As the dog days of summer set to begin, relaunch season (otherwise known as “fall”) is coming closer and closer at Marvel Comics. To this end comes another announcement, which was an exclusive story offered today (July 29) by Comic Book Resources. “Hercules” is set to once again get his own ongoing series in November, as written by Dan Abnett and drawn by Luke Ross!
Dan Abnett, best known by Marvel Comics fans as the co-writer of “Nova”, “Annihilation Conquest”, “War of Kings”, “Guardians of the Galaxy”, and “The Thanos Imperative”, told the website that the urge to write the character came during his work for his “Secret Wars” tie in, “The Korvac Saga”. Fascinated by the demigod, Abnett has developed a pitch which follows the entire span of the hero’s life, from mythical adventures of the past to his modern day exploits in Brooklyn, New York. He’s hoping to expand a bit on the character’s “buffoonery” attempt to offer him as a more fleshed out figure, akin to Thor. To this end, Hercules will get a new costume design by Ross as well as new weapons and gear. Luke Ross is an artist best known for his work on “Spider-Man”, “Captain America”, “Green Lantern”, and “Gen 13”.
The Marvel Universe’s version of Hercules has been kicking around since Stan Lee and Jack Kirby introduced him in 1965’s “Journey Into Mystery Annual #1”, although he is best known for not only many team-ups with Thor but for his long stints on “Avengers” from the 1960’s through the 90’s. In fact, writers commonly inserted Hercules to fill the “demigod” role on their team rosters when editors didn’t want Thor leaving his solo book much during the Silver and Bronze ages. He rose to recent prominence during the “World War Hulk” story of 2008 when Greg Pak and Fred Van Lente had him take over the Hulk’s book as his own. Taking on Amadeus Cho as a sidekick, “Incredible Hercules” or related relaunches by the pair of writers kept the son of Zeus as the star of his own series until 2011, when his then latest series “Herc” ended. They left the hero without his godly powers (due to sacrificing them to save the earth during the “Chaos War”), but with his centuries of experience as well as magical weapons as a hero based in Brooklyn. Abnett has stated that he wishes the series to be accessible and will try to offer more “done in one” stories, and he talks of Hercules as if he still has his powers. Considering all of the reality warping antics of “Secret Wars” (as well as the fact that even non mythical superheroes seem to gain, lose, and regain their powers as often as they change their underwear), restoring Herc’s godly might is hardly a difficult or lengthy narrative task.
“Incredible Hercules” earned critical acclaim as well as a loyal fanbase, but its’ sales were never more than modest without aid from sporadic crossovers; Fred Van Lente went on to craft a spiritual sequel to it with Valiant Entertainment’s “Archer & Armstrong” reboot while Greg Pak is returning to the Hulk alongside a run on Superman for DC Comics. The hero has often worked best with some elements of comedy involved, and both he and Cho seemed to be less interesting once they were apart. On the other hand, Abnett has great experience helping to craft the modern Marvel “space universe” alongside Andy Lanning and Keith Giffen which has inspired the recent cinematic universe. Having him ply his creative juices on Hercules could work wonders for the character, so long as fans respond in kind. It also allows one of Marvel’s few openly bisexual male heroes his own title again.