Marvel Announces Abnett & Ross’s ‘Hercules'; Is He The Bear Hero We Deserve?
Hercules is getting another shot at an ongoing solo title this winter, courtesy of the creative team of writer Dan Abnett and artist Luke Ross. Debuting in November, the new series positions the hairy-chested demigod as a hero trying to recapture the glories of his past as a celebrated champion (not the glories of his past as a celebrated Champion of Los Angeles). The series also sees Herc with a militarized modern look courtesy of Ross.
Speaking to CBR, which ran the exclusive announcement of the new series, Abnett said of Hercules; "He's been a hero for longer than most people and he's coasted. He's had a few weeks off. Except in his terms that's probably the best part of a century. That's perfectly normal, but he's become aware of the fact that people don't look at him with the same awe that they do Captain America, or Iron Man, or Thor."
Abnett currently writes a version of the character in the Secret Wars series The Korvac Saga, featuring art by the exceptional Otto Schmidt. In familiarizing himself with the character for that story, he realized he had more stories to tell. He pitched the idea to editor Katie Kubert, who brought in former Captain America and American Century penciller Ross.
Abnett told CBR, "Luke's great ability, apart from just being a great comic book artist, is his aptitude for blending the absolutely larger than life and fantastical elements with a great sense of grounded realism in terms of location, environment, and storytelling."
As the new costume implies, the book will offer a modern spin on the hero. He'll be living in an apartment in New York, and epic hero Gilgamesh (also an Eternal and a fellow Avenger, but a really crappy one) will be crashing on his couch. Modernity is also reflected in Ross's character sketches, which suggest Herc may be sporting a "man-bun." (Also known as "a bun," because if we're gendering our hair now there's really no hope for humanity.)
One thing Abnett doesn't mention in his interview is whether Hercules' return to the spotlight will embrace the character's bisexuality, though he claims the book will be "triumphantly celebratory of everything that Hercules has ever been." In myth, Hercules pursued relationships with men and women alike, and this history was hinted at by writers Greg Pak and Fred Van Lente during their time with the character. Pak even paired up an alternate reality version of Hercules with a version of Wolverine in the pages of X-Treme X-Men.
Now, I don't know if you know this, but Hercules is what one might call a bear --- a hairy, beefy, bearded fella who enjoys the company of other fellas. In the age of the lumbersexual, there's an audience ready to embrace a bear superhero (and I don't mean Ursa Major). A same-sex romance would definitely help distinguish Hercules from other strongman heroes like Odinson and Hyperion.
Following DC's success with its Midnighter ongoing series, and in light of the notable decline in the number of LGBTQ heroes leading books at Marvel (with the probable exception of Angela), dare we hope that Marvel sees the sense in pursuing this angle?
Marvel, we can provide a list of possible suitors upon request...
Where Does Hercules Rank in the 100 Greatest Avengers?
(Hint: Way Higher Than Gilgamesh)
Update: An earlier version of this article omitted Fred Van Lente as Greg Pak's co-writer on Incredible Hercules.