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Hércules. Hércules was created by “Adolfo Martí Caja,” the pseudonym of the Spanish author Manuel Vallvé López (Ciclón (II)), and appeared in Hércules #1-6 (1942-1943).

Hércules is a crime-fighting hero modeled on Doc Savage. Hércules Helizondo is a vigorous, brilliant Basque engineer, from the city of Bilbao, who is so strong and so tanned that he is known as “the Man of Steel.” Hércules fights against evil, assisted by four brilliant men: Mauricio Maldonado, a retired Spanish soldier; Dr. Diego Arroyo, an Argentine doctor; Pepe Ruiz, the group’s Madrileño (from Madrid) servant; and Roald Storm, a Swedish engineer. Their adventures begin in Spain but soon take them around the world.

Hércules appears in stories with titles like “The Sardonic Mask,” “The Winged Death,” and “The Paralyzing Ray.”

* I'm including Hércules in the Best of the Encyclopedia category because Hércules himself is archetypal. Doc Savage was a kind of icon for American pulp readers, but the truth is that he was not the kind of icon who inspired many other writers, American or international, to create copies and lifts of himself. (I think that's largely due to the Doc Savage stories being generally pretty poor). Manuel Vallvé López was one of those rare writers, and succeeded--in difficult circumstance (Spain during the irons of WW2 was not a hospitable place for the Spanish pulps)--in creating a memorable Doc Savage copy who succeeded in rising above mere emulation to become distinctive on his own. Spanish readers responded to this--what Spaniard wouldn't like the Spanish Doc Savage?--and Hércules became an icon. Whose fictional life, alas, was cut short due to government interference rather than to poor sales. Hércules stands as a kind of What If? for the Spanish pulps: if he'd been allowed to continue by the government, who knows what splendid entertainment starring him might have appeared? 

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