Friday, August 01, 2008

Smash of the Titans (Marvel)
Hulk VS Hercules: When Titans Collide #1 When: June 2008 Why: Greg Pak & Fred Van Lente How: Reilly Brown, Carlos Cuevas, Terry Pallot & Chris Sotomayor

The Story So Far...
Once long ago, during one of the Hulk's many rampages in New York City, the green goliath found himself locked in mortal battle with the mighty Odinson - Thor!

In an effort to curtail the destruction wrought by the Hulk's mindless rampages; the sorcerer supreme, Dr. Strange, intervenes in the epic battle with a conjuring that whisks his former teammate into a realm between dimensions.
By sending Hulk to this crossroads Strange offers him the opportunity to explore an infinite sprawl of worlds, a hex assuring that should the Hulk find anything but happiness, he would be returned to the nexus.

Taking pity on the magnificent gamma irradiated behemoth; Gaea extends her hand and directs the Hulk to realm of the Greek gods! Finding himself at the foot of Mt. Olympus, Hulk makes acquaintance with two lame giants, and in doing so, begins a path that will lead him into battle with the prince of power - Hercules!

Tale of the Tape...
ARTWORK: Jim CheungARTWORK: John Romita JrStrength: Draw 6 (Invincible)
Intelligence: Hercules 2 (Average)
Speed: Draw 3 (Athlete)
Stamina: Hulk 6 (Generator)
Agility: Draw 2 (Average)
Fighting Ability: Draw 6 (Warrior)
Energy Power: Draw 1 (None)

- Hercules is the demigod spawn of king of the Olympian gods, Zeus, and Alcmena; the mortal daughter of the king of Mycenae.

Despite a conspiracy perpetrated by Hera and Luciana to prevent the birth; Hercules was born after seven days of labor, to rule those around him, by the decree of Zeus. The mammoth child would indeed traverse many perils to grow into a mighty leader of men, whose strength became the stuff of legends.

So far did the tale of Hercules travel, that he would gain the attentions of Nordic counterparts, who would seek to employ his power to unstick the might of the god of thunder, Thor! Despite many showdowns; Thor and Hercules would become godly allies, and members of Earth's mightiest mortal protectors - the Avengers!
Hercules' return to the mortal realm would also include tenures with the Champions, Heroes for Hire, and the Defenders, continuing his presence as a sometimes unruly force for the good of mankind.

- Dr. Robert Bruce Banner, a slight and insignificant scientist, lives slavishly dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge, as funded by the United States military.
Though Banner justifies his goals as means for peace, he becomes one of America's leading weapons designers after inventing a gamma radiation bomb.

During preperations for a test launch in the desert, Dr. Banner spots a reckless youth on the testing ground, and in a moment of magnificence, knowingly throws himself on a bullet that would grant a far crueller fate than death.
Bitterly aware of the Communist conspiracy of his fellow scientist, Banner struggles to usher he and the boy to safety while his colleague continues to countdown the launch.

After succumbing to an ordinarily lethal doses of gamma radiation, Dr. Banner soon finds himself undergoing a horrific transformation. Originally by night, but soon triggered by rage or unease, Banner discovers the superhumanly strong alter-ego within himself, dubbed simply - the Hulk! As the Hulk, Banner's brilliance is reduced to a childlike lumbering, while his slight frame conversely comes to possess size, strength, and durability never before imagined.

Hulk has no specific known weaknesses, but is fiercely protective of the few who earn his favour. Though generally good hearted, Hulk is prone to wild rages and varied personalities, including the calculating persona adopted during his time on the planet Sakaar, where he adopts a military savvy.

Additional: A favourite amongst comic fans; the tradition of pitting the raw strength of the Hulk against the other powerhouses of the Marvel Universe has seen him develop many rivalries. Hulk and Hercules have had several showdowns in their long publishing history, the very first coming in Tales to Astonish #79!

History: Draw (0-0-1)
Math: Draw Ranking: Hulk (#5)

What Went Down...
Having defeated the unprovoked attack of Ares; Hulk's rages are redirected by two wounded and lame giants toward the home of the gods - Mount Olympus!
Achieving a feat rarely seen by even the mighty gods, Hulk launches himself with the gamma irradiated power in his legs, reaching the top of the mountain with one fell leap. There, he finds a Greek pantheon, already awaiting the return of their messenger Hermes, and his cargo, Hercules, son of Zeus!

Hercules grapples with the raging Avenger, intent on bestowing upon him, "the gift of combat!" The Olympians' waist lock gives him opportunity to launch the Hulk helplessly into the air, only to bring him driving back down to Earth with the power of an out-of-control "jumbo jet!"

The pankration turns to an old fashioned pummeling as Hercules presses his advantage, launching into a barrage of unrelenting fists. The flurry accompanies Hercules' offers of a chance to surrender, to which the Hulk responds with the flex of his mighty chest, which props an unsuspecting Herc' into the air!

The god flips backward to take an impressive ready stance, but the Hulk continues his responsive charge. The meeting of Hulk's palms sends a shockwave through the air that tosses Hercules like a ragdoll, into the beauteous columns and architecture of Mount Olympus!

Plundering the wreckage, Hulk hoists a column above his head, threatening an illprepared Hercules who throws a defensive fist at the very last minute! The power of his punch channels up the column, shattering the end in a hail of rubble on the Hulk's end!

The arrival of Ares, smarting from his defeat at the hands of the Hulk, brings an end to the battle between Hercules and the jade giant. Learning of Ares' hand in the Hulk's rage from Athena, Hercules extends his hand in friendship to Hulk.

The Hammer...
The escape of Cronus and his army of giants imprisoned by Zeus interrupts the peaceful resolution, but in the end it is undeniably a draw when the two warriors end their battle!

The Olympics are about to wrap up, but our terminal lateness won't interrupt plans mislaid. This battle on the hallowed grounds of Mount Olympus seemed the very perfect way to start August fisticuffery!

The Olympic month will give us a chance to leave behind the tiring themes of the past few months [Iron Man, Hulk, and Batman], giving us the opportunity to open the Infinite Wars back up to a wider variety of entries. With any luck this will help us turn the schedule back around, with a burst of new entries to excite me, readers, (and Leaguers) alike!

For those of you tracking our cumulative stats, you might be interested to know that this tie brings Hulk parallel to the higher ranked Superman with a record of; fourteen wins, seven defeats, two draws, and an assist! This, of course, will be of special significance for those locked in the endless debate of which character is truly superior [RE: Marvel versus DC #3]!

Top 25 Powerhouses
#1 Iron Man (Marvel)
#2 Superman (DC)
#3 Hulk (Marvel)
#4 Thing (Marvel)
#5 Black Adam (DC)
#6 Sub-Mariner (Marvel)
#7 Luke Cage (Marvel)
#8 Thor (Marvel)
#9 Silver Surfer (Marvel)
#10 Goro (Midway)
#11 Rogue (Marvel)
#12 Martian Manhunter (DC)
#13 Wonder Woman (DC)
#14 Dr. Doom (Marvel)
#15 Yellowjacket (Marvel)
#16 War Machine (Marvel)
#17 Colossus (Marvel)
#18 She-Thing (Marvel)
#19 Powergirl (DC)
#20 Death's Head (Marvel)
#21 Bizarro (DC)
#22 Destroyer (Marvel)
#23 Atom Smasher (DC)
#24 Drax (Marvel)
#25 Orion (DC)
Top 25 Generators
#1 Iron Man (Marvel)
#2 Superman (DC)
#3 Hulk (Marvel)
#4 Wolverine (Marvel)
#5 Thing (Marvel)
#6 Black Adam (DC)
#7 Sub-Mariner (Marvel)
#8 Thor (Marvel)
#9 Flash (DC)
#10 Green Lantern (DC)
#11 Silver Surfer (Marvel)
#12 Rogue (Marvel)
#13 Flash (DC)
#14 Martian Manhunter (DC)
#15 Wonder Woman (DC)
#16 Dr. Doom (Marvel)
#17 Ghost Rider (Marvel)
#18 Tara (Marvel)
#19 The Spectre (DC)
#20 Green Lantern (DC)
#21 Green Lantern (DC)
#22 Dr. Strange (Marvel)
#23 Blazing Skull (Marvel)
#24 War Machine (Marvel)
#25 Raiden (Midway)
Pseudo-statistical content like this is sure to take increased significance as we roll through the month, enjoying all the Olympic action from Beijing!

Over the next couple of weeks you'll probably note polls popping up at the top of the menu [right].
Your votes will help us determine who the greatest powers of the superhero universes are in the next Punch-Up, contributing bonus points to teams in the Fantasy League!

To help inform you in the quest for gold, the current cumulative rankings of characters possessing abilities relevant to this particular entry. Listed left; the top twenty-five powerhouses and generators, highlighting statistics for strength and endurance!

Hercules has to be a favourite for Most Improved of 2008, bouncing out of World War Hulk to not only sustain a solo-title, but do so with one of the most rollickinng reads on shelves! Hulk vs Hercules was a surprising one-shot spin-off, presumably to fuel Hulk movie excitement with a tie-in that might also steer readers to Hulk's surrogate on the Incredible title. [The uninitiated can find Hulk battling his red counterpart in his transplant home, the adjectiveless Hulk.]

With our focus shifting back to the battle portion of content, you can rest assured you'll see more Hercules at some point, possibly from this very issue, which is jam packed with fisticuffs featuring both the titular stars. For those considering the purchase, it's worth noting that the sixty-four page giant also includes a complete reprinting of the characters' 1966 meeting, the previously featured The Titan and the Torment!

The Fight: 4.5 The Issue: 5.5

While the Olympics wrap up and the last of our belated August updates trickle out, you might like to find more Hulk and Hercules reads! Check out the Shipping List updates for new releases, and the Infinite Wars Gift Shoppe for more collections featuring all the reviewed issues in the Secret Archive!

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