It’s Thanksgiving again and that means it’s time for us to once more travel to ancient Greece and visit our good friend Hercules. This time around he is living in the DC Universe and is ready to share his adventures with you on this holiday to make it even more special! What also makes this special is the fact that this is the last time, at least for a long while, that we will be visiting Hercules on Thanksgiving so I really hope you enjoy this update while you eat your turkey, ham or vegan meal! Looking back its been a great time writing these updates based on Hercules from all types of comic companies as I have covered ones from Marvel, Topps, Radical, DELL and Graphic Universe! We have chatted about his Legendary Journeys, his Twelve Labors, and even meeting the Three Stooges! We have gone to war alongside him; we even traveled to space with him in order to find his true calling. In other words Hercules and his comic adventures really have been a Holiday Tradition, and while it’s sad its ending, it for sure is not a full goodbye as one day Herc will return for Thanksgiving! But let’s not harp on the farewell and let’s get to this DC Comic Hercules Turkey Day update!
Hercules has had a strange journey in his life in the DC Universe. His first appearance was in All Star Comics # 8 where he appeared alongside Wonder Woman, and while that version of Hercules would appear in a handful of issues and was pretty much a jerk, it was the Earth-86 version that is our subject for this update. This Hercules is based on the Greek mythology and has been bound with chains for centuries, and only breaks free in the future after World War III has taken its toll on the world. Now wandering the apocalyptic world, he wants revenge on those who bound him as well as his brother Ares, the God Of War. This version of Hercules was introduced by DC in 1975 and sadly became wiped from the DC Universe thanks to the acts of the mini series “Crisis On Infinite Earth” that collapsed many of the Multiverses. This event took place in 1985-1986. I was a young man when I first discovered and started reading Hercules Unbound. If I had to guess, I would say I was around 12 or 13 and got issues from the Bookie Parlor as well as Mavericks Cards And Comics, and I can remember they were always very cheap and were in the .50 and $1.00 boxes. This was also a series that I knew I had to have every issue of and can remember reading them and enjoying them as it was like Hercules in a Mad Max type world, just less extreme. Over the years, somehow a box of my DC Comics became missing and this series was in the box as well as my complete set of The Joker comics, but thanks to all the comic shops around here as well as online comic retailers I was able to track them all down again and re-read them. If you enjoy Hercules in comics or just like classic 70’s DC Comics, give this series a chance as it’s pretty dang fun.
Remco teamed with DC Comics to make a toy line that would be a cash-in on the popular Mattel series Masters Of The Universe that was a must have for all the kids of the 80’s. The series was called “Enter The Lost World Of The Warlord” and brought out many amazing DC Comic characters based on mythology characters and warriors. The series was headlined by Warlord of course but also had characters Arak Son Of Thunder, Machiste, Mikola, Deimos and Hercules! Growing up I can remember seeing the figures at garage sales and I myself at one time had Hercules as well as Arak, in fact I still have them both to this day. At my Brassfield grandparents, I remember that they had Hercules there and when playing with my cousin Nathan, I would choose him to be one of my heroes in the toy battles. And of course I remember the amazing full-page ad for the toy series that appeared in DC Comics and showed the figures as well as let you know you could get them at K-Mart. These figures were pretty cool and while cheaply made, they were must-have toys for me in my youth as they were based on the classic Sword And Sandal heroes of the films I enjoyed watching. On a side note, I really do want to get a Machiste figure in good shape and if I ever do, I will let you readers know.
You readers want to know another fun silly Hercules movie that I enjoy? Well let me tell you about “Hercules And The Masked Rider” from 1963, one silly and goofy film that has our muscle bound hero teaming with a Zorro like masked hero in order to fight a ruler and the rich who are pushing the poor down. The plot from IMDB is this: “In 16th century Spain, Don Francisco reluctantly betroths his daughter, Blanca, to the arrogant Don Ramiro in order to preserve the lands in the family estate. Then Don Juan, Don Francisco’s nephew and Blanca’s true love, returns from the war in Flanders. Don Juan dons a mask and joins with a gypsy band led by Estella to fight against the forces of Don Ramiro. In this effort he’s aided by a bare-chested muscleman and also by Captain Blasco who works for Don Ramiro but whose sympathies lie elsewhere.”
The crazy thing about this Hercules film is the fact that, for the most part, Hercules takes a backseat to Don Juan and his quest to get his true love. The fun aspect of this film is that it truly does blend together a Hercules film with a Zorro movie and a dash of Robin Hood is thrown in for good measure. This is a film that I discovered on DVD thanks to the company Cheezy Flicks and my friend Josh Weinberg, who used to sell movies at a local Flea Market, gave it to me as a gift, as he knew I enjoyed classic Sword And Sandal films. Alan Steel is the actor who played Hercules in the film, and while he is good as the muscle bound hero, he is not in the same league as Steve Reeves, but does do a solid job in the role. So if you like over the top cheesy movies with poorly dubbed dialogue, then check this one out!
Alan Steel was born Sergio Ciani in Rome Italy on September 7, 1935 and started his career in movies in 1958 in a unaccredited role in the film “Herod The Great”, but his big break came in 1959 when he became the stuntman and body double for Steve Reeves in the movies Hercules Unchained and The Giant Of Marathon, the latter of which he also had a role in. And when he changed his stage name to Alan Steel, more roles in Sword And Sandal films started to pour in, and being also a bodybuilder helped locked many roles in such films as Samson (1961), The Fury Of Hercules (1962), Hercules And The Black Pirates (1964), Hercules Against The Moon Men (1964), 3 Avengers (1964) among many other films of this genre with his final film being in 1979 with the film Baby Love. With Italian Cinema moving away from the Peplum Films (Sword and Sandal), Alan Steel retired from acting in 1979 and went on to still be a bodybuilder. Sadly on September 5, 2015 at the age of 79 the cinema strongman passed away in his sleep just two days away from his 80th birthday. It’s crazy to think that Alan Steel played Hercules about four times and next to Steve Reeves I think more fans of this style of cinema know him as the popular mythic hero than many of the other actors that played the role. Over the years of doing so many Horror and Comic Conventions it’s a shame that I never got to meet many of the icons of Peplum Cinema as it would have been great to have meet the likes of Steve Reeves, Alan Steel, Brad Harris and Reg Park to name a few before they passed away.
So before we get to the comic review of DC Comics series Hercules Unbound I would like to take just a moment to chat and update you readers about the Hercules Comic that Jeff Potter and I was creating for Sparkle Comics. As you longtime readers remember we wanted to start a Sword And Sandal comic line that would feature all the heroes of those films coming back for more adventures. The first in the series was Samson by Don Stephenson and sadly the sales of that book were below average and the feedback was mixed as everyone praised the amazing artwork Don did but they wanted more action in the story. So with that we feared that readers would not be ready for more Sword And Sandal comics so Hercules took a back seat for awhile and Jeff and I went on to work on a few other projects first like Black Jack # 1, Eternal Sleep # 1 and Babysitter Massacre # 0 to name a few. But I have some great news for those Sparkle Comics readers who want to see Hercules once more come alive in the pages of comics that has a cinema feel to it and that’s I think in 2022 we will begin work on the comic that will feature Hercules fighting off a horde of cannibalistic cavemen in order to save a beautiful woman who’s being sacrificed to them in order to appease the King of her village! I am very much looking forward to developing this issue as well as several issues that will follow that will pit our hero Hercules against so many amazing creatures and foes.
When I made the a hard decision to stop covering a Hercules Comic on Thanksgiving, it really was a tough one to make as I have been doing so since 2013 and it was something that I and many of you readers looked forward to every Turkey Day. But over time and eight years of covering him and his comic adventures it was time to walk away for awhile, and keep in mind I am not saying Hercules will not return for a Thanksgiving update, I just don’t see me doing so for a very long time as I have said above. But when coming to an end I knew I must cover the DC Comics universe version as we have covered Marvel’s twice and growing up I can remember reading the DC ones and loving them.
Hercules Unbound # 1 ***
Released in 1975 Cover Price .25 DC Comics # 1 of 12
World War III has ended four weeks ago and on a small island Hercules breaks free from chains that have bound him to a boulder for many decades. Once free he has one thing on his mind and that’s revenge on the one who has held him captive that long, and that person is the God Of War Ares! But before he can think too much about it, he notices a young man and his dog on a ship being attacked by water demons! Hercules dives in the water and beats down the demons and comes aboard the ship and meets Kevin, a blind young man with the bravery of a warrior and the dog is Basil, who is friendly and loyal. Kevin tells Hercules about how he and his brother Jason were on vacation with their dad when World War III started and his brother was killed and many the people were affected by a nuclear bomb’s radiation that has caused them to be blistered mutated monsters who want to eat humans! And if not for Basil guiding him to the boat, he would have been killed. Hercules does not like what he hears and now has a goal to get Kevin to his father and to then take the fight to Ares who is watching the war from Mount Olympus and loves the death and destruction all around him and is even playing all sides against each other in order to cause more deaths. While Hercules with Kevin are now on land Hercules tells how he was set up by Ares as he was mad at Hercules for his stance on wars, and tricked him and chained him up. Hercules and Kevin are now in town and are attacked by Minotaur demons and once they take them down Hercules and his friend head for Rome, but Hercules notices that Kevin was very skilled with a slingshot even though he is blind. Once In Rome Hercules stops men from war and calls out Ares who sends his purple skinned champion Smasher to deal with Herc, and after a fight that leaves Hercule hurt and Basil the dog down, Kevin uses a rock and hits Smasher killing him. As Hercules is back up he notices that Ares has run away and worst of all Kevin finds that Smasher was his father mutated and now dead by his own hands.
This first issue of Hercules does a great job of building the world it takes place in, a world that is ravaged by war and nuclear fallout that has caused most men and women to mutate and go crazy all the while the old Gods of the world are playing their own sick and twisted games. Hercules has been chained to an island for around a thousand years and only by a miracle is he set free and when free finds a blind boy named Kevin and his dog Basil who helps him understand what is going on this this world he has been long removed from. That’s the thing about Hercules thus far, his instinct to be a hero and stand up for what is right is still a part of him, even if he does want revenge on Ares the God that placed him in chains. Kevin is an interesting lad as he is a true survivor and, while blind, does well for himself when it comes to protecting himself and his friends, truly there is more to him then meets the eye as his skill with a slingshot with no sight is too good. Ares The God Of War is living up to his name and is getting joy in playing all remaining sides of the world against each other as he loves death and battle and he is getting his fill of it in this new chaotic world. The comic does a great job of feeling like a classic hero story, but also does a great job of making the gloom and doom feel like a real threat to our heroes. This issue really did hold up for me after all these years, and I cannot wait to read the rest of this series again! The cover is great and eye catching and has a true classic 70’s DC Comic look to it. The interior art is done by the team of J.L. Garcia Lopez and the great Wally Wood and is great stuff and showcases why DC Comics at the time was a delivering some topnotch comic series. Over all if you like fantasy comics based on Hercules with a dash of Superheroes, then give this issue a read. Now let’s see how issue two holds up!
Hercules Unbound # 2 ***
Released in 1976 Cover Price .25 DC Comics # 2 of 12
Hercules with Kevin and Basil are now in Paris, France and are being attacked by more sinister demons and after taking them down, they meet fellow World War III survivors the Simon St. Charles a British older man, Dave Riggs a young man and Jennifer Monroe a pretty blonde woman. They invite Kevin and Hercules to come hide with them in a hideout that is stocked with drink and food. Meanwhile Ares is upset that the demons have failed to kill Hercules and summons Cerebus and his pair of two headed hounds of hell as he gets orders to attack and stop Hercules so that chaos and war can rule the Earth. Hercules and Jennifer go for a walk and it’s clear the God has fallen for the young woman who was once a supermodel, but their walk turns bad when the Hounds Of Hell attack Hecules and Cerebus runs off with Jennifer kidnapping her. Cerebus and Hercules fight for a few moments and Herc is knocked out and found later by Kevin and the rest that later who are upset that Jennifer is missing. Hercules, Kevin and Basil follow the trail and soon find that they have to enter Hell in order to save their new friend!
This second issue’s plot has Hercules heading to Paris only to find more survivors with one being a love interest, but Ares has plans to bring down Hercules and sends Cerebus to cause mayhem and take the young woman to Hell and force Hercules to follow him there were they could kill the God once and for all. Hercules in this issue is not trusting of other people, but yet his heart falls hard for Jennifer a model who as well seems to have an attraction to Hercules as well. Good old Hercules is headstrong in this issue and also finally questions how well Kevin gets around if he is blind, but does trust his young friend. Kevin and Basil are loyal to their friend Hercules and even rush into battle to be at his side and help the best they can. Jennifer is a young woman who at this point is trusting and seems to just accept the fact that Hercules is real and falls for his kindness and chiseled looks. Simon St. Charles and Dave Riggs seem like good guys but are also very much cowards and while they care about Jennifer they are not willing to risk themselves to save her. Ares is as evil as ever and wants to bring on total war and ride the world and himself of Hercules, a total ego driven God. Cerebus is a man who does what Ares asks and is super powerful and has the support of two hounds that have two heads and are ready to shred flesh. I do like that they give Cerebus a backstory of being sent to Hell over the love of a cheating woman that he would love to kill…man she did him wrong. This issue has some great drama and action and like before did a great job of blending them together and not making the story drag and keeping you wanting to see what is going to happen next. The cover art is solid and eye catching as the use of white and the red hounds of hell makes it stand out and the interior art once more is perfect and done by the team of J.L. Garcia Lopez and the great Wally Wood. So as you can see, this second issue is great and like the first held up with me when reading again.
Hercules Unbound # 3 **1/2
Released in 1976 Cover Price .25 DC Comics # 3 of 12
Hercules along with Kevin and Basil jump into the deep hole and find a man named Orpheus who plays a lyre as well as the ferryman Charon of the river Styx, but Hercules and Kevin before they can set sail are attacked by a shadow demon that there is no way to defeat…that is until Kevin tells Orpheus who Hercules is and he uses his music to distract the demon allowing Hercules to defeat it. Orpheus asks to join them on their journey to save Jennifer and they take him along for the adventure and start the journey on the river after paying the toll. Meanwhile Cerebus arrives at the castle of Hades with Jennifer and informs the god of Hell that he is waiting for Hercules to try and save her, while waiting Cerebus opens up to Jennifer and the two start to become friends and she understands his reasons and loyalty to Ares. Meanwhile Orpheus tells Hercules about how he lost his bride and how Hades set him up to once more loose her with a cruel and yet simple trick. Hercules finally arrives at the castle and he is ready for war as he throws a tree trunk through the castles window alerting Cerebus who charges out ready for a brawl. Hercules and Cerebus are battling to the death as Orpheus talks to Pluto to just allow Jennifer to leave, and by accident Hercules punches a wall and it crumbles down and kills Cerebus who has now found peace. In the end Hercules, Jennifer, Kevin and Basil travel back to the overworld as Orpheus shows that he himself was a ghost as well and returns to the place he belongs. On Earth Simon and David are attacked by demons and are kidnapped and taken to speak to Ares The God Of War.
In this third issue Hercules with his friends travel to Hell in order to get Jennifer back as Cerebus has taken her there on the orders of Ares as Hades himself has agreed to host the epic showdown…and in the end the battle leaves Cerebus dead, but yet free from his torment of lost love and no longer being controlled by Ares. Hercules in this issue turns on his full hero mode as he battles a shadow demon as well as a very angry Cerebus in order to save Jennifer who clearly he is fallen in love with. Kevin and his dog Basil does what they can to help in this quest as does the spirit of Orpheus whose music can weaken the demons that stand before them. Cerebus himself is a bad guy, but does have a good heart and is only doing the bad stuff as his heart was broken many decades ago and Ares has taken advantage of his pain and uses him as a tool of battle and war. But while a bad guy you do kind of feel sorry for him when he gets crushed to death, but you also feel good about it as he has found peace. You also now know that Hades is on the side of Ares as he has allowed this all to take place in his kingdom…and it makes sense, as War equals more souls for him. One thing that is clearly going to come back on Hercules that takes place in this issue is the taking of Simon and David as you know Ares has no good plans for these two. The cover for this issue is good and eye catching and showcases the powerhouses fighting, and the interior artwork done by J.L. Garcia Lopez again and its solid work and brings me back to the days of reading old DC Comics. Over all a great issue that sets the stage even more for the Hercules and Ares showdown that we are building towards.
Hercules Unbound # 4 ***
Released in 1976 Cover Price .30 DC Comics # 4 of 12
Hercules along with Kevin, Jennifer and Basil the dog are on a boat and are being attacked by a war ship, and when their foes try to board their ship our heroes fight back and find that their attackers are animal humanoids people who were attacking on the orders of Hunter Blood a madman who claims he is the ruler of England! Hercules has heard enough and heads toward England to break up this empire as well as see if the missing David and Simon are there, and once their Jennifer brings up that the note they found written by their missing friends could be a fake written by Ares, and Hercules blows that off and unknowingly insults her by saying that she is a woman and should leave things to him…and this of course enrages Jennifer! Meanwhile Hunter Blood is as well furious at his Cat Man who lead the attack on Hercules ship for failing and uses his radioactive eyes to fry him and then orders his men to bring him Hercules and his crew or they will as well will share that same fate. That night while camping Hercules and crew are attacked by the Animal People and are taken prisoner when they use sleep bullets on them, while Hunter Blood tries to charm Jennifer, Hercules and Kevin find themselves chained to tower bells! Hunter Blood explains to Jennifer that he collects fine art and treasures but that he can not see them as the effects of World War III have left him blind and his eyes now fire beams that decay things it hits! And this upsets him and says that Kevin and Hercules must pay and starts ringing the bells causing our heroes massive pain. With the words of Kevin going through his brain Hercules uses all his power and brings down the bell tower and crushes Blood Hunters collection, and as Blood Hunter starts to choke Jennifer to death Hercules appears and challenges him to a final fight.
This issue is a fun ride and has Hercules and his crew traveling to England in order to find their missing friends only for them to find a crazed madman and his animal humanoid henchmen! Hercules in this issue is on a true quest as he is really on a warpath to bring down Ares as well as try to bring peace to this world gone mad. He as well feels that he must protect his friends from harm, but does have a boneheaded look at women as he feels that they can not be the hero like him and that they should not think about battle and traps as that as well should only be left up to him…he has a lot to learn. Jennifer in this issue shows that she can fight and takes out a few of the animal people on their ship and as well seems to be wise on looking at all aspects of things before just rushing in like Hercules. Kevin and Basil are as helpful as ever and it’s clear that at this point Kevin looks at Hercules as a close friend. Hunter Blood is a man turned mad thanks to the radiation fallout of the war that has given him powerful eyes that decays anything he looks at! This power and also curse has driven him mad as he loves classic art and the fine things of life that he could never afford when the world was normal…he gets what he wants and because he can not see them he lashes out in fits of rage. The Animal Humanoid People are mindless followers who do what they are ordered in fear of what Blood Hunter would do to them if they did not. I like that the issue ends as well with a cliffhanger as Hercules freed himself from a deadly trap and is now wanting to beat the hell out of Hunter Blood who he himself wants death as his collection is gone…this is going to be an epic showdown for sure! The cover is eye catching and has Hercules raging in the streets of London and the interior art is fantastic and done by icons J.L. Garcia and Wally Wood! This is another great issue in this series and one that was fun to reread after all these years, and I really am looking forward to looking back at this whole series. So with that let’s see how this fifth issue holds up.
Hercules Unbound # 5 ***
Released in 1976 Cover Price .30 DC Comics # 5 of 12
Hercules grabs a concrete pillar and is ready to go head to head with Hunter Blood as he wants him to let Jennifer go! And with his eyes Hunter Blood zaps the pillar and makes it rot and then hits the ground from under Hercules to fall through it and hit hard the subway that is below and then he smacks and knocks out Kevin and then drags Jennifer away as his Animal Humanoids follows. As Hercules wakes up he meets Durak Malloy a Ape Humanoid who leads a army of other animal humanoids who are at war with Blood Hunter and his people, and then they go above and find Kevin and Basil who are now both coming two and are all happy to see each other alive and well. Durak Malloy tells Hercules and Kevin that before World War III he was just a regular primate that was a lab animal and after the bomb went off spilled chemicals from the lab filled the air and made him and other animals intelligent! While Hercules and Durak sit in a theater and watch a movie, Kevin and Basil are attacked by Hunter Blood’s animal people and this alerts Hercules who springs into action who starts to rumble with them as Blood Hunter appears and uses his eyes on Big Ben to try and bring the landmark down onto his enemies as well as his own Animal people as he looks at them all as expendable. Hercules rushes to Hunter Blood who falls from his perch on a building and his own Animal Humanoid soldiers beat him to death, but Big Ben also falls and Hercules holds it up as long as he can as everyone gets to safety…but poor Basil the dog is not lucky as a stone falls and crushes him…Hercules and Jennifer’s hearts break as they watch Kevin mourn the loss of his faithful dog.
This fifth issue in Hercules Unbound has a mix of Planet Of The Apes thrown into it as I could swear that Ape humanoid Durak Malloy could have easily been taken out of the Marvel Comics series of that film that was running in 1975-1976! The plot of this one has Hercules taking on Hunter Blood as he tries his best to rid the world of this hero as well as anyone that is in his way that includes his own soldiers! Hercules in this issue is headstrong once again and thinks that his raw power can stop any enemy and he is quickly sent fallen to the ground when he finds his opponent is a more powerful mutant when it comes to his twisted eye beams. But while Hercules fumbles the first fight his power and hero attitude does end up saving the day and he even proves to Jennifer that he is a good person even if his thoughts sometime are primitive towards women. Poor Kevin tries his best to help in this issue and suffers the worst loss as his best friend and loyal dog Basil is killed by a fallen stone, sad to see Basil gone from the series. Jennifer takes a backseat in this issue and is pretty much just held captive until she is saved, and she herself got the best first look madness of Hunter Blood as she seen his true fall into madness. Durak Malloy is a cool character as he is Patient Zero of the animal humanoids and is at odds with the crazed Hunter Blood and his group, he is also the one that explains why the world now has human walking and talking animal people. Hunter Blood is a true madman who a deadly power that he abuses in order to rule with fear and threats of death, plus life to him really is cheap as he claims is own loyal foot soldiers are nothing more then mindless slaves to him…he is a fool and it’s great to watch him get beat to death at the hands of his own one time men. This issue also shows briefly David and Simon on a warship with Ares who alerts them they are being used as bait to snag Hercules, as the showdown between the Greek Gods is counting down. This issue was a fun and fast read filled with action, drama and some great sci-fi elements and yet still has that classic Sword and Sandal feel. The cover is great and has Hercules holding up the falling Big Ben tower and the team up of Garcia and Wood are on interiors again and it looks great, in other words another solid issue of Hercules Unbound.
Hercules Unbound # 6 ***
Released in 1976 Cover Price .30 DC Comics # 6 of 12
Hercules, Jennifer and Durak Malloy along with his animal humanoids are all quite and sad as they walk along with Kevin who is hold the body of his canine friend Basil, and worse before they can really do anything to comfort him they are attacked by two waves of Ares’s Warriors and with Hercules might and Durak and his men’s firepower they make quick work of these soldiers. After the battle Hercules tells Kevin that he has a way to bring Basil back to life and this makes the young man very happy to hear, as Jennifer takes Hercules off to the side and asks how he plans to do so he explains to her that he witnessed Ares bring his dead pet hawk back from the dead, and that he planes on forcing his brother to do the same for Basil. Meanwhile Ares along with his army and his captives Simon St. Charles and Dave Riggs and they are heading towards Stonehenge, when Dave escapes with the help of Simon and this angers the God Of War who tells Simon he will pay for this, and he means it as he chains him to the barrel of a tank! Hercules wishes Durak and his men well as they are now splitting from Hercules quest and soon after a warn out Dave appears and tells them were Ares is and that they still have Simon, and this is all Hercules needed to hear as he makes his way to the landmark to have a final showdown with his brother. When Hercules arrives Ares sends his warriors to fight his brother and after making short work of them Ares joins the fight after being mocked by his brother, and the fight goes back and fourth and in the end Hercules uses his wits and might to bring his brother down! In defeat Ares uses his power to bring back Kevin’s dog Basil and rides away letting Hercules know that next time they meet one of them will have to die! So with that Hercules stands among his friends Kevin, Basil, Jennifer, Simon and Dave and in a world that has been destroyed by Nuclear War.
With issue six the Hercules on a path to fight Ares comes to an end in a battle at one of the most mystic sites in the world! This issues plot is really just the build up of Hercules making his way to Ares and along the way we learn that Ares can bring the dead back to life, Dave escapes being a prisoner and that Durak Malloy and his men have their own quest and break away from Hercules once they help him fight off some attacking warriors. Hercules in this issue is very focused on finding Ares and saving Jennifer’s friends from him as well as now knows he must force his brother to use his powers to bring back Basil from the grip of death. And once he gets into battle Hercules knows that his power will not fail him and that he must win at any and all coasts, and Herc even shrugs off a direct hit from a tank. Ares in this issue is very cocky and surrounds himself with warriors and war machines, as his end goal is the death of all humans! And even in defeat Ares stands by his word to help Basil but still warns that he will be back and next time he planes on killing his brother. And the characters of Kevin, Jennifer, Simon and Dave all take a backseat as the main focus is the showdown of the Godly brothers clashing, and again the end fight is lots of fun and holds a classic cheesy Sword And Sandal Film appeal to it. It’s a shame that Durak Malloy and the rest of his animal people soldiers are a second thought in this issue and they write them off in one panel after they just helped against a handful or warriors, I would have liked for at least Durak Malloy to be with them for the rest of this series. At the end of this issue they also alert us that the “direction” of this comic series is changing and the only thing I can think of as to why they would do this is cause low sales or a new team of creators taking over the series. The cover is great and eye catching for the time and the Garcia does the interior art once more once more, and its great and so fitting for 70’s style DC Comics. Issue six of Hercules Unbound holds up just like all this series this far and I really have been enjoying revisiting it, so let’s move onto issue seven to see how the new direction holds up.
Hercules Unbound # 7 ***
Released in 1976 Cover Price .30 DC Comics # 7 of 12
Hercules along with Kevin, Basil, Jennifer and Dave are on a quest to find the lake known as Loch Ness, and after getting across a dam they find their destination! Once around the lake they are greeted by three beautiful women who are apart of a group called The Order Of Tarn and invite them to have a meal and rest for a bit with them and the fellow members, the others rush to the idea of a free meal as Hercules is a little more untrusting…but soon gives in. During the meal all is well and everyone is having fun, that is until they all pass out as they have been drugged and when they awaken they are tied up and near the lake and meet an old man with a staff named Casper Zedd who informs them that he has been give great power by the Master Monster God of the lake and that for the Master to regain full power he must kill Kevin as the alerts them all that the boy is something more special then a human, and when the Master is summoned to Hercules shock he sees that he is no Lake Monster but is the Titan Oceanus! Hercules warns Casper of the dangers of Oceanus as the Titan wants to really rule the world and when the old man don’t listen, Hercules breaks free and saves Kevin and the rest of his friends and they rush off to the Dam after knocking down Casper who is now enraged and wants them all dead. The heroes make it to the dam and Dave works fast to make the electricity that the dam creates into a weapon that they can use on Oceanus who has now arrived at the dam and is fighting Hercules with the intention to kill him! Dave is able to overload the dam and Hercules grabs the raw electricity and throws a massive bolt at Oceanus killing the Titan! The fight takes a lot of Hercules who falls down and is out cold, while the magical staff of Casper Zedd explodes his followers leave and the old man is nothing more than a weak person all alone.
So the new direction of Hercules appears to be to take the Mythic Hero and place him in typical 70’s superhero comic book situations and sprinkle in a bash of mythology…and I have to say I didn’t hate it back then and I still don’t hate it now! This issue has Hercules and his friends going to Loch Ness only to have to fight a Titan and his crazed followers. And with the help of his human friends Hercules is once more able to save the day and ride this war-ridden world of evil. Hercules once more is untrusting to strangers, and is proven right and uses his might and battle ridden mind to bring down a Titan! But it must be said that if not for Dave and his knowledge of how water dams work, Hercules would have been killed by the Titan, so to be honest Dave is just as much of the issues hero as Hercules. Jennifer as always is being set off to the side in the action as Hercules still has very dated views that women can not help in “men’s work” and she is starting to get really annoyed by his primitive thoughts. Kevin in this issue is shown to be something more special then a normal blind man, and its clear that he is something special as with out sight this whole series he acts as if he can see all around him. Casper Zedd and his The Order Of Tarn Cult are easily fooled as Casper is just a pawn for the true evil that is Oceanus a Titan who wants to kill, enslave and rule the world. Oceanus really is one of the most dangerous villains we have meet in this series and in this issue he is super weak, imagine what he could have done if at full power? While the battle between Oceanus and Hercules is slightly lackluster the Titan’s ending really does have a true epic myth feel to it and also is fitting for a quest for Hercules who pulls “lightning” from the sky to throw at his enemy. The cover for this issue is well drawn, but is only ok when it comes to eye catching and this issue has artist Walt Simonson doing the interiors and its fantastic as well! Issue seven keeps up the fact that DC Comics knew how to create an entertaining Hercules comic series.
Hercules Unbound # 8 **
Released in 1977 Cover Price .30 DC Comics # 8 of 12
Hercules and his friends are on a raft in the waters of Ireland when they are attacked by four old fighter planes that open fire and cause them all to fall into the water, and during this attack Dave drowns and this angers Hercules who hurls objects at the planes causing three to crash and damage another. Hercules still mad about the death of one of his friends follows the damage plane back to a massive metal factory, and after taking down an army of robotic women a voice echoes out from a loud speaker and apologizes for the attacks and invites them in. When inside the meet an older woman named Lady Agatha Simms who as a young woman was hit by an army jeep that left her crippled, but made her mind stronger as she has built war machines for the Government and now is playing a war game with an unknown opponent, and she by mistake thought Hercules and his friends were apart of the “war”. And while she shares her story her base is under attack and then she shares that all the old battle planes, tanks and ships she uses a machine she made that pulls them from the past! She asks Hercules to help her win this battle and if he does she will grant Kevin his site back! Hercules agrees to these terms and along with Kevin, Jennifer and the Female Robots they rush her opponent’s island base. Meanwhile to everyone surprise Dave washes up on shore and is alive and finds himself wondering toward a small town that is filled with robots who take him as a recruit for their “war”. Meanwhile Hercules on the island finds a hidden door to their targets base and to their shock in the chair hooked up to the machines is Dave!
This issue slips a little for me as the “War Games” between two mechanical hooked people just is kind of bland for me, and while I enjoyed the Hercules stuff it still is the least interesting issue in this series for me. And lets be honest they also make Hercules seem like a fool when his friend is drowning and Jennifer tells Hercules to save him, and Hercules says nah its to late only for Dave to be alive…it makes you feel like did Hercules want Dave to die as he could have helped and chose not to bother? Hercules in the issue is also filled with the want for revenge and even does a few acts that he would normally not do and that includes going into a strange building blindly on the request of a total stranger who had already attacked them twice. Jennifer and Kevin are just around and the only major plot point they serve is that if they help in this war game Kevin could be given his site back. Lady Agatha Simms is a weird sort of villain as she is really just wanting to play her War Games with the unknown as she has nothing else better to do, and she also is super brilliant as she can pull weapons from the past to help her cause…but she also does seem to be a little less sweet then she wants people to think. The cover is pretty good and eye catching as I like the World War II planes raining bullets and Hercules and his friends and the interior art by Walt Simonson is good. Over all this is an average issue with a story line that I hope ends in the next issue.
Hercules Unbound # 9 **1/2
Released in 1977 Cover Price .30 DC Comics # 9 of 12
Hercules tries to attack the now mechanical hooked up Dave who uses a giant magnet to take down the female robots as well as it effects Jennifer, as Hercules grabs Kevin and Basil and they flee from the war room as the plastic robots under Dave’s control start to pour in. Hercules with Kevin are trying to dodge traps and find a way out as Jennifer wakes up and finds the plastic robots out of the room and the wired up Dave shut down and this is her chance to flee. Meanwhile Agatha Simms is upset as she thinks that Hercules has failed so she pulls the atomic bomb from the past and sends it towards the island, as she wants to truly win this war game once and for all. We then learn that a electronic being that is of the worlds defense is who is calling the shots, and after blowing up the original Atomic Bomb over the sea he forces Dave to pull a trigger that will unleash a massive atomic warhead as well as many missiles to destroy Agatha Simms and the land all around! Hercules and Kevin make it back to the war room but are to late to stop the event, but thanks to Jennifer who uses a pipe and pushes a self destruct button the Being is stopped cold and Dave is set free from his mechanical trap. Hercules is able to stop the rest of the missiles by throwing heavy metal at them chopping them in half…but the atomic missile is still on its way. Hercules, Kevin, Basil, Jennifer and the wounded Dave all make it to a boat just as the island explodes from the self destruction button. The heroes sell back to Agatha Simms’s island and are puzzled as it seems to be find as if the atomic missile never hit, and as Hercules and Kevin enter she greats them and informs them that she sent the missile away with a portal that dropped in in Greece in 1986…as this game they played is what started World War III and is what killed Kevin’s Father and Brother…and this makes him walk away from Agatha Simms not wanting her help with his site.
This issue brings the war games to a whole new level as they throw in the original Atomic Bomb into the mix and that’s crazy as in order to win a side is ready to cause total destruction to all living things on the island as well as the land it’s self! This issue has Hercules along with his friends on the island trying to fight of the hooked up mechanical version of Dave who is also controlling plastic robots all for the faith that the crazy old woman they just meet will restore Kevin’s eye sight, and during this battle Hercules runs away with Kevin leaving Jennifer behind who passed out of a magnet was used to take down a ton of robots…making you wonder is she a robot? Hercules in this issue is brave but is also kind of dimwitted as he rushes into battle, blames Dave to being a traitor when he himself left him to drown and gave zero attempts to save him, leaves Jennifer behind and acts like a full caveman with muscles over the calculated hero he has been most of this series. Kevin is just kind of around and wants his site back and acts as the voice or reason for Hercules who is kind of acting different, plus he delivers the shock of the issue as his actions with Hercules is what helped create the events that have caused the world to have fallen apart. Jennifer has a true mystery around her as why did the magnet make her faint? Is she part robot or was it just from all the craziness doing on that she passed out? Dave shows that while he is ego driven he is stronger than people give him credit for as he not only survived almost downing even though he could not swim, he also does what he can to fight off the will of the Defense System Being! The true bad guy in this issue is Agatha Simms who does not care about people’s safety and only wants to win a war against her unknown opponent, and to save herself she sends an atomic bomb to 1986 to a city that is packed full of people to save her hide as well as to claim a victory…she is scum a truly selfish evil person. Over all a entertaining issue and I am glad the War Game story arch is over as it was just an ok adventure for Hercules to be a part of and I must also throw in not keen on the “New” direction this far as the last two issues just feel so generic. The cover is pretty good and eye catching and interior art by Walt Simonson is solid and good. Let’s see what issue ten has in store for us.
Hercules Unbound # 10 ***
Released in 1977 Cover Price .30 DC Comics # 10 of 12
Hercules, Jennifer and Kevin are in London, England during a rain storm to bury Dave who passed away from his injuries from his run in with the Defense Being, as they are at the cemetery morning their friend a group of scientist are messing with a fragment they found and during an experiment the fragment erupts into a massive geyser of water and Hercules has to think quick to save not only his friends lives but those as well that belong to museum workers and using a lamp poll he quickly makes a ditch to house the water. After everyone is safe Jennifer spots one of the scientist who is dying and warns them that a bigger fragment was found in America and that they must warn them not to experiment on it as the effects will be way worse then this! So they take a Flying Wing Plane from the Museum and Kevin is the one to fly it and oddly enough Kevin also glows with energy showing that the effects of the war has really impacted him. Hercules and crew arrive at the great lakes and find them bare and also meet the Atomic Knights a group of heroes that ride giant Dalmatians and who inform them that a super villain named Dr. Scuba who turned major bodies of water into those blocks! As Hercules grabs a fragment from the block they all head back to the tent to see if they can figure out how to safely bring the water back, but unknown to them the Atomic Knight at the tenet is no longer human and is really a space being! Hercules catches on that the Knight is no longer human as the being inside is getting power from the water cube fragment and makes its move as it wants even more power from the bigger cube in the lakes dried bed, as hit escapes and heads for the water cube Hercules follows and the pair fight it out! The Being Knight is getting stronger as they are close to the water cube and in an act of pure power Hercules lifts the cube and shoves it down the mask whole of the possessed knight causing it to explode and killing the being and filling the lake once more with water! In the end Hercules comes out of the lake and now The Atomic Knights truly know he is Hercules.
This issue has Hercules and his friends coming to America to find that that nation has been rocked by a water shortage thanks to a bad guy named Dr. Skuba that turned it all into blocks of pure energy. I should also note that those events by the villain took place in issue 7 and 8 of OMAC. And while in America the mighty Hercules also meets The Atomic Knights a brave group of giant Dalmatian ridding scientists who have survived World War III. The plot of this issue really does feel like a cheesy DC Superhero story complete with an epic fist fight and a super villain who has caused so much world sadness. And let us not also forget that poor Dave Riggs who survived almost drowning, and becoming a plaything for a Defense Department Entity only to finally die from energies…poor Dave his life could have been saved really if Hercules would have just made a tiny attempt to have saved him when he fell into the water. Hercules in this issue is pure hero and not only once more uses his power and brains but once more also goes by his gut instinct that ends up truly being the thing that saves the day. Jennifer and Kevin are around with only Kevin having a little more character development as its shown he can store power and can fire it from his hands like a laser blast when fully charged. The Atomic Knights are around and are no match for their quick fight with Hercules but once they are proven to be friends they also act as a source to explain what the water cubes are and why for those who did not read the OMAC issues, and while they are not major players in this issue it was great to see them in the issue as it was a cool way to bring other DC characters into this world just like they did before with Durak Malloy and the other talking animal people that are from the Jack Kirby created series Kamandi, well not them per say but talking animal people. The issues bad guy is a being that takes over the armor of one of the dead Atomic Knights and while he is powerful once he is near the water cubes, he is outsmarted and destroyed by Hercules with extreme destruction. The cover art is great and has Hercules fighting a massive knight and the interior art by Walt Simonson is great like before. Over all a good and entertaining issue that shows that Hercules Unbound might be back on track of delivering amazing adventures of the Mythic Hero in a world of chaos and war.
Hercules Unbound # 11 **1/2
Released in 1977 Cover Price .35 DC Comics # 11 of 12
Hercules along with Jennifer, Kevin, Basil and The Atomic Knights are in Detroit at a factory were the Knights have just created a new set of armor for Hercules that can withstand heat, cold and brute force! After an accident at the factory leaves it in rubble they all get back onto the Flying Wing and once more Kevin and his weird power take the wheel, but something goes wrong as Kevin turns evil for a second and his actions end up knocking The Atomic Knights and Hercules from the Wing and is going crazy with power endangering Jennifer and Basil who are stuck on the flying machine with him and he is using the weapons on the Flying Wing to attack the base of the Knights! Hercules shakes off the fall and acts quickly and uses a giant rock to throw into the near by water to cause the Flying Wing to crash land, and once down he and The Atomic Knights rush over to pull everyone from the wreck. Meanwhile on Mount Olympus the Gods lead by Zeus are stuck in their castle as a strange storm is outside keeping them trapped inside and with one last chance to warn Hercules of the Earths doom by Anti-Gods and send a message his way via a bolt that hits Jennifer, and this message comes at a terrible time as Hercules has his friend Kevin in changes and he along with The Atomic Knights are trying to tell him that they had to put him in chains for his own safety as the blind young man does not remember his rampage from earlier. Jennifer via the Gods warn them that danger is coming and just like that a massive red fire breathing dragon appears and attacks them and Hercules once more springs into action and does his best to fight off the Dragon and protect his friends. Hercules uses dirt to smolder out the Fire Dragon, but in the fight poor Jennifer died of fright! Hercules unchains Kevin and they bury their friend, when once more Kevin has an attack of energy and rushes to the Flying Wing with Hercules just able to grab the wing in time to try and save his friend. The Flying Wing crashes in the ocean and to Hercules shock its by the rock he was chained to for centuries, and its there that Kevin turns into Ares who tells Hercules this is the spot that shall bring back the Anti-Gods!
Ok the first thing I have to say about this issue is that I hate the new armor look of Hercules and I am not a fan of the interior art done by Walt Simonson this time around as I find it very sloppy and rushed and to be honest has a unfinished look…not a fan at all. But with that said this issue really surprised me as the more I read the more I enjoyed the story as at first I was kind of middle of the road about it as it started to feel like a filler issue, but by the end I was hooked and wondering who the Anti-Gods are and what Hercules will have to do to stop them in their tracks! Hercules in this issue comes off as generic hero as he show no real personality and is all just “Ill Save The Day” in his attitude and actions. Kevin going crazy with power is interesting, but also with only one more issue to go it needs to be explained and better have a good payout, as it also begs the question was he Ares all along? Jennifer is just hanging around and is not used much to really further her storyline in this series, besides to die of fright…what a lame way to kill a character off. The Atomic Knights are clearly just background players in these last few issues and don’t really offer much in the way of the story. Zeus and the rest of the Gods are finally being shown and it’s their story that really made me take notice as they seem both to feel sorry for what’s going on with Earth as well as seem very made at people that live on the planet. Plus who are the Anti-Gods and why do they hate the old Gods and also the people of Earth, and why is Ares The God Of War wanting them to be brought back? The action in this issue starts right off the bat with the accident at the factory and then gives us action on the Flying Wing and then wraps with the fight with the Dragon showing that it was not pulling any punches. The cover is eye catching in layout and colors, but again not a fan of the art Walt is using. Over all a slightly above average read that was entertaining and is a nice build to the final issue.
Hercules Unbound # 12 ***
Released in 1977 Cover Price .35 DC Comics # 11 of 12
On the tiny Island Hercules finds out that it is not Ares The God Of War that stands before him instead its Anti-Ares and after trying to fight him he finds that he muscles will not bring him down as the fighting only makes him stronger! And in the end Hercules is buried under rumble and Anti-Ares jumps into a portal to join together with his brothers and sisters and what comes back out of the portal is a multiple headed creature that is known as the Anti-Gods! The Anti-Gods fly away and out from hiding comes Basil who helps Hercules get out from under the ruble, but soon after touching the chains that kept him held on that island in the past he finds himself all of a sudden riding two thunderbolts that brings him to Mount Olympus and travels through the storm and finally comes face to face with his father Zeus who tells his son that he was the one that created the Anti-Gods as he and the others removed all their anger and evil to find perfection and instead created this God Killing being! And that it was he not Ares that chained him to the rock on that island as he as well gave that order as he did so cause the chains and Hercules power is what kept the Anti-Gods trapped in that rock…he then tells him that Kevin has been possessed by the Anti-Ares from the first day he meet him! This sickens Hercules who is angered with his father, but that changes fast when Anti-Gods appears and is ready to kill them all! Hercules watches as The Anti-Gods and the Gods clash its clear that the battle will leave many dead, so Hercules takes the chains that once held him and starts to bring down Olympus, and this makes the Gods and Anti-Gods both rush to stop him and by them being on the same page this combines the Anti-Gods back into the Gods ending the fight and causing Hercules to stop his rampage as he knew this would cause the Anti-Gods being to be no more. Hercules is sick of being used by Zeus as a pawn to only protect him and he returns to Earth were he is joined by Basil and to his surprise Jennifer as well as Zeus has brought her back from the dead to undue the wrongs that have been done to his son. In the end Hercules, Jennifer and Basil walk away from the sun set into a war rattled world.
Hercules Unbound is one of those really good series that got canceled by poor sales as DC Comics had a very bad habit at this time of canceling titles if they did not sell Batman and Superman level of copies. This final issue has Hercules learning that all along he has been used by his father in order to protect his own mistakes that he was even willing to chain his son to a rock on an island for thousands of years in order to keep monsters he created captured…in other words Zeus is a real jerk in this issue, but by the end he does feel bad for what he has put his son through. Hercules through this whole series goes from protective hero of his friends, to cocky head strong muscle head to a son who has been treated poorly by his family…and through out it all he maintains that he must do the right thing! I like that Hercules in this series stops all types of bad guys and makes friend with others along the way showing that this old Greek Myth Hero really is the champion the world needed during the fallout of World War III. Kevin the blind young man that was Hercules right hand man during this series has never been who we all thought as he as been just a shell that housed the evil Anti-Ares…and while this is a cool twist it also makes no sense as why would the Anti-Ares help Hercules out like he did throughout the series if he just wanted death to all the Gods. I am so glad that Jennifer came back from the dead as the way she died was really cheesy as fright of a Dragon is what killed her…its almost as bad as Padme Amidala’s death by heart break in Star Wars Episode III. Zeus and the rest of the Gods are shown to be very selfish as they created pure evil for their own quest for perfection and even don’t mind ruining and killing others to protect their own hides. The Anti-Gods are super powerful and while I am sure could have caused so much destruction on Earth and Mount Olympus, it’s down played as they had to wrap him up in one issue. It’s a shame that Hercules Unbound did not last longer as a comic series as I would have love to have seen more of the Anti-Gods, I would have loved to have seen what other monsters he could have faced and what other DC Comics series would have been tied in. The cover for this final issue is eye catching and like before not a fan of Walt’s style for this issue as its back to being that sloppy unfinished look. Over all Hercules Unbound is a comic series that I loved when I was a kid and for me it stood the test of time as most of the issues in this series where highly entertaining and is one of the better Hercules in comics series ever made. If you have not read this comic series and like Post Apocalyptic Stories, Sword And Sandal films mixed with Sci-Fi elements or just classic heroes do yourself a favor and give it a read. Check out the art below to see the styles used in this series.
Well as you can see I think DC Comics did a fantastic job with Hercules and I would say that I think Hercules Unbound is a better series then the Marvel Hercules in space mini series we have covered here before. And its crazy that after this update we will be walking away from Hercules on my Thanksgiving updates and I don’t know how to really feel about it as I have very much enjoyed covering Hercules and all his adventures throughout the world of comics, but while this is a goodbye to Herc for now its not a forever one as we will at some point in time revisit him on Thanksgiving and will start it back up as to me Hercules and this holiday go hand and hand. So as always thanks for spending apart of your holiday here with me at Rotten Ink and I have something very cool for my next update as we will be leaving the world of comics and will be taking a look at a the first film of Independent B Movie called Teen Suicide and this will also mark the first in my updates that will talk about all the Shot On Video films that my fiends and I made over the years. So until next time eat turkey leg or two, watch a Hercules film or three and as always support your local Horror Host. I cannot wait to take you all back to my past of SOV filmmaking!