Hercules Thanksgiving Dinner Unbound!

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!

The Mighty Titan Atlas

Welcome back to Rotten Ink! For this update I think that we will take a look at another Greek Mythology/Sword And Sandal film icon, but his time it’s not Hercules or Samson, though I have taken a look at them in the past…this time around I am looking at a titan and a man who holds the world on his back, the one and only Atlas! When I was a youngster, Greek Mythology was a something I always tried my best to read about as I found all the Gods, Titans, Demi-Gods and Mortals that made up the myths to be very interesting. When it came to Sword And Sandal films, I was always more of a Hercules fan, but I did enjoy the Atlas movies I watched as well. So if you are ready to go on a big classic hero adventure with Atlas, let’s get this update started, shall we?

Atlas is a Titan and brother of Cronus and was one of the rulers of the world and spawned many children including Hyas and Calypso and was super powerful. When the Olympians went to war with the Titans, the mighty Atlas made the wrong decision and decided to fight alongside the other Titans. When they got defeated, the new king of the gods Zeus gave Atlas a punishment that had him walk to the western edge of the Earth and he is forced to hold up the sky on his shoulders for eternity. And only once was he able to relive his burden of sky lifting when Hercules during his 12 Labors needed Golden Apples from the Atlas’ daughter’s garden that was protected by Ladon, a fierce dragon, and the Titan switches place to get the apples and tried to trick the powerful youngster into just holding the sky up while he delivered the apples, but Hercules did not fall for it and tricked Atlas back into holding up the sky leaving the Titan once more stuck in place. And this version of Atlas’s story is just one of many as there is several variations of it over the centuries, as this is the most known and popular. Of all the Titans I would say that Atlas is the most popular with maybe Cronus being the only one that comes close. And I will say this at some point Atlas and many of the Titans might show up in future issues from Sparkle Comics as this writer and editor in chief has a few ideas knocking around his mind.

In 196,1 the world of cinema was flooded with Sword And Sandal films as movie watchers seemed to not be able to get enough of muscle bound heroes. Italy was the nation to rush them into production to flood the market and quench the thirst of movie goers. During this boom of Italian Cinema, other countries tried to cash in and America of course was one of them as Roger Corman, the master of B-Movies, had to jump on the Sword and Sandal bandwagon and get his slice of the pie when he directed and produced Atlas. This version of Atlas stripped away the Titan mythology and just had our hero as a muscle bound do-gooder who would fight for the weak and do what he thought was right. The film was shot in Greece on a very low budget, and Corman brought in actors Michael Frost, Frank Wolff, Barboura Morris and Walter Maslow with Frost and Wolff being actors he had used in the past. The film did okay when released but did not bring in the numbers or gain the cult statues of the Steve Reeves Hercules film that spawned it. The film at this point in time is believed to be in the Public Domain and has been released on DVD by companies like St. Clair and Cheezy Flicks and has been hosted by Horror Hosts as well as has found itself on multipack DVD releases. On another fun note when the film was being developed writer Charles B. Griffith wanted to call the film “Atlas, The Guided Muscle” because he wanted to base it on the SM-65 Atlas ballistic missile. Atlas is one of those films I have seen many times and while it’s not one of my all time favorite Sword And Sandal films, it is one that I enjoy as its cheesy and fun.

Michael Frost is the actor who played Atlas in 1961, and he has had a long career in the world of cinema and TV. Frost was born Gerald Michael Charlebois on April 17, 1929 in Harvey, North Dakota and had a pretty normal childhood and even went to college where he got a degree in English and Drama. But he discovered that he wanted to be an actor in 1955, and his first role was as Pug in TV series “Lux Video Theatre” and from here he could not be stopped as he took roles in shows like “Highway Patrol” and “Studio 57” and in 1957 he even had an unaccredited role in the Universal Monster film “The Deadly Mantis”! From there he had many other roles in some pretty great shows like “The Adventures Of Rin Tin Tin” in 1957 & 1958, “Zorro” in 1958 and “The Rifleman” in 1959 showing he was making his mark on TV! In 1959 he made his return to Horror Movies when he plays Gil Jackson in the film “Beast From The Haunted Cave” and TV Series “One Step Beyond” in 1960 episode Encounter. With many more roles in film and TV in 1961, he landed the main role in “Atlas” a film directed by the great cult director Roger Corman! Over the following years he would take roles in such shows as “The Outer Limits”, “The Twilight Zone”, “Perry Mason”, “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.”, “Gunsmoke”, “Days Of Our Lives”, “I Spy”, “Branded”, “Gilligan’s Island” and in 1967 he got one of his most popular roles when he played Apollo in an episode of “Star Trek”. And this is just a drop in the hat of films he has done as he is also known to most Anime fans as he has lent his voice to many films such as Crying Freeman, Mobile Suit Gundam, Street Fighter II V and The Twelve Kingdoms, to name a few. And at the age of 90 he is still active in acting with his last role being in 2019 in the short film “When The Train Stops” playing the character Marshal Preston Booth. While he is older, Forest’s love for acting is not slowing down and I hope one day that the Monster Bash will bring him in as a guest at one of the conventions I am attending.

When growing up, I can remember in Kettering, Ohio a giant workout gym was on Wilmington Pike and they had a massive Atlas holding the world statue out front, and this was something my brother and I when kids always looked forward to seeing when we would be in town to visit family or eating out at Captain D’s that was near by it. When the gym closed a short time later, the Atlas statue disappeared and the gym’s building was turned into many different things over the years like Pep Boys and is now a micro brewery…but I always wondered what happened to the Atlas Statue. I had heard rumors that it was at a car wash on Airway Road, but to my best memory I don’t remember seeing it ever on Airway. But then one day when Juliet and I were driving to Danbarry Huber Heights for a Horrorama event and going down Troy Street at a local gold and jewelry business right out front was the classic Atlas statue and I proceeded to talk to Juliet about it and how awesome it was. And in 2019 when I first started this update I wanted to take a picture of the statue for this blog update, but sadly the Dayton area was rocked by very bad tornadoes in one single night on May 27, 2019 with 15 of them touching down and causing lots of damage and injuries. Juliet and I even had to hide in our basement as the Tornado Warning went off in our area. And during this night of Tornado Terror sadly Troy Street was hit and the Atlas Statue was hit and by the looks of it, the statue was damaged and gone. But thanks to Flickr user Scott for taking this picture back in 2010 (Wow 10 years Ago) I can share this amazing statue with you readers. So take a look at it and enjoy.

So as you readers see, Atlas is a Titan who has the all the power in the world and it’s because of him that the world does not fall into the sun or spiral out of control…or so they used to say. But while he is a Titan, he seems to not be talked about as much as others these days as Cronus seems to always be the most popular. For the comic based on this Titan, I decided to choose the mini series done by Dark Horse Comics. Now I want to remind you all that I grade these comics on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comics stay to the source material, its entertainment value and it’s art and story. I want to thank Game Swap Kettering and Lone Star Comics for having these in stock. So if you are ready to stand with the weight on your shoulders with Rotten Ink and Atlas, let’s get to these comics!

Atlas # 1  **1/2
Released in 1994     Cover Price $2.50     Dark Horse     # 1 of 4

It’s a normal day in New York, and a group of homeless people are wandering around the abandoned warehouse district looking for a place to stay for the night. The group is lead by old man Monti Harper, mechanic Troy Maxwell and youngster Andrew Ray, and for them this day turns weird when they find a giant that appears to have fallen from Space and crashed into the warehouse! The Giant is holding a goldenrod, and when Monti touches it he feels pain and also sees that this Giant is really a God and was fighting just about Earth with another, and when his friends get him away from the rod, they are all startled when the Giant wakes up and tells them that he is the Titan named Atlas and that the other gods want Earthlings to go back to being primitive so they will worship them once more. Atlas decides that he is going to use the goldenrod and make the homeless group his soldiers to help fight the evil that is coming, but before he can, he captures a little monster that has been set free on Earth by The Keeper who is tracking the Titan in order for an attack to take place on him. Atlas leaves his new “friends” behind and does battle with The Keeper in front of the people of New York, but things turn really bad when another massive Titan like being shows up and clearly wants to do battle!

Let’s start by saying that this is a fun comic that brings the classic Titans and old world Gods into modern times and does a good job of building Atlas as mankind’s protector. The plot has the Gods in the sky being pissed off with the people of Earth are no longer worshiping them and have become too obsessed with electronics, and the only Titan that is on the side of man is Atlas who has stolen the powerful goldenrod and is fighting with his fellow Gods! But when he falls to Earth after a terrible fight in space, he soon finds that he has lead the war to Earth and his only new friends are a trio of homeless people who seem to be craving the power of the goldenrod. Atlas is kind of cocky in attitude, but yet also very heroic and friendly. He can change size from being a massive giant Titan to becoming human size. He is a skilled fighter and with the help of the powerful goldenrod, he is almost unbeatable. The Homeless Trio come off as nice people at the start but after two get a taste of power of the Gods, I do not trust Troy or Monti as they seem more into becoming godlike and not about the fact the world is in big trouble. The Keeper is a freaky monster looking man who holds a box that allows monster to come out and do his will and that includes fighting and tracking, but while he is a fighter, he is also older and out powered by Atlas. I for one cannot wait to see whom the other monstrous Titan is and how the fight between it and Atlas goes! This is a pretty interesting story so far, and I like that Atlas himself mentions that over the centuries he has been called many different names making it clear that all the gods of ancient times are they same ones just given a new name by whatever society worships them. The cover is pretty eye catching and has a Greek Myth meets Indie Comic look to it, and the interior art is interesting and done by Bruce Zick and has an almost classic Heavy Metal Magazine style to it. While this is not a full Sword And Sandal style comic as its based in modern times, I must say this first issue has made me interested in seeing what issue two has in store for me.

Atlas # 2  **
Released in 1994     Cover Price $2.50      Dark Horse     # 2 of 4

Atlas charges into battle with Sh’en Chui, and the gods go at it with Atlas using the goldenrod but not to its full power as he does not want to hurt the people around the docks watching the battle. After the goldenrod is knocked out of Atlas’ hands, he quickly goes into withdrawal as the power it holds is now something he craves, and once getting it back he makes the decision to use its full power and he “kills” Sh’en Chui with a power blast from the rod. As the people watch in shock, Atlas walks away not answering any questions from the press who has swarmed the area. On his way back to the warehouse, Atlas runs into an old enemy named Bol who threatens him that once he gets stronger a rematch will happens and then points out he seems to need goldenrod to fight his battles. Once back at the warehouse Atlas turns it into a home base that now looks like a place from mythological Olympus, and with this he also gives his new human friends a taste of power and gets mad with them when they crave the power. Meanwhile in the land of Gods, Neo figures out a way to prevent Goldenrod that is a living being as well from getting the sun energy it needs to have all its power, and this causes Atlas to be stuck in the middle of nowhere as Goldenrod loses its power while Atlas was trying to find the old God’s hang out to show to mankind to ease their fears.

This second issue has Atlas “kill” another god like creature in front of tons of New York, give and get angry with his human “friends” when they love the powers he gives them and takes back, scares the world with his battle and killing making him realize he needs to show them who he is and why he is…and lastly its clear that he is a junkie for the power that Goldenrod gives him as without it he withdraws! That’s right, Atlas in this issue is like a strung out addict who is also a cold blooded murder who commits his crime if front of hundreds of eyes…in other words while he might be a Titan, he has some major personal issues. We also find out that Goldenrod is alive and that its power comes from the sun and that all Titans and Gods want to control its power. The Homeless Bunch as I am going to start calling Andrew, Troy and Monti as I sadly at this point don’t think they are good people as they just want the power as well, and that’s sad as they could and should have been the true heroes of this mini series and lets hope that they come around and become it. Sh’en Chui, who looks like a badass at the start, gets knocked down to size real quick and is murdered by being blown into chunks, but I have a feeling he or something he will become will return. The Keeper meanwhile seems like a rat as he just barks orders and tells on whomever to get points with those above him. And Neo I am not sure about yet, he is definitely against humans and Atlas but it’s clear he takes orders from someone else. This issue is just an average read with long dialogue coming from humans that drags the pacing way down, and that’s a shame. The art is good again done by Bruce Zick and the cover is eye catching…but to wrap this issue up, it made my excitement sadly slip slightly, and I hope it becomes less talky and more action in issue three.

Atlas # 3  *1/2
Released in 1994     Cover Price $2.50     Dark Horse     # 3 of 4

Atlas is holding a press conference for the people of the world and has given them the locations of God sites around the world so that they can discover the trueness of who he is and the others out in the universe. Once back at his new warehouse home base, he goes into a temple he built that has a statue of his love Eia and talks to it about how much he misses her and her advice…when he talks about Goldenrod loosing power and how he can stop the blocking of the sun rays he gets an idea and sends his homeless friends to go and get some powerful weapons, but this also causes a rift between the friends as Monti does not want to be a pawn in Atlas’s game of War of the Gods, while Troy is selected to go with Atlas in order to free Aox, a God who has been punished by the other Gods. Atlas asks Aox to get energy from a hidden well that has knowledge as the punished Titan is the only one that knows were it is. As Aox and Troy go on the quest to find the well, Atlas gives Andrew and Monti costumes that will give them a little god energy as he can not use Goldenrod. Meanwhile Neo now tells Bol that if he finds the location of the well he can and will give Bol back his beauty that the Gods centuries ago took away. As Aox and Troy enter the underworld, she is able to see a glimpse of the past and future that Aox is feeding her, meanwhile Atlas is feeling all alone and decides that he himself must go on a vision quest.

Man this series started out so promising and issue after issue it has became a very slow moving overly wordy so-so average read that does not deliver enough action this far. This issue is filled with so much set up as the plot is that Goldenrod is weak and Atlas himself is losing faith in himself and mission. Monti is getting jealous that Troy and Andrew are following the orders of Atlas as they find him wise. While Neo is just around his Kingdom getting updates and barking orders and Bol is just lying around giving said updates. This issue has zero action and is just filled with long drawn out drama and plot that could have been done way better in a faster pace. I do like that Atlas in this issue is more down and out as in the past issues he was very much ego driven as he knew he had the massive power of Goldenrod, speaking of Goldenrod it’s loosing power and life and this is a bad thing as it really is a tool for good…but I guess if evil has control of it bad things could happen. Aox is a Titan who was punished by the Gods and now is helping Atlas and has fallen in love with Troy, who in this issue is clearly the only one of the Homeless Bunch that has potential to be a hero. The rest of the characters are around and do nothing important. I should also say that the chunks of flesh of Sh’en Chui are up to something as they are moving around in the harbor. The cover for this issue is okay and not overly eye catching as it looks more like a pin up in an issue, and the interior art is good and done by Bruce Zick again. Over all this is a bland issue and did zero to build up the final issue in the series and created zero excitement for me to read it, plus it took me days to read this issue as I found myself getting more and more bored after every page.

Atlas # 4  *1/2
Released in 1994     Cover Price $2.50     Dark Horse     # 4 of 4

The chunks of Sh’en Chui has spawned tiny little demon like monsters who are now attacking New York and Atlas along with Monti and Andrew (whom he has give power to via Goldenrod) try and save the day, but the odds are not good. Meanwhile Troy and Aox are still on the quest to the well and as they bond and Troy tells of her time as a nurse in Vietnam they reach they well and soon find that Bol and some demon minions are also there and a fight against the odds happens for them as well. While in New York the demons start to bring down tons of buildings and Atlas turns giant again and holds them up and people below run for their lives and Andrew and Monti have lost their powers and are helpless to save Atlas who gets crushed after all the people below are safe. While back in the Underworld the demons are swarming Aox and Troy as Bol barks out insults and orders and after being beaten down Troy finds her inner strength and breaks Aox free from his captives and he kills Bol and then makes the sacrifice of his life as he takes the energy of the well into himself and they travels fast with Troy to New York and gives Goldenrod and Atlas all of the raw energy and after Atlas and Goldenrod destroy all the demons, Aox falls dead as Atlas and his Homeless friends morn the loss. In the end Atlas and his friends burn the body of Aox and he tells them that this battle might have ended but the war is not over.

This final issue in the Atlas mini series is pretty much a let down and while the issue is action packed, it seems to end way too fast with no real pay off to this lackluster story and they could have done more to make a good ending if they wiped out the terrible long winded dialogue from the previous issues. The plot of this issue has Atlas going to New York and fighting demons and with a weak Goldenrod and Aox killing himself to give power to Goldenrod and in seconds the end battle is over and Aox is dead….yep its that cheesy of an ending and no major clash between good and evil, Neo is never seen at all and all of a sudden Aox and Troy become madly in love…this is just so cheesy. Atlas in this issue is the hero that Earth needs as he fights off demons and then risks his life to hold up tons of crumbled buildings to save lives as people have to run to safety, but think about this Atlas is also the Titan who held up the sky…but buckles under buildings…so they made this Titan a hero but also weak and not living up to his legend. Aox is just around and is creepy flirting with Troy and in the end is the real hero as he gives his life to save Atlas and Goldenrod from being crushed to death. And Goldenrod in this issues is weak, gets a little bit of power to help and then fails only to drain power from a Titan…and then is strong again. Andrew and Monti are a waste in this issue as they get powers for seconds and help a few people while Atlas fights the demons, and we do see that Monti cares about Andrew and looks at him almost as a son. Troy finds her inner power as she lets out her hurt of not being able to save lives in Vietnam, and oddly enough she also finds love with a Titan. Bol who is stuck in the body of an ugly grotesque creature is truly slimy as he finds the well and does what he can to make sure Aox can not save his friend by delivering the energy, but lucky for New York Bol is killed in the fight by the well. Neo and the Demons are waste and have zero backstory in this series and make me as a reader not care. And the end “battle” of this series is just so bad and lackluster it made this series a major dud for me. The cover this time around is good and eye catching and the interior art is once more done by Bruce Zick who tried his best as well writing this boring comic series based on a great Titan of legend. While I am not a fan I would say make sure to check it out if you like indie comic based on Mythology characters. Also check out the art below to see the style of Zick.

While I hate to say it this Indie Comic mini series by Bruce Zick and released by Dark Horse Comics was just not a well told story and has so many plot holes and filler that it makes for one boring read. And while the comic ends with the door wide open for a second mini series, it would never see the light of day as far as this blogger could tell, and while I was not a fan of this series and its style of storytelling, I would have for sure checked it out to see if Zick’s writing would have changed to deliver a solid Atlas comic story. But for our next update we will be walking away from the old sky holder and into the world of the seven seas as we take a boat ride with Morgan The Pirate, that’s right we will once more be taking a look at a Steve Reeves movie and the comic based on it. So until next time, read a comic or three, watch a movie or two and as always support your local Horror Host. See you next time for a High Seas adventure!

The Turkey Day Labors Of Hercules!

Happy Thanksgiving friends, family and readers, and thanks for spending a part of your holiday with me here at Rotten Ink once again. As we all are sitting here waiting for the turkey, ham or whatever your main dish choice is to cook and while Football is on the TV, I want to reflect that this year will be the seventh time I have covered the one and only Greek Mythology hero Hercules. With this go round we will be covering a comic that showcases his 12 Labors! The tale of Hercules is one that I have always enjoyed, and I can remember renting many books from the library and even buying some all about Greek Mythology as it has always captured my attention as well helped fuel my creative mind, not to mention the classic Sword And Sandal films were staples of my viewing when I was a youngster. So if you’re ready to go on another Turkey Day Adventure with Hercules and myself, we should start our amazing adventure and see how Herc conquers his 12 labors and delivers another special update.

One of my favorite Hercules films of the 60’s has to be the one called “Hercules Against The Mongols” from 1963 that had Mark Forest play the role of Hercules! The film follows Hercules as he takes on the heirs of the conquerer Genghis Khan and shows why good always beats evil. But while this is a fantastic Sword and Sandal fantasy adventure film that showcases the power and noble was of Hercules, the sad fact of the matter is that this film was not originally a Herc film and was only dubbed one in the USA when distributers thought that the name meant more to movie goers than Maciste, the real hero behind this film as well as many of the Hercules, Samson and Goliath films here in America. The thing I like about this film is that Hercules takes on an army of bloodthirsty warriors who just want to conquer, take over and kill…and they don’t stand a chance against the pride of Olympus. Mark Forest makes a pretty good Hercules, and while he is now Steve Reeves, he captures the cocky hero nature of this demigod hero. This movie can be found on VHS, DVD and even plays on TV Station Comet TV from time to time, so if you love Hercules flicks, make sure to check this one out.

While we are talking about the film Hercules Against The Mongols, we should take a few moments and talk about actor Mark Forest who played the title role. Lou Degni was born on January 6, 1933 in Brooklyn, New York and began his bodybuilding career at the age of 13 as he knew that becoming a strong man was his calling. This lead to him opening his own gym in Long Island so that lifting would always be a part of his life. But during his adult life, he also tried his hand in acting and auditioned to play Tarzan in a film and did not get it but did end up taking a gig in Las Vegas playing one of Mae West’s musclemen and even helped earn his status of strongman by entering and winning weightlifting competitions including Mr. Muscle Beach in California. In 1958, the world of cinema changed when Hercules starring Steve Reeves hit cinemas around the world and the sword and sandal films became big business! And the second American actor approached to travel to Italy and make these films was Mark Forest who made his first film in 1960 with “Goliath And The Dragon” and many more would follow like “Son Of Samson” (1960), “Mole Men Against The Son Of Hercules” (1961), “The Lion Of Thebes” (1964) and “The Terror Of Rome Against The Son Of Hercules” (1964) and many more. During this time of course Lou Degni took on the stage name of Mark Forest, and this was the name he was best known for. Mark would ride the short lived popularity of the Sword and Sandal genre until the end, and afterwards got involved in opera in Italy and later became a vocal coach in California. Mark Forest is one of those classic actors that I hope someday soon Monster Bash Convention brings in so that I can meet him, while long retired from acting and weightlifting, Mark is a true legend of Cinema strongmen.

Remember in our first update about Hercules when we took a look at the DELL Comic and the Steve Reeve movies? Well we also talked about WWF Wrestler Hercules Hernandez during that update, and for this update I want to briefly talk about another Pro Wrestler who went by the ring name Hercules Ayala and was a monster of the squared circle. Hercules Ayala, whose real name is Ruben Cruz, was born in Bayamon, Puerto Rico on July 14, 1950 and upon moving to the mainland of the U.S., he meet NWA wrestler Angelo Savoldi at a gym and was trained by him to become a wrestler himself and had a very brief run in the WWWF. He then would go on to wrestle in such federations as Stampede Wrestling for around 8 years and even won the Tag Titles with Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart! Also during this run, he worked for smaller Canadian federation Lutte Internationale where he became their Heavyweight Champion beating David Shultz and losing it a month later to Abdullah The Butcher. He would return to Puerto Rico and would join WWC and as well would capture their World Title beating Randy “Macho Man” Savage! He would go on to feud with Carlos Colon and would lose a loser leaves town match in 1989 and was written off from WWC. A few years later, he would show up in AWF and become a World Champion again for a short time. He would go on from there to work sport appearances in Puerto Rico even for WWC again. While he is not a huge name here in America, he does have a big name around the world and his many title wins in many federations show that he made his mark in the world of Pro Wrestling.

So I am sure many of you readers are wondering about the Hercules Comic that I was writing and my friend Jeff Potter was doing the art for that was going to be released by Sparkle Comics as part of the Sword And Sandal Comic line…well sadly the comic has been placed on the back burner for now as the first release in the series Samson was not the mega hit we had hoped for causing some shifts in the production line, and Potter and I worked on bringing back classic superhero Black Jack back to the comic world instead! But while on the backburner for now, it does not mean that this Hercules comic is 100% dead as at some point Jeff and I will return to it and unleash it onto the indie comic reading masses as I am proud of the story I wrote and I know Potter’s art will kill it! So for those of you Hercules comic fans know that we will be releasing this comic soon it was just not in the cards for 2019. Below is some very early concept art that Potter did for the series so you can see the style we were aiming for.

So I think it’s time for this update that we take a look at the graphic novel of Hercules and the 12 labors set before him, and this one is a great pick to showcase Hercules in all his heroic glory. I want to thank Amazon for having this in stock and making this update possible. And as always I want to remind you all that I grade this comic on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. So if you are ready, let’s head out and see just how Hercules can complete his 12 labors!

Hercules: The Twelve Labors  **1/2
Released In 2007     Cover Price $8.95     Graphic Universe   #1 of 1

Zeus, the King of the Gods, had an affair with a mortal woman that spawned the demigod Hercules who was hated by his stepmother Hera! When Hercules was a youngster the evil Goddess even sent venomous snakes to his crib to kill him, but they were no match for his power. As an adult Hera, masking herself as Zeus, makes Hercules pledge himself to his cousin King Eurystheus who is jealous of his powerful cousin, and with Hera whispering in his ear, they come up with labors for Hercules to do. The first labor has Hercules going to Thebes and killing the man-eating lion with the thick hide with his bare hands, and when he does so, he skins the lion and makes himself a new cloak! His second labor is to go to the swamps of Lernea to take out the Hydra! Once in the swamp Hercules and his nephew figure our how to defeat the Hydra and do so. The third labor is to bring back a golden deer, that King Eurystheus thinks Hercules will kill and bring down the wrath of the gods for killing it…but Hercules is too smart and brings it back alive! After each finished task, King Eurystheus is getting more and more angry at his cousin and Hercules with ease finishes the next that are to kill a massive Boar, clean out multiple stables in a single day, chase off killer birds who are tormenting farmers, steal a angered white bull from a King, later steal a pair of horses that are being abused by a king that are now cruel and man eaters and his ninth labor has Hercules at was with the Amazon Women as he is tasked with getting the queens golden belt! And after each task King Eurystheus grows more frustrated, and Hercules himself gets more disappointed as he does not like being a thief for his greedy cousin. The tenth labor has Hercules stealing cattle from a Monster that he ends up killing. With his eleventh labor he must get a golden apple from a tree that he needs the help of Titan Atlas to do so and must switch places with him holding up the sky for a short time! With his twelfth and final labor, King Eurystheus send Hercules to Hades to bring back the three headed dog Cerberus and with the blessing of Hades, he tames the beast brings it to King Eurystheus and ends his labors!

This graphic novel is a great kid friendly read that brings the legend of Hercules alive for readers. The plot is simple and has Hercules having to do labors that are impossible for most in order to please his greedy cousin who is a King with the hopes that Herc will die as that is what Goddess Hara, who is the one who set this up, wants. Hercules is very prideful, noble and respectful to the demands of the Gods as he does what he is asked even if he disagrees with it. Plus I feel like the Hercules has the feel of Hercules from the old Sword And Sandal films, making it a very fun adventure to read. Hara is the issue’s main villain as she gets joy out of trying her best to kill and ruin Hercules and his legacy. She pushes so much for his downfall that she herself gets outsmarted by Hades who figures out that she is the one who has set this all up. The second baddie has to be King Eurystheus who is just a cruel and jealous man who hates his cousin cause he has the power and respect that he wishes he had! The side killer animals are great as well as who don’t love the Nemean Lion or Cerberus! The pacing of this graphic novel is also very fast and teaches you the story without dwelling on the small details, making it a cool action comics mixed with a little history in folklore. It’s also very cautious of showing any violence as it’s clear this is meant for all ages and to be used as a teaching comic. The cover reminds me of something you would find at a School Book Fair and is eye catching for youngsters, but not so much for adult readers. The interior art is done by Steve Kurth and is good stuff and has a real Marvel/Star Comics appeal. Over all this is a great read and one that could help get kids into Greek Mythology as it delivers a fun time. Check out the art below to see the style of Kurth!

Thanks for spending another Thanksgiving with Hercules and myself here at Rotten Ink, and as always Sword And Sandal comics will always have a home here on this site….but I am sad to say that next year will be the last time, at least for a while, that I will cover Hercules on a Thanksgiving update as I felt I have talked about almost all I can about this iconic mythology hero. Now don’t get too sad as I will continue to do Thanksgiving Day updates as many of you readers seem to enjoy them on this holiday, so next year I will be taking a look at Hercules Unbound from DC Comics and this will wrap up this tradition of Herc on Turkey Day! I hope you enjoyed this update and that you are having (or had) a great Thanksgiving as holidays with loved ones, something you should never take for granted. Our next update will start our countdown to Christmas Eve and we will be taking a look at the GoBots, those underrated changing robot toys from the 80’s! So until next time enjoy your turkey, watch a football game or two and as always cherish your loved ones. See you next update for a robotic good time!

Hercules: The Turkey Day Wars

Happy Thanksgiving readers and friends, and welcome back to another Rotten Ink Turkey Day update all about the one and only mighty hero of Greece, the slayer of the Nemean Lion, the pride of Olympus and the hero who has been a main stay in culture and media as he has muscled his way into books, movies, TV, comics and video games. Of course I am talking about Hercules! Writing about Herc on this holiday as truly become something I look forward to doing; this sword and sandal hero was always one of my favorites growing up as his labors and adventures always captivated me. So while your turkey or ham is cooking and those potatoes are waiting to be mashed, let’s take another turkey day adventure with the one and only Hercules and this time the company who has brought us this adventure is Radical. So sit back, hit mute on the football game and get ready to spend some quality time with Herc and me here at Rotten Ink!

As I am sure you readers know what I am about to say and it may come as no shock, but I am going to say it anyway: I am a fan of the legend of Hercules from the myth all the way to cinema and have always enjoyed the fact you could take this hero and place him in any situation and watch as he saves the day. I mean think about classic style films “Hercules Against The Moon Men” and “Hercules Against The Mongols” that took our hero out of his normal settings and had him battle people and things not from his era.  Somehow, they just worked. But one of the biggest adventures Hercules has ever had was from the myth and would be his 12 Labors. Ever since I was a kid, one of my favorites of his 12 Labors was when he took on the Nemean Lion, a true battle of man and beast. The Nemean Lion was a massive beast that had super sharp claws and his skin could not be pierced by weapons. He tormented the people of Nemea and was rumored to been created by Typhon and Echidna. King Eurystheus was in charge of giving Hercules his labors, and his first one was to kill Nemean Lion who was a super lion and who was said to be unkillable, Hercules started his journey by buying arrows and talking to locals about the location of the beast, and once he found its cave, he blocked one entrance and forced the lion to fight him in closed combat where he was able to nab the lion into a headlock and choke the life out of it. Once dead, Herc used the animal’s own claw to skin it and carried the dead animal back to the kingdom where he both amazed and scared the King who banned him that moment on from entering the Kingdom after his labors. Hercules would go on to wear the hide of the Nemean Lion as part of his armor. I am not sure why I like the first labor as much as I do….I am sure it has to do with the fact I have always liked lions and Hercules and having them fighting each other in a death match is pretty epic. I want to also say that The Nemean Lion, while dead in the mythology world, just might live again in the pages of Sparkle Comics, but you will have to wait and see how and what comic it comes back in. And I want to say this is just the start of Hercules’ Labors as we will be taking a bigger look at his labors on another update in the future.

In 2014 Radical Comics was able to have a movie made based on their Thracian Wars comic series thanks to Paramount Pictures who released it worldwide to the joy of modern sword and sandal fans. The film was directed by Brett Ratner and stars Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as Hercules along with such actors as Ingrid Bolso Berdal, Ian McShane, Rufus Sewell and Reece Ritchie and was a great action film with lots of Hercules moments of power…well sort of. The film is about Hercules and his friends creating a legend about himself that allows them to get paid in order to do amazing things like defeat the undefeatable and wage one man wars, all the while the story goes out about it being Hercules, when in fact it was he and his crew. But they soon find themselves being tested when one kingdom doesn’t buy into the stories, and Herc and his crew must fight for their lives. I really do like the twist in this film as it makes you wonder if Hercules really the son of Zeus or is it all made up in order to build his legacy, then at moments he is as great as he says he is…so I think it is really up to the viewer to decide. I saw the movie in the theater when released, and it was fantastic even making the # 5 spot on my “Matt Goes To The Movies 2014” update for Superhero Movies and was one I recommended to friends who ended up seeing it and enjoying it. Oddly enough, in 2014 another Hercules movie was in cinemas called “Legend Of Hercules.” While entertaining, it was not in the same league as this one. The film did poorly at the US box office only bringing in $72,688,614.00 on a budget of $100 million and was 46 over all at the cinema. But it did however bring in more than many other cult films released that year like “Purge: Anarchy”, “Robocop”, “Dracula Untold”, “Muppets Most Wanted”, “John Wick” and “Birdman” to name a few. So if you like Hercules films or just like fun action films starring The Rock, make sure to check this movie out!

So now that we have chatted a little about Hercules in myth as well as in modern cinema, I think it’s time we get to the comic review of the five issue mini series from Radical, because I am sure you are ready for some tasty thanksgiving dinner like I am! So let’s get into this one. I want to thank Mavericks Cards And Comics for pulling these comics for me when released. Yep, this is a comic mini series that I made sure to get when released as I worked for Mavericks at the time and had to check out a new Hercules book. I want to also remind you that I grade these issues on a star scale of 1 to 4 and you are looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. So if you’re ready to join Hercules as he goes to war, we should get to the comic reviews.

Hercules The Thracian Wars # 1  **1/2
Released in 2008     Cover Price $1.00     Radical Comics     # 1 of 5

Iolaus and Meneus are traveling to a poor and sloppy kingdom on Amphiaraus’ promise of gold and victory as the young King has hired Hercules and his crew to bring Thrace back together by winning a war. But these barbarians of the Kingdom all take turns making fun of Hercules as well as his mother to try and get under the skin of Meneus and Iolaus before Herc arrives. But once Hercules and the rest of his crew show up, their words and mood changes as they see they truly are warriors and can back up their words and Hercules is a man with a loyal & brutal band of friends. But when Hercules is pushed too far by the words of one of the barbarian warriors, he is forced to kill him and orders his friends to kill every man and woman in the throne room and they do just that! Hercules, who was hired to bring Thrace together and train these barbarians to fight, became their Grim Reaper, as he delivered nothing but brutal death. After the slaughter Hercules and his men soon find out that the king and his guards were not the true King and his men as outside is the true King Coyts and his men looking well armed, trained and angry.

This first issue started out a little slow and was worrisome onwhether it would deliver a fun Hercules adventure, and by the end it turned into a bloodbath slaughter that would make Conan The Barbarian happy! The comic’s plot is this: Hercules and his crew are hired mercenaries who arrive at a terrible kingdom with a jerk King and a room full of drunken slobs that end up pushing the son of Zeus’ buttons that leads to them all getting slaughtered only for Hercules to find out he has been set up as the real King is outside with his massive army! Hercules is very cocky in this issue and partly lazy and is willing to start a war over being insulted. He also very much depends on his crew in order to win battles as well as scout the way of the land before he even arrives. I also like that he is wearing the hide of the Nemean Lion. His crew are loyal to Hercules and are amazing warriors who are brutal and all have their own weirdness from one having visions to another who is a cannibal. The fake King and his drunken goons are rude and crude and all find themselves very dead and have no skills when it comes to battle! While we barely see King Coyts in this issue, you can tell he is going to be one proud and strong fighter. The one thing that I liked in this comic is the fact that while Hercules is our main hero, he is also very arrogant and showcases that he is not fully a good guy. I also really like the fact that this comic is very bloody and had kills that would fit in most Horror Comics! The cover is very cool and very eye catching for fans of Sword and Sandal and Greek Mythology style comics. The interior artwork is done by Admira Wijaya and is pretty great and very fitting for this style of comic. So I will say the first issue is a great set up for this mini series and was a great way to try and bring Hercules back to the world of comic books. So with that let’s see how Herc and his crew deals with the army that is waiting for them at the end of this issue.

Hercules The Thracian Wars # 2  **1/2
Released in 2008     Cover Price $2.99     Radical Comics     # 2 of 5

Hercules and his crew stand their ground as King Coyts and his army order them all to stand down and follow him into the hall where Herc and them slaughtered all those people only to find that King Coyts set them up to test how brutal they were as fighters. Hercules and his crew have now gotten the jobs to train the soldiers for war and Coyts’ daughter seems to have taken a liking to Hercules, but our heroes also seem to be very on edge on this job they have taken as things just seem very odd. Plus the army’s general Sitaces seems to also to be keeping an eye of Hercules. After months of training, the army is ready for war and they decide that night to kill a young boy to appease their God, and this act sickens Hercules and his crew. Sitaces makes his army and Hercules attack small villages and slaughter all the people they come across, and finally right before the big battle, Sitaces must return to King Coyts and tell him of their victories and as he leaves, it’s clear Hercules and his people have been set up as they are attacked by a sky full of arrows!

In this issue Hercules and his band of warriors are paid lots of money, wine and good times in order to train an army of soldiers who are just brawlers, but along the way they soon find that this army are scum and they kill to bully and their general seems to have another mission and that’s to ride the world of them! Hercules in this issue is a great teacher of war and seems to be pleased with spending time with the King’s daughter as well as have the thrill of battle, but while enjoying it all, he also seems to be on edge and aware. We also get to know female warrior Atalanta who is a lesbian and has a love hate friendship with fellow member Meleager a warrior who was a ladies man and has fallen head over heels in love with her. Sitaces is a very bloodthirsty warrior in King Coyts’ army and rocks a wicked scarred face and seems to not value any human life. And as far as King Coyts, he is a man drive by ego who will do what ever it takes to be the ruler. I really like the ending of this one as hundreds of arrows are falling from the sky and could kill not only Hercules and his crew but also any of the army who have been left behind with them. This also makes you wonder if Sitaces set them up or if it the scouts did! The cover is great and eye catching for fans of Hercules and Sword and Sandal and the interior art by Admira Wijaya is great and fitting. Over all a great second issue and one that helps build up this adventure for Hercules. So with that let’s see how Hercules escapes this deathtrap.

Hercules The Thracian Wars # 3  **1/2
Released in 2008     Cover Price $2.99     Radical Comics     # 3 of 5

Hercules and his crew are like lambs to the slaughter as the enemy is all around them and they are stuck in a valley, but like all heroes Hercules pushes back and drives his enemies lead by Lord Rhesus back and now have them on the ropes. Hercules himself, while wanting to end the battle, is also very mad at one of his crew Tydeus, who is bloodthirsty and not listening to orders causing them to be at odds. Hercules and his crew now have Rhesus and his guards backed against a cliff, and it’s clear they are not going to just give up and push the fight until only Rhesus is left standing and instead of dying at the hands of Hercules flings himself off the cliff! As Hercules and his crew sit for a while, an arrow comes from nowhere and kills Meneus and this sets Hercules into a rage who rips the attacker apart with his bare hands. Once they bury their friend, they head back to King Coyts with a story of victory and also slightly accuse Sitaces for the set up, but it’s quickly smoothed over as Hercules goes off with the King’s daughter and a big feast is planned. Later that night after the feast Hercules sneaks up and hears King Coyts praying to his Gods in order to get the power to his newly trained army to attack Greece and Mount Olympus!

Man, this was one pickle that I was sure would leave Hercules injured, but instead sees him win against all odds and end a war with one brutal battle. This issue’s plot has Hercules and his crew being set up, and they must fight for their lives in order to escape the valley. Once they do so, they lose one of their own members to a sneak attack and return to employer only to learn he is a scumbag who wants to over throw Greece and kill Zeus on Mount Olympus! Hercules in this issues shows why he is a true iconic fighter as he does not stress over the attack and leads his group to a victory. He also shows he is pure power as he rips a man apart in a bloody gory rage! His crew are all great fighters and sadly their youngest member Meneus is killed with an arrow to the head and Tydeus is out of control and is a warrior who just enjoys killing and eating his victims! King Coyts and Sitaces are pure scum who both crave power and terror as they just used Hercules and his crew to train an army for them that they will in turn be used to attack them and their homelands! What I really like about this comic series is that while Hercules is our “hero,” he really is no hero and is just a demi-god doing bad things for others in order to get gold! I also like that his crew, while all warriors, do seem to care about each other, well all but Tydeus who cares about no one but himself even if the others watch out for him. The cover for this issue is great and the red brings out the wicked look of Hercules who clearly is in a rage for war. The interior art once more is done by Admira Wijaya and is good stuff. Over all this is another great issue in this mini series and makes me look forward to reading the final two issues.

Hercules The Thracian Wars # 4  ***
Released in 2008     Cover Price $2.99     Radical Comics     # 4 of 5

Hercules is talked out of attacking the King in the temple, and this is a bad thing as he finds the tracks of Hercules in the snow and places he and all his crew under arrest until he can figure out a way to kill them all. Hercules tries to use his charm on the King’s daughter but soon finds that she has been using him all along and spying for her father and for him escaping and plotting against the King, Hercules is taken and tortured by Sitaces who is taking joy in his evil deed! Sitaces admits that he has been with the King’s daughter and he was not the one who set them up, all the while he is whipping and burning Hercules’s flesh. But Hercules has had enough and with his power he breaks free and smashes and kills two guards as well as breaks the back of Sitaces and brings the dungeons walls down on top of him! Hercules then rushes to his crew, and they make their escape in a bloody fight that leaves King Coyts in a rage and wants all of them dead! Hercules and his friends regroup around a campfire and decide that they will not run to Greece, and they will bring the fight to Coyts as they want to bring him down.

Wow! This fourth issue is great and showcases just how badass Hercules is as he bashes, smashes and slaughters any and all who get in his way. In fact I would say that this is the best issue this far in the series and is action packed and had a real feeling of dread and danger as the issue’s plot has the King and his army holding and bullying Hercules and his friends until they have had enough and push back! I also like the fact that the King’s daughter was just a pawn in her dad’s game as she in real life hates Hercules and Greece and was only using him to get information. Hercules in the issue really has been pushed as not only does the King plan on attacking his homeland of Greece but he also has been used and now abused and this means war in his eyes. His crew are also being treated like scum and are forced to stay inside a building and are not being feed and bullied into not having weapons and are all marked for death. King Coyts is a ruler who has used and abused his way into being even more powerful and is wanting to bring down Greece and Zeus as he has zero respect for those Gods. His daughter as well is scum as she uses sex in order to try and manipulate her target. And Sitaces the army leader is sadistic and gets what he deserves as he is broken and crushed leaving him a none factor now in the coming blood battle. This issue is filled with lots of action and lots of blood and feels like a true Sword And Sandal film from the 60’s with added modern style gore. Plus I really like the cliffhanger of Hercules and friends gearing up for a battle that they are the underdogs in, but they show no fear in the face of death. The cover is great and Admira Wijaya’s interior art is as always solid. Over all this issue is a great one to build up to the final in the mini series and is making me really looking forward to see how this adventure comes to an end.

Hercules The Thracian Wars # 5  **1/2
Released in 2008     Cover Price $2.99     Radical Comics     # 5 of 5

Hercules and his crew sneak back in the kingdom and start their slaughter and take out many of the guards by setting a fire in their quarters while they sleep. Once inside the castle, Hercules and his friends kill even more guards and even ram a spear into the King’s Daughter! King Coyts sees that his days are numbered and runs to make his escape as Hercules and friends follow him into a chamber of mazes and traps. But after dodging traps and almost capturing the evil King, Hercules and his crew find themselves trapped in the chamber as Coyts escapes….into the waiting ax of Tydeus who beheads the King and will dine on his brain after he frees his friends. Once free Hercules and pals find the gold room and steal all they can carry and as they leave the castle, they are greeted by Rhesus who they thought was dead and now has a new army and allows Hercules and them to leave with their lives, but not the gold! In the end Hercules and some of his friends sail away on a new adventure as Tydeus and others go their own way ending The Thracian War.

Hercules and his friends have gotten revenge after being set up and have stopped an attack on Greece but as always walked away empty handed when it comes to being paid for training an army to fight. So everything they did in this war really only caused death to people and only made them look like heels in the eyes of the people who witnessed their slaughter and training of a tyrant’s army. Hercules in this issue really just wants to end the life of King Coyts and his daughter and wants to stop the planned attack on Greece and while he does get to stop the act of war and gets to kill the daughter of his enemy, he is sadly not the one who gets to kill King Coyts. That honor went to Tydeus who is crazy and is a berserker when it comes to attacking and is really the most scummy of all of Herc’s teammates and by all accounts is just a cold blooded murderer. King Coyts is not only scum but also a coward who runs when it comes to battle and the odds are not in his favor. His daughter, on the other hand is a fighter and does not die without putting up a fight. The issue while bloody and filled with action seems to be more of a fast paced issue and the action seems to go by way too fast. But with that said, I will say that I do think Radical Comics really does know how to make a good comic mini series based on Hercules and writer Steve Moore shows he really does understand the world of Sword And Sandal. Plus the art by Admire Wijaya is very fitting and is perfect for this style of comic books. The cover for this issue I have is also very eye catching and reminds me of Frank Frazetta. Over all this is a great mini series and was an enjoyable read and fun review this Thanksgiving update, and I would recommend if you like Hercules to check this series out. Below is some artwork from this series so you can see the style of Wijaya.

Thanks once again for spending a part of your Thanksgiving holiday with me here at Rotten Ink as I am sure you’re much like me and are very much looking forward to diving into a tasty dinner and a chatting with family and loved ones. So next year, meet here again and we will once more talk about Hercules and cover another comic adventure of his! But to wrap this up as mashed potatoes are calling my name, make sure to spend some time with your loved ones as the Christmas season is just around the corner. Oh and I must also share with you that my next update will be a “From Horror Movie To Horror Comic” update, and we will be traveling to Skull Island to once more visit Kong! So until next time, read a comic or three, eat a second plate of food and as always support your local Horror Host. See you all back for another tour of Skull Island on our next update.

Hercules Once More Wants You To Marvel At Him This Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving! It’s hard to believe that we are once again at our big Turkey Day update and that means we will also be going back to Ancient Greece or in the case space as we are going to once more check in on Hercules from the Marvel Universe and the second mini series of him having adventures in space after being kicked off Mount Olympus for partying too much by his father Zeus! We also will be chatting a little about the character again and some of my memories of the Marvel version of Hercules, and we will also have a very special announcement about an upcoming Sparkle Comic that I will be writing and editing! But if you’re like me, I can smell the ham cooking and am looking forward to eating some mashed potatoes and rolls so let’s get this update started! Well I should say also that I am thankful for my family and friends all who have made my life so much better! I am thankful for Sparkle Comics and Blood Scream Comics as it’s a great outlet to be creative with friends and entertain readers! I am thankful for my cats Leslie and Streets J who add joy to my day-to-day life! I am thankful for my job as it’s a fun place to work and my co-workers are all outstanding people! I am thankful to Baron Von Porkchop as doing a Horror Host show is a dream come true! I also want to thank all my friends who use to make shot on video films with me back in the day of Independent B Movie and Bloodline Video as those films were so much fun to make! Oh I also want to say a very big THANK YOU for spending apart of your holiday with me here on Rotten Ink. So let’s catch back up with our good pal Hercules!

Growing up, I read lots of Marvel Comics from all decades as my brother and I would collect whatever issues we could get our hands on. And I can remember reading issues with Hercules in them mostly in the pages of The Avengers, Thor and Marvel Premire and while I enjoyed his antics in the pages of those comics I was never a diehard Marvel Hercules fan and that’s shocking as I loved the legend of Hercules but I think he just got lost in the shuffle as Hulk, Captain America, Spider-Man and Thor got most of my comic reading attention when it came to Marvel. In the Marvel Universe Hercules is an egomaniac that is a party animal and rushes into battle as he fears nothing and thinks his power and strength cant be topped. He is also a womanizer who even at times looks down on the female heroes and not in a mean way but more he is just so out of touch. Oh and he drinks a lot and is drunk at times causing issues. But while he does have flaws and its more because he is a fish out or water a hero out of his own time he does have lots of positives as he is very loyal to his friends and would sacrifice his own life to be the hero of the day. Plus in the Marvel Universe Hercules is strong and powerful but is not on the level of Thor or Hulk and has lost many battles even once being put into a coma by The Masters Of Evil. I also remember a story arch that had Hercules being fearful of battle and trying to hide his fear from other heroes, this took place in Thor Comics and that helped add another layer to the character for a short time. I also remember the multiple time that Hercules took on The Incredible Hulk and while good fights old Herc was always outclassed. The character as of recent time has been more of a background player even though he took over Hulks book for a while during the aftermath of the World War Hulk arch that had the name change to “The Incredible Hercules” and ran from 2008-2010 before being cancelled and going back to The Hulk. He also played a good part in Marvel Zombies as well as the long running event that was called Secret Empire and was apart of the underground team to bring down Hydra. So while Hercules in the Marvel Universe has never made his way to the films nor has he ever really been a major player he has to be respected as he has did his best to add to the Universe and brought a classic Greek hero to the world of Marvel Comics. What I would like to see Marvel do with Hercules in 2018 would be that he is on the outs with his fellow Gods and in order to get the respect and honor back he is given new labors that test his wits and might and even turns him into almost a anti-hero as he is forced to fight even fellow heroes as well as take a side in wars fought among men. Just an idea and a way to make Hercules be front and center as Thor and others are not sure his motives and he himself having to act under the will of his angry father who wants his son to be more vengeful. But I am sure Hercules will always be what he is in Marvel and that’s a solid background and team member of a massive team.

So now is the time for the major announcement about a future Sparkle Comics comic that is in the works and will be released sometimes in 2019 that will have me doing the stories and have the super talented Jeff Potter doing the art,  For those who don’t know, Mr. Potter has done the art for the Sparkle releases of Adventure Man # 1 based on the 80’s knock off generic toy of the same name as well as the comic based on the old shot on video film from Independent B Movie Farmer Joe # 0.  Both are top notch amazing comic books if this Editor In Chief says so himself! So I am sure you are now really wanting to know what this title will be, and I am going to share this with you my blog readers first before it hits the Sparkle website or social media that we will being doing a ongoing comic series based on the Greek Hero Hercules that will be inspired by the classic Sword And Sandal films from the 50s and 60s.  The first issue will have Herc taking on the Cannibal Cavemen! This is a project that I am very pleased to be doing as growing up I loved watching those classic films that starred Steve Reeves, Reg Park and Alan Steel as I found them to be lots of fun filled with action, adventures, drama and even dashes of science fiction.  The world of comics is lacking this type of comic starting Hercules. and I am proud that Sparkle will be able to bring this series to comics shops in Ohio as well as via online. So I hope that this has made many of you readers happy, and I hope many of you will check this comic series out once it”s released in 2019 and that it takes you back to the days of watching Hercules films on Saturday Mornings and reading his adventures in the pages of Charlton Comics. Check out the raw image of the cover for our first issue and again very much looking forward to creating this comics stories and quests.

So there it was, Sparkle Comics is doing a Hercules comic series that will be starting in 2019 that will for sure please fans of this classic Greek Demigod hero. So we are now at the time of the update when I have to start the comic review, and it’s kind of sad to think that this will be the last time we will be visiting Marvel Comics’ version of Hercules on Thanksgiving as he only had two classic mini series and with this one we have covered them both. To be honest, I am not really sure why I think of Hercules and Sword And Sandal films on this day but ever since I was a kid, strangely, I have….I wonder if when I was a kid maybe my dad had something like the Steve Reeve Hercules films or Three Stooges Meet Hercules on the TV on Thanksgiving….or if it’s because most of the Hercules films are considered Golden Turkeys? Whatever the reason, I will do my best to always cover a Hercules comic series on Turkey day and or at least some sort of Greek Hero book. So before we travel back to space and catch up with our pal Hercules, I do want to remind you all that I grade these comics on a scale of 1 to 4 and you are looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story! So with that, let’s see what our old pal Hercules is up to on his second space mini series adventure!

Hercules: Prince Of Power # 1   **1/2
Released in 1984     Cover Price $0.60    Marvel     # 1 of 4

Hercules has taken sides in a battle in space over a planet that is used for mining and two sides are fighting over the riches that are present one side is rebels the other is the government and Herc and Recorder are on the side of the government and after bringing down the leader of the rebels who turned out to be a Skrull this battle also leads to the death of one of Hercules closest friends in space as he has been hanging out with for over 40 years and this is a sign for Hercules to move on deeper into space to find a new adventure. Once arriving to the new planet Hercules and Recorder meet Officer Tyne Pryntess who is an officer and who allows our hero to stay on the planet but she must interview Recorder to get information. While checking into his hotel room Hercules spots a beautiful woman who ignores his charms and this makes him want to have her even more! Meanwhile on Mount Olympus Ares The God Of War is mad and braiding his fellow Gods about growing old and fat and even condemns Zeus for allowing humans to have free will, this angers Zeus who turns Ares into ash and storms off. Hercules soon finds his dream girl who’s named Sasha who is a model and as she is on stage he corners her only to find out she is a he and is a Skrull who is in hiding as he was to be killed on his home planet! While Hercules forgives the Skrull but the crowd does not and Herc is forced to flee with the Skrull and Recorder as he does not want to hurt anyone. So after escaping they escape the planet with the help of Tyne Pryntess. We cut to the throne room of Zeus on Mount Olympus and the father of all gods tells his brother Pluto that all the Greek gods must die!

This 2nd series starts off with a bang as our plot takes Hercules and his robot friend Recorder deeper into space as Hercules losses a friend to a war that was caused by a Skrull, meets a woman he wants to get with that’s a Skrull and ends up befriending the shape shifting alien and is able to escape the planet. But while the plot of Hercules adventure is space is fun the real interesting story that is brewing is the fact Zeus is aware he is loosing his footing with mankind and is now on a warpath of killing his own godly children and starts by killing Ares as he speaks the truth of the God’s loosing their followers on Earth. Hercules in this issue is still very brave and is on the side of what’s right as he opens the issue helping the Government stop a group of Rebels who are hellbent on killing. He also shows very much he values friendship and that he has a big heart as the death of his friend truly bothers him. But as always while he is a hero he also spends most the issue trying to swoon women and push them into kissing or falling in love with him!! Recorder is around and once more filled with facts and advice and is still a great character but I will say he seems to be not as fun loving as he was in the first series. Skyppi is a Skrull who is a fugitive on his home planet and hides himself as a super model in order to earn money to survive, so far he seems like an older Skrull who fears death on his home planet will be cool to see if he joins Hercules and Recorder for this whole mini series. Officer Tyne Pryntess seems like a really good person and she can tell when people are lying as well and calm even the most wild of beasts, makes you wonder if she will come into play more in this series. Over all this first issue is a great way to kick off the 2nd space adventure for the Prince Of Power and I really cant wait to see how the Zeus storyline plays out as his path of killing rage is very interesting. So as I am smelling the ham cooking lets move onto the second issue and see what its has in store for us before dinner. Oh and I want to say that I really dig the cover of this issue as it showcases our three traveling heroes.

Hercules: Prince Of Power # 2  ***
Released in 1984      Cover Price $0.60    Marvel      # 2 of 4

Hercules along with Recorder and Skyppi are trying to escape the planet in the chariot and are being chased by the police who are willing to shoot them down! Hercules jumps from the chariot and stops the police from chasing them but while doing this the chariot crashes and leaves Recorder hurt and in need of repair and they rush to get him repaired. Meanwhile a crazed Skrull hater named Red Wolf is on a rampage and is killing Skrulls on a space station including a politician! Red Wolf is shot down and turns into a normal human named Rojohn Smythe and is taken to jail. Meanwhile Hercules and Skyppi get Recorder to a repair shop only for themselves to be under attack by the stations police force when they get a call that Herc is now a wanted man! As Hercules gets arrested Skyppi turns into a bug and escapes as Recorder is still left in the repair shop. Back on Mount Olympus things are going bad as Zeus is on a killing spree and is taking the lives of his fellow Gods with only Apollo able to escape as he rockets himself into space. Hercules wakes up in jail from a nightmare and due to Zeus actions he has also aged, and worse he is sharing the cell with Rojohn who explains that he cannot control Red Wolf as it’s a spirit that lives inside him that hates Skrulls! As they chat Skyppi shows up to break them out and this triggers Red Wolf who goes into kill mode and attacks the old Skrull! Hercules stands up for his friend and fights Red Wolf around the jail and this leads them to the airlock and when it opens Hercules saves the life of Red Wolf who in turn respects Herc and runs distraction to the guards so Hercules, Skyppi and Recorder can get to the chariot and head to Mount Olympus to see what is going on with his father as the nightmare he had shook the Prince Of Power to his core.

Wow this second issue is really good and if you dig Hercules in the Marvel Universe this is one that is worth a read! The plot of this issue has Herc and his pals escaping one planet that leaves Recorder damaged and in need of repair all because Hercules was careless and only wanted to fight and not get his friends to safety, and when getting them off the planet finally they end up at a space station that has a Skrull hating possessed killer who has his eye on Skyppi! Hercules in this issue learns a lesson that his careless love for battle does have downsides as it leads to a friend being hurt, he also learns that using a combination of fighting and brains is the best way to win a fight! One thing as well that happens to the ever cocky Hercules in this issue is that he is growing older as his father Zeus kills more of his fellow Gods and this worries the Prince Of Power as he don’t know what’s going on at Mount Olympus but knows something is wrong for sure! Recorder and Skyppi are great sidekick characters and while they are under the protection of the Lion of Olympus they also are looking out for him as they try their best to be his voice of reason. Red Wolf is a spirit who for some reason 100% hates Skrulls and wants to kill as many of them as he can! While Red Wolf is a bad spirit he does knows respect when his life is saved and in turn does what he can to help Hercules escape the space station. I really liked the look of Red Wolf as it was a weird mix of Native American, Sabertooth and demon! Zeus has lost his mind and is really on a killing spree on Mount Olympus and is truly the main villain of this comic series! The only God this far to escape is Apollo who has fled for his life and by the looks might be on his way to find Hercules to try and get help. What I like the most about this series this far is the fact Hercules is traveling around causing a mess were ever he is going and while he is having a space adventure his home on Mount Olympus is crumbling! Cool cover and great interior art work by Bob Layton and another fun issue in this mini series….man I can smell that ham cooking even stronger so lets move on to issue three!

Hercules: Prince Of Power # 3   **1/2
Released in 1984      Cover Price $0.60    Marvel      # 3 of 4

We start on a moon planet and a group of tomb raiders are being slaughtered by someone who is setting traps by using jewels and leaves the only survivor Shreck left to enter and retrieve the pure power that awaits him inside! Meanwhile Hercules along with his friends are traveling back to Mount Olympus when he gets a call from Mentor that he needs to rush to Titan as something bad has taken place. As Hercules arrives he soon finds out that Apollo is there and as well has aged and is near death, before the God of Light dies he tells Herc that all that awaits him back on Olympus is death. Mentor takes Hercules to the side and takes him to the great space computer ISSAC to see what is going on at Mount Olympus and soon finds that all of his fellow Gods are dead besides Zeus! Meanwhile Shreck finds what he is looking for and that’s the tomb of the late Captain Marvel and he steals the dead heroes power bands and heads to Titan and attacks just as Hercules is set to leave for his home. While Hercules, Skyppi and Mentor all try and hold off the now powerful Shreck who is doing his evil deeds all in the name of Thanos, Recorder and ISSAC are trying to find a weakness in the power that was once the mighty Captain Marvels. As Shreck knocks out our heroes in a brutal battle and starts his destruction of Titan, Recorder gets the information he needs to give to the awakening Hercules and the prince of power sets the plan in motion and tricks Shreck into a power core that overloads him and ends his path of terror once and for all. As Mentor and says farewell to Hercules, the might Zeus sits on his throne on Mount Olympus and awaits the arrival of his last son.

This was an entertaining issue that adds one last side quest to Hercules before he can make his way home to find out the answers he is seeking. This one has Hercules and his pals defending Titan from a power crazed madman who is a follower of Thanos and who has robbed the grave of Captain Marvel to do so! Hercules in this issue is still very much fun loving and looking for fighting action but he also really seems to be worried about his home and all his fellow Gods that live there. Plus as always he sticks his own neck out in order to save his friends and the innocent people who could be injured unjustly. Recorder is super helpful in this issue as he is quick minded and along with the worlds Super Space Computer come up with a plan to stop the threat in its destructive tracks. Skyppi as well tries what he can to help by shape shifting and trying to keep Shreck at bay, while he is a downbeat old Skrull he still shows he very much is a loyal friend to Hercules. Mentor, his son StarFox and computer ISSAC all live on Titan and try to warn Herc on what’s awaiting him on Mount Olympus and also offered shelter to the dying Apollo. Shreck is a soulless scumbag who follows the words and evil teachings of Thanos and robs a grave of a beloved superhero in order to still his power bracelets to bring death to all those who ever wronged his idol. Shreck is a true scumbag and a terrible person and even sent in his own friends to get what he needed and knew that they would keep dying…Shreck is a terrible person so once he is brought down you find yourself very happy. The sad part of this issue is seeing Apollo very old and dying with Hercules by his side telling him that their home is no more and that Zeus as turned against them all. I think the best thing about this issue for me was the last page that had Zeus sitting on his throne holding a bloody axe and awaiting the arrival of his last son alive. Cover of this issue is so-so and the interior art by Bob Layton is good and I should also say that he also did the story for this mini series. So with that this issue is good and a nice set up for the final issue and with that lets move onto the fourth and final issue.

Hercules: Prince Of Power # 4  ***
Released in 1984    Cover Price $0.60    Marvel      # 4 of 4

Hercules arrives at Mount Olympus and finds it in ruins and all his fellow Gods dead and gone. His father with anger and hate in his eyes sits waiting for him to enter and challenges him to a fight that will leave one of them dead! Hercules refuses to fight his father and this angers Zeus who also creates a marble Horse Monster to go after and run off Recorder and Skyppi and attacks his son! Zeus beats Hercules up and damages his arm and blinds him in one eye, he also alerts his son that his fate is with a pearl that he had placed in a vat of fire and just as the father of all Gods is about to kill his son, Hercules smashes the walls around them and buries Zeus under the rubble. Meanwhile Recorder and Skyppi trick the Marble Horse and push it down a hole and return to find Hercules weak and possibly dying from his wounds, as they try and get him to Apollo’s Chariot the Mighty Zeus breaks free and is hungry for blood! As Recorder takes Hercules away Skyppi stays behind and takes the form of Herc to try and trick Zeus but it does not as Zeus grabs Skyppi by the neck and “snaps” it just as Hercules comes back for him and this trigger the Prince Of Power to fight his father and he gives the king of Gods a butt whopping! Just as Hercules is about to smash his father with an axe he drops it and Zeus informs him that he has passed the test and that he would like for Hercules to be the new role model of mankind as he and the Gods time has long been over, and that he never really killed the other gods they are all just in another dimension were they will all live and Hercules as well can decide if he wants to stay or join his fellow Gods in this new dimension by getting the pearl from the fire. As Zeus leaves Hercules is filled with joy knowing his father has only testing him and not truly mad and decides to stay and go on more adventures with Recorder and Skyppi!

Hercules The Prince Of Power fighting The Father of The Gods Zeus in a bloody battle is the plot of this issue, and man, was this a fun one to read! The fact that Zeus is like a crazy axe wielding maniac filled with rage and a cocky attitude makes him a very evil foe for Hercules, but after almost beating his son to death and forcing his own son to almost beat him to death we all learn that this was just a test to see if Herc has learned a lesson and if he would like to join the Gods in a new dimension or if he would like to stay on Earth and do good for humankind. In this issue Hercules shows that he is not only loyal to his family but also his friends, and when pushed, he will do the right thing even if it’s fighting his own father to the death. He also shows that he can be hurt badly as his father blinds him in one eye and almost removes one of his arms from a powerful blow with his axe. I also really like that Hercules decides to stay on Earth and by doing so his wounds are healed and his aging goes away. Skyppi and Recorder show that they work well as a team as they outsmart and defeat a massive foe made of stone and even risk their own lives in order to try and help save Hercules. Zeus starts the issue out being a monster who it’s clear could kill Hercules and his friends with ease, but by the ends shows that he is a loving father and an ancient god that knows his time has passed. This second mini series continues the adventure of Hercules in space and ends with him back at Mount Olympus and delivers a very fun and entertaining read that is sure to please fans of this character as well as fans of the old Sword And Sandal films. The cover of this issue is pretty great and shows a evil looking Zeus standing over a defeated Hercules and is eye catching, and once more, the story and interior art done by Bob Layton is fantastic and is great classic 80’s Marvel stuff and makes this even more enjoyable. So as you can see, this was a solid 4 issue read that delivers adventure and drama and throws in just enough Greek mythology to make it fun for fans of comics and history! Check out the art below to see a sample of Layton’s style, and to sum it up, this was a great read for Thanksgiving 2017.

So ends Rotten Ink’s journey with Marvel’s version of Hercules. It was a fun ride filled with space and gods, and I would like to think that Hercules, Recorder and Skyppi are flying around on Apollo’s Chariot this very night chatting about battle and eating turkey! Speaking of eating, dinner is ready, and I am hungry and looking forward to spending sometime with my family on this holiday. So I am going to wrap this update up and hope that you and your family and friends have a wonderful Thanksgiving! Out next update will be about The Geriatric Gangrene Jujitsu Gerbils, a weird 90’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles rip off that was unleashed on the readers. So until next time, eat a turkey leg or two, watch a football game or three and make sure to watch a Horror Host on this Holiday evening! Once more Happy Thanksgiving to all of you friends, family and readers.

 

Marvel At The Thanksgiving Might Of The Mighty Hercules

Happy Thanksgiving! I hope that while you are reading this your home is filled with the smell of turkey, stuffing and all the other foods of this holiday. I am once more over at my parents’ house getting ready to chomp down on some turkey all the while chatting with my parents and watching football on the TV. This year has been a crazy one filled with great moments to be thankful for like the birth of Sparkle Comics and the continued success of Baron Von Porkchop as well some very rough moments like losing my cousin Norman D. 2016 has been a year filled with great moments with my girlfriend Juliet from going to Pittsburgh, to Horrorhound Weekend and everything in-between! So far Hollywood has delivered some fun films to watch in the theaters that I was able to see with friends. Video game companies have released some great games for me to play on my PS4 and even my NES with Homebrew and hacked games. Marvel, DC, Titan and IDW have put out some amazing comics for me to read from Sam Wilson Captain America to Tales From The Darkside. I am thankful for friends like Josh Weinberg, Henrique Couto, Todd The Fox, Queen V, Garrison Kane, Dusty Austin, Dan Harkless, David J. Getz, Geoff Burkman, Chris Seaver, Louis Justin, Spencer Lucas and so many more for giving me great friendship and moments that impact my life everyday. I am thankful for my friends from the Sparkle Comic family like Jason Young, Jeremy Hoyt, Jeff Potter, Wheeler Hall, Damien Brunk, Natalie Claude, Jason Gilmore, Scott Scarborough, Tom Amrhein and Joe Grunenwald who are all so talented at what they do and are making a Dayton, Ohio based comic company come to life…it truly is comics made by friends for fans. I can’t forget my Horror Host family as people like A. Ghastlee Ghoul, Halloween Jack, Fritz The Nite Owl, Dale Kay, Janet Decay, Dr. Pureblood, Baron Von Wolfstein and Riggor Mortiss who are all amazing people with amazing shows that offer such great friendships and programs that are inspiring. I am very thankful for my cousin Stephen Alexander who makes Baron Von Porkchop come alive as well as he is one of my near and dearest friends. I am thankful you all, the readers of Rotten Ink who make this blog even more fun for me to write! And of course I am thankful for my family as they are truly the people in my life that keep me sane! Man, so much to be thankful for, so before we take a look at Hercules as done by Marvel Comics let’s go grab a plate of food and stuff our bellies as we travel to the world of Greek mythology once more.  This time around we’ll see what the world’s top comic company does with the son of Zeus. I should also note that this update will be a quick one as Hercules from the Marvel Universe demands that I spend more time eating mashed potatoes and turkey, and less time writing about him!

Thanksgiving Day Feast With The Trimings

The 1960’s saw Hercules being pulled from his time of Ancient Greece by Immortus to fight Thor or was it? That version of Hercules was really just a space phantom, and the real Hercules would meet Thor in his next Marvel Comic appearance. Hercules would defeat Thor in battle when Odin punished his son for falling in love with a mortal Earth woman named Jane Foster. But the two would turn into friends and would join each other in battle with Thor even rescuing Hercules from Hades when his uncle Pluto tricked him into becoming the ruler of the land of the dead.  Hercules would also go on to have brief fights with Hulk, The Avengers, Sub-Mariner and Dragon Man to name a few. After being banned from Olympus by his father Zeus for coming to Earth without his permission, he would go on to join The Avengers and seal himself being a true iconic modern day superhero helping them on many missions. Hercules also join such teams as Heroes For Hire, Damage Control, The Defenders and The Champions.  In all of these groups, he not only lent his Godly strength but also his mind for war and battle, making him a major and important member of each of the teams he has joined. During his Marvel Universe Hercules journey has also battled Ares, High Evolutionary, Mister Hyde, Mongoose and Doctor Doom to name a few. He also took over for The Incredible Hulk during the events of Planet Hulk, and after Hulk returned for the story line World War Hulk, Hercules teamed with Amadeus Cho for a while. And during Civil War, Hercules took the side of Captain America as he calls the Superhuman Registration Act supporters “Traitors”! During the Secret Invasion storyline Hercules lead a team called God Squad whose members included Snowbird and Demogorge to fight the Skull. These adventures are just a drop in the hat of the adventures Hercules has had in the Marvel Universe. Hercules is super strong and is skilled in boxing, pankration, archery and Greco-Roman wrestling and as well has a healing factor. His first appearance was in Journey Into Mystery Annual # 1, and Stan Lee and Jack Kirby created this Marvel Comic version of the Greek hero who is still being used by Marvel this day. As a young comic reader I used to buy Thor comics off the newsstand, and when Hercules was guest starring, I can always remember looking at those as a treat. While not even in my top 20 favorite Marvel Comic characters, Hercules is still one I enjoy reading about, once more proving that the classic heroes of time never fully go away, they just get modernized for a newer generation.

Marvel Hercules 1Marvel Hercules 2Marvel Hercules 3

Marvel’s Hercules has had his share of merchandise that includes besides the comics, action figures in the Marvel Legends line and more, statues and busts done by such companies as Bowen, many board game and table-top game pieces like Heroclix and has appeared on posters as well as many video games. Hercules is just one of those characters that lends himself into being made into merchandise and also was a perfect fit for comic books. Over the years I have played HeroClix off and on with friends and have used the Hercules piece before in battles.  While a solid figure who can deal out damage, he falls a little short if the luck of the role is not on your side. So if you’re a fan of Marvel’s Hercules make sure to check out many of the items I mentioned above as they can add great options to your collection.

Marvel Hercules bustMarvel Hercules action figureMarvel Hercules heroclix

So there you have it, a quick look at the history of Hercules in the Marvel Universe as well as a peek at the cool merchandise based on him.  I don’t know about you, but I am ready to take a look at this 4 issue mini series that I should thank Mavericks for having in stock those many years back that I bought them. But before we travel to Greece and see what Herc is up to, I should also remind you that I grade these issues on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. So with that I think we are ready to climb Mount Olympus and see just what mischief Hercules will get into, and if memory serves me correctly, this series is lots of fun and I am looking forward to re-reading it. So it’s Adventure Time!!!

Hercules 1 Marvel

Hercules: Prince Of Power # 1  ***
Released in 1982   Cover Price .60     Marvel     # 1 of 4

Hercules climbs to the top of Mount Olympus after years of being away and finds the day of his return is not filled with a feast but is to be spent in quiet in honor of his father Zeus. Hercules is bored and decides to horse around in his room with the wine maids and causes great noises that anger Zeus who in turn bans Hercules from Olympus and sends him into space until he learns a lesson.  With Apollo’s Chariot he enters The Andromeda Galaxy where he meets and spends the night with aliens of the Rigellians race, who record data for study.  They send a Recorder Droid with Hercules who continues his quest in space! Hercules lands at a planet that has a massive casino, and he and Recorder spend time drinking.  Hercules spends time telling stories to the waitresses to impress them, but he soon has the whole bar against him when he attacks with no cause a massive muscle alien who is actually a gentle giant! As Hercules and Recorder leave with their heads down, a spacecraft wrecks outside and Hercules saves the passengers as well as the town as he flings the fuel tank into the sky before it explodes.  Once more he becomes a hero and learns a valuable lesson of forgiveness.

Take Greek mythology and mix it with the adventures of Han Solo of Star Wars fame, and this is what you’re in for reading this fun adventure comic.  The plot is simple and very much inspired by many films based on Hercules as his reckless and self-indulgent attitude angers his father Zeus who bans him from Mount Olympus until he learns a lesson, but the twist this time around is he is not sent to Earth but instead to outer space where he quickly makes friends and has a robot sidekick named Recorder who will follow his adventures. Hercules is very cocky, and it’s clear his whole world revolves around himself and he expects everyone to roll out the red carpet when he comes around.  Most of the time, he thinks with his muscles and not his brain and thinks that fighting is the way to get respect from strangers. But he also knows what he must do when lives are in danger as he was willing to risk his own life to save those of aliens. But while Hercules is self centered, he still is a very likeble character as he is a brat but he doesn’t know he is a brat. Recorder is bland and around just to learn, but you can tell this android has a personality that will shine through by the end of this mini series. Zeus is just not having his son’s brash attitude anymore and wants to prove a point that his word is law on Olympus, and he is a character the demands and earns his respect. So far we have no major bad guys as this issue clearly is just the build up on how to get Hercules from Olympus to space. The cover is amazing and very eye catching, with the inside art being done by Bob Layton (who also wrote it) that is truly that classic 70’s and early 80’s magic! So let’s see what’s next for Hercules and see what he learns on what is his new quests.

Hercules 2 Marvel

Hercules: Prince Of Power # 2  ***
Released in 1982   Cover Price .60     Marvel     # 2 of 4

Hercules and Recorder lose a drag race in space, and this causes the pair to have to come up with money to pay off their debt.  This also leaves Apollo’s Carriage in the hands of the aliens who won, and the horses are not too pleased when the pair try to tamper with the gold carriage. Hercules goes on a rescue mission to rescue the kidnapped Layana Sweetwater, who is the daughter of a powerful galaxy politician. During the rescue Hercules beats up the space pirates and Recorder get his hand blown off, but they succeeds at the rescue, only to find out there is no reward money! Hercules and Layana fall in love, and while having a private time in their rented room, Recorder is arrested as they think he is a peeping tom robot! Hercules, after lying about why he and Layana can’t stay together forever, soon finds out that she ran away from home as her promised husband, who is a lizard man by the name of Count Igwanus who is “evil”, busts in and is not pleased to see his soon to be bride in bed with another man! Hercules takes the fight to Igwanus and his men but soon finds out that he has been played for fool as Layana lied about Igwanus, who in fact is a noble lizard man she was in love with and to marry the day she was kidnapped! After the matter is settled, and Igwanus takes Layana home.  He also pays Hercules the reward money, and he pays off his debt to the racers who are in the hospital now because of Apollo’s horses and Recorder is bailed out from jail.

The second issue of this mini series is just as charming as the first and once more follows Hercules and his adventure into space…wait, they should have called this “Hercules & Recorder’s Excellent Space Adventure”! The plot of this issue has Hercules and Recorder saving a young woman from pirates only to find that the money promised for her safe keeping was a fraud as are the lies Hercules and the rescued woman tell each other. Hercules is as cocky as ever but also noble as he wants to pay off his debts to a pair of space racers he lost to.  He’s also a liar as he beds a young blonde woman he rescues and then in order to get her from not falling in love with him lies about a lost love of his past. I will say that Hercules also seems to learn a lesson in this issue as he finds out lies have fall out and that when wrong, you must try to make things right. Recorder is not just a robot that is recording all what Hercules does but is also a hero as he steps up in the rescue effort and even loses his hand in the fight. The Horses of Apollo’s Chariot are very protective and it’s shown they will turn into fire eyed wild stallions if crossed that will put you in the hospital. Layana Sweetwater is a cute young blonde who was kidnapped and tells lies in order to try and get Hercules to let her stay with him.  By the end, she seems to not have learned a thing. Count Igwanus is just a Lizard Man in love who is confused when Hercules attacks him and his men, but he soon finds out that his soon to be bride lied to the Son of Zeus and even after all the fighting he still loves and wants to marry Layana. This issue was lots of fun and also has Hercules change his costume from his famous green and orange to a slick black and red one! Comedy, action, adventure and science fiction all come together so well in this issue, and for sure this was one hell of a fun read on this holiday! The cover is great once again, and the art inside is done by Bob Layton who also handled the story again. So far I would say Marvel is doing the Hercules character right, and I am having a blast with this one on this Thanksgiving Day! Let’s see what old Hercules and Recorder get into next, shall we?

Hercules 3 Marvel

Hercules: Prince Of Power # 3  ***
Released in 1982    Cover Price .60     Marvel     # 3 of 4

Hercules and Recorder are under attack from a fleet of spacecraft ,and after trying to reason with them, Hercules gets mad and leaps into space from his chariot and takes over the aliens ship and lands it back at their base to inform them they mean no harm and only want to travel to a planet they heard had great wine.  While Hercules is trying to explain this, he meets Commander Malin who informs him that the reason he was under attack by his men was because he was flying in a restricted area as planets from this part of space have gone missing over the years and they have been put in charge to make sure no more go missing.  As Hercules and Recorder become guests of the massive war ship, they soon find that they are all under attack.  All of the fighters for the protection of the planets are destroyed, and it’s up to Hercules to stop this invading menaces.  He soon finds himself bound to the wall, the prisoner of a race of insect like aliens who worship a god they claim they must sacrifice planets to! Poor Recorder has his legs blown off, and Hercules powers up and breaks free and saves the target planet.  He and Recorder escape just in time as the aliens commit suicide after they think they failed their god. Commander Malin is pleased with the Lion of Olympus, Hercules and has Recorder’s legs replaced.  They all think things have ended well….that is till we find out that the god they worshipped was none other that the world eater Galactus!

This issue is all about planets going missing and Hercules having to step up and face odds that are against him and his robot friend.  Aliens from a planet long gone think that they must give other worlds to the one who ended theirs in order to please him for letting them live.  The one cool thing about this issue is that the good aliens are from different parts of the galaxy that must work together as a galactic Air Force in order to keep worlds safe from an unknown source of destruction.  It reminded me of the film “The Last Starfighter” as it also had aliens from all over teaming up to save worlds from danger. Hercules in this issue is brave and puts others before himself as he knows that he must stop the insect aliens from stealing planets to appease their god. In fact he goes into a brutal rage by the end and knocks the snot out of many of the bad guys and then uses a metal rod to blow up their device that sends the planets to Galactus! But what Hercules also does by saving that one planet is kill off two huge ships filled with insect aliens who kill themselves for failing and as well has pissed off the powerful Galactus, who now is on the warpath! Recorder can’t catch a break as he gets his legs blown off and must get odd shaped new ones as replacements. Commander Malin and his men are brave and noble but are also outmanned and outgunned, but they still go down with a fight. The insect aliens are cold blooded killers but do what they do in order save many planets.  They look at it this way, give one planet to save many, and when they fail to deliver this time around, they would rather die than face the wrath of Galactus. Speaking of Galactus, he only appears at the end of the issue, and man is he mad! The things I enjoyed about this issue is that it’s like they tossed elements of Greek mythology, Aerial Combat, The Last Starfighter and classic Marvel Comics into a blender and this space opera action drama is what was created. Bob Layton is on art and story again and does fantastic as he has done with the past two issues, and this time around the cover is good as the crazed madman look in Hercules’ eyes says a thousand words – all of them are cuss words and threats of bodily harm! Well let’s see what the fourth and final issue in this series has to offer on this glorious turkey day holiday update.

Hercules 4 Marvel

Hercules: Prince Of Power # 4  **1/2
Released in 1982   Cover Price .60     Marvel     # 4 of 4

Hercules and Recorder are now on the planet they just saved and a massive feast with tons of wine, beer and brew is being served in his honor.  He even receives the most powerful of all alcoholic drinks in the world as the alien’s gratitude. Galactus is mad that his followers have failed and sends his new female herald Nova, who prepares the planet to be drained of its life by her master.  But Hercules finds out about the approaching doom and he decides that this planet is under his protection and will act as its savior once more. Hercules sweeps Nova off her feet and after he beds her, he takes Apollo’s Chariot and Recorder to Galactus’ ship and attempts to stop the world eater.  He soon finds even his mighty power and strength is not match for Galactus, who after beating the Son of Zeus still is on plan to drain and eat the energy of the planet. Hercules takes a few moments to think of a plan and decides to slip the whole bottle of the most powerful alcohol into Galactus’s drink.  This of course does not work but makes the world eater laugh and decide to leave the planet alone.  As Recorder returns to the Rigellians for repairs as well as with a memory filled with stories, Hercules returns to the alien planet and goes on a date with Nova who is now taking some time off.

This final issue is lots of fun, but also seems a little rushed and is not the note I would have like to see Hercules and Recorders’ space adventure end as they separate from each other and Herc just goes on a date with Nova. The plot has Galactus wanting to eat a world, and Hercules who is being treated like a king (or is that a god?) is enjoying the huge party on the planet and sets his sights on stopping Galactus from eating away his world that’s filled with good wine and drink. I love the idea that Hercules is so ego driven that he thinks he can stand toe to toe with Galactus and even tries his best to punch out the mighty icon of Marvel who dines on worlds and has zero feelings. Hercules, while still very much a muscle bound meat head, learns in this issue once more that he can use his mind and win a fight over using his fists, and that others in the universe are as well important as just himself and his fellow Greek gods. He also once more shows that he has the charm as he beds Nova, a female who is on fire and is the herald of Galactus. Recorder is beat up and has tons of replacement parts, but you can tell he has built up a friendship with Hercules and is very bummed when the Rigellians come to reclaim him for his information and to stop the use of their credit that the pair had ran up. Nova at first comes in like a Horseman of the Apocalypse ready to spread gloom and doom, but by the end acts more like a love struck high school girl. Galactus is as wise as he is hungry and is amused by the tricks and bravery of Hercules and decides to spare the world and allow his herald time off to amuse his new Greek hero friend. As I said before, what I didn’t like is that the team up adventure and friendship of Hercules and Recorder come to an end here and while they battle one of the Marvel Universe’s most dangerous characters, it’s hardly a battle and more like a scuffle that ends with drinks afterwards. The cover for this issue is okay and has Galactus looking as if he is melting Hercules with beams from his eyes. The art and story inside is once more done by Bob Layton and is great stuff, and really makes me wish that the series lasted a little longer. So with this being Thanksgiving and all, I would like to wrap this up by saying this was a solid and great adventure starring Hercules and shows that Marvel knows how to comic book the Greek hero right. Check out some artwork below to see how epic this comic series is!

hercules prince of power art 1

So now that we have returned from space on Apollo’s Chariot and from yet another Thanksgiving adventure with Hercules, I would like to wish you all once more a safe and fun holiday season and hope that this update helped brighten your day even a little bit. I want to also note that in the future i will cover the next Marvel Hercules mini-series based on his adventures in space. Our next update starts our countdown to the big Christmas Eve update and will be about those warrior trolls known as the Stone Protectors who I am sure made at least a handful of Christmas’s brighter when youngsters got the toys, VHS tapes or comics for gifts. So until, then eat a little more turkey, read a comic or three and spend some time with your loved ones! See you next update.

Stone Protectors Logo 0

Hercules and The Three Stooges Save Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving! It’s once again that time of the year for family, football and good food, and as you longtime readers know, its time for my Turkey Day Hercules update.  This year we will be looking at when Hercules met the princes of slapstick comedy, The Three Stooges. But before we get silly with this update I want to get serious for a moment and say that I am thankful for my family, friends and readers all of whom make my life way more fun! Plus, I want to dedicate this update to family and friends I have sadly lost over the years as each of them have helped make me the person I am today and they are all missed. I should also state that once more this year I am over at my parents house this Thanksgiving and waiting to eat some amazing home cooked food and enjoy good conversations with my family. So here is hoping that the belly full of laughs from this update doesn’t counteract your belly filled with food as we take a trip down memory lane with The Three Stooges.

Three Stooges and Turkey

It’s crazy to think that I have been doing this blog for several years now, and I have yet to talk about The Three Stooges, comedians I grew up watching alongside my Dad and brother and whose classic movies and shorts still entertain me to this day. The Stooges started out in 1925 as Ted Healy and His Stooges that consisted of Ted, Moe, Larry and Shemp, and the group toured around entertaining the masses and even made a feature film called “Soup To Nuts”. Shemp left the group in 1932 and was replaced by Curly, and a brief time later The Stooges broke away from Ted Healy in 1934 after making several short films and became The Three Stooges! Ted Healy died in 1937 from unknown and mysterious causes. One thing that should be noted is that Moe, Curly and Shemp were all brothers and all had their own wacky style of slapstick style humor. As The Three Stooges much work came their way in the form of short and feature length movies, and the threesome became one of America’s top comedic acts with Curly becoming the fan favorite for his silly faces and childlike behavior. But while things were good for the Stooges, bad luck caught up to them in 1946 when Curly suffered a massive stroke that left him unable to work, and up to the stroke Curly’s health was on a decline. Time passed, and The Stooges retired for some time hoping that Curly would get better, but the signs of him coming back were growing slim so they asked Shemp to rejoin.  He did for some time, and even was a part of The Stooges’ first ever TV appearance on “Texaco Star Theater” in 1948. But once more some bad news was coming The Stooges’ way in 1952 as Curly passed away at the age of 48 from a cerebral hemorrhage caused by more strokes.  They also lost some of their supporting cast when Columbia, the studio they were signed to, decided to downsize its short film department and the short films of the Stooges were being done cheaper and faster. Then in 1955, Shemp passed away from a heart attack on his way home from a boxing match; he was 60 years old. I should also note that in many of The Three Stooges films, a stand in was used for Shemp in shots who would wear a wig; this term was called Shemping and is still used to this day. In 1956 The Stooges hired Joe Besser as the new member who was a character who was goofy and would also fight back against Moe who was the dominate Stooge.  During this time The Three Stooges lost steam, and Besser was considered the weakest link in the trio.  After only three years with them his time came to an end, and in 1959 it appeared The Three Stooges had come to an end or did they?! The old Three Stooges short films were now being aired on TV and aimed toward kids.  This gave Moe and Larry an idea to try and launch a quick comeback with new Stooge named Curly Joe, and the trio launched into making movies again, this time aimed at the young and young at heart in the 1960’s.  They became one of the highest paid acts in Hollywood and even got turned into an animated cartoon series in 1965 called “The New 3 Stooges” and even tried their hands at becoming a weekly TV show that would have been called “Three Stooges Scrapbook”. In 1969, they were given another chance at becoming weekly TV stars with a show that would have been called “Kook’s Tour” that would follow the Stooges as they traveled the world, but this was not to be as Larry suffered a heart attack ending his run with the trio as well as ending The Three Stooges.  Even a dark comedy film written by Moe’s grandson called “Make Love, Not War” or “Make Mine Manila” and was about Moe, Curly Joe and Emil Sitka (a regular in Stooge movies) being POWs of World War II trying to escape never could get a green light from a studio. In 1974 Larry at the age of 72 suffered a stroke that put him into a coma, and sadly a short time later he passed away. Moe tried so hard not to let The Three Stooges end even after the death of his long time comedy partner and tried to get many movies off the ground but never could.  His last idea was a movie called “Blazing Stewardesses” but before it began Moe fell ill with lung cancer and had to retire from acting and passed away in 1975. Curly Joe still performed for years with a group he called The New Three Stooges that consisted of Mousie Garner and Frank Mitchell that went on till 1979. Joe Besser passed away in 1988 at the age of 80 from heart failure; Curly Joe passed away in1993 at the age of 83 from pneumonia, and Emil Sitka who was the only Stooge replacement never to be in a movie or show as a Stooge passed away in 1998 from a stroke at the age of 83. The Three Stooges are icons in the world of comedy, and now that I gave you a brief history on who they were, next I will share some memories of watching them!

The Stooges 1The Stooges 2The Stooges 3

I can remember even as a young child my dad watching old Three Stooges shorts on TV, mostly on WGN, a TV station out of Chicago that use to air them a lot on Sunday mornings. I used to laugh at the silly ways The Stooges would smack each other and all the silly faces they would make when they were worked up over whatever was annoying them at the time. While my Dad liked The Stooges, my Mom was the opposite and was not amused by their slapstick antics and was by no means a fan. I think my brother liked them like I did because I can remember watching them with him and him laughing at them as well. Besides the short films, I also really enjoyed watching the Three Stooges movies with my favorite being, of course, them meeting Hercules.  I can remember watching this film on TBS and loving every cheesy sword and sandal moment.  I can also remember watching the cartoon at my grandparents’ house with my cousin Nathan on VHS. I also always wanted 3 ¾” action figures of The Stooges that I could have had as characters in my Toy Wars.  Imagine Moe slapping Han Solo or Larry poking the eyes of Captain Power; that would have been some epic stuff. Even at the age of 36, I still find myself really enjoying The Three Stooges and can say they were a part of my childhood that was good memories watching with my Dad and brother.

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On January 26, 1962, Columbia Pictures released a comedy sword and sandal film that mixed the Greek hero Hercules with the slapstick goofballs The Three Stooges that consisted of Moe, Larry and Curly Joe at the time. The film had The Stooges helping a down and out scientist with his experiment to create a time machine, and by accident The Stooges, the scientist and his girlfriend are flung back to ancient Greece and come face to face with an evil king and his henchman Hercules. The film was filled with lots of moments of silly comedy, and the Stooges played off Hercules who was the prefect straight man who had no time for their silly antics. The film starred Quinn Redeker, Vicki Trickett, Samson Burke and Emil Sitka and was, and still is, my favorite of all the Three Stooges movies. The plot is filled with lots of fun surprises, but I figured we would save that for the comic adaptation made by Dell. I used to not only watch this film on TV but also on VHS and later on DVD.  So do yourself a favor and check it out if you’re into sword and sandal films and Three Stooges comedy.

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In 1965, Saturday Morning Cartoons as well as after school kids programs on TV were very import to stations as they tried to lock viewers for their station over the other and many production companies took advantage of this as they made syndicated programs and so was born The New 3 Stooges that combined live action segments to intro the cartoon and was distributed by Normandy Productions. Each episode ran for 30 minutes and had a total of 4 seasons and 156 episodes with 40 live segments shot making many of the cartoons use the same intro, confusing the viewer. The cartoon was a pretty big hit at the time and reruns can still be seen on TV to this day on Me-TV and Boomerang as well as can be found on many cheap dollar DVDs and VHS as well as all 156 episodes on DVD thanks to Image Madacy Entertainment. It should also be noted that many of the episodes are in the Public Domain and that for some time The Stooges were in a legal battle with Normandy over the show’s profits. So I am sure if you grew up watching classic cartoons, you have seen a few episodes of this series and have fond memories of it.

The New 3 Stooges

In 2012, someone in Hollywood decided that the world needed a new Three Stooges movie that would have three new actors step into the shoes of Moe, Larry and Curly as well as recycle plots from many of their short films. This time around Chris Diamantopoulos played Moe, Sean Hayes of Will & Grace fame played Larry and Will Sasso of MADTV played Curly. The plot had The Stooges having to go into the cruel world in order to get money to save the orphanage they grew up in after they could not afford the insurance due to all the accidents the Stooges have caused. During this adventure, they stumble on a murder for hire plot as well as go their separate ways after a fight leaves them at odds. In the end, they stop the murder, patch up their friendship and get the money needed to save the day thanks to Moe and MTV…yep, the one time music station. I saw the film in the theater with Josh Weinberg, and we both thought it was okay.  I watched it again with my Dad when I bought it for him for Christmas. The film did $54,819,301.00 at the USA box office for 20th Century Fox, but was trashed by the critics. I should also say that The Three Stooges showed up on WWE Monday Night Raw and got booed by the crowd, and they only cheered when Kane choke-slammed Curly!

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So I am sure you are wondering who played Hercules in The Three Stooges Meet Hercules…it was Samson Burke.  Now I am sure some of you are now asking who is Samson Burke, well I am here to tell you a little about him. Samson was born on April 8, 1929 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada and got a degree in physical education as well as wrestled and swam for Canada in the 1948 Summer Olympic Games. In the 1950’s, he became a bodybuilder even winning Mr. Canada, Mr. Montreal and Mr. Muscle Beach, and his pure power also lead him into becoming a pro wrestler where he went under the name Sammy Berg and wrestled such legends as Lou Thesz, Nick Bockwinkel and Johnny Valentine. Samson also got bitten by the acting bug and started to appear in sword and sandal films like “The Revenge Of Ursus”, “Toto vs. Maciest” and “The Three Stooges Meet Hercules”. When the sword and sandal genre faded, he continued to act in such films as “The Triumph of Robin Hood” and “Sartana The Gravedigger”. In the 1980’s, he moved to Hawaii and retired from acting in the late 80’s, and as of 2009 he ran his own fitness business. Samson, who is 86, still makes appearances at conventions and is a beloved icon of Three Stooges lore and remains one of the only actors to play Hercules not as a hero but as a jerk!

Samson Burke

So before we take a look at the Dell Comic adaptation, I will pause for a moment to let you get another plate of food…go on, I can wait…. you good? Okay, let’s continue then, shall we? I want to thank an Ebay seller for having this issue in stock even though they had it listed as in great shape but it came complete with water damage and mold and a very strong rotten ink smell.  So yeah, great shape it is not! Before we get to the review I want to thank you for spending a part of your Thanksgiving with me.  I should also note that I grade this issues on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. So let’s get on that time machine with Moe, Larry and Curly Joe, and let’s not forget our turkey leg and see just why Hercules is being a henchman jerk to a evil ruler. I am going to guess he is upset because someone ate the last corn on the cob, but that’s just a rumor.

The Three Stooges Meet Hercules 1

The Three Stooges Meet Hercules # 1  **1/2
Released in 1962    Cover Price .15     Dell Comics     #208 of ??

Moe, Larry and Curly Joe are working at a drugstore that is being rocked by the next-door neighbor inventor Schuyler Davis whose experiment to make a time machine is going a little crazy. While The Stooges like him, the owner of the drugstore, Ralph Dimsal, hates him and wants him to fail in his attempt to time travel and even tampers with his plans. Schuyler is in love with Diane Quigley, and she gives him only two more days to get his time machine done before she walks away from their relationship because he is spending all his time on it and not her. All the while Curly Joe has made some pills that calm things down, and they use it on Schuyler’s machine.  After the Stooges try and help, it causes them as well as Schuyler and Diane to travel back in time to 900 B.C.! They land in the middle of a battle and meet Odius and his right hand man Hercules and help them take the crown of Ithaca from Ulysses when his men flee that battle. Odius takes a liking to Diane and has a feast for his new friends, but when Schuyler figures out they helped an evil man get into power he has The Stooges set Ulysses free after he had been captured. Ulysses escapes, and The Stooges and Schuyler are punished to work the rest of their lives on a slave ship, but after some time they are able to taste freedom when Schuyler gains muscle mass and a King thinks that he is Hercules and asks them to kill a two headed Cyclops that has been eating the kingdom’s live stock! With the help of the pills, Schuyler beats the Cyclops, the Cretan Bull and a Hydra and builds the name of Hercules. Meanwhile the real Hercules is not pleased with the fake and gets his chance to challenge Schuyler to an arena fight when The Stooges and he come to the castle to stop the wedding of Odius and Diane. In the arena Schuyler manhandles Hercules and makes him promise to turn good and help Ulysses reclaim the throne.  He along with The Stooges save Diane and head to the time machine and return home, only in the end for Schuyler to punch out Dimsal!

This is one of those adaptations that does a great job of capturing the silly story and the goofy characters that made the film such a classic in the first place. The plot of the comic is a great mix of many genres like comedy, sword and sandal and science fiction, and they make them all blend so well together. The plot has three dim whit drugstore workers as well as a scientist and his girlfriend being flung back in time to ancient Greece, and by doing so they change history and must make things right before they return to modern times.  To make things worse, Hercules is not the hero icon we all believed but is an ego driven creep who works for the side of the evil King. The Stooges are screw ups, but their heart is always in the right place.  If not for Curly Joe’s pills, they all would be in serious trouble many times. Moe is the hotheaded and smarter of the group, Larry in this just seems like a bit player who is around to get smacked and deliver jokes and Curly Joe is the dumb one who might not be as dumb as everyone thinks. Diane is just a sweet beautiful young woman who acts as the love interest to both the film’s hero and villain. Schuyler is the main hero who turns from nerdy wimp to strong nerd and even matches strength with Hercules and brings down the evil king. Hercules is a smug ego driven super strong man who reminds you of the bully jock in high school, and funny enough he is beaten down and made to look a fool by a man who he viewed as weaker. Hercules in this comic’s good guy legend was really built by Schuyler, who forces him to stop being a jerk and be the hero he can be. King Odius is a cruel man who doesn’t get much time in the comic to show his true evil ways but is given enough for the reader not to like him. As always with most Dell Comics I could not find the artist’s name, but I must say it’s very cartoonish in nature and while good, at some times it appears like a talented 10 year old did it, but I still found myself enjoying it. Over all this is a cool comic adaptation, and while not as good as the Steve Reeves Hercules comics by Dell, it still was a perfect read for this Thanksgiving update. Check out some samples of the artwork below and see the cheesy cartoon nature of this fun issue.

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It’s weird that The Three Stooges didn’t meet more Greek and mythology icons. I mean who wouldn’t want to see “The Three Stooges Meet Samson” or “Maciste and The Three Stooges Save A Roman Holiday” or better yet “Three Stooges and a Strong Man”…so many missed opportunities. Well our next update will be in December, so I am thinking that we will do something fun and toy-related so let’s take a look at Starriors, a robot toy line that was created by Marvel Comics and Tomy Toys that had a four issue mini series. So until then I hope you have a great Thanksgiving and remember to read a comic or three and support your local horror host.

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Hercules: The Legendary Turkey Day Journeys In Mashed Potato Land

Happy Thanksgiving! It’s another great holiday filled with turkey and all the fixings so I figured we ought to once more take a look at that Greek hero Hercules! As you long time readers remember last Thanksgiving we took a look at the Steve Reeves inspired Hercules comic made by Dell.  Well this year we are covering the Topps’ Kevin Sorbo TV version of the muscled hero. This Thanksgiving I am at my parents’ house spending time with family, eating way to much food and loving life so let’s not wait any longer to dive into this review because I am pretty sure I am close to being in a food coma! Oh yeah enjoy the Indian and Pilgrim below because thats what Thanksgiving’s all about right? Or is it football…I forget.

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In 1994 MCA/ Universal Television created a two hour block of programing called “Action Pack” that would consist of TV Shows or a Made for TV Movie all done by Renaissance Pictures, which was founded by Sam Raimi, Bruce Campbell and Rob Tapert who brought us The Evil Dead films. This block of TV lasted until 2001 and gave us such shows as “Xena: Warrior Princess”, “Cleopatra 2525”, “Jack Of All Trades”, “Vanishing Son” and “Hercules: The Legendary Journeys” not to mention the Hercules films that came before it was turned into an ongoing series and even one’s based on TekWar and Midnight Run. I can remember when the Hercules films first started to air; I was hooked and would watch them all the time, I even taped a few on the old VCR that was near its last legs of life. The big issue around here was that lots of times the Action Pack did not have a set time when it started and many times sports games and other programs would be on or push its airing to later in the day. This was changed after a while, and I can remember always waking up like clockwork to watch Xena: Warrior Princess, and my Dad turning to it and poking fun at it, as my Mom would make us breakfast. In this modern day and age of TV where crappy reality shows and infomercials rule the airwaves things like Action Pack and horror hosts are truly missed… and oh yeah MTV needs to just end already when they choose to air things like Jersey Shore, Teen Wolf and Teen Mom over playing music videos what they were founded on.  They are dead to me.

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On January 16th 1995, after a year of just being made for TV movies (5 in total) Hercules: The Legendary Journeys became a full fledged TV show that would last a total of 6 seasons with 111 episodes. The series would follow Hercules played by Kevin Sorbo as he traveled around wronging rights and challenging the Gods who were doing cruel things to humans. Many times he would be joined on his adventures by his best friend Iolaus (Michael Hurst) or even goofy con man Salmoneus played by Robert Trebor and together they would face warlords, thieves, monsters and Gods and all done in a cheesy over the top way. The show, while having some serious moments, was mostly a tongue in cheek show filled with silly humor and outrageous fighting. I loved this show when I was younger and tried to never miss an episode when I could find it on.  I loved old sword and sandal films and always enjoyed the stories and quests of Hercules so watching a TV show done by the people who made The Evil Dead films was a super win for me. One great thing about the show was when they had monsters on and the great cheesy special effects they used, while some times they would just CGI the monsters other times it was guys in rubber suits or makeup. During the show they also introduced a character named Xena who was a female warrior who was cold blooded and a killer.  Well she became so popular that they turned her good and gave her a show called “Xena: Warrior Princess!” Hercules was the top rated syndicated show for many years until Xena took the top spot, but Hercules was the original and spawned lots of merchandise from books to t-shirts and everything inbetween. It also spawned many clone shows like Conan The Adventurer, The Adventures of Sinbad, The New Adventures of Robin Hood, Tarzan: Epic Adventures and Beastmaster showing just how impactful this series was for the time. By the end of the series, Hercules lost steam and Xena was clearly the rising TV star so the show ended marking the end of Hercules being a TV superstar, and also marked the end for many of these silly adventure shows. The show did go on to be released on VHS and DVD so for those looking to rewatch or discover the show the home media market has you covered.

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Kevin David Sorbo was born in 1958 in Mound, Minnesota and grew up in a normal household.  While in college and afterward, he began modeling in print ads and TV to help pay his tuition, and this helped kick start his acting career that started in 1986. Kevin took small roles in TV Shows like Santa Barbara, Murder She Wrote and The Commish until landing the role of Hercules in the 1994 made for TV film Hercules and The Amazon Women.  He would go on to play Hercules in four other made for TV films, a full fledged TV series as well as voiced an animated version in “Hercules & Xena: The Battle For Mount Olympus”. In 1997 he also played the lead character in the comic book movie “Kull The Conqueror” that was slated to be the third Conan movie, but was changed to Sorbo as Kull when Arnold Schwarzenegger turned the role down. Hercules The Legendary Journeys ended in 1999, and his next big show was the 2000 sci-fi adventure series “Andromeda” were he played Captain Dylan Hunt.  The show ended in 2005. After this role Sorbo took small roles in many TV shows like “The O.C.”, “Psych” and “Two And A Half Men”and did a string of direct to video films like “Never Cry Werewolf” and two Walking Tall films. Sorbo also has done some voice work for video games like “God Of War III” where he voiced Hercules and Crusher in “Skylanders: Giants” as well as a few more. Sorbo is still active in acting and has taken many roles now in Christian based films as well as other independent productions.  He can also be seen at many comic and sci-fi conventions as a guest. I always liked Kevin Sorbo as an actor and really think he made a great Hercules, and at some point in time I would love to work with him on an episode of Terrifying Tales Of The Macabre where he and the Baron host the Steve Reeves Hercules movie. So here is hoping that Sam Raimi and company get an itch and make a new Hercules film for TV and have Sorbo back where he belongs.

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Before we get too much into our look at Topps Comics 5 issue run based on Hercules: The Legendary Journeys we should also take a brief moment to take a look at a few of Hercules most popular sidekicks that not only joined him on this super popular show but as well as in this comic series. Iolaus is Herc’s best friend and his traveling buddy who goes on most of his adventures with him.  He is a skilled fighter and well trained with a sword. Iolaus is played by Michael Hurst and is the most popular and best liked of all his sidekicks and was in 79 episodes. Salmoneus is a older man who is balding with a beard who is a pure con man and will uses his friendship with Hercules to get money.  While he is a screw up, his heart is always in the right place and he values his friendship with Hercules. Salmoneus is played by Robert Trebor and appeared in 23 episodes and went on to be a regular on Xena Warrior Princess. Atalanta is a powerful female with strength and power who is a loyal friend to Hercules whom she also has a crush on.  She alongs side Hercules even created the first Olympics. She was played by female body builder Corinna Everson who made muscle bound women attractive to teenage boys.  She appeared in 3 episodes. So now you know a little more about his sidekicks, and if you watched the show then you I am sure all ready knew all this.

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On of my favorite Greek Mythology monsters has always been The Minotaur, and in 1994 one of the made for TV Hercules films came out called “Hercules In The Maze Of The Minotaur.” The film followed Hercules who was retired but is drawn back into adventure when a small village is being terrorized by a evil Minotaur. I really enjoyed the film and can remember watching it many times when it aired and even taped it on VHS. The Minotaur in the movie had a great classic look and was fun to look at as the head was 4 times the size of the actor’s body. The Minotaur was played by Anthony Ray Parker who was known for roles like Dozer in The Matrix and Deputy in The Frightners and many other small roles in movies and TV. It’s a fun silly adventure movie that’s a fun watch on a boring night.  So if you’re bored this Thanksgiving night and are looking for something to watch with your family, give this one a thought.

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Toy company Toy Biz, who was making toys based on Marvel Superheroes, decided to make figures based on Hercules: The Legendary Journeys starting in 1995 that consisted on 5” basic figures, taller monster figures and even 10” figures. The toy line lasted for a total of 3 waves that included six different versions of Hercules, 2 Xena’s and other characters like Iolaus, Ares, She-Demon, Centaur, Minotaur, Mesomorph, Mole-Man, Salmoneus and Atalanta. The larger monster figures in the series included the likes of Hydra, Ceberus, Graegus and many others. I was a little older when these figures came out, but I still collected many of them from the first wave as I got Hercules, Xena, Iolaus and Minotaur and put them on a shelf in my room.  In fact I still have them to this day. Some years later at a thrift store I found the Hydra for .49 and had to buy it because why the heck not? The figures, while cheesy looking, held the appeal of the show and I for one am glad they were made. At some point when I am able to get a bigger place to live I am sure the old Hercules toys will make an appearance in my film editing room.

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Titus Software made a video game based on Hercules: The Legendary Journeys in 2000 for the N64 that was about Hercules trying to save his father Zeus from his step brother Ares who has taken the King of the Gods hostage and by doing so had shaken the mortal world and Mount Olympus to the core.  It’s up to Hercules to save him and set everything right. The game was your typical beat em up on the N64 and was a fun solid action game. When the game first came out while I had an N64, Sony’s Playstation was more of my system so I never did play it on release as the rumor was that a port of it was coming to Playstation. I waited and waited and even a very cool Xena game came out and I bought it and beat it to hold me over, but Hercules never did make it to the Playstation and that truly did suck for fans like me. A few years ago when I was working on some video game reviews for Bloodline Video, I chose to play and review Hercules for the N64 and while the game was flawed it still was a very cool game that I gave 2 1/2 stars to.  Sadly though the gaming magazines were not as nice to the game, and it mostly got poor to middle of the road reviews. But if you have a N64 and liked the show, I would say check it out.

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So I hope you have your walking shoes on, and that your belly is not filled with too much turkey and mashed potatoes because its time for us to go on a journey with Hercules and see what adventures we can get in to! So before we start I should remind you that I grade these comics on a standard 1-4 star rating and am looking at how well the comic keeps to the source material, its entertainment value, and its art and story. I also want to thank Mavericks, Bell Book and Lone Star for having these issues in stock for me to be able to review for this Thanksgiving update. So let’s begin because Hercules grows tired of waiting for us.

Hercules 1

Hercules: The Legendary Journeys  # 1  ***
Released in 1996   Cover Price $ 2.95   Topps Comics   #1 of 5

Salmoneus, friend of Hercules, is in a small village telling all who will listen and donate some coin about the famed 12 Labors of his friend.  After his story he meets Pronoea, a woman who pays him to help her find Hercules as she really needs his help. While traveling to find him, the pair comes across a band thief Centaurs who want to steal all their money but they are saved by Hercules who chases them off and finds that Pronoea’s husband has been kidnapped and he is more than happy to help her get him back. After Salmoneus heads back to the village Hercules and Pronoea begin their rescue quest that leads them to her husband who is the Titan Prometheus who has been shrunk down to normal size.  His voice taken and is tortured by a giant gold metal bird who rips at his guts everyday! Hercules is shocked to learn his own father Zeus is the one who is holding the Titan prisoner and after killing the golden bird Herc sets him free and finds out that Zeus, while the one who bound Prometheus, is not the one who made him mute and before they can escape they are attacked by Olympus fighters Bia and Cratos who knock out Hercules and re-chain Prometheus!

Topps Comics really captured the adventure and silly nature of the TV show perfectly with this first issue and proved that when they bought an IP, they treated it right. Hercules in the issue is very noble and clearly wants to do the right thing to help his fellow man. While Hercules is strong, it’s clear he is out matched when he must fight both Olympian fighters whose punches are as strong as a charging Rhino. Salmoneus is as sleazy as ever and, while a friend of Hercules, seems to always try to find a way to make a quick coin from the friendship. Pronoea and Prometheus are victims of the Gods who are using them as pawns in some sort of game to get at each other as well as Hercules. Bia and Cratos are mountains of “men” who have no mouths and are only around to destroy those they are sent after.  The Golden Metal Bird, while tough, is more of just a torture device. I find that the comic has some pretty gruesome moments as Prometheus has his stomach ripped open and you can clearly see his insides.  What makes this a nice touch is that this punishment is also told in real Greek mythology. The art done by Jeff Butler is fantastic, and all the characters look like the actors who play them on the show, and the story by Roy Thomas is also fantastic as this story arc is called “The Trial Of Hercules Part 1.” The cover as well is eye catching, and I can remember buying this issue new off the stands at Mavericks and thinking how cool the cover looked. Well this issue ends with Hercules being taken prisoner and taken away so let’s see just how much trouble our hero is really in shall we?

Hercules 2

Hercules: The Legendary Journeys  # 2  ***
Released in 1996   Cover Price $ 2.95   Topps Comics   #2 of 5

Hercules finds that he is being taken by Bia and Cratos to Zeus who is putting Hercules on trail for freeing Prometheus from a punishment he placed on the Titan. The three Furies are acting as the jury, Zeus himself is the judge and Ares The God Of War is building the case against his half brother. Meanwhile Salmoneus and female powerhouse Atalanta figure out Hercules is in trouble and head to aid him. While Salmoneus shows up to the trail and acts as Hercules’s lawyer, Atalanta frees Prometheus who comes to Hercules’s defense and tells the truth that Ares is the one who made him mute to protect a secret that would have had all the Gods at war with each other! Zeus goes back to Mount Olympus as Ares and Hercules fight that ends with The Furies finding Hercules not guilty and Ares guilty and they take the God of War away to be punished. In the end Prometheus and Pronoea grow back to titanic size as Hercules with friends Salmoneus and Atalanta walk away possibly to have another adventure.

This second issue and the last part of the “Hercules on Trail” storyline is a well done issue and once more captures the magic of the show making for a good read. Hercules seems like he is in deep trouble as he has crossed the path of his father Zeus who is not happy about it at all! Ares wants nothing more than to kill or watch Hercules get murdered making him one evil villain! Prometheus and Pronoea come in at the last moment for the save as they are able to tell he secret that the Titan knows; they truly are the lifesavers of Hercules. Salmoneus is as greedy and spineless as ever and it takes some pushing for him to even attempt to come to his friend’s aid. Zeus is stern and fair and flexes his muscles to show everyone why he is the King of the Gods. Bia and Cratos are pushed to the background of this issue and just become the whipping boys of Hercules’s rage. Atalanta, while cool to see in this comic, doesn’t offer much to the plot, and it’s a shame cause she is a real butt kicker in the show.  In fact one odd thing this comic does is showcase the fact other characters like to look at her boobs and butt! The Furies are ugly females who live for nothing more than to dish out justice, and they seem to enjoy the fact they get to attack Ares who made the mistake of trashing their odd appearances. This issue for being about a trail is pretty action packed and has many good fighting with the best being the Hercules and Ares brawl, and like the first issue this does have some blood as Atalanta is stabbed in the arm protecting Salmoneus from robbers. The art is top notch again done by Jeff Butler, and the story is still done by Roy Thomas showing that they make a great comic making pair. The next issue teases that Xena The Warrior Princess will be appearing and while the fan boy in me is pretty hyped for it, another side kind of just sighs and wishes they would just keep Xena in her own Topps Comic that was gearing up to being made. To sum it up these first two issue are fantastic and are perfect fun cheesy reads for fans of the show like myself.

Hercules 3

Hercules: The Legendary Journeys  # 3  ***
Released in 1996   Cover Price $ 2.95   Topps Comics   #3 of 5

Xena, along with her friend Gabrielle, travel to her home village to find it burnt to the ground and her mother is being held captive by a scar faced general named Aesor who claims that he works for Hercules and that her mother will die if she does not join their army! Xena doesn’t believe these claims until she sees Hercules on the hill watching the carnage below.  This makes her mad, and she and Gabrielle beat up all the soldiers with only Aesor escaping. Xena’s mother takes her to see the body of an old man from the village that was killed during the raid, and Xena swears revenge and heads to Hercules’ village. Iolaus is throwing a birthday party for Alcmene as Xena shows up in a rage and starts attacking, right before things get to bad Hercules along with Salmoneus and Atalanta show up and Xena takes her rage out on her true target Hercules! The two do battle all the while Hercules tries to calm the situation down and proclaim his innocence, and only after Salmoneus talks sense into Xena (whom he is also friend with) does the pair decide to leave their friends behind and team up to find the answers. As the pair travel the run into an old woman who claims she saw Aesor going one way and turns out she in fact is a he and is the shape shifter who claimed to be Hercules known as Periclymenus.

This third issue is more about Xena then Hercules, and while it makes sense to build up this adventure, it’s still a little of a letdown as the title hero seems to be taking a back seat to a hero they clearly were getting ready to push in her own comic series. The story in this issue is pretty classic stuff as Xena thinks Hercules has wronged her village, but in reality the pair of heroes is being set up by a shape shifting bad guy who has his own plans of domination. Hercules once more is a hero and doesn’t want to fight Xena who is going crazy but more wants to talk it out.  Once more Herc is a class act. Xena is a tough woman who, while is a loose cannon, wants so badly to wrong rights and is doing so cause of her rocky past. Iolaus and the rest of the sidekicks, while great seeing them, all seem to just be glorified cameos. The fact Xena thinks that Hercules has sent men to murder and burn down her home village shows just how much she really doesn’t know her friend and proves that she is easily tricked into a rage filled rampages. Periclymenus in his true look is a creepy looking demon type and will indeed be a tough foe for our heroes to beat.  Plus he is able to change his looks and also has an army of back stabbing bad guys. This issue as well is a team up of artist Jeff Butler and writer Roy Thomas and once more proves they are a great team who seem to know the IP and really care about making a quality story. The cover I have is a little silly; it’s a huge live action still of Xena making it clear that Topps was already moving past Hercules and gearing up to focus on their new prized IP. Well let’s move onto the fourth issue and see how our heroes will be able to stop Periclymenus.

Hercules 4

Hercules: The Legendary Journeys  # 4  ***
Released in 1996   Cover Price $ 2.95   Topps Comics   #4 of 5

Periclymenus’s army is attacking another village and have orders to kill everyone.  As the attack happens Hercules and Xena come to the rescue and find out that Periclymenus used them as a diversion so that he could attack Hercules’s home village and kidnap his mother! As Hercules and Xena rush to help, Atalanta, Iolaus, Salmoneus and Gabrielle hold off the attacking army but Periclymenus disguised as the fake Hercules is able to kidnap Alcmene and tells her he needs her help to find a man that will be able to give him the strength of Hercules to go along with the look! When Hercules and Xena arrive, the group informs them of the kidnapping and they all break into groups to find her.  Hercules and Iolaus are a team and end up finding Periclymenus who has found who he was looking for that was his brother who made an elixir that turns things super strong and changing into a Chimaera (a giant flying monster with the head of a goat, upper body of a lion and lower body of a dragon) and sets his site on killing Hercules!

This fourth issue is action packed, and every main character from the show has a good role to play! The whole plot of this issue is a kidnaping and rescue that leads to the baddie getting more power just in time for a final showdown that will be coming up in the final issue. Hercules saves people’s lives and for doing so he puts his own mother at risk.  This major risk helps bring out the human side of him and helps us as the reader feel as if things really could go badly for him. Xena in this issue takes a backseat and plays the role of sidekick as well as Atalanta, Salmoneus and Gabrielle; while they all fight they are not the main focus. Iolaus is a true friend of Hercules and fights along his friends side even when the odds are against them. As for Periclymenus, we learn a little something about him.  So besides being a shape shifter he also has a brother who makes powerful elixirs that can give him more power and up his shifting abilities. Plus the fact that he is now a giant Chimaera looking to rip Hercules apart adds so much to the danger Herc is truly in. Butler and Thomas make a great pair again and deliver another solid and fun issue, and I am really hyped to read the 5th and final issue so let’s not wait any longer.

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Hercules: The Legendary Journeys  # 5  ***
Released in 1996   Cover Price $ 2.95   Topps Comics   #5 of 5

Xena and Gabrielle find Aesor who is being chased by a club wielding giant, and they make a deal with him that they will save him if he takes them to where Periclymenus is holding Hercules’s mother. Meanwhile Hercules and Iolaus find a way to hurt the Chimaera version of the shape shifter who disappears. Hercules finds his mother who must bandage her head due to fallen rocks as Periclymenus’ brother tells them all about their troubled past as well as that when he changes now that his striped black birthmarks will appear on what or whom ever he looks like. Xena and crew coming running up with a giant following and to everyone’s horror they watch has he smashes Aesor into paste! But together Hercules and Xena stop and reluctantly have to kill the giant, just as Periclymenus shows himself again as he was the bandage around Alcmene’s head.  He battles both Xena and Hercules and even knocks his own brother off a cliff.  In the end Xena tricks him into falling to his death or so they all think as he really just took the place of his brother and plans to fight another day as our heroes think the battle is over.

Periclymenus is cold blooded as he knocks his brother off a cliff to his death and then uses his own brothers appearance to have Hercules and Xena save his evil life! He was a great bad guy and when gaining his new powers really was a tough foe for our heroes to fight. Hercules uses all his power, will and wits to try and out muscle the shape shifter and does so to save not only himself from death’s grip but also his mother and friends who are also all in grave danger. Xena uses her skill and mind and is the one who gets the battle to end when she tricks the shape shifter into reaching for a small bottle of the elixir causing him to fall off the same cliff he shoved his brother off. Alcmene as well as both Gabrielle and Iolaus all play small but important parts to this issue’s wrap up story and each show a warrior’s spirit. The issue as well has some blood as the Giant splats Aesor with his club that becomes blood soaked, and then the Giant gets stabbed in the face by Xena’s sword and then falls on top of a stone spike and all done with the red stuff showing. Butler and Thomas once more make a great team and it’s really cool that they were the team for all 5 issues, and each one was well done and solid showing the talent each had and the love of the source material they shared. In fact I would say that this could be one of the best comic series based on a 90’s TV show made at this time and once more brings out my respect for Topps Comics, a company that truly is missed by this comic reader. If you’re a fan of Hercules The Legendary Journeys or just fun cheesy adventure comics based on Greek myths, then I would say that this comic series is worth your time for a read, and I will say they held up after all these years and I liked them back then and find myself liking them now.

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So I hope you had a legendary journey with Hercules and me on this Thanksgiving in 2014, and I must say that this Topps series was really well done and makes me miss them as a comic company even more! Plus it makes me miss the good old days of TV way before reality shows ruled the airwaves when shows like Hercules and Xena were highly watched and loved by viewers. Oh well, like everything in life stuff changes and we ca’nt stop the future. Our next update will be a comic based on a episode of the 1982 Incredible Hulk Cartoon where Hulk fights an ancestor of The Hunchback of Notre Dame! Well I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving with family and friends and that your bellies are not too filled so that you saved room for dessert.  So until next time, enjoy life and make sure to have your own legendary journey!

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Turkey Day Hercules Style!!

Hello again!  Looking back on when I was young, I used to love watching old sword and sandal films.  They had a charm, much like the giant monster films of Japan, with the bad dubbing and pan scan presentations on afternoon cable and cheap VHS releases. For you readers that don’t know what sword and sandal films are, I will give you a quick crash course: sword and sandal films, also known as Peplum films, were mostly made in Italy and were based on Biblical, historical and Greek mythological figures.  They were mostly popular from 1958 to 1965 and spawned many series based on the likes of Samson, Macuste, Ursus and of course Hercules. This time also launched the cult careers of Steve Reeves, Brad Harris, Ed Fury, Reg Park, Alan Steel to name a few. Films like Hercules in The Haunted World, The Witch’s Curse, Samson and the Sea Beast, Hercules Against The Moon Men and many more thrilled fans and were hits at the theaters. The genre was huge business for Italian cinema but lost steam and gave way to Spaghetti Westerns in 1965. Sword And Sandal films mostly dealt with muscle bound heros fighting the odds and helping people who were down and out against cheaply made monsters and armies of untrained soldiers. These films were cheaply made and were standard stuff for double feature movie theater experiences and later on midday cable filler and horror hosting comedy material. I remember watching many of these films on VHS that I would buy for cheap at dollar stores, Replay Media or mark down bins at Hearts.  I also watched many on cable, mostly TBS. But the ones that got my attention the most were based on Hercules, and my favorites were the two in which Steve Reeves played the Greek hero.  So you can imagine how happy I was in 2013 when I found out that DELL Comics did comic adaptations of those films! And now on Rotten Ink I can talk about the amazing adventures of Steve Reeves as Hercules and other Hercules thoughts.

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Steve L. Reeves was born on January 21st 1926 in Montana, moved to California and was into bodybuilding from a young age.  He had a herculean body by the age of 17, and after high school he enlisted in the army and served during World War II. After the service, Steve became a pro body builder winning such titles as Mr. Universe and AAU Mr. America and became an actor in American films like musical Athena and Ed Woood Jr.’s Jail Bait. But his big break in acting came in 1957 when he went to Italy and played the role of Hercules and its sequel Hercules Unchained.  He only played Hercules in those two films but went onto star in many other sword and sandal films like The White Warrior, Morgan The Pirate, The Trojan Horse and The Avenger. During this time he became the biggest star and highest paid actors in Europe and even turned down the starring role of The Man With No Name in A Fistful Of Dollars that later went to Clint Eastwood. Reeves did end up doing a Western when in 1967 he stared in A Long Ride From Hell. As quick as Reeves became a star, he also quickly lost it and went back to promoting body building and bred horses later in his life.  Sadly in 2000 Reeves died of complications of lymphoma at the age of 74. To me Reeves is an action star that rates up there with the likes of Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Chuck Norris, Charles Bronson, Jean Claude Van Damme, Steven Segal and Dolph Lundgren, and if was still alive, he could have been an amazing addition to The Expendables film series. Steve Reeves is an icon in the world of bodybuilding and Italian cinema, and I grew up watching his films and loving every over the top second.

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Le Fatiche Di Ercole aka Hercules (in the USA) is a 1958 Italian film directed by Pietro Francisci and starring Steve Reeves as Hercules and Sylva Koscina as Princess Iole. The film is very loosely based on The Labors of Hercules and The Quest For The Golden Fleece of Greek folklore, but much like most film adaptions of such things, many elements are added to spice it up. The film’s plot has Hercules trying to help Jason, who is the rightful king of Iolcus, complete quests to win his throne back, as Hercules also falls in love with the lovely Princess Iole. When the new king’s men steal the Fleece and rob Jason of his kingdom, it’s up to Hercules to get it back. The film was a major box office hit and made a star of Steve Reeves and sparked the huge boom of Sword and Sandal films.

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In 1959 Hercules got a sequel called Ercole E La Regina Di Lidia aka Hercules Unchained, and this one was also directed by Pietro Francisci and also starred Steve Reeves and Sylva Koscina in their respected roles. This time around Hercules is trying to help with two feuding brothers and becomes a slave of a queen.  He must remember who he is and save the kingdom of Thebes before it’s too late. The film marked the last time Steve Reeves would play Hercules, and while it was a hit, it failed to become as big as the original. The film did however get the Mystery Science Theater 3000 treatment and has become a kind of cult classic of Sword and Sandal Cinema. This film as well as the original are slated to be shown at some point on an episode of Terrifying Tales of the Macabre.

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We talked Steve Reeves, now let’s talk about the very lovely Sylva Koscina! She was born on August 22nd 1933 in Zagreb. During World War II, she moved to Italy with her sister who married an Italian man.  Sylva, with her stunning looks, became an actress and had a long a great career starring in such films as He and She, Lisa and The Devil, The Iron Mask, Hornets Nest and of course the Hercules films. She also was very smart and studied physics, was a super model and even posed topless for Playboy in Italy. Sadly at the age of 61 in 1994, she passed away from breast cancer. In America Sylva is not only known for her roles in the Hercules films, but mostly to horror fans for her role in the 1974 Mario Bava film Lisa and the Devil, also known as House of Exorcism in which she played Sophia Lehar. One thing is for sure, Sylva was one great looking woman and not a bad actress at all.

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Kids of the 1960’s were also treated to a low budget animated show called “The Mighty Hercules” that started airing in 1963 as 5 minute short cartoons, but most stations would string together many episodes to make it into a 30 minute program. The cartoon would follow Hercules and his centaur friend Newton, his girlfriend Helena, his winged horse Pegasus and a few others as they save Greece from the likes of Murtis, the wizard Daedalus and the sea witch Wilhemine. The series took many liberties with the Greek mythology even having Hercules get his power from a ring that when he puts it on, lighting from Zeus would hit it and give him power.  In this cartoon he had many friends and was more of a jolly kind of hero. The cartoon had a total of 128 episodes and is fondly looked at by people who grew up watching it on TV. I first saw this show many years ago when my girlfriend at the time’s dad had a VHS copy of some TV shows he watched as a kid and on the tape was not only Mighty Hercules but also Diver Dan and Clutch Cargo. And I must say all those shows were great! Mighty Hercules has a few episodes out on DVD but true fans are waiting for the complete series to come out. I should also throw in that the cartoon has one amazing theme that you should hear.  So if you get a chance look up this show’s theme on YouTube.

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One other old school thing I remember that had the Hercules name was the 80’s WWF wrestler Hercules Hernandez whose real name was Raymond Fernandez. Hercules began his wrestler career in 1981, wrestling in Florida and Texas mostly, and in 1982 toured around after joining the NWA. He also did a short run in WWC in Puerto Rico. In 1985 he was signed onto WWF and was quickly managed by Classy Freddie Blassie and later Bobby The Brain Heenan and was a heel (bad guy) who feuded with the likes of Billy Jack Haynes, Ultimate Warrior and Ricky Steamboat. Hercules would wear a long metal chain around his neck and use the full nelson to beat his opponents. In 1988 Hercules was sold to “The Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase as a slave by Bobby Heenan, turning Hercules into a good guy (face) who feuded with DiBiase, Haku and Earthquake. While a good guy Hercules’s career took a stall as he lost traction and quickly became a stepping stone for newer wrestlers coming in. In 1990 he turned heel again and teamed with Paul Roma and managed by Slick, they called themselves Power & Glory and went for tag team gold and went up against such teams as The Hart Foundation, The Rockers and The Road Warriors. In 1991 Roma left, and Hercules was once again on his own and losing match after match and this lead to him leaving the company in 1992. Fernandez then went to WCW and wrestled under a mask as Super Invader and quickly grew tired of this gimmick and quit.  He later spent his time wrestling for indpendents, New Japan and AWF. He retired in 1999 from wrestling and sadly died of heart disease in 2004 at the age of 48. Hercules is one of those 80’s wrestlers that I remember for two things: one, he looked kind of like Steve Reeves and the second was because when I was a kid I use to cut up old wrestling magazines and would have the paper wrestlers fight each other in a shoe box lid by shaking them back and fourth.  For some reason my brother Bryan used to harass me about Hercules and even would make up rules to help the paper version win. He even had this stupid song parady of John Lennon’s Give Peace a Chance that would go Give Herc a Chance. While he never was a amazing wrestler, Hercules will always be in my memory as one of the top wrestlers I remember watching in the 80’s.

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Terrifying Tales of the Macabre has a son of the Greek Hero with The Son of Hercules.  The powerhouse of a man is close friends to the Porkchops. In the first episode he is in, he gets the help of Baron, Baroness and Bean to go inside a haunted college and get a golden apple from a witch. In another episode, he is a dinner guest at a party to celebrate the life of horror host icon Dr. Creep. And yet again he makes an appearance at a chili cook off contest as a guest in the crowd. He also had his own one off show called Son of Hercules Power Hours where he hosted the film Samson and gave viewers work out tips, arm wrestled a space alien, wrestled a luchador and delivers goofy jokes. The Son of Hercules is part of the show’s family now and is always a welcome edition to any episode.

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With all this talk of Italian Cinema, I need to talk about my love for Italian women! I am a fan of many types of girls from Goth to Latina, but near the top of my list of my “type” are women from Italy. I mean look at girls like Asia Argento, Rosalba Neri, Nathalie Rapti Gomez and many more lovely Italian actresses. I mean even cooking show host Rachel Ray is part Italian, and we know most people find her hot. But before I ramble on, just take a quick look at these attractive ladies, and then we will go onto the comic review.

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Not much came out in the way of merchandise for the Steve Reeves Hercules films, besides the two Dell movie adaptation comics.  We had VHS and Beta releases and later DVD. We had vinyl releases of the soundtracks for both films, and at some point some company made a model/statue of it. While the film is in cult status, it just never had the merchandise push that other fantasy films got. I for one would have loved to have had a 3 3/4″ inch figure of Hercules based on Steve Reeves that would have been in scale with my Star Wars, G.I. Joes, Raiders of the Lost Ark and Dukes of Hazard figures! Hercules could have helped tip the tide in my all out toy wars, and he would have been a massive foe for the likes of Imperial Godzilla! I am surprised that Mego or even Remco didn’t make such toys, and for the most part that is a missed opportunity to cash in on the fame of the character.

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So I am ready now to tackle DELL’s comic adaptations of the Steve Reeves Hercules films, and I just want you all to remember I grade these on a standard 1-4 star rating and base it on entertainment value, quality of the story, the art and how true it stays to the source martial.  So with that, let’s get onto the reviews. Before I do, I should let you know that these comics are from a series that DELL did called FOUR COLOR that covered movies, TV shows, cartoons and so much more. I should also thank Ebay for having both issues up as buy it nows via our pals at Lone Star Comics.

Hercules # 1

Hercules  ***
Released in 1959   Cover Price .10   DELL Comics   #1006 of 1354

Hercules is on his way to the city of Jolco to help the acting King Pelias who has taken the throne after his brother was murdered.  Both his son Jason and the Golden Fleece are missing as is the leader of the soldiers, Chiron, who is being blamed for the murder and kidnapping. On his way Hercules meets and falls in love with Princess Iole whose father is the one who called for his help. Unbeknownst to Hercules, he is really there not to find the king’s killer but to make Iole’s brother Iphitus more of a man. Hercules goes after the Nemean Lion and during his hunt for the beast, Iphitus is killed, and now in order to please the King Hercules must kill the Cretan Bull and has lost the love of his darling Iole! Hercules curses the gods and in doing so loses his god-like power and even without, it he kills the bull.

This comic is a pretty good adaption of the film and helps speed up the pace by cutting out some of the long drawn out talkie scenes. Hercules comes off as a proud and powerful hero who also has a heart of gold and who falls in love and hates the curse of being a demigod. The best battles in the comic have Hercules fighting the Nemean Lion and the Creatan Bull.  The only down side is the fights are also heavily trimmed down and while cool, lack the full powerful adventure feel. Princess Iole is a wave of emotion in the comic as she falls in love, finds heartache with her brother’s death and even anger at Hercules for allowing her brother to die.  She’s a good character and a great love interest, the only downside is she feels like a second thought for most of the issue. Jason and Ulysses, while young, are great additions to the comic cast. The bad guys King Pelias and Eurysteus while mean and self serving buttholes, are never fully a threat for Hercules. The artwork in the issue is well done, and Hercules looks like Steve Reeves for the most part.  Fans of Charlton Comics version of Hercules will enjoy this comics art. The cover is great and is one of the better “Four Color” issues cover. Over all fans of the film, the myth and the greek hero will love this issue, and it makes me hyped to see what the comic based on the sequel will bring. Oh I should also say the issue I have is a prime example of the term “rotten ink,” and the issue smelled of classic comic ink rotting.

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Now let’s take a look at the comic version of the sequel and see how it holds up in ink.

Hercules Unchained # 1

Hercules Unchained  **1/2
Released in 1959   Cover Price .10   DELL Comics   #1121 of 1354

Hercules has returned from sea and is going back home to Thebes alongside Ulysses and his lovely bride Jole (Iole).  On the ride, they meet Antaeus, the son of the Earth, and Hercules shows off his strength and defeats the brute. After a storm hits, Hercules and company hide in a cave and meet the one time King of Thebes who tells Hercules that his sons are feuding over the throne and that they are suppose to rotate year to year. War is about to destroy his homeland so Hercules makes a deal with the acting King Eteocles to prove peace as his brother Polynices and his army are ready for the attack. Hercules sets sail with Ulysses as Jole stays at the castle.  The plan is to get the Kingdom right again, but things go wrong as Hercules drinks water that makes him forget, and they both become the slaves of Queen Omphale, where Ulysses becomes a servant boy and acts as if he is mute and Hercules becomes the Queen’s lover! Now Eteocles thinks Hercules and his brother are just playing mind games and holds Jole as a prisoner! All the while as weeks pass, Ulysses tries to snap Hercules out of his trance and figures out that it’s the water he is drinking that holds the power.  He also discovers that Omphale has a cave full of ex-lovers that have been turned to stone! Hercules’ friends come looking for him and he snaps to and leaves the island behind only to find that the brothers are gearing up for war.  During a duel both brothers are killed and it’s up to Hercules to save his wife from man eating tigers as well as keep peace in the kingdom!

The first thing that caught my eye in this issue is that Hercules, while looking like Steve Reeves in the face, has the body of a normal man and seems out of place as they speak of how strong he is.  To me the artist seemed not to understand that Herc needs to be a muscle powerhouse. The issue follows the film pretty closely, and the only major changes I noticed is Princess Iole’s name changed to Jole.  The musical numbers are cut out as is the suicide death of Queen Omphale, and I am sure the suicide was cut because it was not kid -friendly as DELL prided itself on being. The story moves along pretty well and has a nice blend of fantasy drama and over the top action. One thing that more lacking in this issue than the first is the lack of beasts.  While he fights Antaeus and some tigers, there is no major fight to get your blood and excitement level pumping. Hercules comes off fun loving but also a little bit of an ego driven a-hole, and this is one thing I think is done right. A lot of the issue is wasted with Ulysses trying to help get Hercules to remember who he is while he is prisoner and slave to Queen Omphale, and while fun, this is a little over done in the comic and the film alike. This adaptation is well done but just seems to be slightly lacking.  Where the first one was super fun with well done art, this one is okay and has all right art. The cover is well done tho and to sum this one up, its okay and was worth the read for sure. 

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So it’s Thanksgiving Day, and I hope this fun little review of Dells Hercules Comic Adaptations of the Steve Reeves films made your holiday a little more fun. While many people think the films are golden turkeys, I for one enjoy them and had a lot of fun reading and reviewing these comics. So here is to hoping you had a great feast on this day with turkey, ham, mashed potatoes and stuffing, and enjoyed the company of your family and friends while chatting over dinner or watching football/TV shows or a movie! So in closing: Happy Thanksgiving, everyone, and we will see you in December for some fun a joyful updates beginning with Marvel’s one issue run based on the build a robot toy line Robotix.  Until then, be safe and read a comic and enjoy your holiday.

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