Children of Ares
The Children of Ares are fictional DC Comics characters who are the progeny of the DC deity character Ares/Mars, who is in turn based on the eponymous Greek/Roman deity and who has indeed sired many children in Greek mythological tales. Because Ares was historically depicted as one of the archenemies of the DC superheroine character Wonder Woman, most of his issue are frequently portrayed as her opponents, although a few would play a more benevolent supporting role in her self-titled comic book series.
Although their DC comics counterparts were never depicted as such in published comic books, Antiope and Hippolyta (the mother of Diana Prince aka Wonder Woman) are in fact the daughters of Ares in real life Greek mythology.
Fictional character biographies
In the Golden Age adventures of Wonder Woman, when Ares was primarily known by his Roman name Mars, his chief deputies were his sons: the Duke of Deception, the Earl of Greed, and Lord Conquest who assisted the Axis powers from the planet Mars using their astral powers, (also Count Conquest). Deception's daughter Lya also fought Wonder Woman.
Of these, the Duke of Deception became a major recurring foe of Wonder Woman, appearing into the Silver Age as well. Wielding his own powers of illusion, Deception was also responsible for enlisting Doctor Psycho in his first engagement with Wonder Woman. He became ruler of Mars after convincing some slaves to rebel against the God Mars.
After the Golden and Silver Ages, the Duke of Deception made only a handful of appearances. In one adventure during the period when Wonder Woman had given up her powers, Ares used Deimos, Phobos, and Eris in a battle against the Amazons for the power to dominate every dimension of creation.
In 1985 DC Comics introduced a storyline called Crisis on Infinite Earths. This storyline erased all previous writings of their characters and re-introduced new versions of each character in their place. Charles Moulton's vision of deception, greed, and the will to power being the precursors of war was set aside in favor of versions closer to the myths of Deimos, Phobos, Eris, Harmonia and Eros. All five are parented by the Olympian war god Ares and the Olympian love goddess Aphrodite. Aside from Harmonia and Eros, the remaining children of Ares are enemies of the Amazons in the Wonder Woman comic book. They were re-created by writer George Pérez.
Deimos is the Greek god of terror. His Roman counterpart is both Formido and Metus. He and his brother Phobos attacked Wonder Woman early on during her mission in Man's World. During that encounter the Amazon was able to behead Deimos with her tiara. His spirit later took possession of the Batman villain The Joker. Once Ares discovered Deimos and several other of his dead children had escaped Tartarus, Ares set things right returning Deimos back to the Underworld.
Phobos is the Greek god of fear and horror. His Roman counterpart is Timor. After an initial attack on Wonder Woman ending with the decapitation of his brother Deimos, Phobos later sent Ixion and Euryale to attack the Amazon out of revenge. The plot failed and he was imprisoned to Tartarus by Hermes. The witch god Circe later freed Phobos and convinced him to aid her during the events of the War of the Gods. This ended in his death. He later joined his brother Deimos and sister Eris in spirit in escaping Tartarus. Together they possessed the bodies of various Batman villains, in Phobos case the villain Scarecrow. He was later returned to the Underworld by his father Ares. It was Phobos who initially created the monster Decay, mixing his power with that of Medusa's carcass.
Eris is the goddess of strife and chaos, and is the creator of the Golden Apples of Discord famously written in the story of the Trojan War. Her Roman counterpart is Bellona. In ancient myth she is also identified with the Greek goddess Adrestia. When Queen Hippolyta agreed to open her country of Themyscira to the outside world, Eris used the Golden Apples of Discord to make the various United Nations dignitaries fight among one another. Wonder Woman was able to defeat Eris but the event caused a negative outlook to the Amazons by the outsiders and Eris' plans thus stayed on her side despite her defeat. Eris was later killed by the Son of Vulcan during the War of The Gods storyline. Her spirit resurfaced years later as part of a plot engineered by her also dead brothers Phobos and Deimos to merge Gotham City with the Areopagus, Ares' throne capital. Eris possessed the super villain Poison Ivy while her brothers possessed the Joker and the Scarecrow. They were later defeated by the combined efforts of Wonder Woman, Batman, Robin, Troia, Wonder Girl, Nightwing, Artemis, and the Huntress.
A new version of Eris would be adapted for the New 52, and she appears in a recurring role for the relaunched Wonder Woman ongoing series. Now known as Strife, her physical appearance is drastically different from the pre-Flashpoint incarnation of the goddess; instead of a hideous visage, she appears as a scantily clad young woman in a heavily torn cocktail dress with purplish-pink skin, and white hair styled as a crew cut. Although she reprises her traditionally antagonistic role with Diana, Strife is depicted as less overtly evil compared to her previous incarnation; she is simply a deity who draws sustenance from incidents of discord, and revels in the chaos which result from escalations in conflict.
Harmonia is the Greek goddess of harmony and concord. Her Roman counterpart is Concordia. Due to being the daughter of Ares she was physically ugly and became a bitter goddess, constantly wailing at her father's home, the Areopagus. She longed to access the beauty that comes with being a child of Aphrodite. Through the kindness of Wonder Woman she was able to bring forth her inner beauty. Because of this she became a close supporter of the Amazon and would aid her when able. It was through Harmonia's help that Wonder Woman was able to defeat Ares before he could destroy the world. Harmonia was later killed during the War of the Gods storyline by her brother Phobos.
Eros is the Greek counterpart to the Roman Cupid. He is also tied to the Greek gods Anteros and Erotes. Eros is the male equivalent to his mother, Aphrodite, but to a much lesser extent. Whereas Aphrodite has dominion over all aspects of love, Eros tends to gravitate his hold over sudden love, lust and the erotic. He was rarely shown in the Wonder Woman comic series before the New 52 reboot; on one notable occasion however, his father Ares convinced him to shoot a lust arrow at Zeus, who was watching the Amazon Artemis bathing in a scrying pool. This angered Hera who toppled the floating island of Themyscira during her jealous confrontation of her husband.
In the post-Flashpoint continuity, Eros is depicted as a steadfast ally of Wonder Woman. He agreed to take her and her friends to meet Hephaestus, and aid her in dealing with the machinations of the other Olympian gods in the wake of the power struggle over the vacant throne of Mount Olympus. He would lend his pistols, which cause the people they shoot to fall in love, to Diana for her mission to rescue Zola's baby Zeke from Hades. Diana makes a barter with Hades, exchanging Zola for Eros' pistols. Hades agrees and hands over Zola to Diana and Hermes. As they exit Hell, Hades shoots the pistols at Diana, who is shot through her heart, and bound to stay in Hades. Zola, who is desperate to help Diana, is taken back forcefully by Hermes. He would later travel to the Underworld with Hephaestus and Lennox Sandsmark to rescue Diana. She would later gain her freedom by manipulating Hades into staring at his own reflection in a mirror before firing a bullet from the pistols, which bounced off the mirror, struck Hades and compelled him to fall in love with himself. Eros would make his stand with Diana, her allies and the remaining Olympian gods when the villainous First Born began his campaign to take Mount Olympus once and for all.
Lyta Milton is the biological daughter of Ares and Circe, who hid herself under the identity of a mortal named Donna Milton. As Wonder Woman's Lasso of Truth could see through any disguise, Circe cast a spell on herself to truly believe she was Donna until an opportune moment presented itself where she could destroy the Amazon. As Donna Milton she believed herself to be a lawyer working for a Boston crime boss named Ares Buchanan. Unbeknownst to Donna, Ares Buchanan was really the Olympian god Ares in disguise as well. The two formed a sexual relationship once she agreed to help Ares defeat Wonder Woman, who was interrupting his illegal business dealings. After becoming pregnant Donna informed Ares that she was going to have his child. Ares showed Donna that he wasn't interested in fatherhood by shooting Donna in the chest. Because of a weapon used shortly thereafter, a mini-black hole was created that seemingly destroyed Ares and caused the building to fall on top of Donna and Wonder Woman. They fell through to the sewers below and landed in a huge underwater pool. The shock of the shooting and the black hole caused Donna to go into premature labor. Wonder Woman helped calm Donna and deliver her baby.
Ashamed that she previously aided Ares in destroying Wonder Woman after sacrificing her own life to save her, Donna named her newborn daughter after Wonder Woman's mother Hippolyta, or "Lyta". Wonder Woman helped to get Donna back on her feet so that she could properly care for Lyta by hiring her to be the company lawyer for a detective agency she and friend Micah Rains newly established. This arrangement worked nicely for some time until Wonder Woman was able to discover that Donna was really Circe. Once this happened, Lyta's blonde hair and blue eyes changed to resemble more of her mother's features: purple hair and purple/red eyes. Reclaiming her true identity and angered that she would allow herself to become a close friend of Wonder Woman, albeit in a different persona, Circe took to attacking Wonder Woman more frequently. During each attack Circe had Lyta present to better show her daughter how to better destroy her enemies. To this end Circe allied herself with many evil and ruthless villains such as Sebastian Ballesteros, Lex Luthor, Doctor Psycho, and the Silver Swan.
Despite being surrounded by unsavory characters at such a young age, Lyta's personality remained sweet and friendly. She even took to waving hello to Wonder Woman when she would see her. On one occasion Circe had Lyta hide in the shadows and watch as Circe and Wonder Woman beat each other mercilessly. Confused and frightened for her mother's welfare, Lyta began crying and ran to her mother's side for comfort. Circe as angry with Lyta for not following her orders to stay hidden but Wonder Woman verbally chastised Circe to see the situation for what it was: a moment when her child needed her to be a true role-model and to comfort her child. Circe grudgingly agreed and disappeared while holding Lyta, telling her everything is going to be okay.
When Wonder Woman's homeland of Themyscira was revamped to include a rehabilitation island for prisoners, Circe is captured and held there. So that she could not use her magics to escape she is surrounded by the plant Moly, which is the one substance that nullifies Circe's sorceries. Lyta is then taken to be raised on the main island along with many orphaned children. Though Lyta has trouble bonding with the other children on the island, she does become quite close to several Amazons and takes pleasure in being trained in the Amazon way. After the Amazon Io teaches Lyta how to properly respect the god Poseidon and his domain, Lyta's father Ares appears. He incapacitates Io and steals Lyta stating that he means to raise his daughter on his own terms. When Circe learns what has happened she escapes her prison and confronts Ares. Ares tells Circe that the time of the gods is at a crossroads and that drastic measures needed to be taken. Circe agrees to join Ares as his consort, making them new co-rulers of the Underworld. Thus, Lyta continued to be cared for by both of her parents, reunited.
Created by Gail Simone and Bernard Chang and first appearing in Wonder Woman Vol 3 #39, the five begotten children of Ares and the Amazons came to being when the God of War had also magically impregnated five Amazons at some point in the past, and the offspring of these unholy unions were named Adder, Goat, Rat, Scorpion and Spider. A civil war situation arose on Themyscira, overshadowing the pregnancies, the mothers reached term abnormally quickly and were mystically summoned to a forgotten court by the ghost of Ares. This long abandoned place had been built millennia before just in case children were ever born on Themyscira. Ares further summoned animals infused by his essence. After the five Amazons gave birth against their will, they were magically forced into an eternal sleep. The infants were raised by the magically corrupted animals, and grew up at an accelerated rate. Thus mere months later the five brothers, looking to be about seven years old and having about thrice the maturity, were sent out in the world to turn it against Wonder Woman and the Amazons.
The boys have a supernatural ability to influence those around them, overriding their mind with thoughts of violence, hatred, war and guilt. They can easily trigger riots and incite large crowds to deadly violence. By focusing this ability on a single person they can take direct control, even against persons with a strong personality such as Etta Candy, Steve Trevor or Power Girl. The Crow Children act by talking, though it’s clearly not normal social interaction - their words have an impossibly convincing effect when it comes to seeding hatred, resentment, envy, defiance and the like. Victims will even experience mild hallucination as a result of dissonance, for instance perceiving a trusted ally as demonically deformed to try to reconcile the words of the Crow Children about that person with reality.
The five brothers, wearing a sort of school uniform with cap emblazoned with a crow symbol, strolled through Washington D.C., where Wonder Woman then lived. Using supernatural influence they fanned the flames of intolerance, envy, petty hatred and bloodlust. They both attacked Wonder Woman’s reputation and the civil peace in the capital, triggering murders, arson and eventually riot. When the mighty heroine Power Girl responded, the Crow Children were delighted, taking over her mind and turning her against Wonder Woman.
The five half-brothers affected a style and speech patterns well beyond their apparent years. They act more like preps highly educated, mannered and articulate with an emphasis on what is proper and how society should behave. They constantly use sarcasm, denouncing violence and improper behavior around them and the lack of morality of modern society while fully knowing that they are the direct cause for the chaos and hatred that surround them. Part of their schtick is to sound very sheltered, like an irate old man writing strongly-worded letters to a newspaper editor about the world of today and all of its perceived shortcomings. Their schtick about how the world is terrible and brutal and exposes youths to the most unseemly sights and behaviors is not constant. They are also good actors, particularly when it comes to manipulating everyone around them and playing on their apparent status as innocent and very proper children.
The boys ended up being defeated by Wonder Woman who used her Lasso Of Truth to see through their illusions. Instead of the planned conclusion to the story, in which the boys turned into demonic versions of their animal spirits, causing further havoc in the streets, the issue ended anticlimactically with Wonder Woman giving them a spanking. However the original planned ending alludes to them having powers to transform into large animal demons.
In other media
- Deimos appeared in the 2009 animated film Wonder Woman. In the film he is an agent of Ares sent to kill Wonder Woman. He is voiced by actor John DiMaggio. Similar to his comic book counterpart, the film's Deimos possessed gorgon-like traits, this time with vipers in place of a beard.
- Wonder Woman (vol. 2) #5 (June 1987)
- Wonder Woman (vol. 2) #164 (January 2001)
- Wonder Woman (vol. 2) #167 (April 2001)
- Wonder Woman (vol. 2) #24 (December 1988)
- Wonder Woman (vol. 2) #2
- Brian Azzarello (w), Cliff Chiang (a). "Casting Shadows" Wonder Woman 8 (June, 2012), DC Comics
- Hanley, Tim. "Wonder Woman #8 Review OR Hermes And Wonder Woman Kick Some Dead Soul Ass!!". Straitened Circumstances. Retrieved April 19, 2012.
- Brian Azzarello (w), Tony Akins (a). "Vows" Wonder Woman 10 (August, 2012), DC Comics
- Wonder Woman vol. 2 #84
- Wonder Woman vol. 2 #175
- Wonder Woman vol. 2 #176
- Wonder Woman vol. 2 #186
- Wonder Woman vol. 2 #212
- Wonder Woman vol. 2 #218