Wednesday, January 06, 2010

The Siege #1 – A Review

The Siege #1 (of 4)

Publisher Marvel Comics

Writer Brian Bendis

Pencils Olivier Coipel

Inks Mark Morales

Colors Laura Martin

Price $3.99

Format 23 Pages of Story and Art with backup material

The story is that Norman Osborne wants to attack Asgard and he needs a premise to do so. Loki knows Norman needs a reason to be able to get away with the attack and he helps Norman set up Volstagg as the fall guy in an event that kills thousands of people at a football stadium. Norman then attacks Asgard without getting the okay from the President and enlists the aid of his Avengers by promising them their full freedom if they help him. He manipulates Ares by telling him Loki is in charge as Asgard. Thor joins the fight against Norman and is getting his a** kicked which causes Captain (Steve Rogers) America to get up off his couch obviously upset. Apparently he has been watching this on TV with his costume on and the last page is a grimacing Steve Rogers in his costume minus the cowl portion. And that is the basics of issue #1.

Let’s start by being nice and saying that the art by Olivier Coipel on pencils, Mark Morales on inks and Laura Martin on colors is very strong. It is not Ivan Reis, Bryan Hitch strong, but it is strong art and does a nice job of conveying the story. The art has moments of brilliance, but also has moments of me wondering what panel I should read next. I think that Marvel on occasion takes artists that are very good and gives them high profile assignments in an effort to make them bigger stars. From a marketing perspective building up stars helps to generate sales. This is not meant to demean the efforts of Copiel at all; it is just that I see an ulterior motive for how Marvel decides who does what. If I was running the company I hope I would have thought of the same idea as it is a good one.

The actual story does not cut it for me.

First off Volstagg wondering off to play super hero in our world does not (IMO) fit the persona that has been crafted for Volstagg. JMS in his run showed that he has a stout heart and will aid his friends when needed, but my impression is that he is more interested in wine and food then other pursuits. Also as part of the Warriors Three, that has been well established, the idea that his friends would let him take off is a little ludicrous.

Second the idea that has suddenly been introduced that Norman hates Asgard hanging around was a sudden and new fixation. Asgard is floating around in Oklahoma, why would Norman really care. Of course that is the beauty of having Norman being an insane psychotic; you can just say that he is crazy. Of course this takes away from him being the brilliant planner and ultimate evil mastermind. This of course is a classic problem comics sometimes have as they need to cast someone in a role regardless of whether it fits. Norman went from being a major Spider-Man villain to being the master manipulator of all times.

Next issue is the size of the force that Norman is able to assemble on his command alone as we see the President is not authorizing any of this. We see Norman and Ares pull together a monster size army in the matter of what appears to be hours or maybe a day or two and the President can’t stop it.

Marvel creates this problem because they try to make their comics closer to a real world scenario, so instead of accepting a lot of comic book logic, it causes me to question stuff as I read it. Also why in a few issues of Thunderbolts does Marvel have no issue with showing the President to be Obama and in this book he is obscured and could be almost anyone.

Finally Cap standing up at the end of this issue grimacing as Thor is brought down was almost unintentionally one of the funniest panels around. I mean the man of action sits on a couch with his Cap uniform on and never gets up as this is happening until Thor goes down.

It appears the end game is after 4 issues Thor, Cap and Iron Man will be together and Norman’s Dark Reign will be over, but right now it feels like this is just the beginning of the end of Dark Reign and it will be stretched out even longer. I hope I’m wrong.

The back up material is trying to sell us this is a plan seven years in the making and how all of their events have been leading into this. Avengers Disassembled, New Avengers, House of M, Civil War, Death of Captain America, Secret Invasion and on and on have been one long plan culminating in the Siege. I say B*llsh*t! Maybe, just maybe there was a idea that after blowing up the Avengers they would work it back to the big three, but I seriously doubt all of these stories beats were plotted out to connect like this. One way I can prove it is bogus is Thor was not being written to tie into this and it was a plan crafted by Marvel editorial recently. Still points for a good way to try and sell it to people, but when you read it all it will not feel like a great seamless epic at all. Negative points because it feels like a lie and Marvel being disingenuous to their fans.

The other problem I have with these companies is that they make all of these supposed major changes to just ultimately bring everything back to the status quo. Cap is Steve Rogers, Tony Stark is the genius inventor in the Iron Man suit, and Thor is Donald Blake with his limp again. It is just like DC has Barry as the Flash again, Hal as the main Green Lantern and Ollie as Green Arrow. Of course maybe I’ve followed super hero comics too long and it is time for me to cut way back on that stuff and read more OGNs and indies.

Overall Grade C – Too much here that felt forced and not organic in its story telling. Still it had solid art and I hold out hope that the rest of it will be better.

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