Obscure DC Characters: H

The Heckler

The Heckler was created by Keith Giffen and Tom and Mary Bierbaum and first appeared in HECKLER #1.

PERSONAL DATA

Alter Ego: Stu Mosely
Also known as: Swift Justice, The Haunting Avenger, The Duke of Disdain, The Sultan of Swipes, Mr. Heckler, Ol' Heckster, Hecky, The Big Heck
Occupation: Coffee shop owner, Adventurer
Known Relatives: None
Group Affiliation: None whatsoever!
Base of Operations: Delta City
Height: N/A
Weight: N/A
Hair: Brown
Eyes: Blue

HISTORY

Not much is known about the Heckler. If it hadn't been for the fact that his secret identity was revealed halfway through his first issue, he could have been just about anybody: Your best friend, or the guy next door, or that fleeting shadow in the alley, or that guy who hangs around your copy shop wearing bermuda shorts with dress shoes and black socks. He could even have been you... but alas he is not. In fact he is just a plain old ordinary (well maybe not that ordinary) coffee shop owner named Stu Mosely.

Exactly why he chose to become the Heckler or even if it was of his own choice is not known. Maybe it was just the ages old case of a bored bored coffee shop owner looking for a little fun. However, part of the reason why Stu Mosely became the Heckler might be found in the fact that he was born in the thirteenth sign of the Zodiac... Hecklelarius the Heckler. To be born under this unusual sign your day of birth have to fall between Pisces and Aries on a leap year... or at least that's what the believers of this sign claim.

The Heckler's secret identity is a closely guarded secret, that is known by but a few including Legde, Mr. Dude and everybody who has read about his adventures in "The Heckler" and those that have since been told about it. Considering the sales of the book and the fast cancellation that can't have been be more than about a dozen.

POWERS AND ABILITIES

Stu Mosely has an amazing ability to arrive at a destined location at the right time. In other words, he is a very punctual guy and hates to be late! As the Heckler he has an amazing ability to piss a lot of people off (mainly bad guys though) by constantly mocking and making fun of his opponents. On the other hand a lot of people (mainly his fans) find him extremely funny. Heckler is also a master of disguices and once put on a purple dress over his regular outfit and cunningly decieved the intergalactic Cosmic Clown into believing that he was not the Heckler.

Hercules (all)

Alter Ego: Born Alcides, renamed Herakles, later adopted the alias Hercules
Occupation: Demigod
Known Relatives: Zeus (father); Alcmene (mother, deceased); Iphikles (half-brother, deceased); Amphitryon (step-father, deceased); Megara (first wife, deceased); Deianira (second wife, deceased); Hebe (half-sister, third wife, annulled); Perseus (great-grandfather, deceased); Andromeda (great-grandmother, deceased); Hera (step-mother); Ares (half-brother); Hephaestus (half-brother); Athena (half-sister); Apollo (half-brother); Artemis (half-sister); Hermes (half-brother); Dionysus (half-brother); Hestia (aunt); Hades (uncle); Poseidon (uncle); Demeter (aunt); plus many more relatives (too numerous to mention)
Group Affiliation: The Gods of Olympus
Base of Operations: 12th century BC Greece and Italy, late 20th century Earth
First Appearance: (Earth-S, mentioned only) Whiz Comics #1 (#2 on cover) (Feb 1940);
(Earth-Two) All Star Comics [first series] #8 (Dec 1941-Jan 1942);
(Earth-One) Wonder Woman [first series] #105 (April 1959);
(Parallel Earth future) Hercules Unbound #1 (Oct-Nov 1975)
Height: 6 ft. 5 in.
Weight: 327 lbs.
Eyes: Blue
Hair: Black

History: The story of Hercules begins some 3200 years ago, in the nation of Greece. Amphitryon, grandson of Perseus and Andromeda, had married his cousin, the beautiful Alcmene. One year, while Amphitryon is away at war, the adulterous god Zeus, who had come to desire Alcmene, devises a plan to have her. On the night the general is to return home, Zeus disguises himself as Amphitryon and sleeps with Alcmene, conceiving the child that would later become Hercules. Zeus then slips away as the true Amphitryon returns. Amphitryon in turn sleeps with his wife, conceiving a second child. Hera, the wife of Zeus, becomes enraged when she learns of this latest "conquest", however she is powerless to take her anger out upon her husband, so she vows she will take it out on his son instead.

As his son's birth approaches, Zeus declares that the next descendant of Perseus to be born will be the future king of Mycenae. Hera succeeds in delaying the delivery just long enough to allow Eurystheus, another grandson of Perseus, to be the first born. Alcmene then gives birth to two sons, Alcides and Iphikles. Amphitryon and Alcmene soon learn that Alcides is not really Amphitryon's son, but Zeus'. A few weeks after the twins' birth, Hera sends two snakes to kill Alcides in his cradle. Alcides grabs both of the snakes, protecting his defenseless brother, and squeezes them to death. After that, Alcmene so fears Hera's wrath that she decides to abandon Alcides. Athena, seeing what has transpired, tricks Hera into taking a walk, whereupon they encounter the abandoned child. Athena prevails upon Hera, the goddess of childbirth, to tend to the hungry infant, whom they name Herakles, "the Glory of Hera". The infant unintentionally hurts Hera though, and she hurls him away.

As an adult, Herakles marries Megara, daughter of King Creon of Thebes. Hera later places a spell of madness upon Herakles, causing him to murder his wife, their three sons, and his brother's two children. To atone for his sins, Herakles goes to Delphi, where the Oracle instructs him to serve his cousin, King Eurystheus, and perform twelve labors on Eurystheus' behalf. One of those labors is to steal the girdle of the Amazon queen, Hippolyta. Herakles is uneasy about an unprovoked attack on the Amazons, but Ares taunts him, claiming Herakles is afraid of a mere woman. Angry at the attack on his masculinity, Herakles leads a mighty army to the Aegean island of Themiscyra, the home of the Amazons. When they arrive, Hippolyta challenges Herakles to single combat. Using the great strength granted to her by the magic girdle, a gift from the goddess Aphrodite, Hippolyta defeats him. Unfortunately, Hippolyta allows herself to be seduced by Herakles into letting him hold the girdle, which he steals. Herakles and his army then attack, defeat, and enslave the Amazons. Hippolyta prays to Aphrodite and, with her help, regains the girdle and their freedom. The goddess then guides the Amazons to Paradise Island, where they become immortal and eternally young, providing they remain there, apart from the world of men.

After his labors are completed, Herakles is freed from his debt, and he goes on to take part in many heroic adventures. At one point, Herakles travels to Italy, changing his name to the Latin form "Hercules", and spends several years there defending it's people. The exploits of the mighty demigod become well-known throughout the region. In fact, a few generations later, the legends of Hercules would inspire another Roman hero to continue on in his name. In the end, though, Hercules longs for home, so he says his farewells and returns to Greece.

Years later, Hercules marries for a second time, to a woman named Deianira, daughter of King Oenus of Aetolia. When Deianira becomes jealous of another woman, she is tricked into putting a deadly poison, which she is told is a love potion, onto a cloak. When Hercules dons the cloak, it becomes stuck to him, and he begins to die an agonizing death. He struggles to build a huge pyre and has it set afire. Hercules' mortal self burns away, but what remains rises to Mount Olympus, fully transforming the demigod into an immortal. Once in Olympus, Hercules finally reconciles with Hera, and he marries her daughter Hebe to bind the two closer together.

Nearly a 1000 years later, in the gardens of Mount Olympus, Hercules observes Ares and another god, Cyphus, falconing with their birds. Ares is particulary proud of his bird, Redclaw, who was a gift from their father Zeus. On this day however, something goes terribly wrong. Redclaw is killed by Cyphus' bird. Hercules has never seen Ares so distraught over the death of any creature. Ares bends over his falcon, touches it, and suddenly it lives again. It is then that Hercules realizes that the god of war also possesses the power to restore life.

Over the next few decades, Hercules and Ares begin to feud over mankind. Hercules feels most gods treat men as puppets. This attitude is not well received by the gods, especially by Ares, but not for the reasons Hercules believes. Soon after the fall of ancient Greece, circa 300 BC, the gods begin to blame themselves for the failings of their mortal children. They formulate a secret plan, envisioned as a divine exorcism, designed to free them from the vestiges of evil that still linger in them all. Zeus, Hera, Hermes, Athena, and Ares combine their divine energies to isolate their dark sides, literally extracting them from their very beings. An entity of pure evil is spawned by the exorcism, something the gods had not foreseen. Using armaments forged by Ares, they stun the creature, but it is only a temporary solution. They require a more permanent means of restraining the dread anti-gods they have created. After desperately striving for alternatives, only one solution presents itself. It involves mounting a conspiracy against Zeus' beloved son, Hercules.

Hercules is invited to, and attends, a grand feast in which his usual nemesis Ares plays a most gracious host. Hercules is drugged through a nectar he consumes, and an entire unit of Olympian warriors are required to subdue him until the drug takes effect. Unconscious, Hercules is carried to a remote Mediterranean isle that the gods had selected, where enchanted chains are fettered by Ares' hammer. Ares places a spell of invisibility around the island, and Poseidon provides fearsome behemoths to stave off any potential visitors. Hercules awakens, finding himself all alone, bound to a rock, incorrectly believing he is solely a victim of Ares' treachery. For more than two thousand years, Hercules remains chained, as no being ventures remotely near the island.

On October 9th, 1986, a nuclear missile strikes Greece, it's point of origin unknown. A limited nuclear exchange ensues. Ares is intrigued by the potential for great battle, and heads to Earth. On October 20th, a subterranean race of mole-people, bent on conquering the surface world, trigger the launch of scores of missiles, which escalates the war. The last bomb falls on October 29th, then the Earth falls silent.

Four weeks after the outbreak of World War III, a young boy and his dog sail perilously close to the small isle, the same day that the constant thrashing of Hercules' titanic strength is finally enough to break the enchanted bonds. Hercules figures that Ares is either dead or up to something, and he vows revenge. He hears the boy, Kevin, and his dog, Basil, fighting off a sea beast from their sailboat. Hercules, occupied with rescuing the teen from the raging sea creature, doesn't realize that the rock he has left behind is the prison the gods had created to contain the anti-gods. It was Hercules' strength, channeled through his chains, that was binding the rock and making it an inescapable cell. Hercules is also not aware that the long dormant anti-gods have amassed enough power to thrust out one of their number, the Anti-Ares, who hastily needs a physical shell in which he can rest and slowly strengthen his malevolent force. While Hercules finishes off the beast, Kevin is possessed by the escaping anti-god.

After saving the boy and his dog, Hercules realizes that Kevin is blind. Kevin relates the tale that brought him to the island. He was in Athens with his brother Jason. Jason and their father were in foreign service, his father was the U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican. Air raid sirens began to blare, and the two brothers and their dog ran for cover. Jason shoved Kevin into a shelter, but was incinerated himself by the nuclear blast. After spending two weeks underground, Kevin came out. When he was attacked by scavengers, he ran to the docks and escaped with his dog on a sailboat. Hercules then introduces himself. He explains that his enemy Ares, the god of war, had bound him to this rock, and that he will seek him out and get his revenge. Elsewhere, in Rome, Ares watches a battle in the streets. He delights as he pits one side against another, reflecting that it has been a long time since he was last on this world.

Three days later, Hercules and Kevin arrive in Rome. They are attacked by Ares' forces, and Hercules is amazed at how well Kevin handles himself without seeing. Soon, Hercules confronts Ares himself. Ares sends a creature he calls the Smasher against his enemy. Kevin ultimately kills the beast with a slingshot. He realizes too late that the Smasher was his father, mutated beyond recognition. Hercules turns to face Ares, but the god of war is gone.

After many weeks, Hercules and Kevin make it to Paris, where they meet Dave Rigg, Simon St. Cloud, and Jennifer Monroe. Hercules battles Cerebus, who has been sent by Ares. Cerebus captures Jennifer and flees. Hercules and Kevin descend into the underworld, where they rescue Jennifer from Cerebus' clutches. Pluto, the god of this dark realm, is convinced by Orpheus to allow these innocents to leave.

A few weeks later, Hercules, Kevin, and Jennifer sail across the English Channel to London, on their way to find Dave Rigg and Simon St. Cloud. They are attacked by cat-people and brought to England's new self-proclaimed ruler, Hunter Blood. Mutated by radiation, Hunter uses his deadly eye beams to defeat Hercules and capture Jennifer. Hercules is later found by other animal-men, led by the ape Durak. Hercules and Kevin are taken to the National Medical Research Center in London. Durak explains how animals evolved and humans disappeared. Before the war, Durak was a mere lab animal. Researchers, led by Dr. Janson, were testing a chemical called Cortexin, developed by an American doctor named Michael Grant. When the bomb exploded, Dr. Janson, his assistant, and an orderly were turned to dust, along with every other human in the area. A mist spread through the room from some beakers broken on the floor. Cortexin was spreading everywhere, reaching all across London. The animals evolved to their current state in a matter of hours. Kevin postulates that he too has been mutated. Hercules soon defeats Hunter Blood, and rescues Jennifer, but Kevin's dog Basil is killed in the process.

Hercules, his friends, and his new animal-men allies are attacked by Ares warriors. Hercules finally locates Ares at Stonehenge. He sees that the god has captured Dave Rigg and Simon St. Cloud. Hercules and Ares then enter into battle. Hercules learns the reason why Ares hates him so. Ares believes that their father Zeus spurned him for his half-brother. Hercules finally wins the fight, and a truce is called. Remembering that Ares possesses the power to restore life, he asks that Basil be revived. Ares raises the dog in return for his freedom. Hercules states that if he finds Ares again, one of them will die.

While on his way back to his camp, it begins to dawn on Ares that if Hercules is free, then the anti-gods' prison must have been breached. Up until this point, Ares resentment of Hercules had blinded him to that fact. Ares begins to panic, and returns to Olympus with his forces to warn the other gods. An ominous cosmic storm begins to form around the extradimensional home of the gods.

Back on Earth, Hercules, Kevin, Jennifer, and Dave arrive in Loch Ness in Northern Scotland. They are captured by Casper Zedd, who has been mutated by radiation. Zedd claims he has met, and now serves, the Loch Ness Monster. When Zedd summons the beast, Hercules recognizes it as Oceanus the Titan, who he had fought eons ago. Hercules surmises that Oceanus felt the vibrations of the nuclear bombs in the netherworld where he lay dormant. Thinking the end of the world had arrived, Oceanus had returned to Earth. Hercules battles the creature, sending it back into the void from which it came.

Shortly thereafter, Hercules, Kevin, Jennifer, and Dave travel on a raft on the Irish Sea. They are unaware that they have entered a timewarp, which has drawn them six years into the future. They are suddenly attacked by 1944 jet fighters, which destroy the raft. Hercules saves Kevin and Jennifer, but Dave appears to drown. When they reach land, they are taken by android women warriors to meet their creator, Lady Agatha Simms. Lady Simms tells them that, before the war, she had become a master technician, who designed advanced computer systems for various governments. Her machines can reach through the time-barrier and call up a simulacrum of any war machine from the last five decades. For the last few months, she has been engaged in a war game with some unknown opponent. It started when a few of her planes were shot down over the Isle of Man, and they have been going at it ever since. Lady Simms demonstrates that she can restore Kevin's sight, but will only make it permanent if they help her beat her opponent. Elsewhere, Dave grabs a floating log and makes it to shore. He is captured by a robot and brought to Lady Simms' mysterious opponent.

Hercules leads his friends and a band of android warriors across the Irish Sea to the Isle of Man. They fight their way into the opponent's fortress, but are shocked to learn that their enemy is Dave, now hooked up to a vast computer network. Dave uses the machines at his disposal to beat back his attackers. Dave, attempting to understand what has happened to him, learns he is being controlled by an energy being, the animate representation of the Simms Analogue Data Energizer, the most advanced computer defense system ever devised. The entity has been under an unprovoked and ever-escalating attack by Lady Simms for the last several weeks. It has recently become convinced that nuclear retaliation is inevitable, but because of a built-in failsafe in it's programming, it requires a human operative to launch any nuclear weapons. The entity is soon proven right when Lady Simms, who believes Hercules has failed, sends a nuclear bomb to the isle. The entity disposes of the threat, then forces Dave to launch nuclear missles at Lady Simms' citidel. Jennifer destroys some machinery, which causes the device to which Dave is attached to explode, but not before the missiles are launched. Hercules is able to stop all but one, and it is heading for Lady Simms' citadel. Jennifer then presses an auto destruct button, which begins a destruct sequence. Hercules, Kevin, Jennifer, and Dave leave just in time, watching from the sea as the island explodes. When they arrive on the English coastline, they are surprised to find Lady Simms' citadel still standing. She explains that she simply sent the missile back to another time, to October 9th 1986 in Greece. Kevin begins crying, refusing any further help, revealing to her that it was she who started World War III.

After returning to London, Dave Rigg dies from his injuries, and is buried. Elsewhere, in one of London's few remaining laboratories, three scientists use a laser synchrotron to dissect a strange fragment, which unleashes millions of gallons of water. Hercules, Kevin, and Jennifer find one of the scientists dying. He tells them that this devastation occurred when they chipped a sample of an unidentified substance. They were getting reports that there was more of the substance in America, in the Great Lakes region ... blocks twenty times the size of the fragment they had. The trio acquire a plane, and Kevin is somehow able to fly them to America. They head to Lake Ontario, where they encounter Gardner Grayle and Douglas Herald of the Atomic Knights, who are also looking for the blocks, created by the evil Doctor Skuba. The Knights are unaware that their teammate, Bryndon Smith, has been consumed by a being of pure energy, spawned by a 50-megaton blast which exploded a half-buried meteorite. After a fierce encounter, Hercules defeats the creature.

Later, in Detroit, the Atomic Knights are amazed by the new, impervious armor that Hercules has forged. While flying back to the Knights' headquarters, Kevin suddenly blasts them from the plane. Hercules saves the falling heroes, but is himself shaken loose. Kevin uses missiles to attack them, but Hercules takes the plane down with a boulder. The gods of Olympus watch from their extradimensional realm, stating they have made a grave error. The anti-gods grow stronger, but the gods themselves are trapped in Olympus by the ethereal forces of a temporal storm. They combine their mental forces to send a message to Hercules. As Hercules restrains Kevin, Jennifer receives the message, warning them of some danger. Kevin then transforms into a dragon and attacks. Hercules stops the creature, and the dragon becomes Kevin once again, but Jennifer has been killed during the battle. Kevin runs to the plane and flies to the Mediterranean, with Hercules hanging on. They arrive on the isle on which Hercules was originally bound. Kevin then transforms into the Anti-Ares, who has finally reached peak strength.

Hercules struggles against the Anti-Ares, but it buries him under a pile of rocks. The Anti-Ares then frees and merges with the rest of the anti-gods, and they leave for Olympus. Hercules rises from the debris, then rides on twin bolts of ethereal lightning sent by the gods. He arrives through the cosmic storm just ahead of the anti-gods. Hercules is told the truth by Zeus and is sickened by their deception. The anti-gods invade Olympus and a great battle commences. Hercules decides that the only way to defeat the anti-gods is by destroying the realm they hope to conquer. The common cause of stopping the destruction of Olympus provides the one bond that draws the two halves, gods and anti-gods, together again. Hercules leaves Olympus in disgust, preferring instead to live among men. When he arrives back on Earth, he finds Kevin's dog Basil, but he is also shocked to find Jennifer alive. Zeus has returned her to life, hoping one day that his son can forgive him.

Weapons and Powers: Hercules possesses unimaginable strength and is virtually immortal. Only a force of immense power can even momentarily stun or harm him. Hercules has the ability to call upon his fellow gods in a manner which involves extradimensional communication. Although his war club is his best known weapon, he relies mainly on the power of his own two hands. He is also a master of most ancient forms of weaponry.

Comments: The history described above is virtually the same for all parallel Earth versions of Hercules, up until the creation of the anti-gods. Some differences include such things as Hippolyta being called Hippolyte on Earth-Two, and Hercules contributing to Shazam's magic lightning on Earth-S. The birth of the anti-gods presumably caused a divergence in the timestream, leading to the timeline in which Hercules was chained up for over two millennia. The Earth-One Hercules appeared, unchained, in the 20th century in WONDER WOMAN [first series] #259 (Sep 1979) - #261 (Nov 1979), establishing without a doubt that the events of HERCULES UNBOUND took place in an alternate reality. In DC COMICS PRESENTS #57 (May 1983), when Superman sees the black-haired Hercules, he remarks that the Hercules he had previously met had red hair, indicating that there were two distinct Hercules in Earth-One continuity. The future Hercules, seen in HERCULES UNBOUND #1 (Oct-Nov 1975) through #12 (Aug-Sep 1977), also appeared in a dream sequence in DC COMICS PRESENTS #57 (May 1983) and in WHO'S WHO: THE DEFINITIVE DIRECTORY OF THE DC UNIVERSE #10 (Oct 1985).

Hercules II

Alter Ego: Hercules, alias Tarkus, alias Roger Tate
Occupation: (as Hercules) Hero, (as Tarkus) Stablehand, (as Roger Tate) Reporter
Known Relatives: Unnamed family members
Group Affiliation: None
Base of Operations: 10th century BC Greece (Earth-One)
First Appearance: Adventure Comics #257 (February 1959)
Height: ~6 ft. 4 in.
Weight: ~255 lbs.
Eyes: Blue
Hair: Red

History: Very little is known of the second man to go by the name Hercules. While it is clear that this red-headed hero is not the black-haired demigod once known as Herakles, who performed the legendary twelve labors, including the attack on the Amazons, it is just as clear that he does have some relationship with the gods of Olympus, and thus with his predecessor. Perhaps he is one of the many descendants of Herakles, following in his ancestor's footsteps. Perhaps he is the Roman hero who followed a few generations after Herakles' death, who was befriended by the Olympians, and who has since settled in Greece. Perhaps he is Herakles himself, who has had his appearance altered for a time by some sorcerer's spell. Or perhaps he is the spirit of Herakles, temporarily trapped in the body of a mortal man. No one but Hercules and the gods of Olympus themselves can know for sure.

The red-haired Hercules' first contact with the 20th century comes when Lex Luthor, who is imprisoned in Bleak Rock Prison near Metropolis, creates a time-ray which he uses to draw Hercules from the past. Hercules is at the Oracle's cave in Greece, seeking information from the wise man about the cause of a solar eclipse. A strange glow surrounds the hero, he fades from his own time, and appears in Luthor's cell. Luthor, who had learned ancient Greek in preparation for this scheme, explains that an evil king has imprisoned him and taken his gold. Hercules frees Luthor, then the two go to Luthor's hideout. The evil scientist uses a device to teach Hercules English while he sleeps. The next morning, Luthor and Hercules "retrieve" Luthor's "stolen" gold from Fort Knox. Hercules soon discovers the deception however, and helps Superman capture his enemy. Superman recognizes Hercules from when he met him in Smallville as Superboy, but Hercules has no memory of the meeting. Superman theorizes that crossing the time-barrier to the past must have wiped out his memory of the Smallville visit. In truth, Hercules wouldn't meet Superboy for another few years, one of the peculiarities of time-travel.

Hercules asks Superman if he could stay awhile, so that he might observe the future civilization. Superman agrees. He rents Hercules a room, buys him a suit, and tells him he will put him in contact with a friend, Clark Kent. Soon after, Clark introduces the disguised Hercules to Perry White as Roger Tate, a reporter. Roger is given a job at the Daily Planet and is introduced to Lois Lane, who he is immediately attracted to. Soon, Roger falls for Lois and asks her to marry him. Lois tells him they have just met and, besides, there is only one man for her, Superman. Roger reveals to Lois that he is in reality the legendary Hercules. Lois explains that Superman is still her heart-throb. The spurned Hercules begins to compete with Superman for her affections.

As Roger Tate, Hercules travels to Athens to cover a festival. That night, he goes to the secret cave of the eternal Oracle. Hercules asks the Oracle to summon the gods from the past, which he does with a pinch of time dust. Hercules tells the gods he is on a mission in the future, and requires their magic powers and weapons. They grant them to him, but warn him they must only be used for good. Hercules then battles Superman, using the new powers at his command. Aphrodite appears, telling Hercules that Zeus is furious over his abuse of their gifts, but Hercules continues fighting. Superman uses his time-travel powers to draw both Hercules and himself back into the past. As Superman had hoped, Hercules loses all memory of the future. Hercules tells the "stranger" before him that he must go consult the Oracle about the strange blackening sun. Satisfied that the problem is resolved, Superman flies back into the timestream and returns home.

After a time, Hercules meets and befriends the mighty Samson, another hero of his own era. They eventually find themselves under the rule of King Zarl. Zarl is a greedy miser, who taxes his people into poverty so he can increase his royal fortune. Zarl forces Hercules and Samson into being the royal guards at his treasure cave, day and night. They are unable to appear elsewhere to aid others, except in disguise, hence they adopt secret identities. Hercules becomes Tarkus, a stablehand, while Samson becomes Merrio, a court jester. They begin to secretly distribute the King's fortune to the poor. To keep Zarl from entering the cave and finding the jewels missing, they make up a supernatural tale of the Avenger, who they claim has taken over the cave. They tell the King that even their great strength cannot defeat the powerful spirit. The King informs the heroes that he will keep their families as hostages until they think of a way to defeat the Avenger. If they fail, both Hercules and Samson will be executed.

Desperately, the duo consult their friend, the Seer, who peers into the future with his crystal-ball. They observe the exploits of Superboy, who they soon learn is invulnerable. Believing he has an elixir which could bestow invulnerability on them, the Seer casts a magic spell which transports the two heroes into the future. The spell also apparently gives them both the ability to speak modern English. 12-year-old Clark Kent attends a sideshow at the Smallville County Fair, starring Hercules and Samson. Clark soon learns that they are not actors, and later confronts them as Superboy. The two heroes try to learn the secret of the invulnerability elixir, but soon realize that no such potion exists. Their only hope is for Superboy to return to the past with them. The magic spell will soon wear off, so Hercules and Samson blackmail Superboy into coming with them, threatening to reveal his secret identity if he doesn't. They hurry to a predetermined hilltop, where the sunset draws them all back into the past. They then explain the situation to Superboy in more detail, who says he will try to think of some way to save them both from execution.

Hercules and Samson don their secret identities and head to the royal arena, where a big show is scheduled for King Zarl's entertainment. Superboy is forced to reveal himself when a stray war club almost strikes the kind Queen. Zarl believes that Superboy can defy the Avenger and tells him that, if he succeeds, it will save Hercules and Samson from execution. The two disguised heroes hurry back to the cave, so that they are there when the King arrives. When Superboy attempts to enter the cave, he is thrown out by the magic of the Avenger. Suspicious, the King insists on seeing the cave for himself, with the three strongmen as his bodyguards. Suddenly, the Avenger appears! Neither the heroes nor the King's soldiers can defeat the supernatural menace. The Avenger soon chases off the King, telling him the jewels are lost to him forever. Superboy then reveals to his allies that the Avenger is really Krypto, his Super-Dog, who he had summoned from the future. Superboy had supplied the Avenger's voice with his super-ventriloquism. Superboy and Krypto then fly back to their own time, leaving Hercules and Samson to free their families.

Some time later, Hercules finds himself drawn one more time into the future. When Lana Lang breathes in the scent of a weird tropical plant, called the hate flower, she develops a deep hatred of Superboy. Using a magic mask from the supernatural section of the Smallville Museum, she summons various people from the past. The magic of the mask compels those summoned into doing whatever Lana commands. At one point, she calls upon Hercules, Samson, and Atlas. She commands them to destroy the Smallville Scientific Institute, then sees to it that the destruction is blamed on Superboy. After the deed is carried out, the three heroes are returned to their own eras. Eventually, Lana is cured by her father, Superboy, and Krypto.

Weapons and Powers: Hercules possesses tremendous strength and stamina. Unlike his namesake, he is neither invulnerable nor immortal.

Comments: In DC COMICS PRESENTS #57 (May 1983), when Superman sees the black-haired Hercules, he remarks that the Hercules he had previously met had red hair, verifying that the adventures of the red-headed Hercules were still part of Earth-One continuity.

  • Hercules (Earth-One, 10th century BC) : Adventure Comics #257 (Feb 1959), Action Comics #267 (Aug 1960) - #268 (Sep 1960), Superboy [first series] #110 (Jan 1964)
  • Hercules (Earth-One, Jimmy Olsen's dream) : Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen #16 (Oct 1956)
  • Hercules (Earth-One, criminal in disguise) : Superman [first series] #112 (Mar 1957)
  • Hercules (Imaginary Tale of Earth-One) : Action Comics #279 (Aug 1961)
  • Hercules (Cosmic Man in disguise) : Superman [first series] #155 (Aug 1962)
  • Hercules (Parallel Earth) : Action Comics #320 (Jan 1965)

Hercules (Unbound)

The hero of Greek legend has, needless to say, appeared in many different incarnations at DC. This version, by Gerry Conway, Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez, and Wally Wood, wandered the devastated lands of an Earth devastated by nuclear and natural disaster, tying in with other DC features as diverse as the Atomic Knights and OMAC/Kamandi.

HERCULES UNBOUND (1975-1977) was a personal favorite of mine amongst Gerry Conway's output during the 1970s. Conway's run (#1-6) also benefitted from the exquisite art team of Jose Luis Garcia Lopez and Wally Wood. The premise had Herc breaking free from millennia of imprisonment about a month after the outbreak of World War Three. In short order, Herc befriends a blind teenager, Kevin, and his dog, Basil (#1). With issue #2, the trio makes it to Paris, where they meet the rest of the series entourage — Dave Rigg, Jennifer Monroe and Simon St. Charles.

Ares lurks in the background for the entire six issues, finally confronting Herc in #6. In the end, they declare a truce, with Ares being granted his freedom in exchange for restoring the life to Basil (killed in #5).

Walt Simonson pencilled the latter six issues, with inks by Wood (#7-8) and Bob Layton (#9-10) and Walt himself (#11-12). David Michelinie scripted #7-9, the last of which featured the death of Dave Rigg and revealed the approximate date that the war had begun — October, 1986.

That, of course, had been the date established in John Broome's "Atomic Knights" series. In mid-1976, Paul Levitz had penned an article that attempted to place all of DC's apocalytic futures into a single timeline (AMAZING WORLD OF DC COMICS #12). The Knights/Hercules connection worked just fine, since both presented a near-future society that wasn't all that different than our own. The problem was the suggestion that the pre-1986 society was the highly advanced world of OMAC and that, eventually, Kamandi would exist in that world. Indeed, HERC #4 & 5 had even introduced humanoid animal races and mentioned their KAMANDI #16 origin.

Unfortunately, HERC #10 (with Cary Bates signing on as the book's final writer) tried to bring all the series together by picking up plot threads from OMAC #8 AND featuring the Atomic Knights. By the end of issue (set in early 1987), one of the Knights (Bryndon) was dead — despite his having survived well into the 1990s in the original series.

Even worse was the final two-parter's explanation for Kevin's mysterious powers (hinted at in Conway's run) — he'd been killed in issue #1 and replaced by an Anti-Ares! (AWODCC #12 had hinted at another possibility — Kevin's "rather extraordinary ancestry.") All in all, the final three issues were a bit of a letdown, best written off as part of Gardner Grayle's fantasy in DC COMICS PRESENTS #57.

Conway later used Hercules in the present-day WONDER WOMAN #259-261, dressed in the Lopez-designed outfit (Simonson had introduced a new one in #11) though Herc was a villain in this context.

The Homeless Avenger

The Homeless Avenger was an unnamed vigilante who took vengeance upon those criminals who preyed upon the homeless in New York City. The Homeless Avenger would stop crimes against the homeless and then kill the perpetrators, usually using whatever weapons the criminals had intended to use to threaten their victims.

The Vigilante and Black Thorn went out on the Homeless Avenger's trail, but received little help from the homeless community itself, who viewed the masked man as a hero and a protector. Black Thorn wanted to use force to get information from the homeless men and women, but Vigilante refused to let her do so.

In the mean time, the Homeless Avenger stopped a homeless man from being killed by a thug in the subway, throwing the miscreant on the tracks in front of a train. The homeless man, obviously confused and mentally ill, took out a gun and shot the Homeless Avenger in the shoulder. While fleeing the scene, a Subway cop tried to apprehend the masked man, but in the scuffle the Homeless Avenger killed the officer with his own gun and fled the scene.

After an argument on the ethics of the case with the Vigilante, Black Thorn went out on her own to extract information from the homelss people who had refused to help them earlier. She almost caught up with the Homeless Avenger on a rooftop, but he unknowingly eluded her (after tossing an attack off the roof). Black Thorn didn't know (or care) that the Vigilante was pursuing her as well.

Later that morning in Grand Central Station, a bunch of thugs accosted a homeless man sleeping against the wall, not realizing it was actually the Homeless Avenger. He killed one of them and announced himself to the whole terminal, which roused nearly thirty creeps who had known people the Homeless Avenger had killed. As they were about to attack him, Black Thorn arrived and knocked out five of the attackers with tranq thorns, wanting to collar the Homeles Avenger herself. As she turned her gun on the Homeless Avenger, the Vigilante's nunchakus flew out and knocked her weapon out of her hand.

As the rest of the terminal watched, the Vigilante and Black Thorn argued and then fought, with the Vigilante finally knocking her out. The Vigilante offered his help to the Homeless Avenger against the crowd closing in on him, but the masked man refused, saying that the Vigilante had done enough already. The Vigilante left carrying Black Thorn.

The newspaper headline the next day announced that the Homeless Avenger had been slain in the subway.

Comments:
There were really very few details ever given about the Homeless Avenger. We were never even told his real name. All we know is that he was a fairly good hand-to-hand combatant and that he had a dedication to returning dignity and respect to the many homeless people who inhabited New York City. A truly noble cause, though definitely NOT enough to justify the extremes that he went to in order to achieve it.

The Homeless Avenger incident was one of the last in a series of events that brought Adrian Chase's career as the Vigilante to an end. After allowing a police officer to fall to his death in VIGILANTE #37, Chase's mind and dedication to his role as the Vigilante was slowly eroding as he found himself becoming nothing more than a costumed killer. After escaping the authorities one final time, and apparently killing a police detective that he knew back when he was a District Attorney, Adrian Chase committed suicide in order to stop himself from becoming everything he most hated.

  • Appearances:
    Vigilante #48 (December 1987)
    Vigilante #49 (January 1988)
    Vigilante #50 (February 1988 - mention on first page only)

Human Cannonball

Created by Tom DeFalco, the Human Cannonball was Ryan Chase, a would-be super-hero who grew up in the circus, training for his goal and developing a rocket belt and helmet that enabled him to blast through the air like a, well, human cannonball. Ryan wore a green shirt (with a yellow CB emblem) and tights, black pants, gloves and helmet and violet boots that came up to his thighs (SUPERMAN FAMILY #188).

Though too cocky for his own good, the Human Cannonball overcame his early blunders to become an effective, charming partner for Lois Lane (SF #189, 191). He was a central player in the battle to free the DNA Project from the control of the evil Adam (#192-194).

The Human Hurricane

Although the story shows no credits, the Grand Comic Database lists the artist as Bernard Bailey.

House Of Mystery #155 (Dec 1965)

Mitchell Anderson, science student, holds down one of Earths strangest — and most dangerous — jobs. Each working day, Mitch volunteers for new experiments to determine if Man can defy nature, and perform rescue work in fierce, raging hurricanes. He buckles on a temperature control belt, dons a special environmental suit, and is exposed to artificially generated hurricane conditions.

One fateful Saturday, as Mitch tests his temperature control belt, he gets perspiration in his eyes. He gropes his way towards the small room where his hurricane suit is kept, but accidentally enters the wrong doorway, that of the electrical control room. Mitch hits one of the switches and, in a split-second of terror, is bathed in burning heat rays. An alarm brings help, and Mitch is rescued from harm. One of the scientists remarks that the heat rays couldve agitated Mitchs molecules to an extent where it mightve been fatal.

Shortly, as if nothing had happened, Mitch dons the hurricane suit and enters the wind tunnel. The scientists increase the winds until they exceed 200 miles per hour. Mitch is relieved that the special alloys, woven into his suit, protect him from the debris that is breaking off of the deteriorating test houses. When he begins to feel a chill, Mitch turns up the heat dial on his temperature control belt, but something totally unexpected happens. With a great explosion, Mitch bursts out of the hurricane suit, and begins flying through the air! An incredible force cracks open the ceiling of the lab, hurling the helpless volunteer skywards. With his hands flailing about wildly, Mitch accidentally hits the temperature control knob, and the gale forces surrounding him begin to die down. He falls gently to the ground, landing upright on his feet.

After Mitch returns to the lab, he is astounded to discover that the scientists have examined his torn suit, and have concluded that the explosive force came from within. They believe that, when Mitch turned up the heat, it agitated the molecules in his body, which in turn agitated the molecules around him with hurricane force! The scientists tell Mitch that he must sit tight until they can examine him. They fear that if he started to get overheated in a crowded area, he could become a deadly menace.

Just at that moment, a man rushes frantically into the room. He informs everyone that, a few minutes earlier, a strange hurricane force had broken a weather balloon loose from its moorings. A weather man is trapped aboard. Feeling responsible, Mitch turns up the temperature knob on his belt, and flies up after the balloon. Mitch maneuvers around the drifting craft until his hurricane forces drive it safely back to land. Soon after, back at the lab, Mitch tells the scientists that, until he is cured of his affliction, he can at least use his powers to do some good.

Mitch is as good as his word. When a spreading forest fire threatens nearby towns, he uses his powers to snuff out the raging inferno. When a private yacht, caught in a storm at sea, heads for crushing reefs, he generates enough lift to pick the boat right up out of the water, carrying it to safety.

The next day, however, Mitch begins to worry that his wild molecules could be killing him. One of the scientists from the lab tells Mitch that a specialist is being driven over to evaluate him. Unfortunately, the car carrying the specialist is forced to turn around when it is threatened by a devastating tornado. The driver quickly finds a phone to call the lab, and tells the scientist that the tornado is heading towards a local town. Mitch jumps to his feet and turns up the heat knob, determined to stop the twister with his own hurricane power. He boldly enters the tornado, experiencing forces he could hardly have imagined. Just as Mitch is about to reach the limit of his tolerance, the twister is neutralized. But the heros success is not without a cost. His powers suddenly disappear, and he falls to the ground, landing unharmed on a large, thick haystack.

Later, after several tests are performed at the lab, Mitch is told that the tornado has somehow knocked his molecules back into order. Although his unique powers appear to be gone for good, Mitch is simply relieved to know that he has been given a clean bill of health.

Hyper-Boy/Hyper-Man

Action Comics #265 (June 1960)
"The Superman From Outer Space!"
Reprinted in Superman [first series] #207 (June-July 1968)

He was born on a doomed world orbiting a red sun. His father rocketed him away just as his homeworld exploded. He was the planet’s only survivor. After landing on a smaller planet which orbited a yellow sun, this space-orphan gained amazing super-powers. He was found and adopted by a small-town couple, who passed him off as an ordinary boy. When he became a teenager, he acted as a meek and timid boy to cover his double life as a costumed crime-fighter. After his foster parents died and he graduated college, he took a job as a reporter in a large metropolitan city, continuing his alternate identity as a super-hero. Who is this remarkable crime-fighter? If you guessed "Superman", you guessed wrong. The answer is, of course, Hyper-Man!

When the planet Zoron exploded, that world’s sole survivor rocketed to the planet Oceania. Upon landing, he was found by the Kings, who adopted him as their own. As a teen, Chester King became the hero known as Hyper-Boy. As an adult, he became a roving television reporter for the Oceania Network, based in the city of Macropolis.

Hyper-Man learned about Superman and the Earth, and observed his counterpart for years using his telescopic vision. He was stunned at the similarities between Earth and Oceania. The Earth was almost an exact duplicate of his world, language and all. However, he was even more amazed by the fact that he and Superman were physically identical. The only differences were in their costumes. Whereas Superman’s costume was blue, red, and yellow, Hyper-Man’s was purple, green, and yellow. The day finally came when Hyper-Man’s secret identity was put in jeopardy. He knew that he would need Superman’s help in protecting it.

When he arrives on Earth, Hyper-Man poses as Superman to foil an attempt by Lois Lane to prove that Superman is Clark Kent. Later, after introducing himself, he asks Superman to travel to Oceania and return the favor. Superman agrees, but first takes Hyper-Man to his Fortress of Solitude, where he uses his super-computer, Super-Univac, to analyze the situation. The super-computer concludes that it is by sheer chance that, out of the trillions of worlds in the universe, two might be virtually identical.

Superman tells Hyper-Man that his super-computer can extrapolate Hyper-Man’s future if they feed enough information into it. Hyper-Man tells him of Yellow Zoronite, radioactive debris from his doomed homeworld, whose rays are dangerous to him. He also speaks of Lydia Long, TV reporter for the Oceania Network, who wants to marry him, and often suspects that he is really Chester King. When the computer completes it’s projections, Superman hides the results, but is now determined to expose Hyper-Man’s secret identity! They then fly off together towards Oceania.

Upon arriving on Oceania, Hyper-Man takes Superman to his Fortress of Secrecy, located under a plastic dome built on the sea-bottom. Hyper-Man shows his guest around his secret lair, including an exhibit containing two small meteors. The first is a replica of Yellow Zoronite. The second is a blue, glowing meteor, dubbed Meteor X, that he found in space the previous year. He intends on analyzing the radiation of the strange meteor someday at his leisure. Hyper-Man then explains to Superman that he will need to don one of his spare costumes in order to help protect his secret identity. He has tried to build robot duplicates, but has not yet perfected one. Superman tells Hyper-Man that he will attempt to complete the work on the robot, while the hero returns to his role as Chester King.

Soon afterward, as Chester King talks with Lydia Long, the Hyper-Man robot flies into the office through the window. However, as Superman had intended, the robot fails and cracks apart. Lydia is even more convinced than ever that Chester is really Hyper-Man.

Later, back at the Fortress, Hyper-Man assures Superman that he doesn’t blame him for the defective robot. He then asks Superman to don the spare Hyper-Man costume so that Superman can appear during the July 5th Independence Day celebration, while Hyper-Man appears as Chester King. As he appears to carry out Hyper-Man’s wishes, Superman notes that the O.S.A.’s flag contains only 48 stars. Just as Lydia begins to believe that Chester can’t possibly be Hyper-Man, the disguised Superman deflects a Yellow Zoronite meteor down to the surface. It lands near Chester, who collapses from the pain. Lydia and the rest of the crowd discover that Chester King is wearing a Hyper-Man costume under his clothes.

Superman returns to find Chester finally admitting to Lydia that he is indeed Hyper-Man. Hyper-Man, believing that the landing of the Zoronite meteor was just a fluke, tells Superman that he will still continue his super-career. However, when he attempts to fly he discovers that he cannot. He soon realizes that he has lost his other powers as well. The people of Oceania blame Superman for the loss of their world’s hero, and Superman leaves the planet in disgrace. As he leaves, Superman watches as Lydia proposes to Chester. A week later, Superman uses his telescopic vision to look in on the newlyweds.

A year passes. Supergirl arrives at the Fortress of Solitude, where she finds her cousin Superman staring into space. He tells her that Chester King’s final hour of doom has finally come. Chester is dying from blood-poisoning from some unknown malady... unknown, that is, to all but Superman. Superman explains that his computer had predicted that Hyper-Man would die within one year from exposure to Blue Zoronite, and that the first symptoms would be the loss of his powers. Superman had realized that the Blue Zoronite was Meteor X, the space rock on display in Hyper-Man’s Fortress. He deliberately exposed Hyper-Man’s secret identity so that Chester King would go down in history as a hero, and so that Chester might have one year of happiness with Lydia.

Original text copyright DC Comics unless otherwise noted. Used without permission.