Currently playing the theaters, is the film Hercules Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Ian McShane, Rufus Sewell, Joseph Fiennes, and Peter Mullan; directed by: Brett Ratner (X-Men: The Last Stand) Now while folks probably all know that the film is based on the legend of the legendary god, they may not realize that this particular film (unlike the solidly dull film The Legend Of Hercules) that came out in January, this one is actually based on the Radical Comics character of Hercules who was portrayed in print a pair of limited series (The Thracian Wars) and (The Knives of Kush) that were both written by Steve Moore with Cris Bolsin on art. With the film being adapted from the first comic.
(As an unavoidable aside, we can’t help but to mention that another reviewer wrote an article about the film where he lambasted it because — in this film — Hercules was portrayed as more of a really, really strong guy than the actual son of a real-life (mythological) god. Now while we too have railed against writers taking too many liberties with legendary and/or mythological characters >coughTwilightcough< but, come on now, really? You’re upset because this fictional film, based on a comicbook re-interprets the “myth” of Hercules as not so much the actual son of an actual god, but as just an incredibly strong guy with great PR (and people tell us that we’re not completely connected to reality).
At any rate, in both the film and the comic we are presented with a new view of “the son of Zeus and a mortal woman as he walks the earth, as something of a tormented soul. According to the tale, Hercules was the powerful son of the god king Zeus, yet for this he received nothing but suffering throughout his entire life. After mostly completing 12 arduous labors with which he was tasked and losing his entire family, Hercules turned his back on the gods finding his only solace in endless bloody battle. While selling his mighty arm as a mercenary he came into the company of six similar souls, whose only bond was their love of fighting and the presence of death.
These men and woman never question where they go to fight or why or whom, just how much they will be paid. Now the King of Thrace has hired these mercenaries to train his men to become the greatest army of all time in defense of a usurper who would overthrow the kingdom — or so they are told. Needless to say, all is not quite as it is initially presented to Hercules and his crew as they are to soon learn. For it is with this current entanglement that this band of lost souls to finally have their eyes opened to how far they have fallen and the narrow, perilous path to their own redemption.
The series offers up not only a very fine story by Moore, but some really incredible interior art by Bolsin, as well as spectacular covers by the legendary Jim Steranko. Both series are currently available in collected volumes through both Radical as well as on Amazon. Personally, we didn’t so much have any trouble with Moore’s interpretation of the legend of Hercules (or with the film itself), as we feel that simply re-resenting what we already know, in a way we’ve already seen it is, well, rather dull and predictable. What we have here is a fresh spin on a time-worn legend, and truthfully we really can’t find anything wrong with that.
Robert J. Sodaro has been reviewing comicbooks for some 30 years. During that time, his reviews and articles have appeared in numerous print publications, as well as on the web. Subscribe to receive regular comicbook articles and reviews.