Ares and Aphrodite #1 stars two of the most important archetypes in contemporary Hollywood – a divorce attorney and a wedding planner – who have differing ideas about love.
CUTE AS HECK
I’m not much for romantic comedy by any definition, but I’m a fan of writer Jamie S. Rich, so I picked up Ares and Aphrodite #1. The Greek implications are obvious from the issue’s title and Rich manages to include some clever references to this classic pantheon throughout this first issue. This detail adds a charming cleverness to the overall tone of Ares and Aphrodite #1 that I find the romantic comedy genre sorely lacking in.
Further to the plot: readers meet divorce lawyer Will Ares on the opening page of Ares and Aphrodite #1 and he is nowhere near as hateful a character as one would suspect. In fact, Will is a lawyer of the long-suffering variety. His car is attacked and vandalized in Hollywood, he’s heading up divorce proceeding for one of the biggest producers in LA LA Land, he’s single, he lives with a cat named Kate (haha), and someone is sending a decapitated stuffed sheep to his house as a threat. The sheep is a detail particularly love not only because of the implication of Ares the Ram, but because the Golden Fleece is such a sought after object throughout Greek mythology much in the same way that romance is sought after so vehemently in contemporary society.
The goddess of love enters into Ares and Aphrodite #1 in the form of GiGi Averelle (GiGi, you may recall, is a famous French lady much beloved by men), a wedding planner who is helping Ares’ client help himself to a new wife. She is beautiful, not in love with the idea of love, lives alone with her dog and co-owns a bridal boutique – definitely the professional type.
Much to Rich’s credit as a writer he doesn’t force Will and GiGi together in this first issue. They cross paths, have some polite conversation and Will even goes so far as to invite GiGi out for a drink – which she coolly refuses. The classic meet cute of romantic comedy story structure is securely in place within the pages of Ares and Aphrodite #1 and despite the fact that it is recognizable it feels neither forced nor false and is ultimately enjoyable to read. Both characters are charming in their respective idiosyncrasies – my only criticism would be that we dwell a lot more on Will this issue than GiGi, however that could easily be remedied in future issues, so I won’t hold it against Rich – though obsessed with their respective professions.
In the final panel of Ares and Aphrodite #1 writer Rich teases the complication that will thrust Will and GiGi together in coming issues and leaves readers on the precipice of a pretty big obstacle. I also want to give Rich a lot of credit, Ares and Aphrodite #1 is the second #1 issue I’ve read by him this week and he is very skilled at getting all the information to the reader that they need without burying hi narrative in exposition – as happens so often in comic books. Overall, I found this first issue very, very cute – everyone who is supposed to be likeable is and the story is presented with an interesting framing device. I’m not certain the series will be earth shattering, but I’m definitely along for the ride.
COLOURFUL AND REAL
It’s so nice to see Megan Levens working in colour! If you are familiar with her work on the recent series Madame Frankenstein (from Image), then you know that Levens is a very talented artist and in the pages of Ares and Aphrodite #1 she gets the chance to prove that she is a skilled colourist as well.
Levens does an excellent job throughout Ares and Aphrodite #1 at making the settings feel lived in – GiGi and Will, beautifully rendered themselves, inhabit a very real Los Angeles. Everything from the Los Angeles freeway to GiGi’s bridal boutique to Will’s flat feel lived in and settled and serve to ground events that are setting up flights of fancy and romance in coming issues.
As mentioned above, the characters themselves are lovely. The titular character of Ares and Aphrodite #1 appear inspired by their respective Greek roots. Levens renders Will tall, chiseled and dark in tribute to the God of War where GiGi is slender and crowned with Botticelli-influenced curls.
Much like the writing, the art in Ares and Aphrodite #1 is charmingly cute, making the issue a very fun reading experience.
THE BOTTOM LINE: FOR LOVERS
If you enjoy personal stories about how two characters come together in spite of outside forces than it looks like Ares and Aphrodite #1 is going to be. It has the added bonus of being more clever than you might expect from a romantic comedy with art that is absolutely fun to look at.