That’s right, folks. Desiato is back and ready to talk some Marvel.
Spoilers abound for this one.
I’ve done this previously for Dark Reign and War of Kings, and I thought, as the resident Marvel guy lurking in the shadows of a generally DC heavy comic review blog, this is the perfect time to make a triumphant (but most likely short lived) comeback to the world of read/RANT. So let’s talk some Marvel. More specifically, let’s talk SIEGE. Bendis! Coipel! Only four issues! It’s got a strong chance of being pretty awesome. Time to break it down, see where we’ve been and where we’re going, specifically pertaining to the last two months or so of Dark Reign continuity.
As a quick proviso, this article is going to focus on Norman Osborne. To find out what’s going on with the rest of the Cabal, I’m going to be putting up a sort of “Where are they now?” article on my own blog, Musings of the Alpha Primitive. This is partially to be self-serving, and partially because I don’t want this article to be 4,000 words long. That should be posted in a week or so, and I’ll probably update this article with the link when I’ve done it.
By the time folks read this, Dark Avengers #11 will most likely have been released. It comes out on Wednesday. I get my books online through Discount Comic Book Service (the best folks in the planet in many ways), and will not be receiving my copy until the end of the month (which, while lame, is a hell of a lot better than paying cover price).So bear in mind that this Siege preview is being written without the added detail of anything that happened in that issue.
So let’s talk about the most recent pertinent points first. We’ve navigated through just about all of The List. I remember when the list was announced, I was perturbed by the idea of 8 $4 one-shots coming out within a month or two. I wasn’t going to buy them. At the time, I was enjoying, but not totally enamored with Dark Reign. But then I saw the creative teams. Fraction and Davis on X-Men. Bendis and Djurdjevik on Avengers. Remender and JRJR on Punisher. Hickman and Ed McGuinness on Secret Warriors. These are stacked creative teams that are worthy of a $4 purchase (or, in my case, about $2.20 thanks to DCBS). And they were all great. I didn’t read Daredevil and didn’t order Spider-Man because I don’t read those ongoings. But maybe I should have, considering the quality of the other books (and I’m sure I’m going to pick them up during con season on the cheap next year). The List rekindled my interest in Dark Reign.
Add to that the monumental achievement that was World’s Most Wanted, Matt Fraction and Salvador Larocca’s world-spanning Iron Man epic that has taken a year to tell (and, honestly, how often do you see twelve issue story arcs these days, especially in ongoing titles?), and Dark Reign has kicked into overdrive. Norman Osborne’s armor is weakening. His hold on the world and his own sanity is slipping. The members of the Cabal are splintering, creating their own alliances against Norman and HAMMER. Everything is coming to a head. Siege is, as some of us know thanks to J Michael Straczynski, at its core the siege of Asgard. We know this, because this is apparently why JMS left the Thor book, because he didn’t want to deal with the crossover. We also know a few other things based on some teaser images that have been released in the past few weeks.
1. Asgard is in trouble. One of the teaser images that has been released is the picture of a burning Asgard plummeting to the ground. It’s still in Oklahoma, and the neighboring sleepy town looks to be in trouble (considering that Asgard is landing directly in the center of it). Considering that the whole point of Siege is Norman Osborne storming Asgard, nothing about this should come as a surprise. But let’s keep some things in mind. First, the Asgardians as we know them are not actually in Asgard right now. Loki, Baldur, basically everyone but Thor, Sif, and the Warriors Three are currently in Latveria. Secondly, considering the last panel of World’s Most Wanted, featuring Donald Blake in his Oklahoma hotel room alongside Pepper Potts, Captain America (Bucky) and Black Widow, and that Blake has power of attorney in Tony Stark’s living will and is presumably going to get him, there’s a decent chance that the BIG THREE (and I mean big three, as Cap Reborn should be wrapping up to the extent that I fully expect Steve Rogers to be back with the shield by the beginning of Siege) will be using Asgard as their headquarters/staging ground preparing for some kind of attack on Osborne when he brings the heat to Oklahoma. One would assume that the big three will also bring in folks like the Mighty Avengers to join the cause (probably the X-Men too, but I don’t know if the scope of the book is such that they want everyone involved).
2. Norman Osborne has a secret weapon. This goes all the way back to Dark Reign: The Cabal, and the shadowy figure that Norman’s been using to keep the rest of the Cabal in line. There has been much speculation, and now we’ve got two pieces of information to help us narrow some things down. The first is a teaser image of Norman surrounded by seven pictures and a “WHO IS NORMAN OSBORNE’S SECRET WEAPON?” tag line at the top, and the second is the end to Dark Avengers #10. These are obviously linked, considering that three of the characters are in both images. Let’s take a look at who’s on the teaser image first to get a sense of the possibilities.
2a. Thanos. No chance in hell. This is a red herring. One, the fact that they specifically chose an image of Thanos with the Infinity Gauntlet is too loaded of an image. Take also into consideration the utter arrogance of Thanos, and that there’s no way he would ever go along with someone like Osborne. Plus, there’s the fact that he’s dead. And Abnett and Lanning would probably be a little annoyed if one of the supreme cosmic characters of the Marvel universe suddenly shows up parading around a crossover on earth. Odds: Eleventy-billion to one
2b. Odin. In case you couldn’t tell, I’m getting the no chance in hells out of the way first. Most of the reasoning behind Thanos can also be attributed to Odin. He’s arrogant, and would be exceedingly unlikely to consider Osborne an equal deserving of his time. He’s also dead, and while he did hold a grudge against Thor for not resurrecting him after the most recent Ragnarok, they reconciled during the two issue Thorsleep arc in JMS’ run. Not gonna happen. Odds: 200,000,000,000 to one
2c. Nate Grey. X-Man, eh? So I’m not reading many of the X books. I’m reading Uncanny, but that’s basically it. Dark X-Men seems to be the book that features the return of X-Man, and while I probably should have bought it considering that Paul Cornell and Leonard Kirk are piloting the series. Nate’s an omega level mutant, and he’s one of the many folks in this teaser that can actively alter reality. From my perspective, Nate Grey lacks the punch that would be needed to really make Siege pop. Not enough folks would really get enough out of Nate Grey being the big secret baddie. It’s more plausible than Odin or Thanos, but it’s definitely unlikely. Odds: 999 to one
2d. Mephisto. See, now we’re talking. Mephisto has some definite possibilities. He’s definitely shown that he’ll work with anyone if the price is right. And Norman’s definitely crazy enough to have no compunction to make a deal with the devil. Some folks have been attempting to make a link between Mephisto as Norman’s secret weapon and the events of One More Day as a sort of kill two birds situation. I don’t see that happening. Personally, Mephisto’s up there. He works perfectly well in this situation. He could legitimately keep folks in line. Plus, he’s in the last panel of issue ten of Dark Avengers (for the information of those not in the know, Dark Avengers 10 ends with a double page spread featuring Norman Osborne being confronted by a new Dark Cabal consisting of Enchantress, Zarathos, Mephisto, The Beyonder, and Molecule Man on a throne of skulls). Odds: 10 to one
2e. Molecule Man. Molecule Man has some potential and some problems. Rich Johnston leaked some things about Norman’s secret weapon having the MM initials, which certainly points to Molecule Man, but one would think that if this were the case, you might not necessarily give that away at the end of Dark Avengers. But Molecule Man was certainly in power, especially considering his sitting on a throne of skulls and all, and if he can exert his will to dominate folks like Mephisto and The Beyonder, we should probably watch the hell out. Sure, he’s not necessarily dominating these folks, but he’s definitely in the place of power. Of course, there’s also the fact that Norman is completely insane and could be imagining it all. But, if he is imagining it all, is he doing it for a reason? Is it because he’s worried he could lose control of his secret weapon? Hard to say, but I think Molecule Man is, in a way, a little too good of a fit. He doesn’t have a strong personality, and could easily be convinced by Osborne to be his ace in the hole. Odds: 7 to one
2f. The Beyonder. It seems to be the case that Bendis has been itching to use the Beyonder in some capacity. New Avengers: Illuminati #3 was all about The Beyonder. There was heavy speculation that he was pulling the strings during Secret Invasion. He’s been on the cusp of involvement for a while, and he would absolutely scare the shit out of the other Cabal members (and extra points for having a specific grudge with Doom). Of course, this could easily be Bendis continuing to mess with us by dangling The Beyonder just out of reach; only this time he’s actually appearing on panel. I like The Beyonder as the secret weapon. I think it works well. A mix of the old and the new. Personally, this would be my choice, though I don’t necessarily think it’s the most likely. Odds: 4 to one
2g. Scarlet Witch. When was the last time we saw Bendis and Coipel working together on a big project? House of M. COINCIDENCE?!?!?! The return of Scarlet Witch would bring quite a few things full circle. It would play off Loki’s recent actions in Mighty Avengers. Hawkeye would continue to go nuts, especially considering New Avengers #26. Scarlet Witch, in many ways, started the ball rolling. She’s the most unstable of the reality-alterers in the mix. She would scare anyone into service, because she’s capable of anything. House of M proved that. Much like Molecule Man, this might be too perfect. But Scarlet Witch has been off the table for a long time, and this might be a worthy moment for her return. Odds: 3 to one
2h. Someone else. There are other possibilities. Dormammu, for one, as he does have ties to The Hood, who’s probably been the most on Osborne’s side throughout most of Dark Reign. The Void would manage to not only keep the Cabal in line, but would also act as a safety net to cover The Sentry. Marvelman was a popular guess after Rich Johnston’s MM leak, but I think it’s too soon for Marvelman to hit the main Marvel U. I’d like to believe it’s one of the folks on the teaser, and that it’s not a bait and switch situation.
3. Some flying shadow dude. There’s another teaser image of a shadowed figure flying above New York City as the denizens of the city look on in a mixture of shock, awe, and terror. We all assume that this enshadowed figure is Norman’s secret weapon, though much of that could be because those two teasers were released at the same time. So who is it? The Beyonder with his white disco coat blowing in the wind like a cape? Scarlet Witch? The Void? Sentry? Who knows? What I do know is that I dig the image and it further whets my appetite for some Siege goodness.
Is there more to cover? Yeah, probably. But we’re going on 2,100 plus words now, so I think I’ve done enough damage in my return. If you want the lowdown on Dark Reign and Siege, make sure you’re following Dark Avengers, Invincible Iron Man, Utopia, and The List. That’ll help out the most for the major story points. And once again, keep a look out for my article on the Cabal over at Musings of the Alpha Primitive (yeah, I plugged it again). You stay classy, read/RANT
my favorite rumor: The Beyonder has been the Sentry this entire time.
also, welcome back.
I also will give the Siege a look, but Bendis might be the worst event writer of the decade. I’m REALLY hoping that, with the 4-issue limit, he won’t have time to completely lose his shit like he has every time before, but… well, it can’t be worse than Blackest Night, now can it?
Makes you wonder if Johns isn’t right up there with Bendis as far as writing big events goes. As far as Johns’ MAJOR storylines are concerned, I didn’t like Infinite Crisis, don’t really have any overwhelming interest in Blackest Night, thought that he was writing the weaker portions of Sinestro Corps War (but I readily admit that Pete Tomasi and Green Lantern Corps is the only reason I’m reading anything DC that isn’t published by Vertigo right now), dropped JSA because I hated Thy Kingdom Come, and loved 52. But he had help on 52.
So I don’t necessarily trust Johns much further than I can throw him (and sometimes, I would like to throw him). And I think that Bendis generally has a better support structure around him writer-wise, which allows the tie-ins to his events to generally be better. And I think that subconsciously makes me think I enjoy the main event more than I do.
Johns is close, and God knows I’m not a fan, but I put him at #2 very slightly ahead of Millar, largely because they haven’t had quite the exposure Bendis has… and because Johns had a hand (admittedly, the least enjoyable, least confident hand) in “52” and “Sinestro Corps War”.
Bendis, meanwhile, is responsible for Avengers: Disassembled, House of M and Secret Invasion, all of which were absolutely atrocious, and Secret War, which I haven’t read. Johns has played around in (and in some ways, tarnished) the mythologies of the JSA, GL and Flash, but his Events haven’t (yet) had the ramifications of Bendis’.
You could dislike “Infinite Crisis” and still read most DC comics without worry. But if you thought that the ending to “Secret Invasion” was preposterous bordering on insulting… well, you’re stuck. Their ENTIRE LINE OF COMICS is based around those events.
Considering that Johns and his events have caused me to basically drop every DC book but the GL titles, I think he’s done much more bad to the universe from my perspective than Bendis. Bendis may not write the best actual issues for his events, but I do contend that the plots of his events are good in spite of his event issues. The plot and ramifications of House of M and Secret Invasion have pulled me deeper into the Marvel U. It got me reading more books. That last paragraph is basically the exact opposite from my opinion. From an event perspective, and specifically from a post event perspective, I can overlook bad writing on an issue level if I think the new status quo is interesting. The post House of M and Secret Invasion status quos interested me. The ends of Infinite Crisis, 52, and Final Crisis (which, granted, wasn’t Johns) have caused me to completely drop DC beyond the GL stuff. If Blackest Night didn’t grow out of the GL books (specifically GL Corps), I wouldn’t be reading it. Johns is going to have to do a hell of a lot to make me not completely drop all my non-Vertigo DC books once Blackest Night is over, and we’re four issues in and it’s looking grim.
So, I don’t know. That’s where I’m coming from. The positive out of this is if Bendis can prove he can do a four issue book that flows well without issue, we’ll probably see those a little more in the future compared to the 8 issue line-wides. Which is better for everyone.
The best case would be to take the Marvel cosmic model. You need to make sure that the characters and books tied in are tied in for a reason. Secret Invasion had a serious problem with this. So did Infinite Crisis. And Blackest Night is more of the same. Hell, DC is trying to bribe us with cheap plastic rings to inflate sales of lagging books that have nothing to do with the event. As much as I enjoyed the tie ins for Secret Invasion when I read them, I doubt I’m going to pick them up again. From now on, I’m sticking to the books that I read that tie in, unless something (a solicitation, a creative team, preview art, etc.) forces me to pay attention. My hope is that Siege is a sign for the future Marvel events being smaller like the way they’ve been handling Marvel cosmic.
One can only hope.
Has Siege officially been confirmed as the end of Dark Reign or just another chapter?
Must say I’m surprised with all the Geoff Johns bashing. I have found that I really enjoy his work. Infinite Crisis is one of my all-time favorite crossovers. I have enjoyed his stuff more so than I have Bendis. Although this “Sentry is the Beyonder” theory has had me go back and re-read all these Bendis-written Avenger books and all I can say, if the rumor is true, I’ll have to give Bendis some props.
I think Johns is a very good writer, but not even close to a good mainstream writer. He’s great for scholars of the DC universe. I am not a scholar of the DC universe. So whenever I read something of his, it comes off as regressive storytelling.
I dropped Booster Gold because he brought back Ted Kord in a cheap and stupid way as fan service.
I dropped JSA because he brought in Kingdom Come Superman in a cheap and stupid way as fan service.
I dropped Green Lantern during Secret Origin because he retconned Atrocitus into Hal’s origin in a cheap and stupid way to set up Blackest Night, which hasn’t even been very good.
I don’t get the same thrill seeing Ted Kord, or a reunion of the JLI characters, or Kingdom Come folks showing up in the main DC universe. If people love that, good on ’em. But when you don’t care, it feels like he’s just going back to old stories and characters not because it fits the story or makes it better, but because he wants to shoehorn them in for his own purposes. And I’m sick of it.
And I’m always going to believe that as far as an abrupt switch in storytelling style and character focus, Infinite Crisis 7 is always going to be just as bad as, if not worse than, Secret Invasion 8. IC 7 was an abomination of an ending to an event, and Superboy Prime might be the worst character I’ve ever read in the history of comics. I can’t stand him, and not in a good way.
So yeah, that’s why I don’t like Geoff Johns.
I thought recent Adventure Comics was a great return to the sort of Geoff Johns writing I enjoyed back in his mostly good Flash run. That was until the last issue. Which, like this website pointed out in the Agent Orange storyline, an outlet to insult any sort of criticism he receives.
If the internet bugs you so badly, Geoff, stay off it. The fanboy bashing is stupid, petty and not worth three dollars.
i prefer the bashing to the pandering.