Wednesday, February 3, 2010
Siege #2 is the only notable release this week, so I figured I'd take the opportunity to do a more in-depth review of the event title. If you've been avoiding spoilers, note that this review is full of them, even going into detail on who the mystery Avenger slated to die in this issue is and the circumstances that led to his or her demise. With spoiler warnings out of the way, hit the jump to see what I thought of this issue.
Written by Brian Michael Bendis
Art by Olivier Coipel
It's difficult to review Siege #2 without critiquing the flaws inherent in the event itself. The very premise makes little sense. Norman Osborn, who had the world in the palm of his hand, takes Loki's, the God of Lies, advice and invades Asgard, even going against the orders of the President of the United States, who had told him to stand down.
Up until that moment, Osborn had been pretty capable in his role as the director of HAMMER and, barring the odd quirk or hint at his past time as the Green Goblin, had yet to really fail at his job. Siege just comes on us so quickly that the change in Osborn to raving lunatic hell bent on invading Asgard makes it difficult to take seriously. Add a staged Civil War 2-like 'accident' to give Osborn his reason, as flimsy as it was, to invade and Siege is sort of handicapped from the get go since the entire reason for the event makes little sense and feels forced.
Ignoring these flaws, how did I like Siege #2? It's an improvement over the first issue, I'll give it that, but it still suffers from a general lack of momentum. We faded to black after Osborn and the U-Foes took down Thor to end last issue. That dramatic fade away gave the impression we were done with that fight and, with the shorter issue count to this event than usual, I figured we'd skip ahead to the aftermath or entrenchment in this war. At the very least, I thought we'd see the Avengers enter the fray.
However, it turns out that fight with Thor wasn't over. Thor is merely hurt and, after a quick save by Maria Hill, who came to his rescue in the back of a pick-up truck firing rockets and other heavy ordiance, which put a smile on my face despite the ridiculousness of it and ease with which they enter and leave a warzone filled with gods and super heroes. Thor even shows he has a bit of fight left in him and goes on to save Hill and aid in their escape. This just killed one of the few dramatic moments from the previous issue and made that fade away ending, which many had issues with over not seeing any details of this fight where some D-listers somehow took down Thor, that much worse now that we're shown he's far from out of the fight.
From there, the story shifted focus to Ares, who saw some significant face time last issue. He had doubts about Osborn's motives and threatened to kill him if he found out Osborn was lying to him about the reasons for invading Asgard. Heimdall, who had been seriously injured during the opening salvo of this war, staggers from the rubble to interrupt Ares's fight with Balder and informs him of the situation and truth that his all-seeing eyes convey. Ares's reaction is exactly as he predicted last issue with him heading off to kill Osborn for his treachery.
Touching on this a little bit, I like the way Ares has been written and it is one of the few times Bendis hasn't written him as a complete meat head. However, the turn of events, which took little over an issue and a half to go from leader of Osborn's armies to turning on him, happens too quickly to really have any impact. It's telegraphed beyond belief and there isn't even really a pay off. As soon as he confronts Osborn, Sentry steps in to stop him. I didn't expect Ares to take down Osborn by himself, but we didn't really get a resolution to this. It just goes from one event to the next without stopping to address the previous. I never thought I'd say this, but I wish Bendis would dial it back a notch and slow things down a bit. It would really help if he let the many threads he's weaving actually develop before moving onto the next one.
As you can probably surmise, with this issue being hyped up as "An Avenger dies!!!" in solicits and interviews and with Ares now in a confrontation with Sentry after betraying Osborn, Ares is the Avenger that dies. Olivier Coipel draws an amazing fight sequence between the two, but Bendis ends it in an abrupt and extremely gorey manner when Sentry literally tears Ares in half. This puts Walking Dead or Invincible to shame in terms of gore porn with giblets and various organs smeared across the page. I'm pretty sure that kills the teen rating of this issue, but doubt anyone pays attention to those anyways. Also, a bit of a demeaning death for Ares. I know Sentry is God's Wrath or Galactus or whatever, but they could have at least given Ares a clean and honourable death or let him get a few blows in. Hell, Thor slapped Sentry away like he was nothing last issue, yet Ares gets eviscerated in the span of a few pages without so much as putting a scratch on Sentry.
After Ares's death, you'd think the issue would come to some kind of conclusion. However, we spend a few pages watching the Avengers board a plane and Spider-Man marvelling over the technology of a SHIELD-issue Quinjet knock-off. The only purpose of the entire sequence was to telegraph yet another upcoming event with the leaving behind of Ares's son, Phobos, who we all know will come in to avenge his father or make his presence felt in some way. We even get a couple pages of Bucky begging Steve Rogers to take Captain America's shield into battle, despite months of delays to Captain America: Reborn that led to an issue called, "Who Will Wield the Shield?", that firmly established that Bucky would, in fact, wield the shield.
In short, everything post-Ares vs Sentry read like filler. We knew the Avengers were coming. We didn't need an explanation for Cap using his shield. We didn't need to see the Avengers loading a ship or getting on it or marvelling over how great modern technology that lets their ship fly fast is and we certainly didn't need a final page with four identical panels of Osborn standing there waiting for Captain America's shield to smack him upside the head.
Verdict - Check It. Overall, I can say that I enjoyed this issue, but there were a lot of flaws. It goes from the break neck pace at the start to a near-stop as it dragged its way to a conclusion at the end. Many of the major events are telegraphed and happen simply to move the story along. It's a pretty book, thanks to Coipel, and an improvement over the first that should appeal to most, but the pacing really hurt my enjoyment of the issue.