Mythical Marvel Trade Post: Chaos War & Ares

Chaos War (Marvel)
Written by Grek Pak & Fred Van Lente, drawn by Koi Pham with Reilly Brown
Collects Chaos War #1-5, Chaos War Saga & X-Men: Curse Of The Mutants Spotlight

I’m a big fan of the Incredible Hercules series, which I’ve read most of in trade form. I actually haven’t read the few trades that lead up to Chaos War, a kind of event that saw the return of several dead heroes in a few other minis and one-shots I also haven’t read. Anyway, the main story here follows The Chaos King as he intends to lay waste to all of reality with only the combined forces of the recently returned and super duper powerful Hercules standin in his way. Herc recruits Thor, Galactus, Silver Surfer, Sersi of the Eternals, Venus from Agents of Atlas, Daimon Hellstrom and, of course, Herc’s number one pal Amadeus Cho to help him. Why this particular hodge podge of heroes? Well, the rest of the Marvel U doesn’t believe our hero when he says the world is going to end thanks to his party boy history.

In the process of trying to save all of reality, our heroes have to face off against an army of monsters and evil gods as well as the reanimated corpses of some of their former friends and foes. Like most event comics, this one has high stakes that you never really believe in because, well, the Marvel Universe isn’t going to cease existing in a comic starring Hercules. Still, I think Pak and Van Lente did a good job of making it feel like things could get bad.

Anyway, there’s lots of fighting and planning, winning and losing in the story. I won’t go into the details because, let’s face it, when dealing with a big even like this from Marvel or DC, it’s the details that make it interesting. I do think Chaos War works better if you had been reading Incredible Hercules going into it, otherwise, I’m not sure if there’s a lot besides basic superhero stuff to grab onto. However, for Hercules fans, we really get to see our guy do his thing, do it well and save existence, so that’s pretty cool. Did anyone out there read the tie-ins? I think they’re all collected in a few trades and would be interested in checking them out if you guys think it’d be worthwhile.

Ares (Marvel)
Written by Mike Avon Oeming, drawn by Travel Foreman
Collects Ares #1-5

Reading Chaos War brought me back to one of my favorite Marvel minis of the past few years: Ares by Mike Avon Oeming and Travel Foreman. There was this awesome time between 2005 and 2006 when the House of Ideas dropped a bunch of rad minis like this one, Union Jack, Agents of Atlas and Doctor Strange: The Oath. I went into this five issue series knowing absolutely nothing about the Marvel version of the Greek god of war, but I came away thinking he was a pretty gigantic bad ass. Marvel used this story as a jumping off point for bringing Ares into the Avengers and doing…things with him that I didn’t think fit with the character established in this book, but what do I know? His son also eventually became an important part of Secret Warriors.

The miniseries catches up with Ares, who ditched the world of gods because his fellow immortals had a pretty low opinion of him, yet still used him when they needed him to wage war. He now has a son named Alex who has no idea who his father really is. Things fall apart after Ares refuses to help the gods who are being assaulted by Mikaboshi an evil god from the east (and later known as the Chaos King in Chaos War). In their infinite wisdom, the Greek pantheon  decide to kidnap Alex as a way of motivating the wayward god of war. From there it’s an action-packed rager as Ares tears through enemies to get his son back.

Reading Ares for the second time this many years later was an interesting experience. First off, now that I’m a dad, I can relate to the fatherly aspect of the story much better than I could last time. I think it’s an easy story type to use because of its primal nature, but it works here. I also found it interesting because this is basically a mythical version of Taken or Commando. This got me thinking about how cool it would be if Marvel Studios simply adapted this comic into a movie. Just make it a straight ahead action flick with monsters and whatnot and you’d have a hit on your hands. Guaranteed.

In other words, I would actually pay money to see a movie where Ares lights himself on fire, has Hercules throw him into an oncoming army and murders everything in sight. That would be amazing. Anyway, if you like the idea of the sentence you just read, do yourself a favor and pick this trade up, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed, especially if you dug Chaos War and want to dig a little deeper into that story’s history.

Sunday Sketchbook: Guy Gardner By Khoi Pham

After writing about the one and only Green Lantern sketch in my Green Lantern sketchbook which is, of course, green itself, in my MoCCA post, reader Gorilla Bandit asked me to post it. I’ve been kicking around the idea of posting images of my sketchbooks (I’ve got three, two of which are not themed) on the blog and even have the majority of them scanned from my Wizard days. Anyway, here’s Guy Gardner by Khoi Pham. I got this sketch from Pham at the 2007 Big Apple Comic Con which wasn’t such a great show and definitely not a good one to take the missus to for her first show. I paid for it, maybe $30 or 40? Being a big Guy Gardner fan, it made the most sense for him to open the book. Now I just need to man-up, regain interest and talk to more creators when I go to these shows. The combination of laziness and fear of strangers has really held me back from getting sketches over the past few years. As a kid I got a ton and even got a second sketchbook thanks to the advice of Dan Brereton who suggested it would be a good way to double my sketches.

Trade Post: Marvel Mania

2009-02-02
5:46:11 am

Time for some merry musings about a myriad of Marvel’s most moving…comics. Wow, that’s harder than it looks. Stan Lee should write an alliterative dictionary. Anyway, I’ve been catching up on some recent Marvel stuff that I missed out on the first time around, so here goes:

GHOST RIDER: HELL BEND & HEAVEN BOUND (Marvel)

Written by Jason Aaron and drawn by Roland Boschi & Tan Eng Huat

I’ve been hearing about how awesome Jason Aaron’s Ghost Rider run has been, that it kind of takes a grindhouse approach to a character whose book wasn’t exactly setting the world, ahem, aflame. Maybe it’s because it’s been hyped up so much, but I didn’t find this volume, which collects Ghost Rider #20-25, all that awesome. Sure it was cool seeing Ghost Rider get mixed up with some ghosts on a highway and crazy nurses, but for me it never went beyond being just cool. I also couldn’t help but feel like these were all Hellblazer stories bounced to another universe and used on Ghost Rider. That’s probably not a fair comparison, but I do like the general approach to the character. Hey, I wouldn’t be reading the book otherwise.

Also, I’m generally not a fan of the art, but I think it works in a book like this. It’s kind of like how I wouldn’t normally like some of the artists who do BPRD or Hellboy minis, but in the context of that kind of book the art really works well. It’s pretty much the same thing here. All this being said, I will give the next volume a read, just to see how it goes, hopefully I’ll be surprised.

THE INCREDIBLE HERCULES: AGAINST THE WORLD (Marvel)

Written by Greg Pak & Fred Van Lente and drawn by Koi Pham and others

Man, this is a good book. I loved Planet Hulk as it was happening but wasn’t all that thrilled with World War Hulk (I’m not a fan of Romita Jr.’s). After all that I was kind of mad that Jeph Loeb was writing a Hulk book while Greg Pak, the guy who made Hulk awesome again got relegated to a Hercules book. I later found out that this was how Pak wanted to do things and heard good things about Herc, so I’m giving it a shot and unlike Ghost Rider, I’m 100% sold on Incredible Herc.

The book is great. Hercules is a pretty fascinating character, not just the wine swilling rogue we’ve seen in issues of Avengers past, but a really complicated dude who’s lived an amazingly long life. The writers really dig deep, but don’t pile things on too heavily and bury the fun. And there’s plenty of fun.

Herc’s chum in all this is Amadeus Cho, the seventh smartest person (first smartest kid) on Earth (I’d like to see the list in ranked order), a character I’ve grown to like in his few appearances leading up to and including WWH. Cho’s obsessed with shutting S.H.I.E.L.D. down because of how they treated Hulk, but Herc doesn’t want to destroy the good with the bad. Meanwhile, Ares is attacking Herc a lot, trying to put his arrogant, famous brother down.

My one complaint about Incredible Herc is that I’m not a big fan of Ares’ characterization. I really really liked Michael Avon Oeming’s Ares miniseries from a few years ago, but I feel like the character he set up there hasn’t really been used as much beyond “big huge bad ass” in later appearances. Here he’s a crazy, jealous dude who just wants to put Herc down. It’s kind of strange and maybe that’s how his character has been developed in books I haven’t read, but it just feels a little off to me and took me a bit out of the story.

I can’t wait to check out the next trade, which, I think, will be Secret Invasion stuff. I read one issue when it came out and really liked it, but it was part 2 or 3 and I missed the rest.