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Ares: Bringer of War

Review

Ares: Bringer of War

The myths of the Greeks have been retold now for centuries, and it’s always refreshing when someone takes a new direction with a story. George O’Connor does just that with his seventh installment in his series of graphic novels depicting Greek myths and gods. When faced with depicting the god of war, Ares, O’Connor settled on the famous story of Homer’s THE ILIAD.

While the main story of the 15,000 line epic poem centers on Achilles and his bloodlust, O’Connor shifts the focus slightly to Ares, yet still keeps the events of the war intact. The gods themselves are frequently left out of retellings of this story, which primarily deals with the decades-long struggle between the Greeks and the Trojans. Most famously, this tale was depicted in the Ridley Scott blockbuster Troy, which left out godly interference as well.

"O’Connor’s Olympians series is one to seek out for your favorite god or goddess."

In most Greek mythology, the gods are depicted as beings with absolute power and a penchant for mischief among themselves and the mortal world. Many of the characters depicted within THE ILIAD are descended from gods as well, such as Aeneas, Askalaphos and even Achilles himself. Because of this, many of the gods and goddesses have more than a little at stake in this war.

Athena, Zeus, Hephaistos and all the rest are featured playing their own parts during the mortal conflict on earth, some lending a helping hand and others wishing to punish god and mortal alike. All poor Ares wishes for is to join the fray, and to revel in the spoils of war. But he holds back out of respect for his father, Zeus, who wishes for no interference. That does not stave off Athena or Aphrodite from stoking the flames between the two warring sides, resulting in the death of many men, including Ares’ son.

Ares is more complicated a character here than his outward persona would leave you to believe. Yes, he has an unquenchable thirst for war and bloodshed, but also wishes to be respected and loved by his father. He wants to be a good father to his offspring, and to prove himself better than Athena, the other deity of war. Multiple gods have children die in the battle, but only Ares is depicted as in mourning for the death of his.

O’Connor’s art is efficient and tactile, as befits a New York Times bestselling author of a series of graphic novels. Ares is always depicted as darker and larger than the rest of the characters on the page, even most of the gods, save for the towering visage of Hades and the powerful presence of Zeus. His eyes burn red as he gazes at the battlefield, and flash with outward fire when he engages in battle.

The true triumph of this book and others in the series is their use as a teaching aid to old and young alike who are interested in the Greek Myths. THE ILIAD is an epic poem from a different time, and can be tough to get through for a casual reader. To have stories like that boiled down to 66 pages and presented in a graphic novel form allows for the action to jump off the page and the themes presented to get driven home with a bit more ease. There is even additional reading material at the end of the book with more information on Ares, and some page-by-page details of some of the themes and language used by the ancient Greeks.

These stories continue to be told time and again because of the weight and thematic influence they hold, and comics are becoming more and more relevant a tool to help educate, and to bridge the gap between erudite knowledge and those who wish to consume it. O’Connor’s Olympians series is one to seek out for your favorite god or goddess, or to collect for a better understanding of those ancient myths and stories.

Reviewed by Jeff Ayers on January 27, 2015

Ares: Bringer of War
by George O'Connor

  • Publication Date: January 27, 2015
  • Genres: Graphic Novel
  • Paperback: 80 pages
  • Publisher: First Second
  • ISBN-10: 1626720134
  • ISBN-13: 9781626720138