So Sayeth the Odinson: Great Rivalries in Comics History: Thor vs. Hercules

Greetings from the Odinson,

The Odinson continues his series exploring the greatest rivalries in comics history.  I’ve taken a look at who is stronger:  Hulk or Thing?  Who is faster: Superman or Flash?  And, who is the most egotistical: Tony Stark or Prince Namor?

This week, the Odinson will take a walk back through the annals of time and look at one of the most entertaining and close-to-my-heart rivalries ever explored in the four color medium. 

Great Rivalries in Comics History: Thor vs. Hercules

Thor is the son of Odin, king of the Norse gods, and the titan Gaea.  As the god of thunder he can call down the lightning and command the weather.  Armed with his invincible hammer, Mjolnir, Thor is the defender of fabled Asgard, home of the gods, and protector of the realm of Earth.

Hercules is the son of Zeus, king of the Olympian gods.  He walked the ancient world performing Twelve Labors, impossible feats of strength and heroism that no mere mortal could ever hope to accomplish.  Armed with an indestructible golden mace, his immense strength is surpassed only by the power of his heart.   

So, who is the mightiest immortal in the Marvel Universe, the Scion of Asgard or the Lion of Olympus?  Perhaps we can find out together.

When Titans Clash! (1965) – In their very first meeting, these two mighty meatheads begin to battle because both refuse to give way or back down to the other.  Like two lunks on the playground they punch, wrestle, and stomp each other with neither really getting it over on the other.  At one point, Hercules tries to bind Thor with a metal pillar he bends with his bare hands, and Thor actually rips the ground out from under his opponent’s feet like a carpet.  The battle probably would have gone on forever if Zeus, apparently the only adult present, had not stepped in and put an end to it.  

Whom the Gods Would Destroy! (1966) – Thor returns from Asgard to find Hercules making the moves on his beloved Jane Foster.  Once again, it doesn’t take much for these two lunkheads to start pounding on each other.  However, this test of might is different.  Because Thor is on the outs with his father at the time, Odin curses Thor and cuts his power in half.  This gives Hercules a decisive advantage and he delivers the knockout blow.

Hercules Enraged! (1974) – Deceived by a vision of betrayal, Thor storms the halls of Mount Olympus to confront his supposed treacherous friend.  Hercules, never willing to avoid a fight and without a second thought, leaps into the fray.  These two mastodons slam into each other and deliver haymakers that would humble even the strongest of adversaries.  They battle until the grounds of Olympus are not but a tattered garden of rubble all around them.  Once again, Zeus has to intervene before a winner can be determined, and before his home is utterly destroyed by these two hot heads. 

The War of the Gods! (1976) – This is perhaps the Odinson’s All-Time favorite Thor/Hercules battle.  The treachery of Loki and Ares sets these two mighty heroes against each other and this escalates to all-out war between Asgard and Olympus!  The pillars of heaven shake as the armies of the gods meet on the battle field and fight to the death!  Up in the clouds, high above the carnage below, Odin and Zeus come face-to-face and, without a single word being spoken between them, a unique outcome is decided upon.  To the Asgardians it appears as if they have won the war, and likewise to the Olympians it appears as if they defeated their foes.  In the end, a war between the mighty pantheons would benefit nobody and the two Skyfathers proved to be the wisest of the immortals.  NOTE: This King-Size Annual features some absolutely beautiful artwork by the late, great John Buscema. 

The Power of Pride! (1985) – If the above title bout is my favorite, then this instant classic is probably the funniest.  Trying to impress a group of children, Hercules tells a tall tale about the time he fought and defeated the Mighty Thor.  His version of the story is entirely one sided, complete with him treating blows from Mjolnir like a minor nuisance and Hercules actually picking up the entire island of Manhattan just to draw the thunder god closer.  However, upon seeing one of the kids distraught over this version of the tale, Hercules, on the fly, changes the ending of the story to a decisive Thor victory.  This shows that putting a smile on a child’s face is even more important than his mighty ego. 

Death Wager (1992) – In one of the most harrowing exchanges between the two, the god of war, Ares, uses black magic to possess the body of Eric Masterson, the mortal who possessed the power of Thor in the early ‘90s, and maliciously attacks Hercules in front of a group of sick children. 

Blood Oath (2005) – Strength wise, Thor and Hercules are pretty darn even.  Thor may have the advantage in powers and weapon, but in unarmed combat, the advantage definitely goes to Hercules.  The grabbling prowess of Hercules is legendary.  This is the guy that defeated the invincible Antaeus by wrestling him off the ground.  In Blood Oath, Hercules proves his superior martial skills by nearly choking the Asgardian out.  However, Thor gets it over on his erstwhile sparring partner by calling down the thunder. 

The Replacement Thor (2009) – In another humorous tale, using Thor’s armor, his own golden mace as a substitute for Thor’s hammer, and his father’s thunderbolts as a substitute for Thor’s lightning, Hercules once masqueraded as the god of thunder.  Well, tit for tat, Thor dresses up in the garbs of Hercules and confronts the usurper of his good name.  Thus, we are treated to Hercuthor vs. Thorcules!

Though they are from different pantheons and totally different cultures, Thor and Hercules are as close as brothers can be.  Whether it’s storming the Gates of Hades, waging war on Mount Olympus, venturing into the Black Galaxy, or toppling the Dark Gods, they have proven their loyalty time and again, always being there when the other needs a hand.  They are also immortals of great strength and great egos, and they are always willing to test their might against one another whenever the opportunity presents itself.

Bonus Round:

Check out these bone-crushing tales to see how our two lovable immortals faired against some of the mightiest opponents in the Marvel Universe.

The Thing vs. Thor in Thor #485 and Hercules in Thing #7.

Ares the God of War vs. Thor in Thor #462 and Hercules in Incredible Hercules #113.

The Wrecking Crew vs. Thor in Thor #304 and Hercules in Thor #418.

The Masters of Evil vs. Hercules in Avengers #274 and Thor in Avengers #276-277.

The Incredible Hulk vs. Hercules in Tales to Astonish #79 and Thor in Thor #385.

The Destroyer vs. Hercules in Thor #224 and Thor in Thor #265.

Zeus the King of the Gods vs. Hercules in Hercules (2nd Series) #4 and Thor in Avengers #285.

Galactus vs. Thor in Thor #161 and Hercules in Hercules (1st Series) #4.

Whether they are sparring against each other or fighting side-by-side on the battlefield, Thor the God of Thunder and Hercules the Prince of Power are constantly trying to get it over on the other.  This highly competitive nature of their friendship makes them one of the Greatest Rivalries in the Comics History.

Be sure to check out past installments Hulk vs. Thing, Superman vs. Flash, and Batman vs. Superman, and be sure to be on the lookout for future installments for the Greatest Rivalries in the Comics History – Punisher vs. Daredevil, Superman vs. Captain Marvel, Wolverine vs. the Hulk, and more!   

This is Odinson bidding thee farewell     

NOTE: Be sure to check out my book – The Survivors: A Glen Haven Tale.  Available in Paperback, Kindle, and Audiobook.

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About Odinson

I am a lifelong comics fan and pop culture enthusiast. Comic books, novels, games, television, movies, I love it all. From fantasy to science fiction, drama to comedy, as long as the writing and execution are interesting, I love it, and I want to talk about it.

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