The Coming Days of Hercules: Fred Van Lente on Herc

Fred Van Lente on Hercules

Incredible Hercules #126

Marvel’s announcement that Hercules was taking over for Incredible Hulk in his own title after World War Hulk this past spring shocked some fans—for better or for worse. Now, entering their second year on The Incredible Hercules, Fred Van Lente and Greg Pak’s blended superhero/ Greek mythology hybrid continues to pick up traction with no signs of stopping. Hercules #126 marks the first time in Hercules’ existence as a character in the Marvel Universe that his origin story is being told. Plus, there’s no telling what’s in store for the Prince of Power in light of the recent developments in Secret Invasion and Dark Reign.

Newsarama contacted Fred Van Lente to set fans up with information for what’s in store for Hercules going into 2009.

Newsarama: First off Fred, has it always been assumed that Marvel's rendition of Hercules is an iteration of the classic Hercules of ancient Greek mythology? What made the you and Greg decide to tell his origin "the Marvel way"?

Fred Van Lente: Herc #126 is basically the season premiere of "Season Two" of Incredible Hercules. We wanted this issue to be as accessible as possible for new readers to jump on board, and returning to the mythological past to tell Hercules' origin for the first time in Marvel continuity seemed a great way to accomplish that.

For one thing, with Hera beginning her...well, I guess you could call it her Dark Reign over the Olympus Group, with all the Olympian villains united and poised to bring a world of pain down on Herc and Athena, it seemed like a good idea to go back and remind everybody why she hates these two so much to begin with.

And the last page drops a bombshell that few will see coming, but will reverberate through me and Greg's uber-arc for the rest of the series.

Hercules #126, page 4

NRAMA: Beyond the obvious, how is Hercules different in context from his ancient mythological counterpart?

FVL: Not very. Hercules came into life believing, at first, he was the son of Amphitryon, one of the greatest generals of Thebes in ancient Greece. But then he found out his true father was Zeus, who lay with his mother in Amphitryon's form. What does that feel like, to find out your dad is a god—the god, really? And that you've been conceived specifically to save Heaven and Earth from monsters and giants? How does one deal with that awesome responsibility? This story explores those questions—and shows the major battle where Hercules first earned the title "Prince of Power."

NRAMA: What can you tell us about the some of roles of other Greek Gods in your upcoming origin story?

FVL: As always, in myth and Incredible Hercules, there is the sometimes-obvious, sometimes-concealed hand of Athena, Goddess of Wisdom and Heroic Endeavor, Hercules' sister and patroness, manipulating events and setting her pawns in motion.

But as those who read our Secret Invasion crossover know, we have reason to be suspicious of Athena's motives. She's always looking at the big picture—playing a massively complex game with rules only she understands. Does her bigger scheme spell tragedy or triumph for our heroes, Hercules and Amadeus Cho?

At least one major piece of Athena's plan falls into place in this issue.

NRAMA: Why does Hera hate Hercules so much?

FVL: Zeus chose to birth his personal champion via a mortal woman, and not Hera, his wife. To Hera, Hercules' very existence is an unending insult, one she will never forgive.

Not when she has a son, a certain God of War, who she feels would serve much better as champion...

NRAMA: Tell readers a little bit about Amadeus Cho's next adventure; what is 'The Quest for Kirby'?

Hercules #126, page 8-9

FVL: In Sacred Invasion, Amadeus Cho's beloved coyote pup, Kerberos (Kirby for short), was revealed to be a Skrull. Did anyone think our boy genius was going to take this lying down? Heck, no. In the second story in this super-special double-sized ish, Amadeus embarks on a quest to find the real Kirby.

Greg wrote the script to the Cho story—as I wrote the script to the Herc tale—and what's awesome is he is reunited with Amadeus Cho's co-creator, artist Takeshi Miyazawa. Tak's pages look great, as, I should say, do newcomer Rodney Buchemi's on Herc's origin.

NRAMA: How will Hercules be affected by the upcoming change in status quo with Norman Osborn after the events of Secret Invasion?

FVL: As Hera is mustering her Olympian forces, she is forging alliances with the great earthly powers as well—and in the world of Dark Reign there is no greater earthly power than Norman Osborn.

The question is, does Norman Osborn consider Hera to be a good ally—or a greater threat than the heroes themselves?

Hera, after all, not unlike Athena, has much larger master plan of her own.

NRAMA: How does the ex-New Warrior Aegis figure into the upcoming storyline?

FVL: Aegis became Athena's champion in the pages of New Warriors. Hera has targeted all of Athena's allies for death. Aegis has a big ol' crosshairs smack dab on his forehead. Can Herc and Cho get to him before Hera's minions do?

NRAMA: Looking past the next couple of months of Incredible Hercules to the mid-months of 2009—what surprises are in store for our hero Hercules? Any guest appearances?

FVL: Well, his arch-nemesis Ares is on a new super "hero" team. Expect them to turn up looking for blood sooner rather than later.

Hercules #126, page 17

And, this summer, we're pleased to say the crossover Incredible Hercules fans have been clamoring for since this series was first announced will at last happen.

NRAMA: Will Hercules' role in the Mighty Avengers play a part in the stories that go on in his monthly title?

FVL: Yes. I can say no more at this time.

NRAMA: What do the two of you think are the key elements that make Incredible Hercules a consistently successful monthly title?

FVL: We've been really blessed with wonderful critical and fan reaction for a B-list character that has never had his own on-going series before. Marvel's been nothing but supportive as well.

It doesn't hurt, I suppose, that Hercules has been one of the most popular characters in literature for several thousand years. As cliché as it sounds, all Greg and I did was return him to his roots. He's a fun guy to be around, and with the addition of Amadeus Cho, there's a great camaraderie, a classic buddy team-up book of brains plus brawn that's really appealing.

And as we move forward in Season Two, we'll be seeing how Amadeus Cho is being affected by his "mentoring," such as it is, by Hercules in the ways of heroism. That, just as in Herc's life, great triumph is often accompanied by great tragedy.

Don't forget Mikaboshi is still out there... and on his way back.

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