For a time, Hercules worked the college lecture circuit with his unique perspectives on mythology, ancient civilizations, and his own oft embellished adventures. Later, a plot involving Ares, Pluto, and Hippolyta united Hercules with mortal heroes Warren Worthington III, AKA Angel, Natasha Romanoff, AKA Black Widow, Johnny Blaze, AKA Ghost Rider, and Bobby Drake, AKA Iceman, to form the short-lived Champions Super Hero team, based out of Los Angeles. By the time the Champions disbanded, Hercules had grown close to Black Widow, and the two adventured together for a time thereafter, both assisting the Avengers against the cosmic menaces Taneleer Tivan, AKA The Collector and Michael Korvac, AKA Korvac. Hercules also impulsively joined the more informal Defenders Super Hero group, but quit alongside many other new recruits after a single harrowing day as a Defender. He rejoined the active Avengers roster after helping fight the forces of the fire demon Surtur and stayed on with them for a lengthy period; however, this tenure ended with one of Hercules’ greatest defeats. When Baron Helmut Zemo, AKA Baron Zemo’s Masters of Evil seized Avengers Mansion and assaulted the team’s butler Jarvis, an impatient and somewhat inebriated Hercules rushed in alone to stop them. Holding his own for a remarkable length of time, Hercules eventually fell before the combined might of Erik Josten, AKA Goliath (later Atlas), Calvin Zabo, AKA Mister Hyde, and the Wrecking Crew, who beat him into a coma.
Zeus directed the Olympians to capture the Avengers, whom he blamed for his son’s injuries. Recovering, Hercules confirmed the Avengers’ innocence and saved them from Zeus’ wrath. Sometime later, Hercules helped the Avengers against the High Evolutionary and his Evolutionary War plot, but was evolved “beyond godhood” in the process and vanished. Later discovered back in his godly form by Thor in the mysterious Black Galaxy, Hercules returned to Earth and stayed with Thor under the alias Harry Cleese; however, the Celestials had been in the process of preparing Hercules to serve in the creation of a new Celestial. As the process was incomplete when Thor rescued him, Hercules lost part of himself. As a result, he froze up in a series of fights and had to be rescued by Thor. When Thor and Hercules returned to the Black Galaxy, the Celestials’ process was completed, and Hercules regained his full vigor.
Rejoining the Avengers, Hercules met and fell in love with the mortal woman Taylor Madison; he was devastated to learn that she was nothing more than an artificial creation of Hera, made to bring pain to the stepson she so despised. After chastising Hera, Zeus encouraged Hercules to return to Olympus, but when Hercules angrily refused, Zeus stripped him of his godhood, leaving him much weaker and certainly no longer immortal. Hercules remained with the Avengers for some time after that, befriending new recruit Deathcry before she left the group, but he began drinking heavily after most of the active Avengers seemingly died in battle with Onslaught. The Avengers disbanded for a time, and Hercules joined the new corporate super-team Heroes for Hire, but he was forced off active duty due to his drinking problem. At one point, Zeus offered to restore his full godly powers, but Hercules declined, preferring to continue his mortal existence to better understand and appreciate life.
After working alongside the Avengers and Thor on several occasions, Hercules foiled a bank robbery attempted by Frank Schlichting, AKA Constrictor, Antonio Rodriquez, AKA Armadillo, and Steve Levins, AKA Jack O’Lantern. The severely injured Constrictor then sued Hercules for damages. Hercules’ lawyer Mallory Book opposed the suit, but her associate She-Hulk, AKA Jennifer Walters, convinced Hercules he was obligated to pay for the damages, being just as liable under the law as Constrictor was. This almost completely depleted Hercules’ personal fortune, forcing him into construction work with Damage Control for a time, though Hercules later won back much of his wealth in a card game with Constrictor. When a crazed, reality-altering Wanda Maximoff, AKA Scarlet Witch, killed several Avengers and caused the team to disband again, Hercules fell into a period of destructive drinking and depression upon learning that his friend Thor and the Asgardians had also met their end at Ragnarök. Planning to strike Hercules at his weakest, Hera recruited Hercules’ ancient enemy, Eurystheus, now a corporate executive, to film a reality television show featuring Hercules completing a new Twelve Labors updated for the modern age.
During the course of these New Labors, Hercules found forgiveness from Megara and defeated Eurystheus and his ally, the river god Achelous. With the Asgardian gods’ recent demise, the Shinto god of evil, Amatsu Mikaboshi, AKA Mikaboshi, attacked the Olympians during their perceived time of weakness. Hercules was recalled to Olympus and finally had his godly powers restored so that he could help defend his people from Mikaboshi’s armies. Although the Olympian gods (aided by their Shinto counterparts) eventually prevailed over Mikaboshi and his minions, Hercules’ father Zeus seemingly perished at Mikaboshi’s hands.
When the United States passed the Superhuman Registration Act (SHRA), Hercules sided with Steve Rogers, AKA Captain America, and refused to register, joining the Captain’s outlaw Secret Avengers team. During the final battle of the superhuman civil war that erupted over the SHRA, Hercules personally destroyed the cybernetic Thor clone that Iron Man’s pro-SHRA faction had created, viewing it as an affront to his lost friend. When boy genius Amadeus Cho, AKA Brawn, discovered that his one-time friend Bruce Banner, AKA the Hulk, had been exiled to space, he realized Hulk would return and began seeking allies to help the Hulk find peace. To this end, Cho manipulated Angel and Hercules into thinking elite intelligence agency S.H.I.E.L.D. was trying to kill him as part of some anti-Hulk conspiracy, winning their sympathy and protection. The trio then traveled to Atlantis to recruit Namor, who refused to believe the Hulk was anything but a monster. His cousin Aquaria Nautica Neptunia, AKA Namora, joined instead and, calling themselves the Renegades, the foursome returned to New York, only to discover that the Hulk had returned from space and declared war on Earth. Toward the end of the Hulk’s war, Hercules and the other Renegades battled Dr. Stephen Strange, AKA Doctor Strange’s summoned demon, Zom, during which time Hercules shared a brief romantic interlude with teammate Namora. Once Zom was defeated, the Renegades discovered that the Hulk’s war had ended in defeat, though Hercules congratulated Amadeus Cho for remaining true to his friends regardless.
Angel and Namora were granted amnesty and set free, while Hercules and Cho were arrested for the damage they did battling S.H.I.E.L.D. forces. Trying to spare Amadeus further danger, Hercules agreed to register with the government and face the charges, cooperating with authorities; but as he prepared to do so, he found his estranged half-brother Ares, now a licensed Avenger, threatening to make registered life especially difficult for him. Evading both Ares and S.H.I.E.L.D. forces, Hercules and Cho became fugitives again and sought out Hercules’ half-sister, Athena, who took the duo to the Golden Gate Bridge location of the cosmic Dreaming Celestial. While there, Hercules was attacked by the Eternals Ikaris and Thena, who mistook Hercules for Gilgamesh, the Forgotten One. Once the misunderstanding was resolved, Athena addressed the alien Skrull invasion of Earth and nominated Hercules to lead “the God Squad,” a group of gods from various pantheons chosen to kill the Skrull gods: Kly’bn the Eternal Skrull and Sl’gur’t of the Infinite Names. Hercules accepted the challenge, accompanied by Cho and various godly allies, including the Eternal Ajak, the god-slayer Demogorge, Canadian demigoddess Narya, AKA Snowbird, and even Hercules’ bitter foe Mikaboshi. Hercules shared a romance with Snowbird during their quest.
Following the Skrull invasion, Hercules and Snowbird slayed the leader of the Skrull gods while Mikaboshi defeated Sl’gur’t and took his position leading the Skrull pantheon, which was exactly Athena’s plan all along.