By Jim Beard
Even a god must sometimes hold his tongue. While the stories of his Dark Avengers comrades have unfurled around him, Ares, God of War, has stood silently—until now.
This October, DARK AVENGERS: ARES, a three-issue limited series written by Kieron Gillen and featuring art by Cary Nord, shatters the silence surrounding this towering figure and reveals the motivations behind his unholy alliance with Norman Osborn.
"Osborn has been studying his assets," reports Gillen. "In the Dark Avengers, he has a bona-fide God of War. In the form of HAMMER he's got a new military organization. He wants to see what sorts of operatives he'll get if he hands some of them over to Ares.
"That's where the story starts: Imagine what Ares would be like as a drill instructor. Ancient warrior culture mashing against modern military matters. While Ares is center stage throughout, the story's told by one of the people who Ares is training. Who of course, has nothing but boundless love for Ares."
For Gillen, writer of BETA RAY BILL: GODHUNTER, Ares' multiple natures make him fascinating and provide a hook he hopes readers of DARK AVENGERS: ARES will embrace.
"He's capable of acts of incredible heroism, but you'd never call him a hero," he explains. "He has a code of honor of sorts, but would backstab without a second thought if it was tactically to his advantage. He doesn't fit neatly into any mold. Perhaps ironically, I think what's most interesting about Ares the God is that humanity of him. He is a creature of his time. The way he acts wouldn't cause the reaction in Greek times as much as the same actions would to us now.
"With any of the mythological characters in the Marvel Universe, part of their dramatic interest is the conflict between that slightly outdated perspective and the modern world. Ares personifies an idea of warrior which has become increasingly alien to the
western world. That culture clash powers much of the story."
And of course, the concepts of war and leaders loom large in the series, guiding Gillen to craft Ares' measuring of the man who would run the world, Norman Osborn.
"The latest in a long series of mortals who claim to be in charge," he says of Ares' feelings towards Norman. "That's all. Ares doesn't even respect his own father, and has exactly no need for a surrogate. He's been around a long time. As hinted around in this story, he's fought in a lot of human wars. He's seen a lot of men who claim to be in charge. They come. They go. Only the battle remains. For most of his history, in a real way, for Ares the battle matters more than who or what the battle is for. At least, most of the time."
In all, it's the point of view of the common grunt that shapes much of DARK AVENGERS: ARES and gives it a unique edge.
"The way I describe the series is as a Marvel Universe take on something like 'Generation Kill,' except inserting a
mythological figure," Gillen notes. "Since we're told through the soldier's perspective, we get a lot of what it's like to have that element. What's it like to have a magazine passed to you by a man who was at Troy? Since Ares is somewhat candid, we get a lot of how he views his fellow Dark Avengers even when they're offstage. And the citizens he's sworn to protect? Well, he's more likely to just swear at them.
"Ares is just incredibly compelling to watch. He's compelling to write. I start a scene and he just takes over. When I find myself stomping around the house, reading his better monologues to anyone who happens to have the misfortune to be passing, you know you're onto something."
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