The collected edition entitled Dark Avengers: Ares contains two complete miniseries, the first of which details Ares’ battle against the Japanese god of evil, Mikaboshi who wishes to wipe the Olympians off the map. As he has just recently defeated the Asgardians, Mikaboshi has proven just how powerful he is. To defeat him, Ares will have to team-up with his family who have turned their backs on him for years as well as forgive them for kidnapping his son Alex to gain his help in the first place. The second story is about a group of men who volunteer to work with Ares and be trained by the War-God, not knowing exactly just what they have gotten themselves into.
This was a fantastic collection containing two very strong series starring the Olympian with two great creative teams at the helm. Michael Avon Oeming and Travel Foreman chronicled the first tale which turned out to be a story of family more than anything else and one that proved whether you are a god or not, no matter your standing, everyone has family issues. Simply entitled God of War, the tale tells us of Ares past and how his family thought of him lower than most things and yet, they would always call upon him when they needed him most. The story shows us a god who has made his peace with life and now lives upon the Earth with his new son Alex. He has a house, a job and loves his son more than anything. But when his son is taken and he finds himself upon Olympus once more, all of those old feelings come back.
Ares might be the God of War, able to intuit and defeat armies as simple as sweeping the floor, but he has feelings, believe it or not. He is a principled man and one of passion. He cares for his family, or at least he did. There is nothing he would not do for them, but to be rejected at every turn does not do wonders for the ego, much less the soul. Oeming gives us a humble god, one much like Thor who was bettered for having spent his time amongst man. And like Thor, Ares is better for it. But for those that might have forgotten, he is still the God of War, and he proves it in these pages.
Writer Kieron Gillen and Manuel Garcia provide the second tale of this book, from which it received its name and is one that also paints Ares in a positive fashion. This particular story has Ares training men at the behest of Norman Osborn, which of course can be for no reason other than something sinister, but Ares looks upon the task seriously and takes it so as well. One of the better parts of the story was the recruitment scene, which was humourous but telling as well, of the kind of men who would serve under him. What started out as a basic idea transformed into something much more – a story of loyalty and trust and one of faith and brotherhood.
The men who join Ares are perhaps not the nicest of people, but as they train and learn from the god, they start to change. By the end of the book, they may not have redeemed themselves for any of the bad they ever did in their lives, but they died well and with honour. They sacrificed all for the War-God, perhaps the one man who would need saving the least, but did so being inspired by him.
Ares was not always explored that well within the greater Marvel universe, though he was more so in Dark Avengers than anything else, so it was nice to see him given the chance to shine in not one, but two separate miniseries. Though the God of War has rarely been seen since these Dark Avengers days, having passed beyond the veil of the living, he is, after all, a god. The Asgardians have come back many times, so it is not a matter of if, but when, Ares will make his return and when he does, it will be a welcome one.
4.5 out of 5