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.
Siege continues to impress as characters finally wake up out of their years-long stupor and realize, “Wait, putting a bunch of supervillains in charge of everything was a bad idea, not a good one.” Admittedly, no rationalization is given as to why this was seen to be a good idea in the first place, but in the spirit of fair reviewing, I won’t criticize Siege for the events of House of M, Civil War, Secret Invasion, or Dark Reign. Instead, I will simply say this: with an excellent art team and a relentless pace, Siege resembles the epic scope and breakneck action adventure of Bendis’ best Mighty Avengers issues, but without thought bubbles or ass-shots. There’s no impressive narrative trickery and the characters are little more than props for elaborate, gorgeous fight scenes, but that doesn’t stop Siege #3 from excelling at upping the ante of an already-epic action book.
– Cal Cleary
It would be preposterous to claim that the plot fundamentals of Siege made sense in any rational universe. That is something that Marvel fans, however, have had a good few years to come to terms with, and editorial direction of the Marvel Universe notwithstanding, Siege #2 continues to deliver a surprisingly exciting ride from a writer not known for his thrilling action beats. The issue is essentially a 22-page action comic, with occasional, brief breaks to give us reaction shots… and reinforcements. While hardly groundbreaking, the opening half of Siege, ignoring all spin-offs and tie-ins, may be Bendis’ tightest work in the last couple years.
Coipel continues to be a big part of the mini’s success, deftly handling the bulk of the issue’s action. While a few panels, most specifically the issue’s shocking, gory death, seem rushed and a little clumsy, others more than make up for it – seeing Maria Hill ride up in the back of a pick-up truck, rocket launcher in hand, was such a bizarrely charming sequence it couldn’t be ignored. The issue continues to have flaws, but the fact of the matter is, right now this is exactly the sort of brief, simple beat-’em-up most people look for in these big events. It may not be ambitious or revolutionary, but things are clearly happening, and these things are being caused by people with motives. For a big event, this is success.
– Cal Cleary
Built on an undeniably flawed premise – that somehow, by shooting someone once, a known and medicated sociopath would be given control of the vast bulk of the world’s metahuman forces with absolutely no oversight – Siege #1 nonetheless manages to be Bendis’ most focused work in some time, avoiding most of the traps his earlier events all fell prey to. Osborn, finally going completely off the hinge, follows the advice of Loki and sets events in motion meant to kick start a war with Asgard. Instead of waiting for the President’s say so, which he would almost assuredly get, he uses his lack of oversight and the ramshackle nature of the hastily-assembled HAMMER infrastruction to launch the war himself, gathering his Avengers and the Initiative and storming the gates of Asgard.
Coipel did not impress me in the preview, but his versatility is on good display here, easily handling everything Bendis asks him to. The action scenes are quick and dynamic, while the larger-scale images are often quite memorable, from Volstag riding out of Asgard early in the issue to Thor rocketing down from the skies above near the end. Adept at both epic action and quieter scenes of dialogue, Coipel has proven an excellent choice.
Bendis and Coipel work well together here, and the story moves quickly and believably into place with this issue. Siege #1 pairs an intriguing, action-packed premise with a pair of fine storytellers turning in good work. While there’s still room to go sour, especially given the borderline nonsensical conclusions to House of M and Secret Invasion, this issue nonetheless gives me a great deal of hope. Quick and exciting, Siege #1 delivers exactly what it needs to in order to get you hooked.
– Cal Cleary
Brian Michael Bendis, for all his massive talent on books like Powers, Alias, Daredevil, etc… has a serious and fundamental problem with event comics. Specifically, with the ideas of ’cause’ and ‘effect’. Which is to say, his conclusions have nothing to do with the stories that precede them. After a few issues of exciting or emotional storytelling, it often peters off into a confused mess of nonsense meant to have ‘gravity’ that really just functions as a way to say “This is where Marvel wanted the status quo to be at the end of the story.” But with Siege limited to four issues, I figured it was worth it to give one of my formerly favorite writers another shot.
Siege: The Cabal is for the most part utterly disposable. While some things of note happen, the only BIG one is telegraphed on the book’s cover – the falling out between Doom and the overstepping Norman Osborn. Still, Bendis actually does a good job here of giving people motives and then following through on those motives, making the proceedings believable, enjoyable and intense. Each of the main players are distinctly characterized, the dialogue is quick and functional, and the brief action is exciting and surprising, though he plays a particularly obnoxious game in his efforts to hide Osborn’s super-weapon from us.
Lark turns in good work, as Lark always does. While most artists have little trouble keeping action scenes energetic and exciting (and Lark is definitely capable of that), a strength of his art here is that he (along with Gaudiano and Hollingsworth on inks and colors respectively) also does an excellent job with Bendis’ extended talking heads scenes, using the layout, shadows and angles to help keep the reader’s attention where it needs to be.
Siege: The Cabal also provides a brief, unnecessary preview of the upcoming event that does little to flatter it. Even Loki essentially says, “This is how Civil War started – let’s do it again!” If you enjoy minis with dimwitted heroes accidentally murdering thousands of people in an effort to start a frankly unbelievable witch hunt against a subsection of the population, well, then it looks like you can either read Siege or just go read your back-issues of Civil War. For now, however, those who are excited for the upcoming event will probably find something to get excited about in Siege: The Cabal. It may be disposable, but it’s still well-crafted.
– Cal Cleary