Amatsu-Mikaboshi, the Japanese god of Chaos and Darkness, is one of the most dangerous entities in the Marvel Universe. No one knows this more than the Olympian God of War, Ares. In the 2006 "Ares" miniseries by writer Michael Avon Oeming and artist Travel Foreman, Mikaboshi's demonic forces kidnapped Ares' young son, Alexander, and used him as a pawn in a scheme to annihilate the Olympian pantheon of Gods. Ares and his brother Hercules foiled the dark god's plot, but not before he murdered their father Zeus.
Later, when the alien Skrull Empire invaded Earth, they didn't want to simply conquer the people of the planet: they wanted to defeat the divine beings associated with it as well. A "God Squad" was assembled in order to take down the Skrulls' two deities and their army of slave gods created from the various cultures they had conquered. Hercules was placed in charge of the group and, much to his chagrin, Mikaboshi was also made a part of the squad. The God Squad was successful, the Skrull deities were destroyed, but Mikaboshi was left behind in the Skrull Gods' dimension. He took advantage of the opportunity to take control of the fallen deities' army and since then, he and his forces have been growing more powerful, rampaging across galaxies and realities and enslaving more alien gods.
This October, the"Chaos War" event storyline begins when Mikaboshi, now calling himself the Chaos King, and his army arrive on Earth. Once here, they'll prepare for their endgame - the destruction of all reality. Ares, the Greek god of war, won't sit idly by and let that happen. Though he may have recently been murdered by the Sentry during "Siege," being dead isn't going to prevent him from wading full-on into the Chaos War in the November one-shot "Chaos War: Ares" by Oeming and artist Stephen Segovia. We spoke with the creators and their editor Mark Paniccia about the project.
CBR News: Mike, in 2005, you introduced Mikaboshi into the Marvel Universe with the miniseries "Thor: Blood Oath." Then, in 2006 you brought him back in "Ares," a miniseries that reintroduced readers to the God of War and led to his rather prominent roles in both the "Mighty Avengers" and "Dark Avengers." How does it feel to return to these characters after they've gone on to become headlining players in the Marvel Universe?
Mike Oeming: Well, first I have to say it was an honor to be asked to write Ares again. It was great fun taking this sort of forgotten character and breathing life into him, and seeing other characters such as Alexander and Amatsu-Mikaboshi continue on to become players in the Marvel Universe is very, very rewarding. I hope to do more with Marvel characters in the future, especially ones like Ares, who were sort of on the side of things.
I love Ares, I see him as a torn character. He's pulled between his old self that loved war and his new self that sees war as something that is dangerous but necessary, and best dealt with honor and dignity as opposed to mindless slaughter.
Stephen, With the exception of your "Mighty Avengers" work, the majority of your Marvel projects have involved hard-boiled, bad-ass characters like Wolverine and Daken, and Ares certainly falls into that category as well. Is it a coincidence that you keep drawing these type of characters or do you simply find them more compelling as an artist?
Stephen Segovia: I think it's just coincidence that I end up drawing these types of characters. It does feel good, though, to draw a character like that. They have these strong personalities and it looks great when you put a lot of energy into the art with them.
Ares was murdered in "Siege" #2, but thanks to the machinations of the Chaos King, many deceased Marvel characters find themselves not quite dead and not quite living during "Chaos War." In this one-shot, how has death and resurrection affected Ares? Is he still the same enormously determined and focused god we all know, or is there something else on his mind?
Oeming: Hmm, we'll have to see where he goes from here. All I'll give away in this one shot is that his true concern is his son. He's reflecting on his son's destiny and how the Greek bloodline effects Alexander.
Stephen, as an artist how do you view Ares? Which of his physical and personal qualities do you really want to capture and bring forward in your art?
Segovia: Ares had a very big role in the Marvel Universe, and his personality demands that kind of treatment. In this story, he's almost like a divine version of Mel Gibson's character in "Braveheart." I want to take some of what I did with my Wolverine stories and apply that to Ares. He's a god with so many combat skills that he's a bad-ass compared to other gods.
From what we hear, Ares isn't the only Greek God in this one-shot as it sounds like his relationship with his father Zeus and his mother Hera, who recently died in "Incredible Hercules," will also be explored. How would you describe that dynamic?
Oeming: Greek Gods have the best family dynamics ever! Patricide, incest, murder, betrayal and deep, deep love for each other. What are the things that shaped Ares not only into the God of War, but to be the bitter, angry, resentful kid he was? His father and mother have both allied and betrayed him at several points in their history, so it will be really interesting to see all of these emotions and history come into play here.
In terms of plot and theme, what is "Chaos War: Ares" about?
Oeming: I'm not sure what I can give away. I will say that Hera and Zeus are involved, and that if Ares has one great enemy, it is Mikaboshi - and vice-versa. All those things collide here immediately after Ares's death and lead directly into the events of "Chaos War." Greg and Fred have been very helpful to me to make sure the events in this one-shot have resonance in the main "Chaos War" series that they're writing.
The last time Ares took on Mikaboshi, he was pretty powerful and proved very tough to defeat. Now the Japanese god has grown even more dangerous and powerful. So how outgunned is Ares in this story? How big of a predicament does he find himself in?
Oeming: Have you ever read the Greek Tragedies? Do you know why they are called tragedies? We are continuing that tradition here, except it starts with our hero dead and only gets worse for him
Segovia: Mikaboshi's new title says it all. He is the Chaos King and he'll rock Ares like there is no tomorrow!
How important is the setting to the overall story?
Oeming: It's in a pseudo afterworld for Ares, so we'll get to have fun with the setting - not all will be as it seems. I think Stephen is going to have fun with that! One of the ways I got my head around Ares and the setting was to do some sketches - I've included one for you to run in this interview. But I really cant wait to see what Stephen does
Seeing as Mike has spent time dealing with Ares in the past while the story certainly sounds as though it will play to Stephen's strengths as an artist, what has it been like for the two of you to work together on this project?
Oeming: I'm very excited to work with Stephen, he's got such a nice blend of good mechanics and a dynamic style. I hope to write to his strengths so he can do his best.
Segovia: Seriously it is very challenging and I am a bit nervous [Laughs]. When I first heard that Mike was going to be the writer, I was so nervous because the readers might compare my visualizations to his own work as an artist on books like "Powers."
He already knows what the book is supposed to look like on the art while he is working on the script. I hope I can meet the level of standards he expects and I know I have to work really hard on that. It's really an honor to work with such a skilled artist like Michael Oeming.
What can you tell us about the art style you'll be employing for "Chaos War: Ares?" Will it be similar to your most recent work in books like "Dark Wolverine," or does the nature and setting of the story call for something different?
Segovia: This story calls for more expression and more energy. It think it needs a more realistic feel, but I also need to be very creative, especially with the settings. I'm also thinking that I should focus more on the smooth lines and more detailed and better expressions.
What are your feelings on the fantasy genre? Is it a genre you particularly enjoy, is it an extremely challenging genre, is it both?
Segovia: Good question! I think both! I love doing medieval and fantasy stuff! I am a fan of "Lord of the Rings," "Record of Lodoss War" and "Final Fantasy." I've been waiting to draw this kind of stuff!
Any final thoughts you would like to share about "Chaos War Ares?"
Oeming: It was an honor to be asked to come back and do some Ares writing. He's a great character and I'm very excited to see what Marvel will be doing with him and his son in the future.
Segovia: This is a story that is proving to be really fun to illustrate. I hope people will have as much fun reading it as I am drawing it!
And now a quick word from editor Mark Paniccia:
It's great to have Mike revisiting this character. It wouldn't be the same without him and this issue has everything a fan of Marvel's God of War could ever want. Action. Axe swinging. Drama. Axe swinging. Tragedy. Axe swinging. And wait till you see Steven's art on this. From top to bottom, it's a masterpiece! Steve can do the "savage" like nobody's business and he draws one heck of a Hell!