider acceptable, no matter what the consequences may be. The courage of Hercules is the equal of his strength; boundless. When a cause is righteous and just, he has always and will always face any danger, fight any foe and battle all evil despite impossible odds or personal risk. He has demonstrated his immense courage in the face of all danger ranging from multiversal extinction-level threats right down to street-level thugs. He's faced these threats no matter what his levels of power, ranging from his normal/classic godly power to beyond Sky-father levels and even when completely de-powered. Hercules has also shown a high level of pride, some would say bordering on arrogance, which has lead to Zeus de-powering him a couple of times to teach him humility. Another quirk of his personality is, coming from the cultures of both ancient Greece and Olympus where clothing is optional, Hercules has very little modesty. He often wears a traditional Greek toga, but does not mind, and at times even enjoys, going around nude, despite modern attitudes concerning modesty and nudity.
- Height: 6' 5"
- Weight: 325 lbs
- Eyes: Blue
- Hair: Dark Brown
Weapons and Armor
Hercules possesses a Golden Mace forged by Hephaestus out of Adamantine, the legendary indestructible Olympian substance/metal after which Adamantium was named. The Mace has survived direct blows from Thor's Hammer, Mjolnir, without damage. When used by Hercules (with his vast strength) the Golden Mace can crush almost any substance or break virtually any barrier.
Hercules possesses the skin of the Nemean Lion Skin which acts as an indestructible armor and shield's Hercules from virtually any injury. He is an expert archer as he showed while performing his legendary labors and again now in modern times.
Additionally, Hercules has access to a multitude of powerful Greek weapons from ancient myth. These include the sword of Peleus, the shield of Perseus - which has an image of the gorgon Medusa on it and the gorgon power to change living beings into stone - and the arrows of Heracles (his own arrows) - which have been dipped in the blood of the Hydra and are therefore deadly even to gods as well as mortals.
Hercules' love of combat, code of honor and sense of fair play prevent him from using his Golden Mace and Nemean Lion Skin armor frequently. However, when the situation does arrive for him to use them, these two items combined with Hercules natural strength and invulnerability turn Hercules, who is already a formidable combatant, into an almost unstoppable force of and for Olympus.
Hercules of Earth-398 was known by his original name, Heracles, and fought for Queen Morgan Le Fay as a member of her super-powered team "The Queen's Vengeance" which was a team analogous to Earth-616's Avengers.
In this alternate, future, reality, Hercules has a son with a mortal, alien woman named Layanna Sweetwater. This son grows up to be nearly the physical equal of Hercules. His name is Arimathes. After years of manipulation by his bitter mother, Arimathes becomes the ruler of an entire galaxy; a harsh and ruthless dictator. The young emperor harbors hatred and contempt for the father he never knew. Hatred and contempt for Hercules. Eventually the paths of Hercules and his young emperor son cross and the two decide to settle their issues man-to-man in unarmed combat. When the battle is over and the truth of Layanna Sweetwater's is revealed, Hercules and Arimathes put aside their differences deciding to make up for lost time by getting to know each other. Arimathes eventually goes on to father three children of his own, Hercules' three grandchildren, - Antonitus, Ursus and Juno. Due to their Olympian heritage, each of these grandchildren of Hercules inherit a specific godlike super-power. In this timeline Hercules is the savior of the planet/world called Wilamean and as such he commands much adoration and respect for having saved them from Galactus, the Devourer of Worlds. Unfortunately, again a time came when Hercules had to save them, and this time the entire Andromeda Galaxy, too, by sacrificing his own life. The danger was presented when Galactus became part of a massive black hole which threatened the entire galaxy. To save the galaxy, Wilamean and his own family, Hercules, true heroic fashion, flew into the black hole and detonated a white hole bomb which had the effect of reversing the black hole and restoring Galactus. Though Hercules ceased to exist in his typical form, in the process of freeing Galactus from the black hole, Hercules' essence combined with that of Galactus causing the creation of an new, separate being that would be known as the Bringer of Worlds: Cosmos.
The Marvel Super Heroes
Hercules is introduced and used as the main foil for Thor in a Mighty Thor segment of the animated television series "The Marvel Super Heroes" which was produced and released in the late 1960's. Using actual comicbook artwork from the original story, this storyline was closely based on and adapted from "Journey into Mystery" #125 and "Thor" #126-130 in which Hercules and Thor meet and battle fiercely as rivals but later become friends after Thor rescues Hercules from imprisonment in the underworld due to the machinations of the Olympian God Pluto, Lord of the Underworld.
The Fantastic Four (1994)
Hercules makes brief cameo appearances in the "To Battle the Living Planet" episode of the 1990's animated Fantastic Four series where he, as part of the Avengers, joins the other Avengers and superheroes in rescuing innocent bystanders when Ego the Living Planet approaches Earth.
Hercules makes one more cameo appearance, again along with several other Avengers, in another animated Fantastic Four episode titled "Doomsday." In this episode Dr. Doom steals the power of the Silver Surfer and uses it in an attempt to rule Earth. Many heroes make cameos in this episode and Hercules is shown twice; once battling the cosmic-powered Dr. Doom and the other time monitoring Doom's activities with the other Avengers.
Super Hero Squad Show
Hercules guest stars in "The Super Hero Squad Show" episode "Support Your Local Sky-Father" and is voiced by Jess Harnell. In this episode, Loki, the Asgardian God of mischief, disguised himself as Gyros, God of Pitas, and instigated Zeus into sending his son Hercules to Earth to battle Thor. After a brief battle between Hercules and Thor, Zeus and Odin show up and begin arguing about who is superior. Eventually they decide to hold a contest between Thor and Hercules on Olympus, home of Zeus and Hercules. Hercules and Thor (secretly accompanied by Reptil) go to Olympus and with Zeus and Odin present; the contest begins. After four challenges, Hercules and Thor were tied with two wins each. Thor won the fifth and final challenge and it was then that Loki revealed his plot, taking control of Zeus and Odin. With help from the Super Hero Squad, Hercules and Thor were able to defeat Loki and free their fathers. Returning to Earth, Hercules and Thor continued their rivalry, rocking out on their guitars while on the Helicarrier. When the Mayor of Super Hero City asked Hercules and Thor if he could film their performance, they threw him off of the Helicarrier. Hercules also appeared In the episode "So Pretty When They Explode," where he assisted Thor, Iron Man, Hulk, and She-Hulk on a mission to rescue Nova from Thanos.
Marvel: Ultimate Alliance
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. He is seen at the funeral service. He helps guard Stark Tower and manages to escape after it is invaded. He 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.
Marvel Super Hero Squad
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.