Hercules (by Marvel Comics) is a comic book character who first appeared in "Journey Into Mystery Annual" #1 (1965), created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. At first Hercules was mainly used as a rival to The Mighty Thor. But he quickly became another well-established superhero. He has served at times as a member of The Avengers, the Champions, The Defenders, and the Heroes for Hire. He has also received various mini-series: "Hercules:Prince of Power" vol. 1 (1982), "Hercules:Prince of Power" vol. 2 (1984), "Hercules:Heart of Chaos" (1997), and "Hercules" (2005). But he was never one of the most prominent characters of Marvel.In the wake of the Cross OverWorld War Hulk, Marvel Comics decided to relaunch the title character of The Incredible Hulk in a newer series by Jeph Loeb, leaving them with some space to fill with the original series. After initial plans for a team book were made, the proposed lineup was pared down to just two of its original four members: Hercules and the boy genius Amadeus Cho, seventh smartest man in the world. Thus, The Incredible Hercules was born, written by GregPak and FredVan Lente. The series was renamed to "Incredible Hercules" with issue #113 (February, 2008).Now on the run from the forces of the law, the titular Greek demigod is forced to mentor the incredibly smart but inexperienced Cho (with coyote pup Kerberos, or Kirby*
for short, in tow), who starts out looking to bring down The Man over the murder of his family. Eventually they meet up with Herc's half-sister Athena, goddess of wisdom, and proceed to have wacky adventures spanning the globe and the cosmos.The self-titled series wrapped up with #141 (April, 2010), the end of "Assault on New Olympus," but the saga continued in a series of miniseries, culminating in "Chaos War."Herc, a new ongoing from Pak and Van Lente, kicked off in April 2011, following Hercules' adventures after the Incredible Hercules saga.
This series contains examples of:
Accidental Marriage: Hercules, while disguised as Thor, accidentally becomes consort to Alflyse, the queen of the Dark Elves. Note that Herc is already married.
Accidental Pornomancer: As Arachne proves in Herc #8, even when Herc isn't trying, he can't help but get laid.
Aliens Steal Cable: While not aliens and also not likely to steal cable (they can certainly afford it), it's strongly suggested that the various Greek gods got up to speed on modern culture by watching movies and television. The Prince Of Power miniseries suggests that the Norse gods (or Thor at least, who admits to watching videos on YouTube) did this as well.
Hercules is this to Thor in terms of pure strength. In a battle without Mjolnir, Thor himself admitted that while nearly passing out.
Ambiguously Bi: Herc pretty much outright flirts with the male gods during Sacred Invasion, as well as making some suggestive remarks about former companions from myth, how fetching they were and such. In Fall of an Avenger, the mini dedicated to his funeral, several of the women in his life step up and admit that they had sex with him, and encourage others to step up. Cue Northstar — the first gay character at Marvel out of the closet — activating his super-speed and saying, "Is that the time? Gotta go!"
Ancient Grome: Hercules is known by his Roman name while most of the other Greek gods go by their Greek names (except Pluto.) Justified in Herc's case: if you were named after a woman who's spent thousands of years trying to kill you, you'd be happy to have a name change as well.
Awesome Moment of Crowning: Athena's ascension to Skyfather status is signalled by Zeus' thunderbolt descending to her, freeing her from her stone imprisonment, upon which she proclaims herself "Athena Panhellenios".
Because Destiny Says So: Athena's plan for getting Hercules and Cho to meet consisted of sending Herc back to Earth and waiting, under the assumption that as the champions of two different eras, they would eventually run across each other.
Big Bad: HeraTyphon. Amatsu-Mikaboshi takes Hera's place after Assault on New Olympus.
Brains and Brawn: The main duo. Though Hercules, with his long life and great experience, often has to be the Wisdom to Cho's Intelligence.
Broken Aesop: At the end of Chaos War, Hercules says that truly benevolent heroes show the way that gods should be, as they recurrently sacrifice everything to protect, help, and heal others; whereupon he expends his full power to restore all the people that Mikaboshi murdered. That's probably a message that we can all get behind. However, for some reason he also restores all the destroyed demons, afterlives of eternal torture and damnation, and EldritchAbominations in the universe...enforcing the type of setting that basically fits his definition of the way a deity shouldn't be. Status Quo Is God, yes (even literally in this case), but seriously, there is no reason offered whatsoever as to why he would restore that kind of Crap Sack World system other than to Hand Wave it as Omniscient Morality License.
Right after the event, Bruce Banner, thinking that Herc still retained his godlike power, asked him to fix/repair himself and his family from the most crippling damage, mental or physical that they had sustained, as he was mentally strained nearly beyond his limit to handle, and would likely keep trying over and over until his mind was gone otherwise. Herc replied that he expended all of his power in restoring the universe, and stated he was "guided bywisdom beyond our ken", hand waving outright in this regard, but felt genuinely bad for the Hulks, implying that he may himself be not completely okay with this.
Herc suggests that he might have made this up and didn't really know what he was doing aside from generally "fixing what Mikaboshi destroyed", considering he accidentally resurrected Ares's son, Kyknos.
Brother-Sister Incest: It's Greek myth; most relevant to the main character, Hercules' wife is his half-sister Hebe. Other gods tend to bring up this tendency of the Greek pantheon whenever they get too snippy.
Costume Copycat: Herc temporarily dresses up like Thor to fool some Asgardian villains; Thor returns the favour.
Crisis Crossover: Subverted. Chaos War is a large, multiversal-threat event and Hercules gathers all of Earth's heroes to fight Chaos King, but at the end of the first issue almost all of them are moved out of the equation by being comatose, leaving only a small number of gods and dead superheroes to fight him.
Death Is Cheap: Lampshaded in Hercules's visit to the underworld. Since Pluto is too busy trying to take over the criminal "underworld" of Earth, the superheroes in Hades gamble for the right to come back from the dead.
Determinator: Subverted in Chaos War. Hercules, the patron god of the Attack! Attack! Attack! strategy, gets told flat out by Amadeus and every other surviving ally that attacking the Chaos King is pointless. Hercules refuses to listen or to give up, no matter what... but he eventually comes to realize that everyone else is right.
Divine Date: Hey, a god's gotta do something on a Saturday night!
The Dog Is An Alien: We find out that Kirby, the coyote pup that Amadeus Cho had adopted, had been long-replaced by a Skrull imposter. While the real coyote was safe and unharmed, the Skrull!coyote had accompanied Cho for the better part of a year before The Reveal.
Eccentric Millionaire: Hercules, unwittingly. Turns out Herc has made many good investments(among which was purchasing stock in a just starting out company called Stark Enterprises) which resulted in him being filthy stinking rich and owning a lot of property but never realized this himself as he never bothered to keep tabs on them.
Erastes Eromenos: Most of the Greek gods assume Hercules and Amadeus have this relationship, even referring to the latter as Herc's eromenos. Amadeus always angrily corrects them.
Amadeus: I am not his eromenos!
Executive Meddling: Arguably one of the positive examples. Originally the book was going to be a team title featuring the "Renegades," a group of four characters who had teamed up during World War Hulk: Hercules, Amadeus Cho, Namora and Angel. These plans were dashed when the X-Men office decided they didn't want to lend out Angel for the new series, and Namora had already been chosen to be a member of the Agents of Atlas. That left Herc and Cho, and it was decided that it would make more sense for the book to be a solo title focusing on Hercules with Cho as a sidekick. Luckily, this turned out to be awesome.
Groin Attack: Hercules is a big fan of this move. He used it against the Sentry, and on seeing Namora's use of it against Atlas he was moved to propose marriage; Thor gives Hercules a particularly painful one as well.
Idiot Hero: The popular image of Hercules is played with here; Herc's not a genius, but he can be very eloquent.
Is That What They're Calling It Now?: Herc uses this line when Namora puts him in an "Atlantean crab hold" during a sparring match. Namora shoots back an Ironic Echo later, when Hercules suggests using an Olympian eagle strike in combat.
Jerkass Gods: Zeus justifies his legendary dickishness by claiming that he's there so that people will have someone to blame when something goes wrong, because without him they have no one to blame but themselves.
Amaterasu is also kind of a bitch, given that she's willing to let the mortal world be absorbed by Mikaboshi if that's the only way for the divine realms to survive. It falls apart in Amaterasu was completely justified in her harsh actions. The mortal world had already fallen and she was trying to protect the heavens and what was left of the universe from a suicide attack that had no hope of succeeding. She was proven right when Hercules in his stupidity opened up a gateway to the heavens allowing Mikaboshi to invade and casually destroy all of the gods. The Aesop of mortal heroes being better then gods falls apart since all of the gods actions were necessary and Hercules's stupidity constantly made things worse even in recreating the world.
Mood Whiplash: For the first several arcs of the series, Herc's womanizing ways are a comic highlight; then all of a sudden we're confronted with his distraught wife Hebe, who has been told the failure of their marriage is her fault and can't understand what she did wrong.
The Obi-Wan: Herc(in a rare main character example) was this for Amadeus. His conventional wisdom and kindness transforms Amadeus from arrogant Marty Stu who is willing to destroy S.H.I.E.L.D. for the hell of it to a true hero who gladly carries on Herc's legacy after he seemingly dies.
Omnicidal Maniac: The Chaos King who existed as the primordial darkness and chaos before the universe began wishes to return it to that state.
"The Reason You Suck" Speech: Herc has gotten a number of these; in the case of one given by Ares, Herc interestingly admits that most of what Ares says is true, but that he's still better than Ares anyway.
Refusal of the Call: Pythagoras Dupree not only refused the call, he went out of his way to kill anyone else who might possibly answer it.
Sadly Mythtaken: Hercules being called Hercules instead of Herakles is actually explained as him taking the name to distance himself from both Hera herself, and more importantly his mistakes.
Self-Made Orphan: Hercules finds it hilarious that Thor has been exiled from Asgard for killing his grandfather, and cheerfully Lampshades how often similar killings have happened in his family.
Series Continuity Error: After Herc and Amadeus go their seperate ways after their trip to the underworld, Amadeus reads a book about the Hero's Journey and thinks about how it applies to his life. When the book describes how a great enemy he may have encountered will often be a villainous shapeshifter, he incorrectly identifies Kly'bn, the god of the Skrulls, in this role while conveniently forgetting that Kly'bn was not a shapeshifter. Point of fact, it was explicitly his schtick as a god. Since the Skrulls are a shapeshifting race, he represents "The you that will always be you."
His idea of stopping a bunch of trolls? Have Zeus part the clouds and shine the sun on them. When this does nothing, Zeus asks him where he got the idea he claims it's from The Hobbit, which he believes is some sort of documentary.
Shown Their Work: Particularly as regards classical mythology and Marvel continuity. While Hades being kinda evil isn't part of the original myths, it is how he's portrayed in the Marvel universe.
Slap-Slap-Kiss: Amadeus and Delphyne; after she tells him that she fatally poisoned Herc (true, as far as she knew), he angrily lunges at her, but then they start making out.
But whilst Hercules endeavors to convince Cho to let his ire go, let us not forget that Ares, brother of Hercules and GOD OF #%*&IN' WAR waits to strike...
Spin-Off: Dark Avengers: Ares was supposed to be one for Dark Avengers, but featuring Herc's flagship enemy and referencing several plot points from Incredible Hercules including bringing back a villain introduced in one of the series' flashbacks makes it more a spin-off to this.
Ye Olde Butcherede Englishe. Most Marvel gods talk this way, but Hercules (and the Greek pantheon) switched to modern English round about Civil War. When Herc meets his mortal part, who still talks like that, Herc points out that they're 1) from Greece and 2) were born over 2000 years before Shakespeare (or English for that matter).
Hebe is either this or Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass - compare how she is at the beginning of the series (where she's accident-prone and looks like she's afraid of her own shadow) versus Assault On New Olympus or after (being willing to take a point-blank thunderbolt from then-pantheon head Hera and showing nerves of steel from that point onward).
Unsound Effect: Incredible Hercules loves this trope; Pak and Van Lente credit World War Hulk editor Nate Cosby for starting this off. Examples include KRAKINAJAA for somebody getting kicked in the jaw, and GODATHUNDAA for Herc hitting Thor with Mjolnir.
Will They or Won't They?: It took a lot of time and even more trouble before Amadeus and Delphyne became an actual couple.
Xanatos Gambit: Chaos King used one in Chaos War, taking over Zeus' body and attacking Hercules and the God Squad. He either would have killed them or, the one he deployed, used the dying Zeus to convince Hercules to contact the council of gods, leading him to their hideout.
Athena's behavior in Chaos War was essentially this. Either Chaos King would destroy the Universe and a new one would be born to take its place, or he would do enough damage before being defeated that the gods would have to rebuild it from scratch.
Xanatos Speed Chess: At the end of "Sacred Invasion", Athena's plan has the unexpected consequence of putting omnicidal dark god Amatsu-Mikaboshi in command of an army of hundreds of intergalactic slave-gods. This is good news, apparently.
It is made even funnier because Hercules is punching the crap out of the guy.
You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Chaos King to Athena, despite the fact the only thing she did was to remind him that it was her plan that made his assault so successful and that he still needed her. He disagreed and ate her.