I mentioned briefly last month that The Punisher #1 read more like a horror comic than a conventional action book, but I never said why. Though The Punisher #2 is a much more conventional issue than the formally daring opener, that idea holds: not only is The Punisher seemingly being written as a horror comic, but as a horror comic in which the monster is the good guy, and everyone else is even worse.
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