THOR VERSUS HERCULES

t vs hMarvel has let it be known that they will be doing a Thor vs Hercules clash for the next Thor movie as they at last move the Marvel Comics version of Hercules into the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

It’s a safe bet that they will mishandle it as badly as they’ve mishandled most of their film releases lately, so here’s a look at the original multi-part Thor vs Hercules story from the 1960s.

jm annual 1JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY ANNUAL Vol 1 #1 (October 1965)

Title: When Titans Clash

Villain: Hercules

Synopsis: This opening chapter of the Thor vs Hercules saga was set in the distant past, long before Odin had forced Thor to become the lame (as in limping) Dr. Donald Blake in order to teach him humility. The subsequent chapters are set in what was the present day of the 1960s.

Hercules from MarvelThe story opens up like a few other old Norse myths, with Thor and Loki on fairly friendly terms and traveling together in search of adventure. While trying to make their very first visit to the realm of the Greco-Roman gods on Mount Olympus they encounter a few Frost Giants and easily defeat them.

Collateral damage from the clash opens a rift in the ground and Thor discovers that the rift leads to a tunnel that takes him to the top of Mount Olympus. He approaches a bridge just outside of the city of the gods and plans to cross it when the headstrong Hercules arrives on the scene and insists that he be allowed to cross the bridge first.

This demand seems foolish to Thor since there is plenty of room for both of them to walk across the bridge at the same time. Always looking for a fight, Hercules attacks Thor, pitting his strength against the thunder god’s and his club against Mjolnir. At one point Thor even throws his hammer at Hercules and is surprised when the Greek demi-god grabs Mjolnir out of the air and throws it back at the Norse deity.

The two combatants are evenly matched and their fight goes on and on. Eventually, Zeus himself appears on the scene and orders both men to cease hostilities. Thor and Hercules obey, and Thor explains that he came to Mt. Olympus in peace because he was interested in interacting with another pantheon of deities for the first time ever.

Hercules, impressed with the sentiment and with the glorious battle that Thor shared with him, agrees to make peace. He and Thor declare each other to be friends, following which Zeus teleports Thor back to the realms of Norse myths. Once there, Thor meets up with Loki and the two return to Asgard, with the thunder god wondering if he will ever again meet Hercules.

thor 124JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY Vol 1 #124 (January 1966)

Title: The Glory and the Grandeur

Villain: The Demon

Synopsis: Thor goes to the hospital where Jane Foster is still recovering from smoke inhalation from a few issues back. Thor turns back into Dr. Donald Blake and learns from Jane’s doctors that though she is recovering from her lung issues, she is on the verge of a nervous breakdown.

Blake goes into her room to talk with Jane and she makes it clear to him that her emotional issues are being caused by the way she never knows where she stands in her relationships with either him or Thor. (She does not yet know that Thor and Donald Blake are one and the same.)

Our hero realizes how disorienting and cruel it must seem the way he keeps coming in and out of Jane’s life from day to day as he balances his activities as Blake and as Thor. He decides to tell her he IS Thor, despite the way Odin has repeatedly forbidden him from doing that in the past.

chris thorDonald strikes his walking stick against the floor, causing the usual transformation of him into Thor and the cane into his hammer Mjolnir. This relieves Jane, who at last understands why both Thor and Blake often seemed to be playing emotional games with her as they struggled to keep their secret.

Odin, watching from Asgard, is furious that Thor has revealed his secret identity to a mortal and resolves to punish him. He summons his aide Seidring the Merciless to his side to advise him.

The next day, Dr. Blake is caring for his patients when his attention is drawn to news reports of the mask-wearing supervillain called the Demon raising an army and starting a war in Mongolia. Our hero recognizes the fact that the Demon is wearing one of the missing Norn Stones around his neck and the Asgardian relic must be giving the villain his powers.

He can complete his recent quest to recover all of the Norn Stones by taking this last one from the Demon while simultaneously ending his war. Blake becomes Thor again and uses Mjolnir to teleport to Mongolia which act happens to attract the attention of Zeus up on Mount Olympus.

Zeus notes how active Odin’s son is with the modern-day mortals and feels his son Hercules should also reenter the affairs of humans. He tells Herc to go down to the Earth and once again impress the world with his heroics.

Meanwhile, in Mongolia, Thor battles the Demon and his army. The Norn Stone makes the villain as strong as Thor himself.   

thor 125JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY Vol 1 #125 (February 1966)

Title: When Meet the Immortals

Villain: The Demon

Synopsis: In Mongolia, the Demon and Thor continue fighting. When Thor gets the upper hand the villain orders his army to join in the fight. Ultimately, our hero defeats the army AND the Demon himself.

Thor takes the Norn Stone from around the unconscious Demon’s neck and flies off for Asgard to at last complete his quest by turning the last of the missing stones over to Odin. Odin accepts the Norn Stone but then reprimands Thor for telling Jane Foster that he is really Dr. Donald Blake.

Furthermore, Odin demands that Thor stop seeing Jane Foster but our hero refuses. Odin forbids Thor from returning to Earth/ Midgard and sics an army of Asgardians on him to bar his way. Thor fights his way through all of them – including Balder – and battles past Heimdall at the Bifrost Bridge in order to return to Earth.

jane fosterWhile all this has been going on, Jane Foster saw news reports about Thor ending the Demon’s war in Mongolia and is irked that he so quickly left her side to seek out action already. Meanwhile, Hercules has arrived in New York City and has been wowing the crowds by fighting crime.

Jane is attracted to the action, mistakenly thinking that the feats of strength being displayed must be from Thor. Hercules catches sight of her and finds her attractive. He asks Jane to dinner and, to make Thor jealous for running off so quickly after telling her his secret, she goes with him.

Thor returns to New York and finds the pair at a restaurant. Hercules does not realize Jane’s importance to Thor and casually tries to renew his friendship with the thunder god. Thor loses his temper and soon he and Hercules are fighting it out, trashing the restaurant while Jane tries to stop them.

Back in Asgard, Odin contemplates what punishment he will inflict on his son. 

thor 126THE MIGHTY THOR Vol 1 #126 (March 1966) 

Title: Whom the Gods Would Destroy

Villain: Seidring the Merciless

NOTE: With this issue, Journey Into Mystery has officially been retitled The Mighty Thor, but with the numbering left intact. That’s why this is officially The Mighty Thor #126.

Synopsis: Thor and Hercules engage in a destructive battle throughout New York City. Odin is watching from Asgard and has decided that a fit punishment for his son’s disobedience would be to strip him of half his strength.

thor vs herculesHe contemplates delaying the punishment since Thor is currently combatting Hercules, but Seidring the Merciless convinces him not to postpone punishing his son. Odin, unable to bring himself to carry out the punishment, sadly bestows his powers temporarily on Seidring so that he can do it instead. 

Seidring carries out the punishment, halving Thor’s strength while his battle with Hercules continues. Hercules begins winning easily, then realizes that his opponent is no longer presenting a challenging enough fight. Disappointed, he brushes off Thor and walks off to the cheers of the crowd, hailing him as the successor to Thor’s reputation as the mightiest superhero alive. 

thor 127THE MIGHTY THOR Vol 1 #127 (April 1966)

Title: The Hammer and the Holocaust

Villain: Seidring

Synopsis: Jane Foster approaches Thor, who feels ashamed over losing to Hercules in an unfair fight. She explains that she only went to dinner with Herc to make him jealous and that she doesn’t care about how their fight went – she still loves Thor/ Donald Blake.

Thor, however, feels shame for what has happened and heads for Asgard to get his full strength back. He warily assumes Odin may make him leave Earth forever before restoring his might.

Hercules, meanwhile, is approached by a Hollywood agent from among his throng of admirers and is talked into going with him to California to appear in movies about his real-life adventures in ancient Greece.

Back in Asgard, Odin is so despondent over what just happened to Thor that he is too distracted to ask for the Odinpower back from Seidring the Merciless. Seidring decides to strike before Odin realizes his error so that he can assume the rule of Asgard. And so he uses his power to defeat Odin and subjugate the rest of the Asgardian gods.

By the time Thor arrives in Asgard, Seidring is in full control. Our hero wants to dethrone the Merciless One and battles the villain despite the fact that he has only half his usual strength while Seidring has Odin’s full power. 

Thor stands no chance against Seidring but uses the battle to maneuver himself near the Odinsword without the villain realizing that it is his goal. At length, Thor leaps to the enormous Odinsword and threatens to unleash its power to bring on Ragnarok unless Seidring returns the Odinpower to his father.

The cowardly Seidring, preferring life to bringing destruction upon himself along with the rest of Asgard, surrenders, giving back to Odin all of his power and letting himself be taken away by the guards for punishment. The horribly wounded Thor collapses into Odin’s arms and Odin expresses his regret at what he has done to his son.  

astonish 79TALES TO ASTONISH Vol 1 #79 (May 1966)

Title: The Titan and the Torment

Villain: Zaxon

NOTE: Yes, even in the 1960s Marvel Comics’ knack for crossover stories among its various superhero titles was already prominent. Hercules’ trip to Hollywood hits an obstacle when he finds himself in battle with the incredible Hulk himself.

Synopsis: The Hulk has just overcome the supervillain called Zaxon and is back on the run from the military. After a time, Hulk spots some jets overhead as he stands in the middle of the Nevada desert.

The green-skinned brute tears up the nearby railroad tracks and throws some of them at the jets to drive them away. A train pulls to an abrupt halt due to the torn-up tracks and naturally it turns out to be the train carrying Hercules and his agent to California.

hercHercules breaks off partying to see what the delay is and winds up fighting the Hulk while the train’s passengers look on in awe. Their battle goes on and on until, ultimately, the brute lifts up an enormous boulder to throw at Hercules but Herc simply catches it in his hands.

More jets arrive on the scene and unleash missiles on the battle raging below. The missiles blow up the boulder in Hercules’ hands but he is unharmed, of course. Hulk is tired of the fighting and the irritation of the jets and leaps off into the desert.

Hercules dazzles the bystanders by carrying every single train car one by one across the gap in the railroad tracks caused by Hulk tearing them up earlier, then the journey toward California resumes. 

thor 128THE MIGHTY THOR Vol 1 #128 (May 1966)

Title: The Power of Pluto

Villain: Pluto

Synopsis: Days later, Hercules is being wooed by the heads of various studios in Hollywood. One of the studio heads is revealed to us readers to really be Pluto, the god of the Netherworld from Greco-Roman myths.

(His realm is called Hades, which was the name of the god AND his realm in Greek myths but in Roman myths his name was Pluto.) We readers learn that Pluto is still resentful of the havoc that Hercules unleashed in Hades in the ancient past when he completed his Twelve Labors by invading the Netherworld and capturing the huge, three-headed dog Cerberus.

herc and hippolytaA beautiful, mask-helmeted woman beside him reveals herself to be THE Hippolyta, the Queen of the Amazons, from whom Hercules stole her girdle as part of his ancient Labors, too. She wants revenge on Herc as well, for the theft and for loving her and leaving her back then.

Pluto uses an assumed name with Hercules, convincing him that he is just another studio head and that Hippolyta, whose upper face is masked by her helmet but whose voluptuous body is amply displayed, is just an actress who will co-star with Herc in his movie if he goes with HIS studio – groaningly called Netherworld Productions.

Meanwhile in Asgard, Thor has been recuperating for the past several days and is ice-fishing in one of the realms of Norse myth with Balder to pass the time on this particular day. Thor defeats a subaquatic monster who breaks through the ice and the pair of deities head back to Asgard proper.

Thor and Balder appear before Odin, who apologizes again to Thor, promising not to treat him like that ever again. (But of course he will. Odin being a dick to Thor is as frequent as Loki plotting to take over Asgard.) Odin has already restored ALL of Thor’s strength and our hero asks Odin’s leave to go to Earth for a rematch with Hercules. That permission is given and Thor departs.

plutoBack in Hollywood, the disguised Pluto convinces Hercules to sign with his studio while continuing to ply him with booze and the flattering attentions of the “actress.” Hercules notices wording in the contract which says he agrees to rule the realm of Hades forever.

Hippolyta seductively convinces the demi-god that it’s just a reference to the plot of the movie in which he will conquer the Netherworld – with her at his side the whole time. Herc leeringly mentions how pleasant having her at his side will be and signs the contract.

With that done, Pluto and Hippolyta reveal their true identities and taunt Hercules about how they have had their revenge on him now. He will be condemned to rule Hades for the rest of eternity, freeing Pluto of that burden.

NOTE: In Greco-Roman myths, when Zeus, Poseidon and Hades were drawing lots to see what their kingdoms would be, Zeus won first and chose the rule of Mount Olympus, Poseidon won next and chose to rule the sea, leaving Hades/ Pluto with rule of the underworld realm. (Which was full of gems and precious metals, as the underground IS – hence the word “plutocracy” for rule by wealth – but Marvel Comics is altering the lore to make it seem like Pluto has longed to give up his domain.)

Back to the story, Hercules is panicked and pleads for a way out of the deal. Pluto and Hippolyta mockingly tell him there is no way out, and when the contract takes effect in a few days Hercules must descend into Hades forever.

Thor has happened to arrive in time to understand all this. Sympathizing with the horrible fate facing Hercules he compassionately decides to call off their rematch. After consoling Herc, he flies off back to New York City.    

thor 129THE MIGHTY THOR Vol 1 #129 (June 1966)

Title: The Verdict of Zeus

Villain: Pluto

Synopsis: Thor arrives back in New York, where – I guess to make up for the way he seemed to lose to Hercules a few issues back – we readers are shown that for some reason the public assumes that Thor evened the score against Hercules by defeating HIM this time out in California. 

The distraught Hercules returns to Mt. Olympus to beg Zeus to free him from the contract he signed with Pluto. Zeus sadly informs Herc that the only way to do this would be if all the armies of the Netherworld are overcome, but he cannot fight on his own behalf. He must find a champion.

tana nileJane Foster in New York befriends a woman named Tana Nile (at right, in her true form), whose thoughts reveal to us readers that she is really an alien whose race wants to conquer the Earth.

Back on Olympus, Hercules tries to find a champion for himself from among the other Olympian gods but no one is willing. Ares the god of war even taunts Herc about his fate. He pins his last hopes on Hermes but Hermes flies off on a mission from Zeus before he can ask him.

At last, time is up and a portal appears. Pluto looks on in triumph as evil forces from Hades drag Hercules down to the Netherworld.

Thor, meanwhile, shows up on Mt. Olympus to plead on behalf of Hercules. Zeus explains the only way to free Herc from the contract and Thor selflessly volunteers to battle all the forces of Hades as Hercules’ champion. 

Thor 130THE MIGHTY THOR Vol 1 #130 (July 1966)

Title: Thunder in the Netherworld

Synopsis: Hercules is thrilled to see that Thor has decided to fight on his behalf, but warns him about how dangerous the forces of the Netherworld are.

The battles begin and Thor takes on monsters and infernal mechanisms that Pluto sics on him.

Back in New York, Tana Nile has surreptitiously discovered Jane Foster’s link to Thor, whom she views as the main obstacle to her people’s conquest of the Earth. She uses mind control to force Jane to leave New York City and never return.

Meanwhile, in Hades, Thor continues to withstand everything that Pluto can throw at him in a battle that has already destroyed much of the Netherworld. Pluto surrenders, preferring to go on ruling Hades rather than see any more of it damaged at Thor’s hands, especially since Thor seems powerful enough to prevail against all of the forces of the Netherworld.

herc drinkingHercules is grateful and relieved and vows eternal friendship with Thor as they make their way back to the surface world. And that brings this tale to a close. 

*** If you’re wondering what came next, Hercules soon joined the Avengers for a while. Tana Nile turned out to be working for the Colonizers of Rigel, an alien race that Thor would go on to battle multiple times over the years. Jane Foster stayed missing until The Mighty Thor #231 (January 1975).

FOR HERCULES FIGHTING ALONGSIDE SPIDER-MAN CLICK HERE

FOR CHAPTER LINKS IN THE AVENGERS/ MANTIS/ KANG/ CELESTIAL MADONNA STORY CLICK HERE.

FOR CHAPTER LINKS IN THE AVENGERS/ KREE-SKRULL WAR STORY CLICK HERE.

7 Comments

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7 responses to “THOR VERSUS HERCULES

  1. CHET BREWER

    Splendid! There is no way that the MCU movies will be able to pull off anything even close to this long story. It even comes with built-in comedy bits like with Pluto and Hippolyta posing as a studio head and actress. But the MCU would still screw it up.

    • Thanks! Yeah, they probably would screw that up. And ironically, the personality of Hercules in the Marvel Comics was the partying dude-bro that for some reason they made Thor out to be.

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