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Comic Book / Hercules: The Thracian Wars

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Hercules: The Thracian Wars is a 2008 miniseries loosely based on Greek Mythology, written by Steve Moore, illustrated by Admira Wijaya, and published by Radical Comics.

After doing his Twelve Labors, Hercules has become a mercenary, wandering the ancient world with a band of companions - Iolaus, Tydeus, Amphiaraus, Autolycus, Atalanta, Meleager, and Meneus. Cotys the king of Thrace employs them to train his army and to fight the rebel Rhesus. But all is not as it seems...

Followed by Hercules: The Knives of Kush, which sees Hercules and company in Egypt. The first miniseries was adapted into a 2014 movie starring Dwayne Johnson as Hercules.

This work provides examples of:

  • Action Girl: Atalanta, the fleet-footed Arcadian huntress and devotee of Artemis the Huntress.
  • Amazon Chaser: Meleager is infatuated with Atalanta. However, she's not interested as she doesn't swing that way.
  • Anti-Hero: Hercules and his companions are (mostly) hardened killers who may be loyal to each other, but otherwise motivated by money and vengeance instead of altruism.
  • Ax-Crazy: Tydeus, who eats the brains of his slain opponents. Also uses axes.
  • Badass Boast:
    • Of note is a Pre-Asskicking One-Liner from Amphiaraus, a seer who knows it's not yet his time to die:
      Soldier: Zalmoxis, protect me!
      Amphiaraus: Not while Zeus protects me!
    • In the sequel, Hercules and company are told to kneel before Pharaoh Seti II:
      Hercules: I am Hercules, son of Zeus, who kneels to no one but his father.
  • Badass Crew: Hercules and his companions.
  • Barrier-Busting Blow: The main way Hercules' Super-Strength manifests itself.
  • Berserk Button: Don't hurt the people Hercules loves.
  • Bond One-Liner: After Hercules runs Ergenia through with a spear.
    Hercules: She died the way she lived... upon a man's shaft.
  • Big Bad: Actually Cotys, with his daughter Princess Ergenia as Daddy's Little Villain.
  • Blood Knight: Tydeus is always spoiling for a fight, so he can eat more brains.
  • Call That a Formation?: The Greeks drill the Thracians into a disciplined army, teaching them the value of a shield wall.
  • The Cassandra: Amphiaraus the seer, who predicts things like the Trojan War but nobody pays attention.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Autolycus (son of Hermes, god of thieves) can't help but make the situation worse by trying to make it better for himself, such as replacing a sleeping draught with poison. During a fight, he also asks Amphiaraus if he's destined to die backstabbed, and only starts covering the seer's back once he hears "No". He is completely loyal to Hercules though.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: The deaths of Hercules's wife and children and lovers, part of Hera's curse on him. So Meneus is the only one of his crew to bite it.
    • Also Atalanta. A virgin devotee of Artemis until she was tricked into marriage with the golden apple business, and her husband raped her on their wedding night. She killed him right afterward, but feels she's Defiled Forever and wants to die in combat.
  • Death Seeker: Atalanta, who keeps calling on Artemis to take her.
  • Decoy Leader: When Hercules and his companions arrive in Thrace they're received by the king with a feast. However after some insults go their way, they end up slaughtering everyone in the dining hall, including the king and his guards. Then the real king shows up and reveals he wanted to see their fighting skills.
  • Designated Girl Fight: Atalanta fights Ergenia at the climax, and almost loses before Hercules kills the princess.
  • Disc-One Final Boss: After much bloody fighting Rhesus is defeated but escapes, then Cotys is revealed to be the real Big Bad after he double-crosses Hercules.
  • Dogged Nice Guy: Meleager continuously tries to woo Atalanta without the slightest chance of success.
  • Drill Sergeant Nasty: While instructing the Thracians in the use of formations, Hercules gives Tydeus free rein to kill them if he can, so they're motivated to learn fast.
  • Famed In-Story: Hercules, and every one of his crew.
  • The Ghost: The gods are mentioned but never seen in person.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: Hercules loses it when a sniper takes out Meneus and rips him apart with his bare hands. It happens just off-page, with some flying bits.
  • Honey Trap: Princess Ergenia.
  • Karmic Death: Hercules says Ergenia died as she lived, "impaled on a man's shaft" after he throws a spear through her to save Atalanta.
  • Kill the Cutie: Meneus, the youngest and most innocent of the group, is killed by an archer. Hercules literally rips the man apart for this.
  • The Lancer: Iolaus is Hercules's second-in-command.
  • Loveable Rogue: Autolycus the thief, son of Hermes the god of thieves.
  • Iconic Outfit: Hercules wears the skin of the Nemean lion and wields a club and a bow.
  • No-Sell: Khadis (a sorcerer with lightning powers) tries to fry Hercules. Hercules, as in "son of Zeus the thunder god" Hercules.
  • Our Centaurs Are Different: Subverted: Meneus thinks he sees one, but it's actually a man on horseback (the Greeks of the time only used chariots in mounted warfare and horses served merely as battle taxis).
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: Hercules's crew are always bickering at each other.
  • Rape, Pillage, and Burn: What happens when Cotys's general Sitalces lets the newly-trained Odrysian army loose on a neighboring Triballi village. Hercules and his companions are against it, but can only stand by and watch as the defenseless village is raided and its inhabitants quickly slaughtered. The narrator makes it clear that the ones who died are the lucky ones.
  • Shrouded in Myth: The Thracians gossip about Hercules being the son of Zeus and his Twelve Labours. Hercules doesn't deny it and kills a man for suggesting he's really a mere bastard whose mother blamed her pregnancy on Zeus.
  • Setting Update: A minor one. Christian chronology puts Heracles' killing of Linus in 1264 BCE and his death and deification in 1226 BCE. This would mean the Pharaoh at the time would have been Ramses II. "Knives of Kush" does not feature Ramses as pharaoh but instead his grandson(s) Seti II and Amenmesse (the former's possible half-brother), updating the setting not to Ramses' time but to the civil war of the Nineteenth Dynasty. On further note, according to Herodotus Heracles lived 900 years before his time: circa 1300 BC, meaning the Pharaoh would be Horemheb.
  • Super-Strength: Hercules of course.
  • Take Over the World: Cotys plans to conquer the Greek states after Hercules has whipped his army into shape and disposed of the threat to his throne for him.
  • The Straight Man: Iolaus, relative to most of the crew.
  • Tagalong Kid: Meneus, the youngest of the band.
  • True Companions: Hercules's crew may only stay together because of Hercules, but they always look out for each other.
  • Unwanted Rescue: Meleager saves Alalanta from getting killed more than once and she scolds him for it each time since she wants to die.
  • Walking Shirtless Scene: Hercules is always bare-chested.