In ancient times, Herakles and his men sought to secure Gaia's girdle from the Amazon Queen Hippolyta. After being allowed entrance to their city the brute drugged and enslaved the Amazons and raped the queen. While he left after stealing her girdle some of his men remained, only to be soundly defeated and killed to the last man when the Amazons recovered their strength. In doing so the Amazons broke a sacred oath made to the gods. The Amazons' brutality in securing their freedom infuriated their matron goddesses who forbade them from seeking vengeance on Hercules and set them the task and punishment of moving to the hidden island of Themyscira and guarding Doom's Doorway. The Amazons were split as a segment felt betrayed by their goddesses and chose to leave instead to seek vengeance, losing their immortality but not their strength and becoming the Amazons of Bana-Mighdall. After his demise and apotheosis, Hercules spent centuries imprisoned and bound beneath Themyscira for this transgression and it is source of constant enmity between the Amazons and the now immortal Hercules.
Over the centuries, Hercules has made attempts to become more noble, but his rash nature and love of violence make him a frequent thorn in Wonder Woman's side. His resentment of the Amazons after spending centuries bound beneath Themyscira as punishment without gaining their complete forgiveness has sabotaged his frequent tries for a more modern version of heroism, but he seems to have finally truly learned remorse for his less scrupulous actions of the past. He's gone by Heracles of Thebes, Mighty Hercules, Lion of Olympus, Champion/Harold Campion note , Paul Bunyan/Paul Jackson, and Wonder Man.
In the 1970's Hercules carried his own title, Hercules Unbound, for twelve issues. Unbound was set in a post-apocalyptic future and tied into other post-apocalyptic books like Kamandi.
While he has used the title Wonder Man he's quite different from the character most commonly associated with the name; Marvel Comics' Wonder Man, nor is he to be confused with Will Eisner's Wonder Man, or the Wonder-Man from 1963 that turned out to be a Superman Robot. If you were looking for Marvel's version of the demi-god he can be found at The Incredible Hercules.
Hercules/Herakles appears in:Notable Comic Books
- Wonder Woman Vol 1 (1942 - 2010) intermittent appearances
- "The Origin of Wonder Woman" (1942)
- Hercules: Unbound Vol 1 (1975 - 1977) Alcides/Earth 86 version
- Wonder Woman Vol 2 (1987 - 2003) intermittent appearances
- War Of The Gods Vol 1 (1991)
- Wonder Woman Vol 3 (2006 - 2010)
- Wonder Girl Vol 1 (2007 - 2008)
- The Legend of Wonder Woman Vol 2 (2016 - 2016)
- Wonder Woman (Rebirth) Vol 5 (2017 - 2018) (ongoing)
The character provides examples of:
- Adaptational Villainy: Sometimes. Generally Heracles' is simply a case of Deliberate Values Dissonance, but at times—such as during Amazons Attack he acts as a straight up villain, a very different role from that of the mythical character.
- The Atoner: Typically displays this attitude when in heroic mode, and finished the Post-Crisis, Pre-New 52 run this way.
- BrotherSister Incest: When Zeus and the other gods were abducted by Darkseid's minions, he suggested to his sister Cassandra that they might have to start a new pantheon themselves.
- The Brute: He's got brute strength that he'll turn on people with little notice, and obscure reasoning. He's also incredibly misogynistic by today's terms and his father can set him on people quite easily since he rarely thinks things through before acting.
- Cool Helmet: Sometimes uses the head of the Nemean Lion as such.
- Death by Adaptation: In DC Rebirth Hercules legitimately learns and repents for his actions, growing over time to become humble even. Then he gets killed and leaves all his stuff to Diana.
- Deliberate Values Dissonance: In the Greece of the 1200s BC, Heracles would have been a genuine hero. He hasn't evolved much, however, and this makes him a pretty dark character by modern standards.
- Dumb Muscle: Not dumb, per se, but Herc rarely thinks before he swings his fists.
- Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: He truly cares about his mother, Alcmene, and his sister, Cassie Sandsmark. A little TOO much in Cassie's case. Squick.
- FaceHeel Turn: Was revealed to be working with Circe in a plot to conquer the entire world. And then tried to rape Circe and Wonder Woman.
- Go Mad from the Isolation: It's mentioned his punishment to lift and hold the lower foundations of Themyscira for centuries, feeling every bump, crack, and force from the strenuous activity of the Amazons over the years, drove him completely nuts. He mentioned the trauma from that imprisonment to be the reason behind his crazy behavior.
- HeelFace Revolving Door: Heracles is trapped in a cycle of transgression and repentance, making him sometimes a hero, and sometimes a villain. He first started off mildly heroic before being convinced to rape and pillage the Amazon nation, before being cursed to hold up the new Amazon homeland, set free thousands of years later and repented for his awful ways, returned as a hero under the moniker of "Champion" to secretly drug Wonder Woman with a love potion to eventually seduce her as vengeance for his imprisonment before repenting after genuinely falling in love with her, and returning again under the moniker of "Wonder Man" to take over after Wonder Woman passed on her mantle before betraying Wonder Woman and trying rape her. Ultimately he settles on the Face side after being imprisoned again before being released by Zeus during the events surrounding Countdown; he even saves Cassie's life before leaving to do penance (after being rendered mortal)
- HeelFace Turn: Hippolyta forgave him in the end for what he did and he was actually a (sort of) hero for a little bit. Until... well, see above.
- Iconic Item: The skin of the Nemean Lion, slung about his shoulders.
- Love Mother, Love Daughter: Heracles seduced and eventually raped Hippolyta before enslaving and doing the the same to her people, before being punished to hold up Themyscrira for centuries. When he came back, he eventually seduced and fell in love with Wonder Woman, daughter of Hippolyta.
- Nigh-Invulnerability: He was already insanely tough due to being a demi-god and favored son of Zeus, but his apotheosis made him significantly more invulnerable.
- Nominal Hero: He tries to be heroic, but this is hampered by Deliberate Values Dissonance and the fact he cares little for the people he is supposed to save, expecting them to pretty much grovel at his feet.
- Outdated Hero vs. Improved Society: In his day, Heracles was heralded as the greatest of all Greek heroes. These days, his actions constitute crimes such as murder, rape and slavery.
- Politically Incorrect Hero/Politically Incorrect Villain: Has been both. He's not a misogynist like some of Wonder Woman's adversaries, but he does display a large degree of casual and ingrained and thorough disrespect for the female gender.
- Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: What he and his men did to the Amazons. They have not forgotten and many have not forgiven.
- Sadly Mythtaken: A large part of Hercules' Adaptational Villainy comes from changes in the myth of his ninth labor which was to retrive Hippolyta's girdle. In myth, Hercules and Hippolyta got along quite well (even developing a potential romance) until Hera instigated the Amazons into attacking leading him to kill Hippolyta in the battle. In the Pre-Crisis and Post-Crisis, Ares goads Hercules into attacking the Amazons leading to the bad blood between the Amazons and him.
- Super Strength: He's Hercules. This is to be expected.
- Ungrateful Bastard: He elbowed Superman in the face for saving him from Gog, the Godslayer. Not to mention he keeps betraying and sometimes trying to sexually assault Wonder Woman in his reappearances, the same woman who freed him from his punishment after he enslaved and raped her mother and her people.
- Wants a Prize for Basic Decency: He seems to think he deserves to be forgiven and liked by the Amazons because he spent time imprisoned for taking over their country and turning them into sex slaves. It's a major sticking point to him that the woman whose rapes he condoned and conducted don't think he's a hero, since he feels they're being petty and ridiculous.
- What the Hell, Hero?: Hercules delivered one to Wonder Woman during One Year Later after he found out that she had run away from her duties as a superhero and left Donna, Cassie and himself to do all the work.
- Wrestler in All of Us: A skilled Greco-Roman style wrestler actually.