The most famous Greek legendary hero, a mighty hunter and warrior born to Alcmene and fathered by Zeus.
In May-June 1944, a member of Metropolis's Liars Club wins the club's coveted Best Tall Tale award for a tale he concocts concerning a fictional meeting between Superman and Hercules. In the story, Superman encounters the legendary hero after allowing himself to be sent into the distant past, to ancient Greece in the age of the mighty Greek gods and goddesses, in order to test a time machine invented by scientist Professor Button. To his great surprise, the Man of Steel discovers that the man who has been immortalized in myth as a great hunter and warrior was actually a puny, cowardly weakling. And so, to safeguard Hercules's hallowed place in folklore, Superman performs the legendary twelve labors in Hercules's stead, thereby keeping alive Hercules's reputation as the greatest Greek hero (S No. 28/3: "Stand-In For Hercules!"). (TGSB)
In October 1956, Jimmy Olsen uses a "reincarnation machine" to revisit his past life in ancient Greece and uses his "signal flute" to summon his friend Hercules in order to capture a giant lion. However, the reincarnation machine soon proves to be a ruse used by conman Swami Rama to steal a container of precious radium that is in Jimmy's possession and Jimmy's memories of Hercules prove to be the result of "hypnotic suggestion" (SPJO No. 16/1: "The Three Lives of Jimmy Olsen").
In August 1960, "renegade scientist" Lex Luthor, serving out a term in Bleak Rock Prison, constructs an ingenious "time ray" out of parts from an alarm clock and other everyday materials and uses it to draw the mighty Hercules "through the time-barrier" from the ancient past to Luthor's prison cell in the twentieth century. By duping the legendary hero into believing that he has been wrongfully imprisoned by "an evil king" who stole his gold and hid it underground, Luthor is able to trick Hercules into using his superhuman strength to break Luthor out of prison and help him loot Fort Knox. Ultimately, however, Hercules discovers that he has been duped into helping Luthor commit crimes, and he seizes the evil scientist and turns him over to Superman.
When the Man of Steel offers to return Hercules to his own era by carrying him back across the time barrier, Hercules asks if he might remain in Metropolis awhile "to observe your future civilization!" Superman consents, but suggests that Hercules adopt an alternate identity during his sojourn in the twentieth century so that he will not be mobbed by curiosity-seekers everywhere he goes. Superman rents Hercules a place to stay, buys him a wardrobe of modern clothes, and gets him a job as a newspaper reporter, under the pseudonym Roger Tate, on the Daily Planet.
An unforeseen complication arises, however, when "Roger Tate" becomes infatuated with Lois Lane and he begs her to marry him.
"Great Olympia!" he thinks to himself. "Lois l-looks like a...a bewitching goddess!"
When Lois declines, citing Superman as her true love:
"No one else can match Superman!", sighs Lois.
Hercules flexes his powerful muscles, totally demolishing his "Roger Tate" business-suit disguise, and stands revealed in the brief animal-skin costume of the mighty Hercules. "Behold!" proclaims Hercules. "I was the mightiest hero of my past age as Superman is of this age!" Nevertheless, Lois refuses to marry Hercules, explaining that "...Superman is still my big heart-throb!"
Hurt at having been spurned by the woman he loves, yet determined to some how win her away from the Man of Steel, Hercules attempts, in the days that follow, to impress Lois with "mighty deeds" and feats of superhuman strength. It soon becomes apparent, however, that Hercules cannot hope to complete with Superman, for while Superman possesses many super-powers, Hercules only possesses superhuman strength. To rectify the imbalance, Hercules journeys to "The ancient Oracle's Cave," Near Athens, Greece, where he communicates with the ancient gods and heroes, including Venus, Vulcan, Mercury, Jupiter, and Achilles. After misleading the ancients into believing that he has undertaken a noble "mission" in the twentieth century, Hercules tells them that his efforts are doomed to failure "unless I gain magic powers and weapons from all of you!"
"Granted, my son!" proclaims Jupiter, as the great gods and heroes reach out simultaneously to touch Hercules. "At our touch, our individual Olympus powers will flow into you! The magic weapons will appear later as you need them!..."
"Use the Olympus powers and magic weapons wisely, my son!" adds Jupiter. "Do not shame us! They must do good!"
"Theyâ€™ll do good all right," thinks Hercules,"...for me! Ha, ha!"
Moments later, outside the ancient Oracle's Cave, Hercules launches himself into the sky to begin his journey back to America. â€œ"he first Olympus power from Mercury, the flying god, made winged sandals appear on my feet!" muses Hercules. "And my other magic powers will make me superior to Superman!"
Later, back in Metropolis, Hercules gloats inwardly at the prospect of his coming battle with Superman. "Lois spurned me for [that] super wretch!" he thinks to himself. "But I'll crush Superman with my super-Olympus powers...!" (Act No. 267/1, Aug 1960: "Hercules in the 20th Century!").
Encountering Superman soon afterward at a local amusement park, Hercules avails himself of all the mighty Olympus powers at his command including the invulnerability of Achilles, the "magic flames" of Vulcan, and the "magic lighting bolts" of Jupiter, in an effort to humiliate and defeat the Man of Steel, but Superman successfully counters each new assault. Finally, however calling on the eerie power pf Apollo's magic flute, Hercules plays a "magic lullaby" that puts Superman into a deep sleep from which he will not awaken for 100 years. Lois Lane selflessly offers to marry Hercules if only he will awaken Superman from his hundred-year sleep, but at that moment, Venus, the goddess of love, appears on the scene. After angrily chastising Hercules for having used the Olympus powers to perform "bad deeds," Venus uses her own magic to awaken Superman from his magically induced slumber.
Moments later, by tricking Hercules into chasing after him at incredible superhuman speed, Superman lures the legendary warrior "across the time-barrier into the past," to the exact moment in time when the force of Luthor's time ray first began to draw him into the twentieth-century Metropolis for his battle with Superman (Act No. 268/1, Sep 1960: "Superman's Battle With Hercules!").
A text for August 1961 contains an "imaginary tale" [see: Imaginary Stories] in which Superman journeys into the past to the eras of Hercules and Samson and then returns with them through the time barrier to the 20th century Metropolis as potential mates for Lois Lane and Lana Lang. Smitten at first sight with the two lovely modern women, Hercules and Samson beg Lois and Lana to marry them, and Lois and Lana accept, but the women soon prove to be so bitchy, demanding and indecisive, and life with them promises to be such a continual torment, that the two heroes soon abandon their 20th century fiancÃ©es in favor of returning to their homes in the ancient past (Act No. 279/1, Aug 1961: "The Super-Rivals!").
In August 1962, Cosmic Man impersonates Hercules as part of an elaborate ruse, devised by Superman, for bring "notorious gang-leader" Duke Marple to justice (S No. 155/2, Aug 1962: "The Downfall of Superman!").
In January 1964, during a visit to an extradimensional "parallel world," [see: Parallel-Worlds] Superman encounters an extra dimensional counterpart of the Hercules who inhabits his own dimension. On this world, which is "an exact duplicate of the real Earth, except that certain events and situations are mixed up," Hercules bears a striking resemblance to the Goliath of Superman's world and even battles a shepherd boy much as the real Goliath fought David. The extra dimensional Hercules is vulnerable to Red Kryptonite much as Superman is vulnerable to Green Kryptonite and is required to perform only six Herculean labors as opposed to the traditional twelve. When the extradimensional Hercules is left weakened and feverish after an encounter with Red Kryptonite, Superman pitches in to help him fulfill his labors until Hercules has sufficiently recovered to perform the remaining ones himself (Act No. 308/1, Jan 1964: "Superman Meets the Goliath-Hercules!").
In January 1965, Superman battles and defeats a trio of extradimensional villains—endowed with superhuman strength as well as magical powers—who are perfect look-alikes for the Hercules, Samson, and Atlas who inhabit various past eras in Superman's own dimension (Act No. 320/1, Jan 1965: "The Three Super-Enemies!"). (TGSB)
Hercules, in his many forms, has appeared in the following Superman Comics
- (S No. 28/3, May/Jun 1944: "Stand-In For Hercules!")
- (SPJO No. 16/1, Oct 1956: "The Three Lives of Jimmy Olsen")
- (Adv No. 257, Feb 1959: "The First Two Supermen!")
- (Act No. 267/1, Aug 1960: "Hercules in the 20th Century!")
- (Act No. 268/1, Sep 1960: "Superman's Battle With Hercules!")
- (Act No. 279/1, Aug 1961: "The Super-Rivals!")
- (S No. 155/2, Aug 1962: "The Downfall of Superman!")
- (Act No. 308/1, Jan 1964: "Superman Meets the Goliath-Hercules!")
- (Act No. 320/1, Jan 1965: "The Three Super-Enemies!")
- (Act No. 353/1, Aug 1967: "The Battle of the Gods!")
- (DCCP No. 57, May 1983: "Days of Future Past!")