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James Howlett & Hercules

James Howlett of Earth 12025 and Hercules are alternate universe versions of the pre-Secret Wars 616 Earth Wolverine and Hercules. They appeared as part of a loosely knit team in the short lived X-Treme X-Men series written by Greg Pak and drawn by Stephen Segovia, Paco Diaz, Raul Valdes and Andre Araujo. The premise of the series was to use the Ghost Box amped by Dazzler’s power to open a portal to an alt world Cyclops had once been transported to check on friends Cyclops felt were in danger. As luck would have it, those alt world friends, including alt Wolverine James Howlett, were being attacked just as the portal opened and the fight temporarily spilled into their world until Dazzler intentionally closed the portal, and trapped herself in this new world.

Howlett and several other alt X-Men are led by a disembodied Xavier whose mission is to kill evil versions of the Professor that plague different dimensions before they can join together. The first hint that Howlett isn’t straight appears in issue #3. Dazzler’s group of X-Men have landed on an Earth where they’re held captive by Storm, Thor, Namor and several X-Men dopplegangers who rule as demanding gods. After a fight and with the help of yet another Xavier they make their way to that world’s Utopia. Howlett attacks after sensing a god in the safe haven and is thrown to the ground by a strong punch. He’s taken aback when he looks up into the face of Hercules, offering his hand. Dazzler slyly lets Howlett know that she’s got an idea that he isn’t straight.

Howlett shows a compassionate side when he comforts a young teenaged Nightcrawler after learning the terrible fate of his parents and his world in the aftermath of the rise of and dominance by artificial intelligence as shown in the seventh issue. Dazzler describes Howlett as usually being level-headed in another scene while Howlett shows a sense of humor when joking to Hercule’s face that Hercules isn’t very smart. Hercules seems to like seeing Howlett wear leather.

A fantasy world populated by orcs, trolls, a blue race of elf-like people, and talking unicorns, (no, I’m not making that up) ruled by a evil witch king version of Xavier provides the backdrop for the love torn Howlett and Hercules to meet. The pair of men display an intimacy and teasing and flirtatious banter as the group readies to fight against this world’s Xavier, whom the group defeats.

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During a welcomed break from the group mission, Hercules and Howlett share their story. This alt Wolverine was the Governor General of the Dominion of Canada as well as the Viceroy of Her Majesty’s Expedition to Shangri-La. They were their earth’s greatest heroes. After killing a terrible monster which threatened their country the two men affirm their love with a kiss and in doing so unashamedly reveal their relationship to a country, if not a world, in which gay love is forbidden. Zeus was angry that another member of the Pantheon, even his half mortal son Hercules, had sex with a mortal. For their punishment, Zeus banished them to Tartarus where they were forced to fight the damned for three years. Whether the couple escaped or were released was not explained by writer Greg Pak. The series was canceled with issue #11 and story elements were folded into the X-Termination story line with X-Force and Age of Apocalypse worlds colliding. Hercules sacrificed his life to help win the battle. Howlett remained on 616 Earth and traveled to Greece as the first part of his journey to Tartarus where he hoped to find his lover and return with him to the world of the living. Howlett and Hercules’ fates remain to be told if either of them have transitioned to the post Secret Wars universe.

Howlett first appeared in Astonishing X-Men #45 (vol 3), also written by Pak and confirmed as gay in X-Treme X-Men #8. Hercules of Earth 12025 first appeared in X-Treme X-Men #7 (vol 2) and appeared to die in Age of Apocalypse #14. It’s unknown if this alt Hercules should be identified as gay, bisexual like the pre Secret Wars 616 original had been alluded as, or  pansexual. For that matter, the same is true of Howlett. Perhaps Pak’s wording that their type of relationship was forbidden can be taken to infer they’re both gay.

Please note that this profile is based on stories from X-Treme X-Men and input about the Exalted and Age of Apocalypse stories from Terence Ng, James Lewis, and Hugh Martin Tims. Please contact us to let us know about important points from other appearances.

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