Dark Avengers: Ares #1(of 3) - 'Dark Avengers: Ares Part 1' - Gillen, Garcia, Gaudiano, Pennington and Villarrubia
Story - Despite this being written by one of my favourite new writers, Kieron Gillen, I was still wary about this issue. I mean, I know Gillen from Phonogram, not for superheroes, what would his take on Ares be? Would the whole issue feature the God Of War discussing his favourite Brit-pop tracks? Thankfully not, the only Music brought to mind here is Ride Of The Valkyries. Gillen is a writer with a lot of skills to his bow, and in this book... he brings the action and the War-movie posturing to go with it. This is not a deep comic, but it is a hell of a lot of fun.
The central premise is basically that Norman Osborn, in his role as Head of HAMMER asks Ares to train a cadre of uber-tough Ultra soldiers. And so we get the first 20 minutes of Full Metal Jacket, but with the God Of War. It's brutal as you'd expect, and compelling. The Patton-esque Monologue Ares gives his possible troops is one of the best such scenes that I have read. Gillen perfectly nails the slightly aloof, slightly crazy nature of Ares, but manages to put in a modern-day context. That's what a book like this should do, you contrast the crazy Gods running around with real soldiers, real warfare, and Gillen does this well. Especially in a scene where he explains how he knows War of all eras.
Gillen chooses, perhaps wisely, to not put the focus on Ares himself, but on a human soldier (or Puny Mortal, as Ares would put it), so we follow Cameron McGill through his and his friend's training. These characters are so far loosely drawn, there's a Russian, a German (with an oh-so teutonic moustache), and a crazy Redneck. I doubt it matters if they are a bit stereotypical though, as Ares says, they might not live long. McGill and the rest add a human side to Ares, even as he's trying to kill them, and they blow him up, we see them bond, whether it be through Sunglasses, or just beating this holy shit out of people. I did like how McGill did keep putting his foot in it though, asking Ares if he's stronger than Hercules is just asking for trouble. As is mentioning his son Phobos.
And it appears that Phobos will be a driving point in this story too, at the end, Ares' Mother Hera (currently the big Villain over in Incredible Hercules) comes to Ares to tell him that his son has been injured in service with the Secret Warriors, so Ares readies to go get Nick Fury. I'm not sure I trust Hera, she's been bad news in Hercules, and Alexander seemed fine in this week's Secret Warriors. It's probably a trap. But we know from his speech that Ares doesn't give a hoot if it's a trap, he doesn't want to go in prepared, he just wants to fight, to wage war.
And wage War he shall, it looks like the next 2 issues of this book will amp up the action considerably, but this opening chapter was still very enjoyable. Gillen has an excellent grasp of Ares, up there with Oeming's, who brought the character back to prominence, and even Bendis, who is doing great work with the character in Dark Avengers. Gillen nails the character, and the tone of a book about Gods in the modern age very well, and there's even a subtle sense of humour here. If you want a pure action comic, and are a fan of Incredible Hercules, check out the Dark side of Olympus here. Ares may be crazy and dangerous, but he's a whole lot of fun.
Art - Manuel Garcia is a bit of a journeyman artist, doing fill-ins here and there, the last book I remember reading of his was when he replaced Trevor Hairsine on Paul Cornell's Wisdom MAX series, and he did good work there, but he's made a step up here. This is very good stuff, very fitting for the book's earthy tone. Perhaps a lot of this is to do with the exemplary inks of Stefano Gaudiano, his work makes this resemble Michael Lark on Daredevil or something similar, adding a new edge to Garcia's work. Jose Villarrubia is of course a colouring legend, nuff said.
Best Line - There's a lot of good dialogue here, I like 'Consider: The Human Fist' or 'That's the Dung my Sister cares about. I'm the other God of War' Ares is a character who just lends himself to fantastic dialogue, pretty much every writer nails him, and Gillen does here too.
Last edited by Punchy
on Fri Oct 30, 2009 2:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.