JASON

Real Name: Jason (originally spelled Iason)

Identity/Class: Normal Human (Post-Hyborian)

Occupation: Adventurer, former monarch

Group Membership: Leader of the Argonauts

Affiliations: Hera, Hercules, Medea (former), Sersi

Enemies: King Pelias of Iolcus, King Aeetes of Colchis, Medea, Medusa, Mikaboshi

Known Relatives: Cretheus (grandfather, deceased), Tyro (grandmother, deceased), Aeson (father), Pelias, Pheres, Amythaon, Neleus (uncles), Crete (aunt), Acastus, Alcestis, Asterius, Melampus, Bias (cousins), Medea (first wife), Alcimenes, Eriopis, Medus, Mermerus, Pheres, Thessalus (sons by Medea), Eriopis (daughter by Medea), Euneus, Deipylus (sons by Hypsipyle),

Aliases: None

Base of Operations: Mobile through Ancient Greece (c. 1300-1260 BC)

First Appearance: Marvel Preview#10 (Winter, 1977)

Powers/Abilities: Jason possessed the normal human strength of a man of his size, height and build who engages in extensive physical exercises. He was well trained in wrestling and unarmed combat as well as a fair swordsman. According to the myth, he was also possessed of good judgment, smooth tongue, and charisma with women. He also proved himself to be a brave and resourceful leader.

History: (Greek/Roman Legend) - Jason was the son of Aeson, son of King Cretheus of Iolcus. Cretheus' wife, Tyro, had been seduced by the god Poseidon and gave birth to the sons Pelias and Neleus. Aeson was in line for the throne of Iolcus, but Pelias usurped it in his stead and ordered all of Aeson's heirs to be put to death. As one of Aeson's daughters tried to save the infant Jason, she hid out in a temple of Hera and called out to the goddess Hera three times to be saved before being killed. Hera spirited Jason away and gave him to the wise centaur Chiron to be raised. Pelias believed Jason to have been killed by his supporters, but his priests warned him to beware of a man who would come wearing only one sandal.

Jason grew up in Chiron's presence along with many of the heroes of the time such as Hercules, Castor, Pollux, Theseus and others. When he reached twenty-one, he decided to lay claim to the throne of Iolcus. Pelias had scorned Hera for all of his life and she decided that since she was indebted to protect Jason that the young man would be ideal to gain her vengeance on Pelias. She also believed that Medea, granddaughter of the sun god Helios, would be clever enough and treacherous enough to overthrow the devious king. Zeus, lord of the gods of Olympus, however, told her that she could only help Jason three times: once for each time Jason's sister had called upon her. Traveling to earth, Hera took the form of an old woman stranded by the Anaurus River. She requested Jason to carry her across it and as a result, he lost a sandal in the waters.

Appearing in Iolcus, Jason appeared with one sandal and stood before King Pelias claiming his right to the throne. Having lived in fear of the oracle, Pelias was nonetheless bound by rules of hospitality to not harm his guest. Moreover, he had promised not to kill any more members of the family of Aeson who lived in seclusion outside the city. Seizing an idea, he asked Jason what he would do if an oracle had predicted that someone was supposed to kill him. Jason commented he would send that person on a dangerous and foolhardy mission. Seizing on those words, Aeson commanded Jason to search and bring back the Golden Fleece to Greece.

(New Warriors II#10 (fb) - BTS) - At some point in his life, Jason wore the aegis either as a gift from Athena or from Hera.

(Greek Legend) - Feasting with his other relatives to layout his plans, Jason also consulted the temple of Hera. She revealed to him that she had been the old woman that he had carried and because of Zeus's edict, she could only help him two more times. For the second time, she sent him to have his ship built by Argus the boat builder because only he could create a craft worthy of carrying a boat for such an adventure. He sent out word for the greatest heroes of Greece and was reunited with Hercules and Theseus among countless others as the Argonauts. In their travel for the Golden Fleece, they encountered and killed giants among several dangers.

(Greek Legend/Incredible Hercules#118 (fb) ) - Jason won a rowing contest against Hercules when Hercules broke his own oar. The Argonauts sent out Hercules and Hylas to get water. Hylas was taken away by nymphs and Hercules didn't return to the Argonauts and instead kept searching for Hylas.

(Greek Legend/Hercules: Heart of Chaos#2 (fb)) - Jason romanced Medea in Colchis to gain her support in obtaining the fleece, and she proved instrumental in helping him and his men in capturing it. As Jason and his men returned home, Medea returned with him to Greece although they had to visit the Eternal Sersi, whom Medea believed to be her aunt Circe, to absolve her of her sins. Sersi absolved Medea of the act of playing a part in her father's death, but upon hearing the full circumstances, she sent Jason, Medea, and the Argonauts on their way. On their return, the Argonauts encountered the giant Talos near Crete, and Hera was able to help Jason one last time by showing him the way to defeat it.

(Greek Legend) - During Jason's absence, a rumor began in Iolcus that Jason had died at sea and Pelias celebrated believing he was rid of the last pretender to his throne. Fearing that Pelias would not live up to his word, Jason meanwhile docked the Argo some distance from Iolcus and returned over land with only fifty men by his side. Medea hatched a plan herself by restoring Aeson's youth with her magics and then showing Pelias's daughters how to do the same trick. However, by altering the routine, Medea caused Pelias would burn to death in a hot bath. With his death, Jason won the throne. He claimed Medea as his queen, but the natives of Iolcus refused to accept her, being from a barbarian realm, as their ruler. Jason left Iolcus to his cousin Acastus to rule and traveled to Corinth where her father had been born and once ruled.

    Hera no longer had any interest in Jason after the death of Pelias. Jason and Medea ruled Corinth and their son Thessalus later returned to Iolcus to rule after Acastus. Still feeling adventurous at times, he took part in the hunt for the Calydonian Boar and often lived in Thebes as a guest of King Creon. He became ambitious enough to marry Creon's daughter, Glauce, in order to gain advantage for himself and his children who had no rights as progeny of Medea from Colchis. Creon exiled Medea in order to divorce her from Jason, and she retaliated by killing Creon, Glauce and her own children before escaping to Athens.

(Marvel Preview#10 (fb)) - As a guest of King Kreon of Pylos, Jason was asked by his daughter Alceste to be shown the sport of bull-leaping. Hercules was also in attendance and leapt in to prevent fatal injury, but Kreon was so dishonored he ordered Jason to bring him the gold of the Gorgon as penance. Hercules re-joined Jason again for the new adventure.

(Marvel Preview#10 (fb)) - Hercules used a ring Alceste had given to Jason to restore the Argo and finance their new adventure.

(Marvel Preview#10) - Sailing for the Isle of Fear, the Argonauts landed and Hercules lead the way to the mountain lair of Medusa. Attacked by griffins en-route, Hercules fought them off as the Old One defended their ship on the beach from a giant crab. Hercules' band meantime reached Medusa's lair as she tempted Jason with an apple and turned him to stone with her gaze. As the Old One rushed to reveal that the ship was saved from a giant crab at the expense of the crew, he discovered Medusa about to slay Hercules and killed her with an arrow. As he died from the exertion, Jason returned to normal with all the other petrified victims of the Gorgon. After burying the Old One with honors, Jason and Hercules seized Medusa's treasures and flew ahead together on her winged horse with their new crew now made up from Medusa's victims restored to life on the ship. In Pylos, Kreon reached greedily into the sack, which Jason had brought him and was bitten by a snake hiding within it. With his death, Jason claimed Alceste as his new bride and the throne of Pylos for himself.

Under unknown circumstances, Jason was prevented from claiming the throne of Pylos or was eventually ousted by supporters of Kreon.

(Hulk: Hercules Unleashed (fb)) - On another adventure with Jason and the Argonauts, Jason chided Hercules for wanting to hurry home to be with his wife. As Jason sited the thrill of adventure, Hercules revealed the pleasure of a good wife and home waiting for him. Hoisted up into the lines of the ship, Hercules was confronted by the face of his half-sister, Athena, in the oak mast as she warned him he would be killed twice in his life and that both times would involve a green monster. Just then, the sea boiled with great fury and the Hydra attacked as the Argonauts fought together to defeat it and protect their ship.

(Greek Legend/Hulk: Hercules Unleashed#1 (fb)) - Despondent on how his life had turned, Jason returned to Iolcus and discovered the ruins of the Argo rotting on the beach where it was last left. As he sat in his crumbling shadow remising on his life with grief and disgrace, the main prow of the ship collapsed and struck him a fatal blow. Hercules was traveling nearby as he heard Jason cry out and rushed to save him, but it was too late. Realizing he was dying, Jason remised on the errors of his past to Hercules just before dying his last breath. Hercules then cremated his body with a funeral pyre atop the burning Argo.

(Ares#3) - Jason was later reincarnated by the gods of Olympus to serve alongside the Argonauts once more and defend their realm from an invasion of Japanese demons led by Mikaboshi.

 

 

 

 

Comments: Adapted by William Mantlo and Val Mayerik

    Jason's physical appearance in Hulk: Hercules Unleashed was meant to evoke that of Thor (or perhaps a long-haired Captain America). In that issue, Eurytus resembles Hawkeye, Deianeira as the Scarlet Witch (or perhaps the Wasp), and Nessus the Centaur as the Hulk. Perhaps Hercules' kinship with the Avengers harkens back to the camaraderie of the Argonauts or he sees them as reincarnations or descendants of people he has known.

    Jason is a member of the Aeolian family tree of Greek Mythology (descendants of Aeolus) and as such, much of his list of relatives have to be taken with a grain of salt. For example, his Aunt Crete was the eponym of the island of Crete, but she was also supposed to be the mother of King Asterius, the Cretan king who adopted King Minos, who in turn is supposed to be counted as one of Jason's elders. In fact, many of the Argonauts were members of this family tree, but sometimes Aeolus is a grandfather or as much as an ancestor eight generations removed. Since there's no indication in the myths that Aeolus was long lived and had children for every generation he was still alive, it might be more accurate to be presuming that certain Argonauts were Aeolians under various different ancestors named Aeolus.

    There are several versions and motivations in the story of Jason's life. This history reports the traditional version with as many of those motivations as possible involved (as well as the Marvel Universe's take). The back-story to the Golden Fleece was that it had carried Phrixus and Helle, heirs of King Athamas of Thebes to Colchis. Helle had drowned in the Hellespont, but Phrixus made it to Colchis. After his death, the shade of Phrixus in the underworld was angry because his bones sat dishonored in a foreign land. Reputedly concealed in the fleece, returning his bones to be buried in Greece would lay him to rest. While the myths are vague on the final location of the fleece, it was likely buried with the bones of Phrixus.

    Hera's three promises to Jason seem to be a modern addition to the story of Jason. Sometimes it's a part of the legend, sometimes it isn't, but it's included here anyway.

    Jason wearing the aegis is a creation of the Marvel Universe since its not mentioned in connection to him in the myth. Furthermore, according to Athena, other heroes who had worn it were Perseus, Jason, Theseus, Achilles and Odysseus. Since Jason and Theseus were contemporaries (as were Achilles and Odysseus), this list of heroes appears to be suspicious unless they just wore them at different times of their lives. In the myth, Zeus lent it to Athena and sometimes to Apollo. Perseus's gifts were from the Hesperides, Theseus's gifts from Poseidon and Achilles received his armor from Hephaestus by way of his mother, the goddess Thetis.

    The full account of the Argosy can be found in the Argonauts entry.

    In the myth, Jason was killed outright by his collapsing ship and Hercules wasn't even present. In fact, Hercules wasn't present for the majority of the Argosy. Hercules' memories of these accounts are actually subject to debate. He may be recalling events that didn't occur in the way they really happened. On the other hand, the Marvel Universe version of these events might differ radically than the actual myth.

    In the Marvel Universe, the goddess that encountered Odysseus has been established to have actually been the Eternal Sersi. She was likely also responsible for meeting all the other Marvel Universe counterparts of the Greek heroes. As yet, the goddess Circe has not yet been seen in the MU.

    It is hard to tell if the King Kreon of Pylos in Marvel Preview#10 is supposed to be the same as the King Creon of Thebes from the actual story of Jason, but here they're being related as separate incidents. Actually, there never was a King Kreon of Pylos in myth, although for the sake of the Marvel Universe, he could have usurped the rule briefly during the time of Nestor who ruled during the lifetimes of Jason and Hercules. Then again, at least in the Marvel Universe, there might have been a Greek city called Pylos that was not part of the Greek mainland, which was ruled by another Kreon.

    There have been two movies based on the Argosy; the first "Jason and the Argonauts" (1963) is by far the most enjoyable and is possibly the closest to the actual story. Highlighted by the special effects of Ray Harryhausen, it starred Todd Armstrong as Jason and Nancy Kovak as Medea. (All of Armstrong's lines ended up redubbed prior to its release.) In 2000, actor Jason London took the title role in a more extravagantly visual film, which unfortunately fell a bit further from the legend. In the "Hercules, The Legendary Journeys" TV-Series, Jason was portrayed with even less basis on the myth by Jeffrey Thomas. And then there is the Seventies TV-Series "Jason of Star Command" with Craig Little which is something else altogether.

Thanks to Markus Raymond for his help in this entry!

by Will U and Prime Eternal

CLARIFICATIONS:
Jason should not be confused with:


Images taken from:
Main - Hulk: Hercules Unleashed#1, page 2, bottom panel
Action - Marvel Preview#10, page 39, bottom of full page panel
Final - Hulk: Hercules Unleashed#1, page 29, top panel (not counting ads)


Hulk: Hercules Unleashed (October, 1996) - Peter David (writer), Mike Deodato Jr. (pencils/inks), Mark Gruenwald (editor)
Hercules: Heart of Chaos#2 (September, 1997) - Tom DeFalco & Ron Frenz (writer/pencils), Pat Olliffe (inks), Tom Brevoort (editor)
New Warriors II#10 (July, 2000) - Jay Faerber (writer), Jamal Igle (pencils), Walden Wong (inks), Bobbie Chase (editor)
Ares#3 (May, 2006) - Michael Avon Oeming (writer), Travel Foreman (penciler), Derek Fridolfs (inker), Warren Simons (editor)
Incredible Hercules#118 (August, 2008) - Greg Pak & Fred Van Lente (writers), Rafa Sandoval (pencils), Roger Bonet (inks), Mark Paniccia (editor)


Last updated: 02/06/14

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