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Review Group Dark Avengers: Ares #1

Written by John Martin on Tuesday, November 03 2009 and posted in Reviews

SuperginraiX had the pick for new comics shipping October 28th and he selected Dark Avengers: Ares #1 by Kieron Gillen and Manuel Garcia.


The Review Group is a collection of posters who get together and review a new comic each week that we each take turns selecting. Our threads can be found in The Outhouse’s News Stand forum and is open for anyone and everyone to participate in.

Since the Review Group upgraded to The Outhouse no creator has brought the drama like Kieron Gillen, which is odd because he seems like a swell guy.  He's traded in his indie records for guns this time out, will we finally commence with the lovefest his writing deserves?

Review by amlah6

I've been going back and forth between excitement and dread for this comic. I'm a big fan of Kieron Gillen's Phonogram, but I hadn't read any of his Marvel work. I really like the character Ares and the original Oeming mini, but post-Ultron Initiative I don't think he's been used in ways that were all that interesting. I was super excited when Cary Nord was announced as the artist on the book, but for whatever reason that ended up not happening. Also there's that 'Dark' word in the title...

All bullshit aside, I ended up enjoying this. I liked Gillen's take on the character and while on the surface the Shades could have very much not worked, but I though it was executed well and I liked the book being from the perspective of one of the soldiers rather than Ares himself. My favorite thing about the book though was that even though it's a 'Dark Avengers' book, I didn't need to have been reading Dark Reign to follow the story.

I was really worried about the art in this after seeing the previews that were floating around. Those things were just all kinds of fugg. Luckily the printed version of the book looked better. Mostly I thought the art was good, but there are some panels in there that are horrid. I couldn't really tell how the inking duties were split up, but Stefano Gaudiano is a badass so I'm thinking maybe the portions of the book that I enjoyed probably had a lot to do with him. Jose Villarrubia always does great work and this was no exception. I'm not sure what Marvel did to frak up his work in those previews.

In a rare turn of events, this will actually be a Review Group pick where I go out and buy the next issue of the series.

Story: 8.5
Art: 6.5
Overall: 7.5

Review by prozacman

I enjoyed Ares more than I thought I would. Wasn’t expecting a boot camp story, and I like book camp stories. Though my problem with Boot camp stories is that I’m usually lukewarm on what happens after the training is finished. The training portions of the movies like Full Mettle Jacket, Soldier, and Stripes are infinitely better than the rest of their movies. Will this series hold be after the first issue is what I’m pondering.

The premise is that Norman Osborn wants to see what kind of squad Ares God of War can put together. The story is told from the perspective of one of the soldiers in that squad. At times Ares is just as selfish and out of touch as his brother Hercules is usually written, but with a sadistic slant. Though it is revealed that there is a method to his madness. Ares is trying to make these men warriors in mind, body, and spirit.

The problem comes at the end of the book. The reveal for what the real story will be. With out saying to much, it plays off of what happened between Ares and Fury in last months Dark Avengers. That being the case, I have a feeling that the end of the Ares mini will be spoiled by one of the regular books before issue 3 hits the stands. It might end up similar to the Hood Mini Series. It was hard to feel the impact of the Hood mini when Dormammu was already exercised from him in New Avengers before issue 3 of the mini came out. Hell, the ending of this issue of Ares probably spoils some thing to happen in Secret Warriors (not sure since I don‘t get that book).

Ares #1 is a good start, but not sure if the next issues will be as good. I’ll probably get #2 at least.

Art 7.5
Story 7.5
Overall 7.5

Review by Chubbles

I'll be honest, I enjoyed the hell out of this issue. Ares is such a badass and seeing these other elite dudes hang with him was great. When he gave them the glasses I was dying laughing but not because it was stupid but because it was so over the top badass that it rocked. The best line was when they are talking about their weapons and Ares says "consider the human fist". Ares has become one of my favorite characters the past few years and this issue makes me like him even more. I don't think he'd be quite good enough for his own ongoing but I really hope he sticks around on a team after the whole Dark Avengers thing runs its course. I really think this mini is gonna be fantastic.

Story 9
Art 8
Overall 8.5

Review by GHERU

G-d help me, I liked this book way more than I thought I would.

The art was so-so (not as bad as DR The List: Wolverine) but more importantly the story was really fun.

Basically Ares is given the task of training an elite group of HAMMER soldiers. It’s not as cut and dry as “beat the loyalty and love into the troops” cliché but is basically that. His ‘Shades’ end up becoming (basically) the in-crowd of the HAMMER armed forces.

The dialogue and story are ten tons of fun, and the questioning of Ares by his troops of the veracity of his godliness borders on classic. But, the fact that in the last 4 pages they forced a tie in with Secret Warriors really bothered me. The last we saw Ares and Fury had an understanding and now, because of a scene I do not recall, all that is gone (or Hera is misleading her son).

This would have gotten an 8 on story if not for the SW reference.

Story 7
Art 7
Overall 7

Review by starlord

My first reaction when I finished reading this was that it seemed pretty obvious that Kieron Gillen must have feelings of huge inadequacy with his manhood. I've never read anything this testosterone heavy, and I'm including both volumes of my beloved erotic stories: "The Bear That Took Out the Marine Corps." Top it off with one of the biggest clichés in the history of story-telling "Ah, you've tried to kill me, you've learned the lesson I was trying to teach you." and I couldn't help but start laughing out loud. Really! My husband was actually asking me what was so funny. Then Gillen tries to turn it around in the last two pages by having him worry about his son.

I loved the issue of Dark Avengers that Bendis wrote where Ares confronts Fury. That was actually a well rounded and three dimensional anti-hero that I could get into. This Ares, he's funny, I'll give you that. But then, I rolled my eyes at all the Rambo movies too. So what do I know?

LOVED the art! It saved this from being a lower score. If this was meant to be satirical, I'd give it a solid 9. But I actually think this was supposed to be serious.

Story: 4
Art: 9
My Score: 6

Review by Old Man

I'll keep this pretty simple. I didn't care one way or the other for this book. I've never been impressed by macho-laden stories, so it loses points for that. I really don't care about the Ares character; Thor and Hercules do much more to satisfy me. One really, really stupid scene has Ares shooting a soldier in the leg while he is inspecting the troops. Stupid, I say. One majorly lame bit is calling the groups shades, then donning sunglasses when they go into a building. That is not only majorly lame, it is fucking stupid, as it inhibits your vision inside the building. Page four (I think; maybe six) has Ares making a speech, and in every panel, the viewpoint is closer and closer to Ares's face. This looked so much like a Bendis thing that I didn't even read it. Stupid Bendis.

$4 for 22 pages of mediocrity? I dub thee 6.

Review by Punchy

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.


Review by Mr_Batman

Story was decent. Ares seems like a pretty cool character, and the little amount of comics I've read with him were ok. I'm sure he's a really cool character (not Nick Fury cool), but I couldn't really get into the story. That may be because I'm not really interested in Ares, but whatever.

The art was good for this comic IMO. I actually was surprised that I liked it. I was on the fence at first, but I learned to like it. I'm sure it could've been better, but it was solid.

I don't know if I should recommend this, but I just couldn't get into it myself. The art was pretty good though.

Story- 6
Art- 7.5
Overall- 7

Review by King Impulse

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 Wink

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 more 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 fulfill 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 cliché' 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?"
'Oh yeah!'
'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 analyze the very nature of the medium and such. Sometimes though, I want to see shit go boom.

Story - 8
Art - 8
Overall - 8

Review by House of J

The Marvel Comics line is accessible to readers of all ages. It's inevitable most kids will eventually outgrow books like Marvel Super Heroes Squad, and perhaps move up to the Marvel Adventures line. And when they begin to find those books, with their simplistic plot-lines and streamlined dialogue, a bit too juvenile then there are books like Dark Avengers: Ares to provide the next step up the ladder.

What else is there to say? Ares is a tough guy, eh? This book tries too hard to be hard. The pages are full of crudely-drawn lumpy faced tough guys who can only be identified by a faux-hawk here, a handle-bar mustache there. Team Shade are throw-away characters whose destinies are to be thrown away, probably. The panel compositions are unimaginative, matching the cliché-ridden storyline and dialogue. I read it several times trying to understand what the appeal of the book is to other reviewers, but a book like this offers little or nothing to the repeat-reader that wasn't apparent the first time.


Review by McKegan

I like this well enough. I didn't have a problem with the dialogue (although there were a couple of awkward phrasings) and thought the art conveyed the action nicely.

It's obvious what Gillen (sp?) is doing here. Ares is too much of a big gun for him to do anything earth-shattering to the guy, so he introduces a bunch of no-names he can develop, and likely kill off by the mini's end. That's fine and probably the smartest way to write the book.

My only complaint, is for a mini that's only 3 issues, waiting until the last few pages to introduce the main conflict is leaving it a bit late.

Story: 6.5
Art: 7
Over-All: 6.75

Review by 48THRiLLS

This was a fun book. Yeah, it tries to be tough but it is Ares the God of freaking War! If I wanted a boring, sensitive, and taking itself too seriously comic I would go read Phonogram Razz ...I thought Ares giving his speech with the American flag behind him was cool as hell and the part with the sun glasses gave me a laugh. I did not hate this at all but I am not sure if I will keep reading even though I feel a little obligated since this feels like it is gonna tie into Secret Warriors a bit. It does give me a good feeling about Gillen's upcoming Thor run, he seemed to grasp Ares character quite well and I think he will do Thor justice. The art is a style I typically don't care for but it works well with the gritty tone of the book. There may have been a few cheesy lines here and there but I was not at all disappointed with this and depending on how many titles I get when this next comes out maybe I will read on.

ART - 6

Review by Kerny

I read a lot of books last week and this was the most surprising. Not the best, not the worst, but it was surprisingly good.

The book is pretty funny IMO, with Ares beginning why he's putting together a team, to the shade's, and with the consideration of the human fist. The dialogue is over the top and somewhat cheesy, but I don't mind it, I like the tough guy machismo act Gillen is writing here. This book won't have any immediate impact on anything, but it is a fun little tale that I will be reading.

Interesting and smart choice telling the story from one of his soldiers POV

The art is ok. It's gritty when it needs to be and it tells a good story.

Story 7.5
Art 7

Review by guitarsmashley

Well this issue was pretty worthless. I've always wanted to read the original Ares mini but if this is what the character is like then I guess I'll be passing on that one. The story is pretty formulaic and trite along with just passing from page to page. The biggest inconsistency is from the narrator’s narration to his actual dialogue they were totally mismatched and only took me out of the story.

The art...How many Manuel Garcia's are there? Because this issue looked like it was drawn by 3-4 different people. Not just from page to page but panel to panel. I don't know if it's bad inking or bad line work. Either way it is distracting and makes for a bumpy read.

when I look at this picture (http://i22.photobucket.com/albums/b331/jfeit/DarkAvengersAres01pg21copy.jpg) I see three different Hera's one plain faced, One with age lines and one with tight skin showing emotion and beauty. Same person 3 different ways and of course the real piece that moves the story to the next issue isn't something remotely elaborated or explained.


That gives Dark Avengers: Ares #1 a group score of 6.75.  Not a lovefest, but we are kind of a tough crowd.  Seriously though, what happened to Cary Nord?

For further discussion of this week's book, feel free to join us in this week's thread (http://www.theouthousers.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=31196) found in the News Stand forum where you are also invited to post your own review.

doombug has the pick for November 4th and he has selected Deadpool Team-Up #899 from Marvel Comics.  Look for the new thread after it becomes available Wednesday morning to post your own review... assuming I even bother to start the thread.  Deadpool?  Seriously!?  What the frak?

Deadpool Team-Up #899

WRITER: Fred Van Lente
PENCILS: Dalibor Talajic

Stop rubbing your eyes, fanboy, they don't deceive you! Everyone's favorite Merc with a Mouth stars in a third on-going series, hacking and wisecracking his way across the Marvel Universe with a new guest-star every month! First up: when master assassin ARCADE and NIGHTMARE, Lord of the Dream Dimension, join forces to destroy Wade Wilson and THE INCREDIBLE HERCULES, they get more than they bargain for, taking on two of the MU's most irresponsible heroes! Drunken mayhem, bad jokes, and billions of dollars of property damage ensue! Parental Advisory …$2.99


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