NESSUS

Real Name: Nessus

Identity/Class: Centaur/Mystically-altered human (Post-Hyborian Era)

Occupation: Ferryman

Group Membership: Centaurs;
formerly Pluto's Jury (Abomination, Armless Tiger Man, Artume, Baron Zemo, Commander Kraken, Iron Monger, Jack O'Lantern, Kyknos, Orka, Scourge of the Underworld, Veranke)

Affiliations: Formerly Pluto

Enemies: Hercules, the Lapith tribes, Peirithous, Pluto

Known Relatives: Centaurus (father), Ixion (grand-father), Nephele (grand-mother), Eurytion, Hylaeus, Rhoecus, Ripheus (brothers, deceased), Centaurion (possible brother, SEE COMMENTS), Peirithous (uncle)

Aliases: None

Base of Operations: Hades;
formerly the River Evenus in Aetolia (now part of modern Greece)

First Appearance: Marvel Super-Heroes III#1 (May, 1990)

Powers/Abilities: Nessus possessed extraordinary strength possibly in the enhanced human range (capable of lifting 800 pounds to 2 tons), enhanced stamina, reflexes and stamina. He could use his front hooves as formidable weapons.

Physical Description: Nessus had the upper portion and torso of a man and the hindquarters of a horse. He also had grey skin.

 

 

History: (Greek/Roman myth)- Nessus was the grandson of King Ixion who ruled parts of Thessaly in the 14th Century BC. Ixion had married Dia, a princess from Thrace, but neglected to pay the bride price to her father, King Eioneus. Eioneus took Ixion's mares as a security in lieu of payment. Ixion invited Eioneus to Thessaly to collect payment and instead killed him in what was the first known murder recorded in Ancient Greece. Because it was the murder of his father-in-law, Ixion could not find anyone to purify him of the foul deed. Dia, however, was seduced by Zeus and eventually gave birth to Ixion's heir, Peirithous. She convinced Zeus to purify Ixion, but once Ixion learned that Zeus had seduced his wife, he demanded Zeus's wife, Hera, as added compensation to what he considered an insult. Zeus returned Ixion to Earth and told him that Hera would be sent to him later. Ixion, however, was visited by Nephele, the cloud-goddess, who bore him a deformed horse-like son named Centaurus. For offending the gods, Ixion was chained to a flailing wheel in the underworld as punishment.

Peirithous ended up living with the Lapith tribes and eventually inherited the throne of Thessaly. Centaurus as an adult fathered Nessus and numerous other Centaurs from normal horses. Centaurus made a claim for the throne of Thessaly himself and after a several battles came to a truce with Peirithous who shared the land with him. The peace was shattered when Nessus and the Centaurs tried to abduct Hippodameia, Peirithous's bride, at their wedding.

The Centaurs were driven south to Malea and eventually reached Mount Pholoe in Arcadia where they encountered the huntress Atalanta who slew Ripheus and Rhoecus. Pholus, a centaur son of Silenius, tried to instill in the remaining Centaurs more civilized manners, but once more aroused by the taste of wine, the Centaurs tried to abduct wives again. During his Fourth Labor, Hercules drove them off but killed Eurytion in the attack. Most of the Centaurs fled to Eleusis, but Nessus fled to Aetolia where he got a job as a ferryman to the river Evenus. He even began claiming he received the job because the gods swore to his sterling character.

(Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe Deluxe Edition) - Donning the shirt, Hercules was consumed with agony and found he could not remove it. Ultimately, he had himself burnt upon a funeral pyre to stop the pain. Zeus intervened, consuming the pyre with his thunderbolts and bringing Hercules to Olympus to be made a true immortal.

 

(Greek-Roman Myth/Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe Deluxe Edition (fb)/Marvel Superheroes III#1/2 (fb)/Hulk: Hercules Unleashed (fb)/Incredible Hercules#113 (fb) --a differing version--See comments)- Nessus eventually offered transport to Deianeira, wife of Hercules, knowing full well Hercules was away on an adventure with the Argonauts. He began to take advantage of her as the Argonauts returned Hercules home unexpectedly. Hearing his wife's screams, Hercules rushed to her rescue with his arrows, which had been dipped in the blood of the Hydra, at the ready and fired upon Nessus. In his death-throes, Nessus gathered some of his blood tainted by the Hydra and presented it to Deianeira as a love talisman in case Hercules' eyes should wander to another woman. He then keeled over dead.

    Sometime later, Deianeira learned of Hercules' infatuation with Princess Iole of Oechalia and remembered the love charm from Nessus. She gave it to Hercules, and he was instantly consumed with fiery agony and could not release the charm. it exploded on contact with him in the form of a intense flame burning itself into his skin. Hercules tossed himself into the nearby Achelous River to put out the flame. Drifting out to sea, he was found by his father, Zeus, who revealed that the flame only burnt off his mortality and left behind his godhood.

(Incredible Hercules#129) - Residing in Hades Nessus served in Pluto's Jury for Zeus' trial.

(Incredible Hercules#130) - Hercules attacked the Jury and threatened to cut Nessus' throat and spill his Hydra's poisoned blood on the other Jury members. Nessus eventually broke free from Hercules' grip and the Jury overpowered Hercules.

Comments: Adapted by Dan G. Chechester, Margaret Clark, Keith Pollard and Kim DeMulder.

The OHotMU: Avengers 2004 confirms that the original version at told in OHotMU Deluxe Edition is correct, though the trauma at the time and the millennia that have passed since have dulled Hercules' memory. He has told differing versions as the mood suited him.

There are a few other centaurs not related to Nessus. Among them are the wise sage Chiron who was born to the Titan Cronus out of wedlock and Pholus who was born to the satyr Silenus. There are also two Inhumans, Stallior and Chiron (not be confused with the son of Cronus) with typical centaurian appearances.

It is not for certain if the Centaur Centaurion is meant to be a brother of Nessus or the same individual as Centaurus. It is possible, just as there are some Centaurs as Chiron and Pholus with other parentages, that Centaurius could be the progeny of yet another Olympian God such as Ares or Poseidon (who reportedly created horses as a gift to Demeter) or even that he is another Inhuman or perhaps even Deviant mutant.

According to some myths, Nessus's father, Centaurus, is the son of Apollo and Stilbe, but this is incorrect. This was probably invented later on to expand their enmity with the sons of Lapithus, a son of Apollo and Stilbe, who fought with them for control of Thessaly and to possibly link them to the Lapiths.

According to some myths, Nessus's grandmother, Nephele, was a cloud that Zeus molded to resemble Hera and brought to life while in others she is a daughter of the Titans Oceanus and Tethys. She is not to be confused with the Nephele who married King Athamas of Boeotian Orchomenus.

According to Hulk: Hercules Unchained, Athena predicted that Hercules would be slain twice and that a green monster would be responsible both times. This goes not refer to the rather Hulk-like Nessus, but rather to the green monster of jealousy. In the case of the Hulk, it does refer to green skin. On the other hand, Hercules' memories of Nessus resembling the Hulk, Deianeira as the Scarlet Witch and Jason as Thor (or perhaps a long-haired Captain America) might be subliminal figments of his imagination. The flashback also excludes him leaving his arrows to the Argonaut Poeas and his son Hyllus lighting the funeral pyre which consigned him to Olympus.

The mere concept of a man-horse is rather interesting because any human organs in his human half he would have again in his horse half so he would have two hearts for increased stamina, two sets of lungs creating extra oxygen efficiency and two digestive tracts to burn up twice as much food. If the human heart was damaged though by an arrow, the human half might die first before the horse half keeled over.

by Will U

CLARIFICATIONS:
Nessus and the other Centaurs are not to be confused with:

Atalanta, the Arcadian huntress, should not be confused with:


Images taken from:
Hulk: Hercules Unleashed, page 12, panel 3
Hulk: Hercules Unleashed, page 14, panel 4


Appearances:
Hulk: Hercules Unleashed (October, 1996) - Peter David (writer), Mike Deodato Jr. (artist), Mark Gruenwald (editor)
Hercules and the Heart of Chaos#2 (October, 1996) - Tom DeFalco & Ron Frenz (writer/pencils), Pat Olliffe (inks), Tom Brevoort (editor)
Incredible Hercules#113 (February, 2008) - Greg Pak & Fred Van Lente (writers), Khoi Pham (pencils), Paul Neary (inks), Mark Paniccia (editor)
Incredible Hercules#129 (July, 2009) - Greg Pak & Fred Van Lente (writers), Ryan Stegman (pencils), Terry Pallot (inks), Mark Paniccia (editor)
Incredible Hercules#130 (August, 2009) - Greg Pak & Fred Van Lente (writers), Ryan Stegman & Rodney Buchemi (pencils), Terry Pallot (inks), Mark Paniccia (editor)

Last updated: 09/06/10

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