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Continuity-Related Comic Book Character
Ares
'God of War'
Ares, Earth-One (WW 206)
Information
Real name: Ares
AKA: Mars
Species: Gods of Olympus
Universe: Earth-One
Earth-Two
Earth-1A
Earth-2A
Relatives: Zeus (father)
Hera (mother)
Base: Hades
Mount Olympus
Rogue of: Wonder Woman

Ares is the villainous 'god of war' and a major adversary of the superhero 'Wonder Woman'. In Greek mythology, he is one of the 'Twelve Olympians' and the son of Zeus and Hera.[1] He often represents the physical, violent and untamed aspect of war, being dedicated to forwarding the cause of war. He does this by acting as a corrupting influence to manipulate others and spread violence; in contrast to his sister, the armored Athena, whose functions as a goddess of intelligence include military strategy and generalship.[2]


Background Information

Pre-Crisis, Earth-One

On the parallel earth of Earth-One (and perhaps Earth-1A), years ago, before the Amazons enjoyed life on Paradise Island, the Olympian goddesses Athena and Aphrodite observed that the Amazonian Queen, Hippolyta was depressed. Athena, goddess of wisdom decides to give her, not a man to love, but a child. She guides Hippolyta in carving the figure of a baby girl from clay and then gives the child-statue ‘life’. Aphrodite, goddess of beauty and love gives the baby the name Diana, after the moon-goddess, since the moon is shining down upon them. Hippolyta calls the baby her “wonder child!”[3]

Hippolyta was also instructed by Athena to create a second statue of a child -- one from black clay. This statue was also given life by Aphrodite, but before the gods came down to bless the children and endow them with powers,[4] Ares, the god of war stole this baby, right from the cradle. He named her Nubia and raised the girl to be his instrument of vengeance against the Amazons.[5]

Decades later, Ares attacks Paradise Island. The attack is led by a fierce warrior maiden calling herself 'Nubia' and claiming to be the real Wonder Woman. Meanwhile, the true Wonder Woman is called back from man’s world to defend her home. After a fierce battle, Wonder Woman sees the god of war’s ring on Nubia’s finger. She removes it and Nubia comes to her sense, as if she’d been brainwashed. Nubia confronts Ares and he leaves vowing to return. Wonder Woman says farewell to her new ally and seeks out her mother to find out why there is a powerful bond with Nubia, even though they’ve never met. Her mother tells her that Athena instructed her to create a second statue of a child at the same time as she created one for Diana. One from black clay. This statue was also given life by Aphrodite, but before the gods came down to bless the children, Mars, the god of war stole one of the babies, right from the cradle. He named her Nubia and raised the girl to be his instrument of vengeance against the Amazons.[6]

After sometime working as hero with the Justice League, Diana gave up her powers and cut her ties with the Amazons to stay with Steve Trevor.[7] It is then, that Ares attempted to provoke a war between the Amazons and the people of Atlantis.[8] He also recruited a woman named Helen Alexandros to become the warrior called Silver Swan in order to destroy Wonder Woman and murder the President of the United States. He claimed that Helena was his descendant via Helen of Sparta / Troy[9] many centuries ago.[10] Both of these efforts failed.

Pre-Crisis, Earth-Two

Ares, Earth-Two (WW 2)

Ares (Earth-Two)
Image from Wonder Woman, #2 (fall 1942)

In the parallel universe of Earth-Two (and perhaps Earth-2A), in the days long since forgotten, the earth was ruled by gods. Two in particular: are Ares, god of war and Aphrodite, goddess of love and beauty. Ares vows that men shall rule with swords and Aphrodite vows that women shall conquer men with love.

In the days of ancient Greece, the swordsman of Ares slew their weaker brothers and plundered them, keeping the women as slaves. In response, Aphrodite shaped with her own hands a race of ‘super women’. Women that were stronger than men. She breathed life into them and also the power of love. She called them Amazons and gave their leader a magic girdle with the promise that as long as this is worn, the Amazons will be uncontrollable. For years the Amazons were a super-power, matriarchal culture in the known world, living untouched by men in Amazonia. The god Mars, was infuriated by the Amazons' female-dominated society. So, he inspired the Greek hero Hercules (the strongest man in the world) to challenge Hippolyte, steal her magic girdle (a gift from Aphrodite), and enslave her people. In a drunken stupor, Hercules vowed to make war on the Amazons, plunder Amazonia and take Queen Hippolyta’s magic girdle and bring back her women in chains. He takes his army to Amazonia and challenges the Queen to one-on-one battle. While his feats of strength were impressive, she easily defeats him in combat. She makes him promise to return home and leave them in peace. However, since he could not defeat her, his plan becomes much sinister. He calls for a banquet in honor of the ‘beautiful’ Amazons. By the end of the evening, he had seduced the Queen with trickery and taken the magic girdle. By morning he had looted the city and taken the Amazons prisoner. Fearing a revolt, the Greeks put their captives in chains. Aphrodite is angry at the Amazonians because they succumbed to the 'wiles of men'. The submission proved to be unbearable and Hippolyta pleaded with Aphrodite for help in securing the Magic Girdle. She conceded and the Amazons were able to overcome their masters – the men. However, Aphrodite’s aid was not without conditions. They must wear the bracelets fashioned by their captors, reminding them of the folly of submitting to man’s domination and secondly, they must sail for many days and nights until they find their new home, which they call Paradise Island.[11]

Centuries later, he established his headquarters on the planet of Mars, recruiting and enslaving spirits of the dead in War Factories and Lie Factories, overseen by his chief deputies, the Duke of Deception, Lord Conquest, General Destruction and the Earl of Greed. He enslaved the Martian population with the spirits of the dead he collected from war zones on multiple planets, including Saturn and Earth. 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. With the help of Etta Candy's spirit form, Wonder Woman was able to escape and overpower Mars.[12]

Ares and the Crisis on Infinite Earths

His final scheme (apparently on Earth-One) 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.[13]


Notes

  • Ares first appeared in Wonder Woman, #1 (July 1942).
  • Ares was created by Wonder Woman creator William Moulton Marston.
  • In the next issue, Wonder Woman, #2 he reappeared under his Roman name, Mars.


References

  1. Hesiod, Theogony 921 (Loeb Classical Library numbering); Iliad, 5.890–896. By contrast, Ares's Roman counterpart Mars was born from Juno alone, according to Ovid (Fasti 5.229–260).
  2. Walter Burkert, Greek Religion (Blackwell, 1985, 2004 reprint, originally published 1977 in German), pp. 141; William Hansen, Classical Mythology: A Guide to the Mythical World of the Greeks and Romans (Oxford University Press, 2005), p. 113.
  3. As revealed in a retold Golden Age story: Wonder Woman, #159 (January 1966). This part of Hippolyta’s back story is generally considered to be part of her Golden Age origin. Since it is recounted in the SuperFriends TV Show in Season 3, Episode 8: Secret Origins of the Superfriends (October 28, 1978) its inclusion in Earth-1A is verified.
  4. The bequeathing of powers, was revealed in the Silver Age story: Wonder Woman, #105 (April 1959).
  5. As revealed in Wonder Woman, #206 (June-July 1973).
  6. As revealed in Wonder Woman, #206 (June/July 1973).
  7. As revealed in Wonder Woman, #180 (Jan. / Feb. 1969).
  8. As revealed in Wonder Woman, #215 (December 1974/January 1975).
  9. In Greek mythology, Helen of Troy also known as Helen of Sparta, was said to have been the most beautiful woman in the world. She was married to King Menelaus of Sparta but was abducted by Prince Paris of Troy after the goddess Aphrodite promised her to him in the Judgement of Paris. This resulted in the Trojan War when the Achaeans set out to reclaim her. She was believed to have been the daughter of Zeus and Leda, and was the sister of Clytemnestra, Castor and Polydeuces, Philonoe, Phoebe and Timandra.
  10. As revealed in Wonder Woman, #288 (February 1982).
  11. As revealed in Wonder Woman, #1 (July 1942).
  12. As revealed in Wonder Woman, #2 & #3 (fall 1942 - February/March 1943).
  13. As revealed in Wonder Woman, #329 (February 1986). Diana and Steve's storyline continues into Crisis on Infinite Earths, #12 (March, 1986)..
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