In this feature we examine comic book stories and ideas that were not only abandoned, but also had the stories/plots specifically “overturned” by a later writer (as if they were a legal precedent). Click here for an archive of all the previous editions of The Abandoned An’ Forsaked. Feel free to e-mail me at email@example.com if you have any suggestions for future editions of this feature.
Today, we take a look at the surprisingly complex history of when, exactly, Thor first met Hercules.
First up, Thor met Hercules in Avengers #10 in 1964 (written by Stan Lee and drawn by Don Heck and Dick Ayers)…
However, this whole issue did not seem to treat the people plucked from time by Immortus to be for real. Stan Lee clearly wasn’t thinking past the immediate future with this stuff.
Over thirty years later, Kurt Busiek officially retconned the Hercules in this story to be a Space Phantom in Avengers Forever #8 (which probably has the record for the most retcons in a single issue) by Busiek, Roger Stern, Carlos Pacheco and Jesus Merino…
So then Hercules and Thor’s REAL first meeting would be in Journey Into Mystery Annual #1 in 1965, by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby and Vince Colletta…
Seems pretty straightforward, right?
However, check out the first page of the story…
That sure seems to suggest that the story was specifically NOT meant to be anything but an “Imaginary Story,” doesn’t it (but aren’t they all? Thanks, Alan Moore)?
If that was Lee’s intent, it sure wasn’t clear to the other writers at Marvel, like the fellow writing Thor at the time, some fellow named…Stan Lee? As Thor bumps into Hercules in Journey Into Mystery #125 a few months later and they totally remember each other from the Thor Annual…
(You could make a strong argument that perhaps Kirby plotted both stories and Lee just confused things in the scripting stages when he added the “Imaginary Story” introduction of the Annual).
There has always been a bit of a debate among continuity fans over whether the Annual counts as the real first meeting of Thor and Hercules.
Muddling the waters is Thor Annual #5 from a decade later by Steve Englehart, John Buscema and Tony Dezuniga, which features…the first meeting of Thor and Hercules?!?!
Amusingly enough, Englehart even addresses the seeming inconsistency of his story…
So yeah, at least one definitive abandoning and forsaking (the Hercules in the Avengers issue) but likely at least one more example in the next three stories. Way more confusing than you would think something like this would be, right?
That’s it for this installment!
If YOU have a suggestion for a notable comic book retcon, let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org
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