First Appearance: Mystic Comics #3 (June 1940).
Golden Age Appearances: Mystic Comics #3-4.
Modern Appearances: None.
Years Active: 1940-?
"Dr. David, idealistic master of science, left civilization twenty years ago - to rear his baby son as a perfect phyysical and mental specimen! On a lonely Arctic island, the boy learns to stand hard weather and great labor - and his increase in size and strengthh is matched by his incredible mind....as the boy becomes a huge powerful man, the doctor dies."
Meanwhile, back in civilization, "two hangers-on of the circus" hear about a "wild giant" on "Snow Island." They charter a boat, sail into the north, and find our man Hercules, standing on a snow-covered island and wearing only his fur-covered swimming trunks. They follow him, and then gas bomb him to sleep. Hercules wakes up in the hold of the ship, chained. One of the circus "hangers-on" (an odd choice of words, since they seem to be the owners/barkers for the circus) tells him "You're going to America with us - into a show!" Hercules, despite his great knowledge of science, seems not to be overly concerned about being kidnaped and forced into a circus; he says, "I always wanted to see America."
So, before you can say "doodly-doodly-doodly," Hercules, in a tuxedo, top hat and tails, is being shown to the world as "Hercules, tallest titan of all time." (I should put here that he is, indeed, quite big. He's about ten feet tall--literally. Tall blond geek, very muscular.)
While being interviewed by "Bobbie Drew" of the "Daily Globe," Hercules sees a "monster wild bull has escaped from the menagerie" and is charging himself and Ms. Drew. Hercules, who has doffed his jacket, but is still wearing his vest, and looks pretty good, grabs the bull by the horns (literally) and twists the bull's head, cracking its spine. The reporter tells Hercules that "a man like you should be more than a mere circus freak! Leave this job - do something actual!" Hercules says, "Now that you suggest it - maybe I will!"
As it happens, one of the circus owners overhears Hercules saying this, and is, of course, none too happy. He confers with his fellow "circus rat" and the pair threaten Hercules at gun-point. "Like lightning the giant springs," taking the gun away from the two men. Hercules quits, and walks away. But "before Hercules and Bobbie have gone far" a dam breaks.
Since this is the Golden Age, and thus the home of Plot Necessity Playhouse, the dam is near the circus, and the water is pouring down into the valley, and will kill hundreds, if Hercules doesn't do something.
Hercules uproots a tree and puts it in the path of the "torrent." Hercules (now with his shirt off, and wearing only his t-shirt) piles rocks and wood on top and in front of the tree, and hey presto! He's made another dam. (He's Hercules--why couldn't he build a dam in seconds?) Emergency crews arrive to reinforce the dam. Hercules toddles off, but Bobbie, reading a paper, tells him "trouble in town." Hercules crumples the paper and says, "Crime cruelty! Maybe I can stop such things!"
In the next issue Hercules (back at the circus) makes the cover of Mystic Comics and stops the plots of Lemo. Lemo is the "inventor of the mechanical monster," which looks like the illegitimate offspring of a bulldozer and a tank. At one point Lemo captures Hercules and tries to operate on his brain, to make him his slave. Lemo, who has the bald, forked-goatee look of many great comic book mad scientists, has an array of super-science weapons, including "earth-shaking bolts" and electricity weapons--but, of course, he loses to Hercules in the end, and Hercules blows up Lemo's estate (with him in it). That's Hercules' last appearance.
There was, apparently, something in the air or the water of New York City in the summer of 1940. Consider: Mystic Comics #3, starring Hercules, the circus strongman, came out in June. Blue Ribbon Comics #4 also came out in June, and also starred a character named Hercules, who was, if memory serves, a circus strongman. And July saw the debut, in Hit Comics #1, of Joe Hercules, who was...wait for it....a circus strongman.
You can't just dismiss this as the comic companies poaching one another's ideas. Given how closely the three comics came out together, it's just not possible that the three creative teams would have known about each others' creations, much less have bothered to copy the idea.
I can only guess that, back in the 1930s and 1940s, the tendency, in circuses, was to name the strongman "Hercules." The staffs at Marvel, Quality, and MLJ (again, if I'm remembering their "Hercules" correctly) all apparently decided, more or less at the same time, to capitalize on this bit of cultural ephemera.
Apart from the duplication, there's really nothing that out-of-the-ordinary or interesting about Hercules. Writing and art are mundane, stiff characterization, dull dialogue...feh.