Wonder Woman has had a plethora of memorable villains throughout her 70-year career in comics, but none of them is as menacing or powerful as Ares, the god of war. Although the original version was a bit of a comical character, he later became a fearsome foe and at one time, a formidable ally during Wonder Woman's history.
The character that would eventually become Ares first appeared in Wonder Woman #1 back in 1942. Back then, he was based on the Roman god of war, Mars. The DC version of the character was created by William Moulton Marston and Harry G. Peter. Mars seemed a bit comical and a bit of a doofus, even for a golden age villain. The character continued to go under the guise of Mars up until the mid-'70s where he was called both Ares and Mars interchangeably.
Ares went through a reinvention in 1987 when writer/artist George Perez, along with writer Greg Potter, turned the Roman legionnaire into what we know today--the Greek god of war, Ares. He was a towering and intimidating knight in dark armor, and many times, you could only see his glowing eyes beneath his helmet. The Injustice: Gods Among Us Ares is based on Perez's version.
Ares is an extremely powerful god. He is a master of war, strategy, and tactics on the battlefield, so he's a formidable foe for Wonder Woman. He is immortal, has super-strength and speed and can telekinetically control weapons. His armor is near indestructible and in addition to all of that, he can shapeshift and teleport. He is one of DC's strongest villains.
While Perez and Potter's version of Ares was the baddest of the bad, the villain got reinvented, once again, for Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang's run of Wonder Woman in 2011. During their 36-issue storyline, Ares was depicted as an older man with a long beard, who looked a lot like Azzarello. The character's legs were always covered in blood.
This version of the character was commonly called War. He and Wonder Woman are discovered to be family, following the realization that Diana is the daughter of Zeus, making her and Ares brother and sister. This is a very different version of the character. He is old, beaten down, and plays the role of mentor to Diana. This story gave a lot of depth to the character and made him sympathetic.
Currently, writer Greg Rucka, along with artists Nicola Scott and Liam Sharp, are in the midst of redefining the characters yet another time. Ares was imprisoned after failing to to unleash a virus to fuel his power during the "Year One" storyline. Later in the series, he is reintroduced after coming out of a portal inside a mysterious-looking tree. As of issue #23, Ares is still in chains, but it's only a mater of time before he's released again.
If you're looking for more stories involving Ares, you can check these storylines out.
- Wonder Woman: Gods and Mortals - A reimagining of Ares by iconic creator George Perez.
- Wonder Woman by Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang - The story behind the first 36 issues of this volume is a big departure from Perez's version, but it's one of the best-written versions of the character.
- Wonder Woman by Greg Rucka, Nicola Scott, and Liam Sharp - The 2017 bimonthly volume jumps back and forth between the past and present, and a few stories follow the newest evolution of Ares.
Wonder Woman is in theaters now. Check out GameSpot's review of the film here.