Here are my picks for the top five most iconic covers featuring Hercules (with iconic being determined by what covers are most established and most recognized when it comes to Hercules, with a preference towards covers that are homaged a lot). This is not a BEST cover list and due to the very nature of icons, very few (if any) recent covers will be on the list. A notable exception to the rules is that I don’t count covers from a character’s first appearance (which isn’t applicable to all characters, of course, just those who appeared on the cover of the comic they debuted in), as those tend to be automatically iconic so they’re boring. Here‘s a list of all characters featured so far.
First off, while I’m exempting first appearance covers from the countdown, it’s only fair, I suppose, to share them here before the countdown begins, so here is the first cover appearance of Hercules from his debut story, Journey Into Mystery Annual #1…
Artist: Jack Kirby and Sol Brodsky
Second of all, it’s surprising just how many notable covers Hercules has been involved with.
5. Artists: Gil Kane and Dan Adkins
As generally silly as the Champions were, this Gil Kane cover for their first issue is still a great one, and it is still well remembered today.
4. Artist: Art Adams
It’s the most recent cover I’ve featured on any of these lists, and it’s also an homage to a past cover (Jim Steranko’s classic Hulk Annual #1 cover), but when it comes to Hercules, he’s one of the few characters where his recent series IS iconic for him, as he’s never HAD an ongoing series from Marvel before.
And since this isn’t an homage to a Hercules cover, I figure it’s fair game (like the Jimmy Olsen Turtle Boy cover, which was also an homage to an unrelated work).
3. Artists: Bob Layton and Jackson Guice
For years, Bob Layton’s Hercules was THE definitive Hercules, and while he was mostly known for his great series of Hercules mini-series (and one graphic novel), I think Layton’s most famous Hercules COVER was for this fill-in issue of Thor.
2. Artist: Gil Kane
Hercules’ introduction into the Avengers is a very iconic cover, but in a contest of iconic Hercules covers…
1. Artists: Jack Kirby and Vince Colletta
Thor #126 has it hands down.
Heck, it’s one of THOR’s most iconic covers, let alone Hercules’!!!
TOUGH OMISSIONS FROM THE LIST: Hercules has a LOT of notable covers. The last three covers cut from the list were Kirby’s Thor #129 cover (“The Verdict of Zeus”), Kirby’s Tales to Astonish #79 (“The Titans and the Torment”) and the John Buscema Avengers: Under Siege cover where Hercules is getting his ass kicked. Others tough omissions include Hercules’ first Journey Into Mystery cover appearance (by Kirby – #124, I believe) and three early Avengers covers (two by Don Heck, #39 and 40 and one by John Buscema, #50). Incredible Hercules has had a number of good covers, as well and, naturally, all of Kirby’s Thor covers with Hercules were great, too.