Saturday, January 9, 2010

Siege #1 Review *Spoilers*

I know I said earlier to expect the Moments of the Week tonight, but I was having some difficulties finding a few images I wanted to post (Suicide Squad in particular with Deadshot and Flag), so went with a review of Siege #1 instead.  This will be an image and spoiler filled review, more so than my normal reviews, so those worried about that should shy away from this.  For the rest of you, hit the jump to find out what I thought of the start to Marvel's big conclusion to Dark Reign.

Written by Brian Michael Bendis
Art by Olivier Coipel, Mark Morales, and Laura Martin

Siege is, apparently, an event that has been "seven years in the making".  Dark Reign definitely feels like it's been going on for seven years, but Siege marks an end to that.  And that's where the problems begin.  For how long this event/status quo has been going on, nothing has really happened.

Norman Osborn, aside from the odd portrayal in a random tie-in, has been, well, good as the director of HAMMER.  Yes, he's using bad guys to do the heavy lifting and lets the Hood and his gang slide here and there, but every other SHIELD director has used bad guys to do black ops and given free passes to people.  I really can't find a reason, from the perspective of a citizen in the Marvel Universe and not the all seeing eye of the reader, to want to have Norman deposed of or taken off the board to the extent the heroes do. 

Where have I seen this before?

With that said, the push that Siege makes to have him 'lose it' and wage a war on Asgard comes off as both rushed and forced.  Osborn hasn't been completely stable, as shown in Dark Avengers, among other places, but he literally wakes up one day and wants to invade Asgard after discussing it with Loki, sets up Civil War 2 using Volstagg as the new Speedball and then goes to war without any kind of authorization or approval from the President of the United States.

What.  The.  #%$%?

Seriously, that is the premise of Siege.  That was seven years in the making.  That is a really bitter pill to swallow.  Follow a story for "seven years" and the end result is 'lol Norman so crazy, he do crazy thangs'.  Even when he went nuts in Thunderbolts Mountain, at the end of Warren Ellis's run on Thunderbolts, he made more sense than this.  I really can't buy into the entire concept of this so-called event when it just throws away everything they were doing over the past year for the sake of having an event and ending it. 

I'd actually pay to see this.

What's worse about the premise of this event is that the story is the premise.  What do I mean?  Have you read the solicits or event descriptions or even a summary of the story so far?  That's all you need to know.  Nothing else happens and you don't really get any more out of it by reading it.  There's pretty pictures to make the whole experience fun to flip through, but, when it all comes down to it, it is what it is - Norman Osborn and Loki stage Civil War 2 and then he and his Avengers invade Asgard and proceed to beat down Thor off-panel.  It's about as broadstrokes as you can get and takes the Secret Invasion and Blackest Night style of macro event storytelling to a whole new level.

 Sentry bullets, my only weakness - how did you know?

Even if we ignore the premise of Siege and how Osborn suddenly went off the deep end and started a war with a race of gods for no reason, there's a point in this issue where you just shake your head and laugh at the absurdity of the plan.  You may notice it in the fight scenes, but it's fully realized in the back-up material, which Marvel managed to screw up when printing.  "Seven years in the making" and they couldn't re-read a handful of filler pages before sending it off to the printers.

Oh, sorry, the mix-up in printing isn't the actual problem.  It's what was written. The material is basically a recorded briefing by Norman Osborn and Ms Hand to the Dark Avengers explaining why they are invading Asgard.  When going over the plan, Ares explains that Sentry will lead the assault by destroying Heimdall's observatory and taking out the Bifrost Bridge, which cuts off escape and reinforcements as well as takes out one of their power players.  The above image is that plan in action.

Sounds like a great plan, doesn't it?  Like Bullseye, you may question why the Sentry doesn't just bullet himself through all of Asgard and wipe them out in a few pass throughs.  Because that is not a plan.  I'm not lying.  That is the explanation we get as to why Sentry doesn't destroy Asgard in a matter of minutes repeating the image above.  

It's not a plan.

You can't see me, but I'm facepalming right now

I'll admit, this makes no sense whatsoever, but my god is it not awesome.

However, I'm willing to forgive Ares's tactical judgement in regards to The Plan™ because of the above image.  Yes, he could have took a Goblin Glider.  Yes, his standing there is obviously blocking the cockpit view of the pilot.  Yes, that really messes with all kinds of physics for the plane.  But it, and that entire splashpage by Coipel, was pretty much one of the best things to ever grace a page.

Additionally, Ares was written really well in this issue.  I loved his scenes with Norman Osborn and how he was against invading Asgard, but stepped up to his role as God of War after Osborn presented his case, which did sound convincing when worded as he did (Loki took over, Thor exiled, Odin dead, etc).  Of course, Ares threatens to cut off Osborn's head, armour and all, if he finds out Osborn is lying to him.  Previews for issue two seem to show more of Ares and his waivering allegience to Osborn, so Ares looks to be set up as a major factor in this event, which I am all in favour of. 

This is how Thor's fight begins and ends.  Next page fades out and we're told - not shown - he loses.  

Where Ares is given a lot of respect and written extremely well by Bendis, Thor is quite the opposite.  He shows up, has an epic splashpage that showed him about to stomp Norman's face in before Sentry wisks him off panel at the last second, which I thought indicated the start of a lengthy and epic fight between him and Sentry that we've all been waiting for.

What I got was Thor slapping Sentry away, which was the last we see of Sentry for the issue, and the U-Foes, Norman Osborn and Diamondback (I'm not even going to bother figuring this out, chocking it up to artist error) shooting Thor, a big explosion happening and then the camera panning out and news reporters telling us Thor is defeated.  Issue ended with:

I always watch TV in my Cap uniform.

Steve Rogers, in full Captain America garb, casually watching TV and getting up in anger at seeing Thor defeated. 

All in all, I really don't like the issue, it has a flawed premise, complete fluff and macro view of the story, but, sadly, I have to admit that this is probably a perfect event issue.  Tells readers what they need to know, regardless of whether or not it makes sense in the grand scheme of things, features lots of widescreen action, a few big moments and a cliffhanger that drives people to get the next issue and the dozens of tie-ins for the full story.  This is what events have become - a hollow series of static images telling small pieces of a bigger story, effectively forcing you to read tie-ins to fill in the blanks or get the real meaning behind a book.

Verdict - Byrne It.  This will be an important event, or as important as any event can be in setting up the status quo for the next event, and you should probably keep up to date on what happens.  However, this issue offers nothing new for readers.  Read a solicit, summary or review?  Saw a few scans online or read the 8-page preview in the back of several lead-in issues?  That's all you really need to know.  Olivier Coipel's art is really the only thing worth buying this issue for and even that doesn't make up for such a paint-by-numbers event.

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Eric Rupe said...

Man, this seems worse than I imagined, which is shocking since I had no positive expectations for this event, Coipel's art aside.

"Logic be damned!" seems to be the big mantra at Marvel and DC these days. Of course, given Dark Reign's and a lot of other Marvel events' attitudes towards logical storytelling, Siege having the same attitude shouldn't surprise anyone

Anonymous said...

$4 for this? I'm passing on the rest of the event.

Ethereal said...

You know, I didn't find it really all that bad, however with the reviews it's gotten, I can see why people are being so critical.

This took. Seven. Years. I'd like to say that it was all worth it, but so far, it isn't. I hope it gets better.

Eric Rupe said...

Ethereal - Even if Siege improves as a story over the next three issues, there is no way it is going to possibly bring to a satisfactory close all of the various plot threads from the various events Marvel has produced in the past five years. Most likely, it is just going to be a way to rewind the MU to the pre-Disassembled status-quo and not much else.

JP said...

Welcome back, excellent review, you nailed everything that was wrong with this issue, but also highlighted the few redeeming qualities of the story.

P.S.>> Love that you brought back the Black Lantern Banner back, definately one of my favorites.

Andrenn said...

Agreed with Siege being such a weak beginning to the event. I am still hopeful things will improve, but at this rate I'm not holding my breathe.

Henry said...

I think the most interesting thing about Siege is going to be the tie-ins, mostly for books like Avengers: The Initiative.

Terry said...

This is so insanely contrived. Bendis completely ignores any characterization or even rudimentary comic book logical bounds to force his narrative forward. It's not even entirely clear why Osborn wants to invade Asgard. The reasoning is so tenuous, especially since he has promised to release his Avengers from the only thing forcing them into his service. And the Volstagg setup was just idiotic. A Sunday night NFL game in Soldier Field and the cameras will miss the brightly glowing U-Foes shooting huge energy bolts at Volstagg from the scoreboard? And these perennial punching bags also participate in the takedown of Thor, arguably the most powerful person in the Marvel U (except for maybe Sentry, who was just batted away like a gnat by Thor a few seconds earlier). Maybe Diamondback tipped the scales *eye roll*. It was also never mentioned at all in the Thor comic that Volstagg is a wanted terrorist. I doubt he was hiding out in that diner while he was a fugitive.

What happened to Bendis? He was so good on Daredevil, Alias, etc. but since he started doing team books or stories with a larger cast, he's turned into a horrible writer, with no respect for continuity or his readers. This book was a damned mess.

Space Jawa said...

Somehow, when I saw the splash page of Ares jet-surfing, I just knew you'd make some kind of comment to the effect you've done here.

So in recent comics, we've had him surfing first a missile (or was it a bunker buster?), and now a jet fighter. Any guesses on what he'll choose to surf on next?

GS said...

Just read this at the local shop and I've got to say the whole thing just left me puzzled. As others have said, this is an event that was "seven years in the making" and this is the best start they could come up with, an admitted rehash of the start of Civil War? While I'm sure the hundreds of tie-ins will fill in the story, flesh out motivations, show how Thor actually went down, etc., the whole thing felt like a visual summary of an event and not an actual comic. There were no character voices or anything, just a flat out "here's what (character A) did and then this happend and then (character B) did this and so on". While that's fine for something you would read as a Wikipedia summary or something, it makes for a terrible comic.

Deicide The Everliving said...

I think the meat of Siege's going to be in the tie-ins. With just four issues, the main series just can't have a lot of detail.

Some of your complains were already addressed in "Dark Avengers" and "Siege - The Cabal": Norman's been manipulated by Loki, who's using his weak mind to make him believe that defeating Asgard will make him (Norman) stronger and even more beloved by the people.

I actually liked the first issue. It's not a "Must read", but I think it deserves a "Check it".

And look to the bright side: even it the event is not that good, it will be over in just three more months. We won't have an abomination like Secret Invasion that will take over half the Marvel books for eight months (2/3 of the year!)

PMMJ said...

See, the problem is the Thor tie-in. "Siege", as a capstone to what has been built on, should have been *Civil War 2* - Thor, Cap, and Iron Man (and Nick Fury) reunite to take down Osborn and Loki, and, technically, the government. That's the confrontation that makes sense, and you'll note doesn't tack on Asgard like some misguided afterthought.

Terry said...

One major thing that completely takes me out of the story: The U-Foes had to be seen at soldier field on television. They were standing on top of the scoreboard during a nationally televised NFL night game when they blasted Volstagg and he deflected their shots which caused the carnage. There are like so many cameras going in those games, there is no way they weren't sighted, especially when they glow in the freaking dark. Then, the U-Foes are seen on television with Norman Osborn and his Avengers when they take down Thor. Nobody is going to make the connection that this was a setup? Nobody?!? But of course, Bendis needed his catalyst for the start of this, so after seven freaking years, this is the best he can come up with.

I'll say it again: CONTRIVED. This stuff is insulting.

And out of curiosity, since in Thor's title, the Asgardians have long since moved to Latveria (and never mentioned leaving Oklahoma because they were attacked), how are they going to do a tie-in? A flashback issue? Pretty sloppy.

Primewax said...

Argh, I wanted to like this so much. So far though, the Avengers: The Initiative issues have done a better job with this event. I predict a Blackest Night/Green Lantern/GLC take on this, with the main event being the flashy blockbuster part and the meat of the story in the main books.

Anonymous said...

I dont really think they mean they had this event planned out for 7 years, its moreso that when they broke up the Avengers (Iron Man, Cap, and Thor) they obviously knew they'd come back together, and this is them reuniting. Certainly lots of flaws in this book, but I dont think during Avengers Dissasembled they had planned that Osborn would be the defacto world leader and the big three would join back up to take him down. It was probably, "they'll split, and events will happen, each taking the overall sense of the Marvel U to a darker and darker place, and finally it will be so bad they'll get back together." Having Osborn in charge be the reason for them bringing back the band so to speak isnt bad, but the logic behind Seige itself is weak.

Steven said...

Terry - This takes place AFTER the current Doom/Thor war going on in Thor. We just don't know why they came back, or how Loki managed to squeak out of that one. Apparently Doom never tattled on him.

No, it does not make any sense to start this before finishing that storyline. But there you go. It also doesn't make sense that pretty much every character has a completely different personality when written by Bendis than when written by EVERYBODY else.

Tromeritus said...

Kirk: you've spelt "Siege" as "Sige" in the title.

Thanks for this review, BTW.

Terry said...

Steven- Thanks. That makes slightly more sense. I was somewhat lost given the fact I don't read any of the Avengers titles or Iron Man, and more importantly, the forced narrative on amphetemines of Siege threw me off.

It's just so insulting to read a (semi-) monthly well written series like Thor, and to see this cornerstone of the Marvel Universe characterized as a thoughtful, resourceful and powerful character, just to see Bendis use the same character as a dumb, arrogant idiot taken down by a small crowd of D-listers (a couple of panels after one-shotting the Sentry) just to further his hackneyed story.

This issue actually angered me somewhat. And comics usually don't do that to me.

Michael Edwards said...

I have faith in Bendis, his work is emotionally complex, and thought provoking. Nothing he does is without a purpose of exploring the depths of the characters psyches, and how they interact with their universe.

If you don't believe me, watch Martin Scorsese's films, and you will see that like Scorsese - Bendis doesn't waste a panel, or page.

Terry said...

Michael- Scorcese makes up his own characters for his films and is free to give them whatever characteristics or motivations he desires. Bendis, however, is expected to work with already established characters with a pre-established basis for characteristics, motivations, power levels, etc. This is where he fails miserably. He has no respect or regard for the history of his characters, only a desire to further his narrative at the characters' expense.

And to compare Bendis to Scorsese is completely ludicrous and insulting to the film maker.

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