Ares, Bringer of War, by George O'Connor (First Second, January 2015), is the most recent in his graphic novel series about the Olympian gods. Ares is the god of war, and O'Connor makes it clear just what sort of bloody violence most delights him. In contrast to Athena, whose purview is strategy, strong defense, and rational decision-making in conflict, Ares is the god of slaughter in battle. And what better venue in which to showcase his blood-loving nature than the Trojan War?
The war has been dragging on for years, and the gods and goddesses are personally invested, so much so that even Aphrodite visits the battleground and is wounded. At last Zeus declares that no Olympian shall venture into the field of conflict. But as the war progress, and first Hector and then Achilles are slain, the conflict among the gods and goddesses rages even more fiercely....with mortals paying the price.
Ares is the least sympathetic of the Olympians...but the Trojan War, especially as portrayed here, gives many of the immortals a chance to show their worst, most interfering, most partisan sides. It is a maelstrom of violence and arrogance--just the sort of thing Areas loves. And George O'Connor's art shows it all beautifully.
It's a book that requires some previous knowledge of the gods and the Trojan War in order to make sense of things; there are many characters, and many backstories. O'Connor's previous books, each focusing on a different deity, have provided much of this background information--this is a series best read in order. And readers who have read the Iliad will be familiar with much of the material (and that being said, this is just the sort of supplemental book I'd offer anyone studying the Iliad in school! Especially those who learn best with pictures....all the different names get confusing, and it helps to see the story shown as well as told).
In short, readers who thrill to battle will find this installment very worthwhile.
disclaimer: review copy received for the publisher for review as part of the Ares blog tour.