Hercules vs. AresPosted: 04/04/2013
I adore Marvel’s take on Hercules. If you don’t, you’re wrong. Luckily for those who don’t enjoy mountains of paragraphs of back story, I’ve covered Hercules more extensively (and sexily) in a previous article. Basically, Marvel took an extremely well-known figure from literature, stayed true to his character while embracing his mythological personality, and then collected profit. I assume. Like any good superhero, Hercules even has an arch-nemesis: his brother Ares. If Marvel plans to open the Greek god floodgate, they might as well invite the whole gang.
If you’re unfamiliar with Hercules, these two pages should sum him up:
Today, we follow Hercules and his battles against Ares in Incredible Hercules #112-115, written by Greg Pak & Fred Van Lente and drawn by Khoi Pham. After the Marvel event World War Hulk, the Incredible Hulk series changed its name to suit its new protagonist. Amadeus Cho, the seventh smartest person in the world, joined Hercules as his sidekick/partner. Because the two of them helped Hulk almost destroy New York City, SHIELD wants to take them in. Accomplice to a crime is still a crime.
Meet Ares, a Greek god supervillain disguised as a hero working for the American government to bring in fake supervillains. That’s actually a pretty good summary of comic plots in general.
See? They really don’t like each other. Thousands of years of boiling rage will do that.
Now begins a life on the run. Unfortunately for our heroes, three Avengers assign themselves for taking-down-Hercules duty.
I like that a god of war updates his weaponry every few centuries. Axes are cool, but bazookas are cooler. You know Black Widow by now and the dapper man on the left is Simon Williams (Wonder Man). Think of him as a good-looking Superman-esque character. More importantly, how does one take down an actual god? Guns and face kicks won’t be enough.
Round 1 begins: Wonder Man vs. Hercules.
Supervillains tend to lie, especially those masquerading as superheroes. My goodness, if we just cataloged every lie Norman Osborn told during his time as the government head honcho during Dark Reign, that would take hundreds of pages alone. Luckily, Ares has thousands of years of experience, and he knows the best way to keep Hercules from making right, sensible choices.
What does hydra blood bullets do you ask? This:
And Wonder Man?
Now a crazy Hercules roams the city. Y’see, Hercules being as old as he is, a lot of demons, skeletons, and bad memories pop up at inopportune times. The man has had his fair share of regrets throughout the millenniums. Also, it looks bad for SHIELD when their target flails shirtless screaming at imaginary friends.
Ares could stop him, but sadly his powers don’t include wings or a jet pack.
Maybe this problem just needs a woman’s touch. And a grenade launcher. Both of those, probably.
Here’s the beauty of Hercules. He spent the last few hours in a crazed daze and Black Widow just mercilessly blew him up. As the man strolls from the blaze, what does he make by the fourth panel? That’s right, a sex joke.
As the story comes to its climax (and you can tell that I skipped tons of stuff), Hercules and Amadeus hijack a battleship filled with weapons of both the explosive and biological kind.
Round 2. Wondering where Ares came from? Teleportation devices are more of DC’s thing. Think Dukes of Hazard in a cute pink convertible.
If you’re keeping track of stats, both opponents pretty much equal each other. Super strength, super durability, etc. Now, it’s possible to kill Hercules, just like Thor can die. While punching really hard may not be the easiest way to murder an Olympian, Ares can’t call forth laser vision or tornadoes or anything. The guy only has brute strength and a battleaxe.
Eventually, the two have that arch-nemesis conversation required for good stories.
By the way, Ares hasn’t said one lie yet. Hercules is a murderer, a thief, an adulterer, a drunkard, and a fool. I mean, proof of his mistakes fills every middle school literature book. Y’see, this is the first arc of Incredible Hercules and the writers have to answer the most important question of a new story: why should readers care enough to follow this murdering, cheating, drunken oaf’s adventures?
As readers, we enjoy Hercules because of his flaws. Also, his unapologetic masculinity, enthusiastic confidence, undeniable charisma, and Hulk-level strength. But mainly the flaws.
Go pick up the rest of Incredible Hercules. Athena joins the group at the end of the arc, and the goddess of wisdom looks exactly as you expect:
Glasses and owls make anyone look like a genius.