Huh, I don’t know why I was surprised to get a stealth sequel to writer Michael Avon Oeming’s Ares miniseries from a couple of years back, but here it is. Chaos War: Ares resurrects some threads from the mini, which is appropriate, given that the Chaos King wreaking havoc through the current Marvel event is the Japanese god of death, Mikaboshi, who acted as the heavy in the earlier series. Apparently, he’s somehow cured himself of his case of being dead (I’m not following Chaos war proper) and is currently on a quest to end all life in the Marvel U. This issue, Mikaboshi brings his war to Hades, looking to use the spirits of the dead to wage his war on the universe—all things considered not a bad plan if you can pull it off.
There’s actually a pretty interesting story here, flashing back between the present and Ares’ imprisonment and some retconned bits into the Ares mini, using Nightmare as a kind of foil for both of them in a sort of plot to keep the crazy going that fizzles out before it even starts. The way Nightmare is being used here, I have to wonder if he’s being set up as a later threat in Chaos War proper (I do remember him kind of popping up a lot, especially in Christos Gage’s The Initiative nibbling at the edges of the plots like he was getting ready to do something substantial).
Oeming’s script concerns itself, for the most part, with what Hell would be like for the God of War. I’d actually completely forgotten that Hera and Zeus were killed over in Incredible Hercules last year and it seems the ranks of the Marvel deities in the underworld has swollen over time. The fundamentals of the story are actually pretty sound and the broad sketch of the Chaos War storyline sounds interesting—I quite liked Mikoboshi as a villain—but it’s weird that Marvel’s going back to the heroes and villains back from the dead so soon after Necrosha and, of course, Blackest Night over at the competition.
Unfortunately, a return to plots from a well-liked book and a peek at one of the better character rediscoveries of the last few years is marred by inconsistent to rough art. Two pencillers—Segovia and Rodriguez—are credited as well as a worrisome five inkers and three colorists. The final product veers wildly in quality, and the seams are clearly visible in the work, sometimes imitating Francis Lenil Yu, and then moving onto a rough, ill-defined style that’s occasionally rough to follow as the book progresses. It’s especially hard on the eyes in the final pages, with many of the faces getting a seemingly rushed, sketchy treatment prior to the book’s release.