Real Name: Varen David (see comments)
Identity/Class: Human mutate (presumably) (1940s era)
Occupation: Adventurer, circus performer
Group Membership: Unidentified traveling circus
Affiliations: Bobbie Drew
Enemies: Lemo Douglas, Garton, Millok
Known Relatives: Dr. Vincent David (father, deceased)
Aliases: "Superior" (Hindi translation of his first name); "Biggest Man on Earth" (as billed on circus poster); "Tallest Titan of All Time" (as called by Millok)
Base of Operations: Mobile; (originally) Snow Island, somewhere in the arctic region
First Appearance: Mystic Comics I#3/2 (June, 1940)
Powers/Abilities: Hercules possessed superhuman strength (lifting up to 30 tons), endurance, and speed. He also had enhanced durability -- while clad only in a loincloth, he was able to endure sub-zero arctic temperatures without suffering from frostbite.
Endowed with a brilliant mind and an eidetic memory, Hercules retained all the knowledge of every book he had ever read. He was also a skilled, self-taught hand-to-hand combatant.
Despite being highly intelligent, the peaceable Hercules was rather naive and trusting of other people -- this was likely due to spending his early life isolated from modern civilization, and he therefore lacked discriminating social skills.
Weight: 350 lbs.
(Mystic Comics I#3/2 (fb)) - Twenty years earlier, the infant Varen David was taken by his scientist father to Snow Island in the arctic, where his father wanted to raise him to be the perfect mental and physical specimen.
Clad only in a loincloth, young Varen was able to rough the frigid weather and great labor, and he built a tolerance to harsh conditions. By unrevealed scientific means (see comments), his father was able to increase Varen's size, strength, and intelligence, and he taught his son everything he knew.
As the years went by, Varen grew to become a huge and incredibly powerful man; but when his father died of old age, the adult Varen was left by himself on the lonely Snow Island, to carry on his father's studies.
(Mystic Comics I#3/2) - After hearing rumors of a "wild giant" living in the arctic, the owners of the Garton-Millok Circus went to Snow Island and captured Varen with sleeping gas. Garton and Millok transported the muscular Varen (whom they dubbed "Hercules") to America and conned him into joining their circus as the main attraction -- Varen put up no resistance, because his father was from America, and he was curious to see what it was like.
Shortly after they got back to America, Garton and Millok presented their new attraction to the public, and Hercules (now wearing a proportionally-sized tuxedo) became an immediate sensation, as crowds of paying customers flocked to see the giant strongman. But while the unscrupulous circus-owners were raking in the cash, they didn't share any of their profits with Hercules, who only earned his keep.
The giant strongman soon drew the attention of reporter Bobbie Drew, who went to interview Hercules. The interview was interrupted when a wild bull escaped from the circus' menagerie, but Hercules went into action and put a stop to the beast's rampage. Afterward, Bobbie told Hercules that he should use his great strength to do something meaningful with his life, rather than just work as a circus freak. Garton and Millok overheard their conversation, so they tried to force Hercules to stay with their circus at gunpoint, but the giant defeated them both and walked away with Bobbie.
Before Hercules and Bobbie got far, they witnessed a nearby dam bursting, so Hercules quickly built a makeshift dam from trees and boulders to replace it. When he finished, Hercules became an instant hero, for he prevented the entire valley from flooding, and thus saved hundreds of lives in the process; the grateful citizens offered to reward him with anything he wanted, but the altruistic giant modestly told them, "All I ask is your thanks -- it was a little thing for a strong man to do."
Then Bobbie showed Hercules a newspaper headline concerning a crime-wave that was sweeping the city, so he decided that he would dedicate his life to fighting evil.
(Mystic Comics I#4/2 (fb) - BTS) - Deciding that he liked circus life, Hercules joined another traveling circus, and he used it as transportation for his battle with crime.
(Mystic Comics I#4/2) - While Hercules was performing at the circus, the area was shaken by a minor earthquake, which caused the center pole of the main tent to crack. Using his great strength, Hercules was able to brace the pole and keep the heavy canvas tent from collapsing on the panicking audience until other circus-workers could repair it.
An hour later, Hercules investigated the area and discovered that the tremor was caused by mad inventor Lemo Douglas, who was tunneling below the circus with his subterranean vehicle. Hercules followed Lemo back to the evil inventor's estate, where he easily defeated Lemo's guard dogs and henchmen. But then the evil scientist fired an earth-shaking bolt from his vehicle at the giant man, which rendered Hercules senseless.
Hercules later awoke to find himself strapped to an operating table in Lemo's lab, just as the mad scientist was about to perform brain surgery on him, to turn Hercules into his mindless slave. As Hercules strained against his bonds and began to break free, Lemo realized the giant was too powerful, so he climbed back in his vehicle and fired upon his own lab, destroying it and burying Hercules under tons of wood and masonry.
But Hercules was unharmed, and he pushed aside the debris and finally burrowed out of the wreckage; then he saw Lemo driving his vehicle to the nearby city to cause even greater havoc, so the giant man gave chase.
When he finally caught up to Lemo's engine of destruction, Hercules climbed to the top of a building and attempted to jump down upon the "mechanical monster"; but the strongman never reached his target, for he was repelled by the electrical field that surrounded the vehicle. Noticing a covered manhole in front of the rolling juggernaut's path, Hercules correctly figured that the bottom of the vehicle wasn't protected by the repelling rays, so he removed the cover and climbed inside the manhole. As the destructive vehicle passed over him, Hercules lifted the "mechanical monster" from below and hurled the infernal machine into the air, then it came crashing back down to the street in the flash of a great explosion, putting an end to the threat of Lemo Douglas.
When the city's chief of police thanked him for stopping Lemo's reign of terror, Hercules humbly replied that he needed no thanks, for he felt it was his duty to use his strength to help others.
The further adventures of Hercules (if any) are unrevealed (see comments).
Comments: Created by Arnold Hicks.
Considering this character's origin--raised by his
father to be the peak of human perfection--the creator of Hercules may
have been "inspired" by the adventures of pulp-magazine character Doc
Maybe those unrevealed scientific means that Dr. David used on his son were chemical treatments similar to Abraham Erskine's "Super Soldier Serum".
Hercules' only cover-appearance was on Mystic Comics I#4, which featured him saving President Franklin D. Roosevelt from an onrushing train -- perhaps this actually occurred later, and it could explain why Hercules hasn't been seen since...maybe this superman wasn't "more powerful than a locomotive", and he ended up getting seriously injured or killed during the incident.
Hercules has a profile in Marvel Mystery Handbook: 70th Anniversary Special, from which some of this information was taken. His first name was never mentioned in either of the original stories, but it was confirmed to be "Varen" in that profile. The profile was updated with a correction to his strength level in Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A to Z HC#14 (2010).
Profile by Ron Fredricks.
Hercules (Varen David) and Dr. Vincent David have no known connections to:
Garton and Millok have no known connections to:
Bobbie Drew has no known connections to:
An American master of some unspecified branch
of science, the idealistic Dr. David left civilization with his baby son
Varen (whom he named after the Hindi
word for "superior") so he could raise the boy to be the
perfect physical and mental specimen.
The owners of a circus, Garton and Millok (first names unrevealed) were
looking for a new attraction to present to their audiences. After
hearing rumors of a "wild giant" living on the arctic Snow Island, they
chartered a boat and sailed into the frigid northern waters.
A reporter for the Daily
Globe newspaper, she went to the Garton-Millok Circus to
interview its main attraction: The giant strongman Hercules (Varen David).
Since he was bringing in such large crowds of paying customers to the
circus, Bobbie figured that Hercules made a lot of money; she was
disgusted when she learned that the strongman was being exploited by the
circus owners, and that he only earned his keep.
images: (without ads)
Marvel Mystery Handbook: 70th Anniversary Special, p48 (Main Image - Hercules)
Mystic Comics I#4/2, p1, pan1 (Headshot - Hercules)
Mystic Comics I#3/2, p4, pan3 (at circus, Millok presents Hercules (wearing tuxedo) to crowd of spectators)
Mystic Comics I#4/2, p1, pan1 (Hercules)
Mystic Comics I#4, cover (Hercules saves President Roosevelt from onrushing train)
Mystic Comics I#3/2, p2, pan1 (Dr. Vincent David (left) speaks to his son)
Mystic Comics I#3/2, p2, pan2 (Dr. Vincent David on his deathbed; Varen David (right))
Mystic Comics I#3/2, p2, pan3 (Garton (left) speaks with Millok)
Mystic Comics I#3/2, p2, pan4 (Garton (left) speaks with Millok)
Mystic Comics I#3/2, p4, pan4 (Bobbie Drew introduces herself to Hercules)
Mystic Comics I#3/2, p5, pan5 (Bobbie Drew speaks to Hercules)
Mystic Comics I#3/2 (June, 1940) - Arnold Hicks (writer/pencils/inks), Martin Goodman (editor)
Mystic Comics I#4/2 (July, 1941) - unidentified writer, Malcolm Kildale (pencils/inks), Martin Goodman (editor)
Marvel Mystery Handbook: 70th Anniversary Special (2009) - Hercules profile - Gus Vazquez (art)
First Posted: 05/12/2022
Last updated: 10/07/2022
Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.
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