Saturday, August 11, 2018

Dojo Classics - Hercules #5

Hercules #5 is dated July 1968. The issue is edited by Sal Gentile who took over from Dick Giordano who was beginning his tenure at DC. There seems little evidence of his hand in this issue though.

The first story starring Hercules is written by Sergius O'Shaugnessy (Denny O'Neil) and drawn by Sam Glanzman whose name appears in full for the first time in the credits. The story is titled "The Land of the Amazons". Hercules is fighting two bulls in the arena for the entertainment of some locals. He then is interrupted by Zeus and Hera the latter giving him his next task, to bring to her the Golden Girdle of Hippolyta the Queen of the Amazons. Hercules takes up the task readily and heads off. He soon chances across a beautiful young blonde maiden chained to a stake being threatened by a giant lizard. He battles the lizard and saves the girl only to learn that this was seen by Queen Hippolyta who had staked the girl out to begin with for her amusement. Hippolyta is impressed by Hercules and invites him to her palace where she attempts to woo him. When he balks she shows him the young maiden trapped on a platform over a firey trap. Hercules is himself then imprisoned. He asks Zeus for aid who is ready to give it until Hera intercedes. Hercules then takes matters into his own hands and breaks out of his jail, climbs to a connecting rope and swings out to the trapped girl and rescues her from her danger. The two of them battle through Hippolyta's forces, Hercules even toppling some columns but it is to little avail when they find themselves confronted by her whole army. Hercules prepares to fight the Queen but is stopped by a command from Hera ordering him not to battle a woman. His dilemma is solved when the blonde maiden chucks a rock at Hippolyta knocking her out. Hercules takes her Golden belt and the army is freed from her influence. They thanks Hercules who takes the Girdle to Hera who doesn't seem that happy that he's succeeded. The maiden wants to thank Hercules but he says he must continue with his quest and he leaves.

The "Letters to the Editor -- Hercules" page features two letters this time out. Both praise the book for its staying to true to the mythological details of Hercules and both single out Glanzman for praise.

The text story "Mogo the Mighty" tells a tale of a village threatened by a evil warrior chief named Gogo. The villagers go to a wizened old man on the mountain who takes from each man in the village some hair, some nails, and some drops of blood to fashion a super warrior named Mogo the Mighty. Mogo defeats Gogo and vanishes telling the villagers that next time they should battle evil themselves.

Thane of Bagarth is again written by Steve Skeates and once again drawn by Jim Aparo. The title of this installment is "Chapter Five: The Battle Lost". Hrothelac the banished Thane of Bagarth finds himself a slave aboard a Viking ship. He's beginning to adapt to his role when the ship runs aground and he finds his chains freed by the melee. He tries to get clear of the ship, fights a Viking and both are thrown into the sea, the Viking sinking because of his armor. Hrothelac swims to shore only to see the ship itself finding purchase on the shore. But the land is England and Celts long under attack by Vikings immediately assault the weary Vikings and soon kill them, including the chief Figlaf. Meanwhile Hrothelac wanders this new land thinking of those he left behind when he chances upon a castle. Unknown to Hrothelac a warrior approaches him from behind.

This is really solid issue. Hippolyta is a beautiful and well-defined villain for Hercules. In fact the characterization in the series is really becoming sharp. Visually Herucles is really becoming more fully realized. Glanzman gives him a more exotic look this issue by angling his eyes not unlike those you find on Greek pottery. Some of the pages featuring the Amazons are very neatly designed and Hippolyta is actually a ravishing creature as presented in this story. The Thane of Bagarth story reverts to its Prince Valiant roots eschewing any use of word balloons in this installment. All in all a very solid and enjoyable issue.

The lead story was reprinted in Charlton Classics #5.

The Thane of Bagarth story reprinted in Thane of Bagarth #25.

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