By SC 16 Comments
Introduction and Spoiler Warning
Love is like a box of chocolates, I think… or was the quote life is like a box of chocolates? Either way, whether its life or love, one thing is certain, some boxes of chocolates have the nice strawberry heart ones that everyone coverts, and they also have that daft hard, weird coffee toffee flavor thats even worse than the cheap, rip off plain chocolate flavor. If you read my other blog Comics I Love 01, you already know this blog series is my attempt to talk about the strawberry flavored heart flavors of comics. The comics I love, the comics I love to put in my mouth and savor… until they melt and then I keep them in my mouth, like its my prisoner and it can never escape me, which we all know is the most true and pure act of love. Oh and in this blog the chosen prisoner or chocolate is the five issue, 2006 Ares series by Michael Avon Oeming and Travel Foreman. There aren't really any big spoilers that will drastically affect your reading experience in my opinion, but either way spoiler warning.
Reason 01. Reinvents a Character
Marvel's Ares was always a bit of a jobber type character for Thor and the Avengers, well, he use to be. Personally, one of my favorite things that Marvel and DC can do, is to take a preexisting classic character and modernize them, and give them new life and relevancy. A new look, new gravitas, new importance and vitality. For Marvels Ares, it was the 2006 series by Michael Avon Oeming and Travel Foreman that helped reintroduce and repopularize the character. Oeming's Powers collaborator Brian Michael Bendis would go on to draft Ares into Mighty Avengers and the greater Marvel landscape… albeit the character was a bit less nuanced. Still, Bendis tends to write all characters a certain way but for a small while a lot of writers and artists got to use Ares in his new capacity, to great effect. He also appeared in lots of places due to being a Mighty Avenger and Dark Avenger. I bet eventually the character will return under a new role, and most of that is thanks to this mini series.
In this book, Ares is basically the black sheep of the family. He is the god of War, and he is looked down upon by the other gods, because he and war are cruel, violent, merciless, and ugliness. Despite this, they often call on him when they need an edge, but even then they are ungrateful, and speak foul behind his back. It leads Ares to turning his back on being a god and he deciding to live a more humble life. Except then things turn bad and he needs to be the god of War again. Whilst thats an arguably cliche plot, we get some great small character moments, great dialogue and character interactions, a threatening and unique antagonist and some fun, epic battle scenes befitting a God of War.
Reason 02. God Dad is Best Dad
Before E3 and the new God of War trailer made angry, godly, Greek solo parenting cool, Ares was doing this way back a decade ago in 2006. Ares is a solo father to a young boy, and he isn't your typical Marvel parent… didn't send his son into the future or past, banish him to another reality, or dimension, didn't force them to join a terrorist organization, didn't make from pieces of Mephisto, didn't drown them in a small puddle, etc etc and so on. Ares would meet his sons teacher on request, he would do the dishes, help with homework, pick up his son from school, wrestle with him and have fun, teach him self defense. Normal things. He even took on a more humble job to support them both in an average home. I actually really liked these scenes, casual Ares just doing mundane things. Its interesting to see how a god/superhero would interact with his young sons teacher and what sort of normal job he would apply for. I can't remember any other times where superheroes did the dishes. Do they not wash? Inquiring minds demand answers!
Oh also, this book predates the Liam Neeson movie Taken as well. As in despite his new life, trying to live normal, for his son, some stuff happens, his child is kidnapped, and Ares has to go all wicked badass. In a way thats glorious for people that love seeing a one man army take on squads of mooks, whilst armed to the teeth with swords, axes, guns and shotguns, and sexy for people that like angry muscular warriors fighting passionately, loyally and fiercely for their family.
Reason 03. Its Epic yet its Personal
"For annihilation is the art of Ares, and this is my name." The first quarter of the first issue, of this book, features a massive epic, war between Zeus, and the majority of the gods of Olympus and his brother Hades, and various legions of undead, beasts, giants and such creatures. Thats just the first quarter of the first issue! Ares in one scene, impales a guy with one hand, slices another dude in half, and bites the head off another guy, all in the same motion. In the same issue we get very quiet and simple scenes between a father and his son. Sometimes I think people get too wrapped up in the idea of heroes either having to be purely relatable or purely fantasy. Its not only okay to have both mixed, but sometimes those ideas enhance each other. Makes you care about individuals even with a large scale backdrop, and then in turn reminds you that all those faceless individuals are probably fighting for and fighting against similar problems, and conflicts, physically, emotionally and mentally.
So this book is a story about a father fighting for his son, its also a story a man fighting against his past, his own nature, and his own father and family. Its also a story about Marvel's Greek Pantheon versus Ama-tsu-Mikaboshi and an army of undead Samurai warriors! Side note, this is also one of the first defining stories of Mikaboshi, and with due respect to other writers who have used the character, this is still by far his best story. There are so many eery and chilling moments with that character in this story, plot wise and art wise. There are scenes where Mikaboshi is a giant mask, a frail elderly man in traditional Japanese grab, a sexy woman in black and white, and also a big fiery flaming face. This book has so much else packed in its five issues, so many moments I would love to talk about, alas, will save that for another time. Thanks for reading!