Hercules may be one of the Avengers’ most powerful heroes, but even Stan Lee admitted his most epic moment was literally impossible.
the avengers did some truly impossible things to save the Marvel Universe, but one particular stunt was so impossible that even Stan Lee was moved to call it. The moment in question comes from Marvel Team #28and Gerry Conway, Jim Mooney, Vince Colletta and “The City Stealers!” by Bill Mantlo!
In the issue, Spider-Man and the super-powered Avenger Hercules are both in Manhattan when an impossible earthquake tears the borough apart, endangering the population. The heroes spring into action but are soon captured by the City Stealers – two seemingly robotic beings who use advanced machinery to take over the island of Manhattan. Spidey and Hercules take out the bad guys, but only after they’ve already started towing Manhattan away, leaving the Lion of Olympus to sort things out.
Wrapping the chains of the City Stealers around his torso, Hercules physically pulls Manhattan back into place. It’s a great moment that showcases Avenger’s oft-overlooked mythic force, but the one Lee observed later poses a host of problems. In The Official Marvel Priceless Book – a collection of comic errors presented with commentary by Stan Lee – the moment is reproduced, Lee noting that it proves “that not only can the island of Manhattan float, not only can it glide through a strait which is smaller that the island is largeand not only can he tow it in place, corn that he’s stupid enough to put it back on with the battery pointed at the Bronx!” Lee jokingly claims he was on a business trip when the comic was printed.
While the Avengers have done many physically impossible things in their comic history – and Hercules in particular often straddles the line between physical strength and pseudo-magical power – this particular moment was particularly apparent because it dealt with observable facts that so many readers (and Marvel writers and editors) knew it personally. The issues with Hercules’ efforts to restore Manhattan are at least consistent with his character. Unlike the nobler Thor, Hercules has long been a particularly vocal hero, with later comics suggesting that given his long life he treats the modern age as a vacation, carrying out strange heroic tasks while loving party and fight. It is therefore logical that at the end of Marvel Team #28, Hercules ignores the mayor’s question about how they will repair the borough’s bridges and tunnels, forgiving the mortal’s impertinence alongside an exhausted Spider-Man.
While Hercules is a lesser-known Avenger, his stories found both amusing and pathetic as they explored how his ancient attitudes and divine arrogance set him apart from the modern world. Whether it’s attacking Peter Parker for dating his wife (not knowing Pete had spider powers) or siding with the Hulk in his world war hulk occupation of New York, Hercules is a hero in the classic sense, often making outsized mistakes that cause as many problems as they solve. However, it turns out that this first mistake at least can be blamed on its writers rather than the son of Zeus himself.
It’s suggested that Reed Richards will handle Manhattan repairs, so it’s possible to imagine the Fantastic Four followed the mighty Avenger’s efforts, but given that the vast majority of Marvel superheroes call on New York to home, it’s safe to say Hercules’ error in replacing Manhattan would have raised some eyebrows – as would his ability to navigate Manhattan Island through the Narrows. Marvel comics tell famous stories that take place in “the world outside your window,” but on this occasion, even Stan Lee was ready to admit that AvengerThe enormous feat of strength could have benefited from another round of research.
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