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Avengers: Endgame
by yo go re

It's Pride Month, so let's get some representation up in this piece!

As immortal champion of Olympus, Hercules uses his immense strength to battle evil and protect the world.

Hercules is a bisexual love machine. Always has been. In the original myths, he's one of Jason's Argonauts, but (quite literally) jumps ship when his boyfriend is kidnapped by water nymphs. Iolus, the guy you might remember as the sidekick from the Kevin Sorbo TV show, was Herc's lover for a time too. In the Marvel comics, Herc's plowed more fields than Farmer Dan, and it's 100% not just women. Marvel may have tried sweeping that under the rug (or pushing it back in the closet), but doing the character and fans a disservice doesn't change the facts. And those facts are that Hercules loves whoever Hercules loves.

We mention all this because the Endgame line has brought us a new Marvel Legends Hercules who's wearing the Luke Ross-designed costume he wore in the "Herc is straight you guys we swear" series from 2016. Looking to remind the world that he was the first superhero, he stopped dressing like a 1950s gladiator movie and adopted a more modern, tactical look. Namely, he put on some pants. He's still shirtless, and still has an old-fashioned set of straps running over his shoulder, but from the waist down this could easily be a modern soldier type. If modern soldier-types wore metal codpieces and had large lion-sigil belt buckles in the middle of their utility belts. This is still a lot better than his '90s costume, which was basically cargo pants and a black tank top.

Herc still wears an armored pad protecting his face - it's like the things Rob Liefeld gave his characters, except it's meant to be metal. Like a helmet that still somehow exposes all the hair. Since his hair was a little long at this point, he's pulled it up into a small bun. And despite the lack of a gigantic grin, this figure's facial sculpt is a lot better than the one from the start of the Hasbro line.

The costume may be new, but it keeps the traditional Marvel Hercules colorscheme - brown, gold, and green. The armor on his knees and boots is dark grey, while his belt buckle and bracelets are gold; the helmet is closer to the orangey tan seen on his chest straps and the inside of his thighs, though. The important thing is they remembered to paint the hair on his broad chest - a first for a Hercules toy.

This figure introduces a new mold, which we'll probably have to come up with a name for sometime soon - size-wise, it's bigger and more muscular than the Spider-UK body, but a little smaller than the Hyperion body. It's going to be easy to spot re-use of this mold in the future, thanks to the fact that instead of shoulders, Herc appears to have large pumpkins implanted beneath his skin. The body moves with a balljointed head, hinged neck, swivel/hinge shoulders, swivel biceps, double-hinged elbows, swivel/hinge wrists, hinged torso, swivel waist, balljointed hips, swivel thighs, double-hinged knees, swivel shins, and swivel/hinge rocker ankles.

The belt, chest straps, and codpiece are all a single molded piece sitting on the torso. There are loops in the back for holding his two accessories, a sword and a mace. The sword has a gold hilt and a nicked silver body, while the mace has three gray "blades" arranged around a brown handle with a leather wrap at the top and a similarly metallic pommel at the bottom. You get your choice of hands shaped to hold the weapons, or a pair of fists.

He also includes the head of Warrior Thanos, the Build-A-Figure for this first Endgame series.

The whole "we insist Hercules is not bi" thing was a weird bit of editorial fiat: Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso was the one who said it, seemingly without consulting with the book's writer or editor: because while it's true Hercules wasn't trying to date any men in the story, he wasn't trying to date anyone else, either; he was taking some time off to get his life together. And his proclivous sexuality still got referenced in the dialogue! Most queer characters in superhero comics are rather slim and effeminate; Hercules is more bear than twink. And he doesn't get played for laughs, like Deadpool's pansexuality does. Hercules is a bi icon - a "bicon" - and trying to erase him does no one any favors. Hasbro did a great job on this figure, from the accessories and the paint to the new beefcakey bod. Buy it, and you can set him up on a date with whomever you want.

-- 06/13/19

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