Dark Avengers: Ares #1
Written by Kieron Gillen
Art by Manuel Garcia
My name is King Impulse, and I'm a Kieron Gillen fan. Not that it's anything to be ashamed of, but I thought I should start by saying this is going to be a very bias review. I've been a massive fan of pretty much everything I've read by him (Although I think there's some Warhammer comics he's done that I'm not interested in, and there was that newuniversal one-shot that I never read). I'm currently sporting an avatar and a sig both from series that he writes, and I try and get people to check out his stuff whenever I can, just because I like it so much. Also, he has a brilliant first name, even if he spells it wrong
Now, Ares... I loved Oeming's mini, but have been kind of sour on Bendis' take on him since Mighty Avengers #1. He's been fun comic relief, but Oeming proved he could be so much than that, and Gillen takes the best from both interpretations to provide the most badass C.O in comics. Ares has been seen through various lenses since his return to the MU. From jealous brother, through crazed manic, to respectful warrior, but I think here, through the eyes of one of his command, I feel we see the true Ares.
When Norman Osborn comes to Ares with his proposition, Ares explains it as a mortal petitioning a god and the god accepting, but there's more to it than that. Since he rose to prominence in the superhero community, he's become estranged from his son, who previously, was his reason for being. He gave up being the god of war to raise the child and now he no longer sees him, so Ares takes on a ragtag group of soldiers that he can mould in his own image to fulfil that paternal feeling he's always had. Or maybe, he just likes shooting stuff and watching things go boom, he's a conundrum.
I like that we don't get into Ares head. It reminds me of Azzarello's Joker GN, where he explained that if you got into the Joker's head, it removes all the mystery. Instead, we see events through the eyes of Cameron McGill, an elite soldier with an overly active mouth that probably overcompensates for something in his life. Through Cameron, we see the mixed feelings of fear and respect people get from Ares. He's scared shitless by him, but he looks up to him.
If there were any complaints about the writing, I'd have to agree that some of Ares' dialogue comes off as 'badass cliche' but that's exactly what I was expecting from this comic. This isn't a Bendis comic, we're not going to get
"You know Ares?"
"Big guy, big axe, god of war?"
'Yeah, I know who you mean'
You buy an Ares comic, you want to hear the God of War say things like
"I am the God of War. I am the lord of all things made by men that would make you not. Of all my Olympian kin, I am closest to you. I have walked among you for millennia! I know the death cry of the elephant. What plate-mail sounds like as it buckles beneath your fingers. I know how flesh blossoms beneath a thousand different kinds of shrapnel.
I know all these things. And these are things you will learn."
and if you don't like it, GTFO.
As for the art, I must say that I'm disappointed that Cary Nord isn't on the book, but Manuel Garcia is doing the best work I've ever seen by him. He gives Ares a godly presence no matter what he's doing, even if he's just standing the there. His storytelling and the flow from panel-to-panel is excellent. Take the scene where Ares is talking about there being two gods of war. How each panel moves closer and closer to Ares' face until he's boiling up and clenching his fists, then the next page of Ares calmly stood there just works so well. Stefano Guadiano is one of Marvel's best inkers and you can tell which pages are his and which are Pennington's, but his stuff's good to, so it doesn't really matter.
All in all, I loved this issue. I like to think I'm an intellectual guy, I appreciate comics that really make you think, and comics that break down and analyse the very nature of the medium and such. Sometimes though, I want to see shit go boom.
Story - 8
Art - 8
Overall - 8[/b]