What are your opinions on these Herc minis and one-shots?

#1 Posted by seekquaze (619 posts) - - Show Bio

Over the years Hercules has guest starred in quite a few minis and one-shots on the following ones:

First 1980s Herc series by Bob Layton

I think this was the one that more or less established Hercules as the character we know today. It established his good humor, love of battle, and willingness to help others. I think the story part was perhaps the best executed in all respects. Hercules is forced to learn the same lesson as Thor except on a more cosmic setting. In a sense Hercules was a big fish in a small pawn, but now he was in the ocean with beings either bigger them him or situations where brute strength would not win. His confrontation with Galactus showed both his intelligence and what should happen when just about anyone including Thor or Hulk confronts Galactus head on.

Second 1980s mini

A follow up to the first Hercule is still maturing. When I first read this I thought it to be a perfect ending to the saga of Hercules wrapping up all the lose ends. Zeus and the Olympians have a future elsewhere so they no longer define Hercules. Zeus shows some of this wisdom we hear he is supposed to have. Hercules himself is now meant to find his own destiny free of Zeus or his earthly legend yet with the promise of greater glories.

Hercules: Heart of Chaos

I did not care much for this mini from the nineties. Its not that there is anything particularly wrong with it, but nothing memorable to me either. It is mortal Hercules attempting to stop Ares from destroying modern civilization. The story itself is decent enough, but the end was anti-climatic. Ares runs away from Hercules practically the entire series and barely puts up a fight at the end. I know Ares is portrayed as a coward at this time and usually not that good of a fighter. However, Hercules was mortal and his lowered stamina and durability were constant plot points. I felt like the God of War should have been more willing to face his weakened, hated foe and put up a better fight.

Incredible Hulk: Hercules Unleashed #1

I think this is one of the most defining stories about Hercules among long-term comic fans. It is often cited as proof of Hulk creating than Hercules among people who fail to take into account Hercules's mortal state. On the other hand, it shows how far Hercules is willing to go when he is not invincible. He knows he does not stand a chance against the Hulk, but he does not back down. This is one of the few direct examples of him employing his legendary fighting skills. His reasons for having already defeated the Hulk are made clear. Centuries from now when Hulk is remembered as a monster Hercules will be remembered as a hero.

The New Labors of Hercules

I may be in the minority, but I really liked this series. I am not sure if there are any particular reasons for it being written. Maybe to reestablish Hercules as a force to be reckoned with his godhood intact? Whatever the reason the labors themselves are secondary in many regards. You have Hercules who realizes at times he is a fool and tries to be better. I think the best part is the ending where Hercules confronts his wife. One of the defining heroic traits about Herc that sets him apart from other Greek heroes is his willingness to accept the consequences and punishments for his actions.

Hercules: Twilight of a God by Bob Layton

Gods live forever or so long it pretty much is forever...so how do gods handle there end? When first staring this one I was not looking forward to it. It had been over twenty years since the originals with what I thought to be a perfect ending. The idea of a brain-addled Hercules and fat Galactus right off sounded off putting so much that I waited for it to be completed before reading it. I was surprised after I read it. Despite this I think Layton handled things surprisingly well. The comedy throughout and pop culture references worked well with it. Hercules showed even brain addled he can be a badass. His “death” is the way he would want to go out. His transformation into a cosmic entity allows him to transcend his godhood. I do wish we had spent more time defining his grandchildren and some of the lose ends tied up came across as a bit rushed. The idea of Hercules fathering a new race of gods is gone, but his dynasty remains. The last page ending in its own way was most fitting.

Others I haven't read but am curious on opinions on include the recent Hercules/Wolverine series by Frank Teri that followed up New Labors and the Hercules: Full Circle. Has anybody read these and know if they are any good? Any others I missed not related to Incredible Hercules? What are your thoughts on those listed?

#2 Posted by PowerHerc (85153 posts) - - Show Bio

@seekquaze: The first 80's mini (1982) was pretty good all the way around. It showcased Hercules' strength, durability, charisma and party-hardy nature. The deep space setting and sci-fi theme makes sense in the context of the premise that Herc wouldn't be able to learn humility on Earth so he had to venture out into the unknown reaches of space. This also fits considering how popular sci-fi had become with the popularity of films such as "Star Wars", Battlestar Galactica", "Buck Rogers" and several others at the time. The story was fun and the art was top-tier; both courtesy of Bob Layton.

The second 80's mini (1984) was a fun continuation of the first again with top-notch art by Bob Layton. What made this mini truly stand out, though, was the final issue when Hercules battles a rage-maddened Zeus to prove he's learned humility and that he's worthy to live on as the last Olympian and father a new race of gods. Issue #4 makes this story important.

The "Hercules: The Heart of Chaos" mini was okay. It introduced a new Olympian God names Tharamus and Hercules became a SHIELD agent in it, as well. Overall, however, it was an average at best story with pretty decent art by Ron Frenz.

"Hercules: The New Labors" was pretty good overall, but it tends to portray Hercules as more dumb than drunken roustabout, imo. Having Herc perform a series of modern labors involving many established Marvel characters was brilliant. It was also cool to see Achelous and Eurysteus introduced as Hercules villains. Perhaps the best and most important occurence in this mini was when Hercules entered the Olympian underworld to obtain the forgiveness of his first wife for killing her and their children. The moment is poignant and it shows Hercules humanity. The art by Mark Texiera can be a bit inconsistent at times, but overall it's pretty good.

The "Hercules: Twilight of a God" mini follows all the previous future Hercules mini's and the "Full Circle" graphic novel. Like those, this one is also written by Bob Layton but Ron lim does the artwork here (and does it well). This story introduced the children of Arimathes (Herc's son); Ursus (who is practically invulnerable), Juno ( who has super-strength) and Antonitus (who has super-speed). In this Hercules is shown being injured and brain damaged early on. Herc's son, Arimathes (Emporer of an entire galaxy) and his grandchildren must constantly look out for Herc from then on. An old adversary of Herc's has become the new Silver Surfer and Herald of Galactus and has sought Herc out to exact revenge for a perceived wrong that occurred decades earlier. An epic battle ensues in which one of Herc's loved ones is killed and Hercules goes to extreme measures to even the score. It soon comes to everyone's attention that Galactus is imploding and if he is allowed to fully implode he'll take the whole universe with him. To stop this someone must make the ultimate sacrifice to save Galactus. We know who that is, though, don't we? This story puts a nice cap on the entire future Hercules stories, though Herc didn't really father a new race of gods as is apparent by Arimathes shown as an old man, thus mortal, instead of being young an vital despite the passage of decades.

The new Wolverine/Hercules mini is pretty cool as is references the first time these two met while each was drinking in a bar called "The Sign of the Lion" and it explains why the two have become friends. It also ties up some loose ends for Wolverine and gives fans another look at Herc's foes Achelous and Eurysteus. Herc even makes a crack about the Kraken and "Clash of the Titans." The story is pretty entertaining and the art is good but not all that memorable. Fans of Hercules, Wolverine or both will enjoy this arc.

'Hercules: Full Circle" is a graphic novel written and drawn by Bob Layton. It follows the second Hercules mini of the 80's. In this story, Herc finds out he has a son and that this son is now the emporer of an entire galaxy. Unfortunately, his son's mind has been poisoned against Hercules by his mother. Hercules must eventually confront his son and then meet him on the field of battle to teach him a fatherly lesson in humility much like Zeus had to teach him many years earlier. This story, in the true Layton mold, is entertaining and the artwork is really good. The only knock on this one is that it felt a little compressed and probably would have been better in the format of a mini-series than as a graphic novel.

#3 Posted by seekquaze (619 posts) - - Show Bio

I recently read Hercules/Wolverine: Monsters, Myths and Mutants. Overall, I thought it had some great ideas. Mixing mythological zombies with ninjas is the type of far out story that works with comics. I think it was a good follow up to Hercules: The New Labors by tying up the lose ends. Pluto acting as a type of Deus Ex Machina was a great way to end the comic suddenly without feeling as out of place as such things often do. Wolverine and Hercules do make a great pair.

My only complaint would be pacing throughout felt off. Wolverine says he is going to kill the Japanese guy the same night Achelous and Eurysteus visit the Ninja guy. Either someone had access to a time machine or the Hand was already resurrecting mythological monsters. The final battle with the Kraken also felt a bit rushed. Hercules is apparently battling it only for Wolverine to quickly get from Odysseus's tomb and kill it with Medusa's head

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