Marvel Comics has famously mined Norse mythology for a few of its better known superheroes. However, Marvel has also mined Greek myth, using Hercules as a sometime rival, often good friend, of the mighty Thor. And while Wonder Woman has most famously been pitted against the DC version of Ares, the Greek God of War, Marvel hasn’t been shy about using the character either as a foe of his half-brother the Lion of Olympus.
The biggest difference may be Marvel later turned Ares into a good guy. Mostly.
Sometime after Civil War, Iron Man and Luke Cage each put together an Avengers team on opposing sides of the whole “registration” issue. I’ve said enough about that one in the past, so I won’t rehash that here. On the officially legal side of things, Iron Man knew he needed, as he put it, a “Wolverine”.
He also figured he needed a “Thor”.
One trip to a construction site later, and Iron Man is recruiting a fellow he figures fits both criteria rather well. Ares, the god of war, is working as a hardhat guy to support his son. See, he’s a single dad who got sole custody of his kid.
If you know your Greek mythology, you know Ares’ son is also Phobos, the God of Fear. But that’s beside the point for right now.
So, Ares joins Tony Stark’s Avengers team and proves invaluable when he, of all people, comes up with the plan to defeat Ultron, who had somehow taken over Tony Stark’s body, morphed it into a metallic, naked version of the Wasp, and was holding the Sentry at bay. I am not making that up.
Considering the plan was basically to give Ultron a computer virus, that’s rather impressive for the brute guy with no computer skills to think up.
So, the two Avengers teams are messing with each other, and the Secret Invasion happens, and because the people of the Marvel Universe are stupid, Norman Osborn is now a hero and he takes over S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Avengers working out of the Superhero Registration Act’s Initiative. Norman needs his own “Dark” Avengers, and gets a bunch of his Thunderbolts teammates to switch costumes and identities while recruiting a few others, giving them the names of well-known Avengers like Wolverine and Spider-Man…
Oh, and he managed to recruit both Ares and the Sentry.
At the time, the Sentry didn’t make a lot of sense. The guy was mentally screwed up, but hardly evil, or even leaning in that general direction. True, Brian Michael Bendis seemed to write the Sentry as some sort of all-powerful being, but why would he join Osborn’s Avengers? Ares made sense. Ares was at best an anti-hero, and the kind of guy Norman Osborn would love to have on his side.
Plus, this was Norman “Green Goblin” Osborn. It was only a matter of time before the whole “Dark Avengers” thing blew up in his face. Heck, his Captain Marvel, Noh-Varr, split as soon as someone was dumb enough to tell him the rest of the team were supervillains, a fact that he was completely unaware of.
So, I waited for the Sentry to snap out of it.
Except he didn’t.
Turns out the Sentry was way more messed up than anyone thought.
During the Siege storyline, even Norman lost control of the Sentry, and someone had to step up to the plate and take him down a peg.
That someone was Ares, the God of War. I had totally banked on the wrong Dark Avenger to switch sides and save the day when Norman Osborn went too far.
Of course, the point of Siege was to restore the actual classic Avengers line-up of Steve Rogers, Tony Stark, and Thor…oh, and Spider-Man and Wolverine, because Bendis.
So, Ares’ efforts didn’t work out too well.
Well, war isn’t dead, so I am sure he’ll be back at some point.