Thor has some new competition in the god department over at Marvel, because a new series spearheaded by Dan Abnett and Luke Ross is set to bring the demigod mythology a new lease of life in the form of Hercules, which the team describes as the “world’s first superhero”.
Writing for legends is an easy and difficult task. Easy because you have a wealth of knowledge and references you can make. Difficult because, well presenting stories we’ve heard countless times and presenting it in a new, enthralling way. Abnett of course is coming at the Hercules thing from a different angle:
I immediately went away and thought about Hercules the mythological character and immediately realized that his legend goes back to a time before he was even called Hercules. It’s an incredibly ancient myth that probably even predates written language that’s appeared in many cultures.
Heracles is his most famous incarnation, but he’s kind of this archetype and I was suddenly struck with this idea that it’s almost like he’s the first superhero. He’s an extraordinary hero who’s enormously capable, beloved by the gods, and will do anything to protect and look after you if he’s on your side. He’s also capable though of enormous foolishness, violent rage, and terrible decision making.
This seems promising since Marvel’s portrayal of Hercules in early projects, even by admission of Abnett, took on a “slightly buffoonish quality”. This Hercules will hover take on the role of a once beloved champion trying to reclaim the days of glory after losing a bit of his edge enjoying the fruits of his labour. Pretty much Michael Jordan after the whole ‘golf’ thing:
If you think of a great athlete or sportsman, they have periods in their life where they’re at the top of their game. They’re beloved and very, very successful. Then for whatever reason, be it injury or they take some time off, they have a sort of lax period where they’re not at fighting form and they enjoy the luxuries of life that their success has bread for them,” Abnett explained. “Then after while they go, ‘It’s very nice being a rich person with my own helicopter, but I want to get back into the game because I love it so much and I’ve sort of lost my edge a little.
I want to keep the book very accessible and I want to make it very immediate. So the first few issues are going to appear to be done in one stories. He’ll deal with one or multiple problems in an issue and there’s a sense of closure, but there is the inevitable meta story. So his supporting cast’s story rolls through those and we gradually get the impression that these apparently disconnected elements are going to be more connected. They are not necessarily all part of the same thing, but they are symptoms of the same problem. And yes, at least some of his major opponents are going to be new characters that are almost filling the vacuum left by the diminishing mythological presence of the world. That’s going to be a fun thing to do.