Sunday, August 16, 2009
Some thoughts on Herculean fashion
Wednesday Radical Comics published the first issue of Hercules: The Knives of Kush, the publisher's second miniseries starring one of the world's most storied heroes of all time.
Radical's version of the character wears the lion skin that Heracles/Hecules is so often depicted as wearing. In the myths, said skin is that of the Nemean lion, a monstrous lion with impervious skin that was terrorizing the countryside. Slaying the lion was the first of Hercules' twelve labors, and he was awarded the creature's pelt.
When I was a kid and first reading Greek mythology, I thought Herc's lion cloak—often depicted with the forelegs tied around his shoulders or waist as a belt—was pretty cool, giving one of the world's first superheroes his very own cape and superhero costume.
But at the same time, there was something that bugged me about the lion skin. See, when I imagined the Nemean lion, I imagined a gigantic, elephant-sized lion, something a lot more monstrous than the garden variety lions one sees in zoos and circuses. But if the face and skin of the lion's head fits over Herc's head and shoulders like a hood and cape, then it couldn't be much bigger than your average, run of the mill lion.
And if that was the case, well, Herc's labor seemed a lot less impressive to young Caleb (not that young Caleb had slain many lions himself, mind you).
One thing I like about the Radical Hercules' lion hat though is the way the lion's eyes and expression sometimes seems to mirror that of Hercules himself. Check out a couple of panels, by artists Cris Bolson and colorist Dough Sirois:
Maybe I'm just reading too much into it though; the way some people swear the eyes of certain paintings follow them around the room. The lion's face was obviously pissed about getting killed, and its face will be frozen scowling forever, while his eyes always seem to be looking down, by virtue of resting atop a very tall man. Maybe it's just the fact that this Hercules is always scowling that makes it look like the lion's expressions mirror his own.
I think it'd be pretty funny if the the lion's expressions always mirrored Herc's though, and if an artist just went nuts with that idea (If an artists hasn't already done that gag somewhere).
While Radical's Hercules looks pretty cool—and no wonder, really, the character design and logo both come courtesy of cover artist Jim Steranko—one of his pals can really use a makeover.
This is Meleager, a hunter:
Ugh. That dude needs to either shave his face or shave his head, but that straightened, bright blond hair (with bangs!) and the dark goatee together just make me want to reach into the comic book and punch him in the face.
By the way, I have a review of Hercules: The Knives of Kush #1 up over at Blog@Newsarama, along with reviews of Empowered Vol. 5, Incarnate #1, Mouse Guard: Winter 1152 and Pluto: Urasawa X Tezuka Vol. 3. You can read 'em here.