Not to step on dclebeau’s toe’s, but I had already planned to review the trilogy of Bendis books that came out last Wednesday.
Let’s begin with the art team: Olivier Coipel, Mark Morales, and Laura Martin. It seems the general consensus is that these fine people are responsible for the best part of Siege. I agree, but I’m going to go out on a limb and criticize Coipel’s work on this series overall, with this issue being possibly his finest on the series. His main problem throughout has been a violation of comic drawing 101, which is to always fill the page. Coipel often kept his camera too far back, probably trying to give the book an epic feel, but the result has the reader staring at a bunch of hardly-rendered blobs, which is far from epic. Let’s look at the already-known death of Loki. The death of a god, and a well-known Kirby creation at that, should look memorable, to say the least, and what’s produced is very few lines and mostly color. And it’s those colors, provided by the great Laura Marin, that are the true artistic star of the show. Her use of bold, primary colors always gave Coipel’s hardly-rendered blobs a true heroic quality.
Alright, let’s get down to Bendis’ conclusion. As I mentioned, Loki’s death was already known going into the book, and the other death was plastered on the front of the comic that was probably sitting next to Siege #4 when you picked it up. Add to the that, the final spread was already seen and arguably drawn better by Jim Cheung, and the overall state of the Marvel Universe after Siege was revealed months ago. So, all that was really unknown to you going in was how it all happened. Loki hadn’t been seen much since we saw him start this whole event, so his last minute change of heart was unexpected and nonsensical, making his demise feel a bit cheap and unnecessary. And what of the Sentry, the character Bendis has been building up for five years? Well, even though the characters kept talking about how scary he was, he was beaten by fairly conventional means, and then murdered by a fellow hero. There was no deep thought process behind this murder, other than the romantic ideal of the end justifying the means. So, two deaths, both expected and both dealt with cheaply.
After that, it was the time for the cleanup, and this is the page that actually upset me a bit. Now, I know heroes live forever. That’s great, but that image just really nails Joe Quesada’s take on the superhero: that they’re like toys that you can throw around and break all you want, and then put them back together at the fans’ whims. Siege is the culmination of five years of storytelling, and nothing ultimately changed. The slate is wiped clean, ready to be thrown around again. Honestly, for a brief moment, it made me want to quit superhero comics.
Now, I’m coming on too strong. But, the point is, there was a conclusion promised with Siege, and we didn’t get it. Even the ride wasn’t very enjoyable, no matter how hard the art team tried to make it so. Do I blame Bendis? No, the man is a good writer, but with this project, it felt like his artistic voice was silenced. He had his last page to get to and he got there, throwing in just a little bit of his own flavor along the way. It wasn’t nearly enough.