I can count the number of hardcore Hercules fans on one hand. Actually, I only know one. While he set the standard for superpowered heroes for thousands of years, in the Marvel Universe, he’ll always be second-rate to his Norse predecessor. But today, he’ll be number one.
Since the Marvel Cinematic Universe took hold of pop culture, it’s not hard to find your Thor fans. After three solo movies and key roles in the three Avengers films, Thor is the favorite hero of many people.
Then there’s Hercules.
He was once the greatest of all the heroes. In Ancient Greece (who knew him as Heracles, meaning “Glory of Hera”) and later Ancient Rome, Hercules was one of the original superheroes. For thousands of years, his legend grew. Then in 1965, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby brought him into the Marvel Universe, and he was an instant hit with fans. However, he would never step outside the shadow cast by Thor.
He’s always been the “other god” in Marvel. In the eyes of Marvel fans, Thor was the original, and Hercules was the copy. Stan’s version even followed in Thor’s footsteps by joining the Avengers. Like Thor, Hercules would later be given interplanetary adventures in the depths of space. But he would never surpass Thor.
For a moment, let’s honor the legend of one of Greco-Roman mythology’s greatest heroes by looking at some of his key issues.
One of the best parts of being a Hercules fan is that his keys are affordable. Even his first Marvel appearance (don’t forget that classic mythological characters like Hercules and Thor are considered public domain, so DC Comics has its own version of Hercules in its mythos) isn’t astronomical. You can get a very nice graded 8.5 JIM Annual #1 for less than $400. If you’re willing to go for a lower grade, you can have a 3.5 for under $100.
For that rare Hercules fan, this is a must-have comic. Back in the 1960s, there was a string of low-budget Hercules movies starring pioneer bodybuilder Steve Reeves. This iconic cover is where we clearly see the Reeves-inspiration in his look (personally, I prefer this over the modern “man-bun” look), plus this issue is where Herc joins the Avengers. It’s in the pages of The Avengers that many of his adventures took place.
As with all things Hercules, this is an affordable key. A CGC 9.2 has averaged $152 over the past year. You can drop down to a respectable 8.5 and be within the $75 range, while a 7.0 averages closer to $50. If you’re on a budget, this is the key to get.
Bob Layton took Hercules into the cosmos in Marvel’s first solo Herc title back in 1982. If you’re on a budget, you can still get a near-mint copy of Hercules #1 for relatively cheap. A 9.8 has been on a roller coaster when it comes to its fair market value; two years ago, it averaged $90. Last year, it dropped to an average of just $47, but over the past 12 months, it’s inching its way back up. The 12-month average stands at $55, and one sold in May for $80.
Unless Marvel Studios has a secret plan to bring Hercules into the MCU, I’m not predicting any major changes for Hercules #1, but with his current Incredible Hercules run still going, it seems the old demi-god is picking up some fans here and there.