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|First appearance||Pre-Crisis: Wonder Woman #1 (Summer 1942)
Post-Crisis: Wonder Girl (v2) #1
|Created by||Charles Moulton; reinterpreted post-Crisis by George Pérez|
|Notable aliases||Mars, God of Conflict, God of the Dead, God of War, Ruler of the Underworld, Ari Buchanan, Ares Buchanan, Tom Sera|
Immortality, virtually indestructible armor, master of conflict and strategy, provoke battle and slaughter with his presence
Ares (also sometimes referred to as Mars or War) is a fictional character, a supervillain who appears in DC Comics publications and related media. Based upon the Greek mythological figure of the same name, he is the Greek god of war and a major adversary of the super-hero Wonder Woman.
Ares first appeared in Wonder Woman #1, volume 1, published in the summer of 1942, written by Wonder Woman creator William Moulton Marston. In the very next issue, he reappeared under his Roman name, Mars. He would retain this name until February 1987, when comics writer/artist George Pérez restored the Greek name Ares as part of his reboot of the Wonder Woman mythos. As the narrative continuity of Wonder Woman comics have been adjusted by different writers throughout the years, various versions of Mars/Ares, with various personalities and physical appearances, have been presented, though most have been depicted wearing Greek hoplite or Roman gladiator armor. One of the character's longest-running looks, designed by George Pérez (at right), is that of a red-eyed Greek warrior clad in black and indigo battle armor, face hidden by an Attic helmet. When DC's continuity was again rebooted in 2011 (an event known as the New 52), a new version of the character, devised by writer Brian Azzarello and artist Cliff Chiang, was created. Originally referred to as War, he was introduced as a mentor to the young Wonder Woman. In a marked departure from previous incarnations, this New 52 version originally had the appearance of an older man wearing a disheveled 20th Century man's tropical suit, with a long white beard and pitch black eyes, his bare feet smeared with blood. In later appearances, this version would transform into a younger, more physically formidable warrior-figure. Referred to once again primarily as Ares, he is depicted as a hulking Greek soldier wielding a battle-axe, with a long red beard, fur cape and a Phrygian helmet crowned with ram's horns.
Ares, who eventually became known as Mars, sought to realize his vision of eternal war and conflict in the world of man. He was chiefly opposed by Aphrodite, goddess of love, who sought to realize a contrary vision of loving civilization. Meanwhile, the men who worshipped Ares killed each other and their weaker brothers, selling women cheaper than cattle. When Ares taunted Aphrodite with the success of his plans, Aphrodites molded from clay and breathed life into a new race of women, the Amazons, who built a city-state called Amazonia in which they created a women-centered civilization for spreading the gospel of Aphrodite's Way. They were stronger than Ares's men. Hippolyte was granted a golden girdle which made her invincible.
Mars eventually created a home base on the planet of Mars, with its superpowerful population enslaved to serve him and his chief deputies, the Duke of Deception, Lord Conquest, and the Earl of Greed. Mars's aid-de-camp is General Destruction. He used Mars as an interplanetary headquarters, supplementing the enslaved Martian population with the spirits of the dead he collected from war zones on multiple planets, including Saturn and Earth. Slave spirits became embodied after being ferried to the planet Mars, where they were subjected to strength tests to determine how they would best be used, whether as gladiators in slave games, personal slaves in the retinue of Mars himself, or employees in the War Factories, one of which included the Lie Factory run by the Duke of Deception. The very strongest would be trained and given new bodies to be sent to wage future wars on earth. He also set up the Injustice Court for humiliating slaves and meting out punishments. Mars's Earth base was beneath Mount Olympus and run by Lord Conquest.
From this base, he sought to defeat the Allied cause in World War II, sending thoughts of conquest, deception, and greed into the Axis leaders with the use of astral projection, but he found himself repeatedly thwarted by the Amazon champion Wonder Woman. When Wonder Woman rescued Steve Trevor from Mars, the War God ordered his three lieutenants to capture her. The Earl of Greed was sent and enlisted German aid, along with convincing the Dean of Holiday College to rob it, but failed and was imprisoned. The Duke of Deception gained Japanese help and captured Wonder Woman, but failed as she escaped before she left Earth and he was imprisoned. The Count of Conquest gained Italian help and by trickery succeeded in shackling Wonder Woman and Steve Trevor and bringing them to Mars. Greed and Deception were released while Wonder Woman was imprisoned in the dungeons. However, with the help of Etta Candy's spirit form, Wonder Woman was able to escape and overpower Mars, whose Iron Palace was destroyed by his weapons, though he survived. The Duke of Deception tried many times to defeat Wonder Woman, but failed despite his cunning and incredible technology, and Mars finally stripped him of his mighty appearance, showing him to be a weak, toothless, man. The Duke, after being set with the female slaves, caused them to rebel and briefly ruled Mars.
Mars repeatedly tangled with Wonder Woman on Earth-One and Earth-Two. During a period when Diana abandoned her powers to live among the world of men as the Amazons retreated temporarily to another dimension, Mars (calling himself Ares this time) and his children Phobos, Deimos, and Eris battled the Amazons to secure from Hippolyta the secret to domination of all dimensions of existence. Later, he enlisted his descendant Helen Alexandros to become the Silver Swan.
His final scheme before the history-changing battle of the Crisis on Infinite Earths was to ally himself with Hades and the Anti-Monitor to subdue the Gods of Olympus. As Wonder Woman engaged him in final battle, Steve Trevor freed the gods and Hades's wife Kore appealed to her husband with a message of love, leaving Mars isolated.
Despite being Zeus's son, Ares never fit in with the other gods of Olympus and created his own realm, the Areopagus. Aphrodite, the patron of the Amazons, swore that her women would save the world with love from the hatred and warfare of Ares, meaning he opposed their creation. Recently, through his deceit and manipulations, Ares deposed Hades and became ruler of the underworld.
Ares did his best to destroy the Amazons, using Hercules against them, who sacked the island, but Diana was born and raised just in time to fight Ares as Steve Trevor's plane, driven by one of Ares's human puppets, crashed into Paradise Island. His plot was to fire the missiles between the United States and Russia at the same time, provoking World War III, but Diana managed to make him see, trapped in her magic lasso, how this chaos would lead to his own disappearing, with Ares having no one to worship him. He then tasks her with "saving mankind from themselves", promising to return if she fails, essentially acting as a continuous test of her success.
Although Ares abandoned his plans that time, he managed to possess an unimportant criminal, Ari Buchanan. Possessing his body, he changed his name to Ares Buchanan. He began climbing the business ladder by providing hi-tech weapons for gang wars. As Buchanan, he had a relationship with his lawyer Donna Milton (who was Circe in disguise, although not even she knew it then), conceiving a daughter named Lyta Milton. Lyta has been shown to possess a great amount of magic, which she is still practicing. However, Ares did not care much about Donna, shooting her while she was pregnant. Circe, as Donna, later tried to help Diana out of a trap he laid. She used the last of her forces to shoot a gun, which produced a sort of mini-black hole and absorbed Ares into it. She, Diana, and the child survived.
As opposed to ancient times, the role of various gods were shown to have altered somewhat according to modern practices and beliefs. Because of this, the actual faith-based power Ares's father Zeus received proved to be very much diminished. On the other hand, other gods such as Athena, Aphrodite, and Ares began to gain more power due to the appearance of the computer age, love never diminishing, and conflict remaining consistent. Thus the three godly siblings eventually took over Olympus as the godly home's new masters.
Realizing that conflict proved to maintain his strength over the output of war, Ares changed his title to the God of Conflict. To celebrate this change he altered his appearance to a more approachable visage. His rule under this name proved to be short-lived though as the god Hades was also overthrown and Ares was all too eager to take up the mantle of God of the Dead.
Realizing that a crossroads for the gods of Olympus was at hand, Ares confided in his half sister Cassie Sandsmark about a future war. In exchange for additional powers, the only wish he requested in return from his sister was her love. He then traveled to Themyscira and kidnapped his daughter Lyta who was under the protection of the Amazons. Discovering this fact, Circe confronted Ares and was surprised to learn of his new godly title. She agreed to remain as his consort and to raise their daughter Lyta in the Underworld.
During Ares's family bonding with Cassie, he blessed her with a powerful lasso able to expel Zeus's lightning in times of anger for her to use in her persona as Wonder Girl. Ares has since appeared to Cassie repeatedly in order to warn her about "the coming war." In one story the Teen Titans were thrown ten years into the future, where Cassie had inherited the mantle of Wonder Woman after Diana's death. She was also referred to as "Ares's champion."
Ares later appeared to Cassie informing her that the gods were leaving this plane and Zeus was taking the power he had granted Cassie as well. In exchange for acknowledging their siblinghood and becoming his champion, he offered her some of his power, saying only that she would be "more powerful than [she's] ever been." The full extent of Cassie's powers has not been revealed, though there is some indication that she has retained all of her former powers at this point.
During the events of Amazons Attack! it is discovered that Ares left Circe and kidnapped their daughter to raise on his own. As he and Lyta were only spoken of during the storyline, their presence is yet unknown.
Cassie is confronted by Ares's son, Lord Lycus, whom Ares has sent to interfere with Cassie's powers.
Shifting himself into the future, Ares stole the dead body of Wonder Woman and brought it back into the present. He then manipulated several villains to use the body to create his bride and chief agent Genocide. He then imbued this new creature with his own magical dominance, causing the new being's persona to be more deadly but also completely obedient to him. Ares's plans to destroy the present day Wonder Woman went awry when Diana was able to destroy Genocide, leaving the monster's dead body to drown in the ocean. Angered, Ares commanded a son of Poseidon to cause a swarm of deadly sea creatures to attack Themyscira and the new island nation of Thalarion. During this battle Diana deduced that Ares was the grand manipulator and confronted him. Not allowing Ares much time to gloat in his latest masterpiece of war, Diana took a battle axe and used it to strike Ares's head, splitting his helmet in two.
Despite being gone from the mortal world, Ares is still manipulating events to destroy the Amazons. His next plot involves the birth of five male children via five random Amazons. Once they are born he takes them under his wing before Ares is banished from Themyscira both in body and spirit by his father Zeus.
Unlike the previous character design, The New 52 version of Ares closely resembles the then-ongoing series writer Brian Azzarello, as originally intended by the artist Cliff Chiang. As the team was preparing the series, Azzarello requested "a tired, old guy" for the initial design of Ares. Chiang responded with a sketch of Azzarello's own look as a joke, to which Azzarello reportedly responded, "Cool". Other than hollowed eyes and bloodied legs, Ares is characterized by Azzarello's own bald head, long beard and slender look.
In The New 52 continuity, Ares is commonly referred to as War. His first appearance in this new continuity was in Wonder Woman #4, where he is depicted as a bald aged man with a white beard. Due to the revelation that Diana is the demigod daughter of Zeus, their new dynamic is that of brother and sister. War's calves and feet are permanently smeared with blood. He appears in a bar in Darfur, where his brother Apollo tries to convince him to side with him in his quest to take over the rein of Olympus. His attitude also seems to be more pessimistic and uncaring.
He is revealed to be Diana's former mentor in Wonder Woman #0, a stand-alone issue published in September 2012 set in the past. He takes Diana under his tutelage because of her vast potential in combat and teaches her the ways of the warrior. Their relationship is like a father-daughter relationship. However, they part ways when Diana is tasked by Ares to slay the Minotaur but is unable to bring herself to kill it. This show of mercy makes her a failure in Ares's eyes.
Over time, Diana learns she can trust Ares to protect their youngest brother, the infant Zeke, and his mother Zola. Alongside their British brother Lennox, Hera and the New God Orion, they form a dysfunctional family unit which seeks to protect the baby from First Born, their eldest brother who had been imprisoned by Zeus aeons ago. In Wonder Woman #23, Wonder Woman's group clashes with First Born in London, where Ares raises an army of soldiers and fights First Born himself after Wonder Woman is temporarily incapacitated. First Born manages to overpower Ares and prepares to kill him in order to usurp his position of God of War. Seizing her opportunity, Wonder Woman regretfully drives a spear through both of them as it is the only way to stop First Born. In his last breath, Ares forgives and commends his former pupil, stating that she did what he would have done. Hades manifests to take Ares to his afterlife, and announces that Wonder Woman has taken on his position as God of War. Appearing to Wonder Woman in an apparition, counselling her on the ongoing conflict with the First Born, he tells her not to call him War anymore, as that is her name—she refers to him instead as Ares.
In the DC Rebirth launch, Wonder Woman's origin is retold in the "Year One" storyline. A group of people called the "Sears" group terrorize a mall where Diana and her friends are exploring. They have been infected with a virus that causes them to lash out in homicidal rage, though Diana and Steve Trevor are able to defeat them and Barbara Ann Minerva discovers 'sears' is an anagram of 'Ares.' The god of war attacks shortly after this discovery. He reveals his desire to spread the virus across the world in major locations with the hope of turning most of the human population into warring killers to fuel his power. Diana offers him Themyscira's location in exchange for him sparing everyone, though Ares discovers she has no memory of its location: as a sacrifice of leaving the island, Diana was barred from returning by losing knowledge of how to return. Accepting her new role to save mankind, Diana, with the help of the patrons in animal form, subdue Ares with the Lasso of Truth. Diana and her friends are given the locations where Ares has the virus sent and Diana is christened as Wonder Woman for her heroics.
As do all the immortal Olympian gods, Ares possesses tremendous strength, though he is now perhaps the strongest of them, rivaled only by Hercules. Moreover, he is a master of conflict and strategy with centuries of experience in the field, and has complete telekinetic command and mastery over any weapon. He also possesses superhuman speed and superhuman agility equal to that of Hermes once he absorbs massive amounts of the psychic energies that give him his powers. Pertaining to his being a war god, violence, anger, hate, death, and bloodshed make him stronger and heals any wounds he may receive as his soul is able to absorb the psychic energy created by such events. His armor is virtually indestructible and his weapons are greater than mortal ones. He can shapeshift his being into any form he wishes and can teleport himself and others. At one time, he was also recognized as the Death God of the Greek Pantheon, having control over the dead and able to resurrect and command a whole army of undead from the Underworld to do his will, and then, send them back whenever he wished. Being a god, he is also immortal and cannot be harmed by mortal weapons, only magical ones.
In The New 52 continuity, the character's mere presence invokes battle and slaughter in his surroundings. This is seen in Wonder Woman #4, where Ares is sitting in a bar in Darfur; all the men inside are dead and a riot is breaking out outside the bar- even children are taking part in the gunfire. In Wonder Woman #9, Ares is present at a cafe in Damascus, where a fatal blast takes place as he is leaving.
Ares appears in two different stories in this anthology series featuring Wonder Woman. The first, "Casualties of War," Wonder Woman is attacked by a dragon that is later revealed to have been a pawn of Ares. The second story, "Vendetta," Ares ambushes Wonder Woman in a small, African city. He summons his Spartoi, reptilian soldiers, to aid in his battle, but he is inevitably defeated by Wonder Woman.
DC Direct released an Ares action figure in 2001 as part of their Amazons and Adversaries line of Wonder Woman action figures. Mattel released an Ares action figure in 2008 as part of their DC Universe Classics line of toys. Ares is also part of the action figures lineup for the upcoming movie, Wonder Woman.