Luke Ross (1972- ) is a Brazilian comic book artist who’s been under an exclusive contract with the Marvel editions since 2008. Before that he worked on titles such as Green Lantern (2004) and Jonah Hex (2005) for DC Comics, and on the mini-series Samurai: Heaven and Earth (2005) for Dark Horse. For Marvel, he drew some Spider-Man related titles issues such as the Sensational Spider-Man, the Spectacular Spider-Man, and more recently Captain America and the Mighty Avengers (2015).
Hercules, like any human being, in cooking scrambled eggs for his roommate, the great Sumerian hero Gilgamesh. His apartment looks like the one a middle-class man could have, except the multiple pieces of art scattered across the room: a greek vase on an antic column, a reduction of the Venus of Milo and some African masks. Hercules appears with nothing but a short on himself. Luke Ross perfectly drew Hercules’ massive musculature, his large and hairy chest, his impressive arms. Some veins are even indicated by very thin lines, which strengthen the impression of might and power of Hercules. There is a great contrast between this first look at the hero and his bright smile and the pan in his hand. He looks like a perfect hostess rather than a Greek hero. He has adapted himself to the everyday life of 2015.
His first mission is to get rid of an Urmut, who took the form of a human being to seduce a young woman. Luke Ross divided his page into two half-pages: the first half, on top, is composed of four panels, while the second half, on bottom, has only one panel. The four first panels are narrative ones, they tell us about Hercules interruption on the urmut making out with the girl and its transformation. The fifth panel, the bigger one, is fantastic: with black lines only, Luke Ross managed to draw a terrifying and monstrous creature. I like the contrast between the fourth and the fifth panel: Hercules is civilly talking to the urmut, but soon the creature attacks him and there is no room for discussion anymore.
During his fight against the urmut, Hercules gets thrown away against a bunch of cars and trunks. When he opens his eyes, he’s seeing Athena, the goddess of war and wisdom, starring at him under her helmet. I’m particularly fond of this page, because of the mystery surrounding Athena’s appearance, and because of the drawings themselves. They are different from the other pages, more precise and accurate. Finally, Hercules is interacting with another greek god, an important character in his own mythology.
Hercules doesn’t have time to rest. Once the urmut is vanquished, he has to fight against the Giants. Two of them look like giant human beings while the third is a rhinoceros-human hybrid. I can’t explain why Luke Ross has chosen to depict the giants like this. If I like the two men giants – they’re terrifying behind their greek helmet and their wild hair – I find the rhinoceros one pretty ridiculous. He’s a regular monster, a rhino bigger than a normal one. He’s smashing the buildings like the others two, but there is no spark of intelligence in his eyes. The last panel is just awesome: Hercules gives up his regular weapons and brandishes a rocket launcher! The giants versus Hercules and his rocket launcher: what a twist.
In order to find out what’s going on with all these creatures invading the Earth, Hercules went to Tiresias the prophet. According to the greek myths, Tiresias has been both male and female. That’s maybe why Luke Ross and Dan Abnett have chosen to depict Tiresias as a woman. Doing so, the artistic duo is in the direct line of what Marvel has been doing since a few years: womanizing its heroes like Captain Marvel and Thor (see Russell Dauterman – The Mighty Thor #1; Russell Dauterman – Thor #1-8). Tiresias has invited Hercules to drink a cup of tea, and it’s just funny to see Hercules with such beverage. We know Hercules drinks a lot of wine, of beer – of alcohol in general – but I’ve never imagined him drinking tea. Hercules’ arms seem a little to big for his body, but it strengthens the impression of might and power that Hercules conveys.
Inquiring in Central Park at sundown, Hercules fall on a bunch of centaurs. The centaurs look to big compared to Hercules, but I think it’s because of the perspective. Or maybe Luke Ross has chosen to draw giant centaurs, which we only will have an answer to on the next issue. Once again, the eyes of the creatures are the terrifying element of their face: the centaurs’ are blank, the Giants’ were red. They look pretty badasses, armed with a spear and a bow. They’ve sought refuge under the trees of Central Park, and they’re pissed that Hercules has found their home. Will we be the spectators of a modern centauromachy?
Dan Abnett and Luke Ross did a great job on the two first issues of Hercules. It’s funny to see him interact with his roommate Gilgamesh, which reminds me of how Hercules used to behave. But I’m curious to discover why Gil is really living with Hercules … are they together, despite all that have been said by Marvel about Hercules’ sexuality? I like that they choose to transport mythological creatures in the modern New-York, rather than oppose Hercules to contemporary villains like any Avengers.