Siege #1 Review
Unlike many others, I have really been enjoying much of Brian Michael Bendis' recent work in the Marvel Universe. Of course, I am in the enviable positon of having been out of comics when Avengers: Disassembled dropped, so that might have a lot to do with it. While I did think that House of M could have been executed better, I have enjoyed Bendis' Avengers books, I liked Secret Invasion, and I have loved Dark Reign.
Now we have Siege, which is supposed to be the climax of the story Bendis began with Avengers: Disassembled seven years ago. While the first issue is not without its faults, this still seems like a strong beginning to an exciting event.
The issue begins rather abruptly, with Loki and Norman discussing how to justify a war with Asgard. The reason I found this to be abrupt is because Norman's justification for the attack is rather thin. He clearly believes that it is in his best interest to get the Asgardians off Earth, but why he believes war to be the best option, or why he would trust Loki's judgment on the issue, is not stated. This likely has to do with Norman's increasingly fragile mental state, but again, that is something that is not dealt with in the actual event comic.
As the comic continues, the pair discuss how to best set the stage for war, and decide to set up Thor's BFF Volstagg. They send some members of the Initiative to take on Volstagg, knowing that it will lead to massive collateral damage. Two complaints here. First, I had no idea who the guys sent by Norman and Loki were until someone pointed it out on this message board. It would have been nice to at least name them in the comic. Second, Norman and Loki's plan is very similar to the event at Stamford which set up the superhero Civil War. While I am sure this is intentional on Bendis' part ("See, even allegedly trained heroes can cause huge disasters!") it seems a little too cute. It does not help that he also references the Skrull Queen's justification that God is on her side in the backup material, where Norman makes the same claim. I realize that this is likely included to establish to the reader that Norman's rise to power was a mistake by tying it to other recent tragedies in the Marvel Universe, but, as I said, it is just a little too cute. In any event, the plan works to an extent, and Norman and Co. begin their attack. Even the President is powerless to stop him! Boy is that Norman evil!
Complaints aside, I did enjoy the story. Unlike some of Bendis' other work, the story zips along very quickly, and we get plenty of big moments in the first issue alone. By the end of the story, Bendis has set up the basic conflict in the story, and provided a motivation for the major players to move into position for the second part in the tale. There are also some great moments with the Dark Avengers along the way. We can see that Ares is torn about whether it it right to attack Asgard, and that as badass as Bullseye is, even he has second thoughts about taking on Thor.
Aside from the misprint, the backup material was well done. The Cup O'Joe is a good primer for newer readers, and the Ares War Plan Transcript helps to flesh out some of the less intriguing parts of the story that might otherwise have been left out.
On the art side, Olivier Coipel does an admirable job. The action scenes look great, his characters are fairly expressive, and he adds a good amount of detail to his work. My only complaint is that the panel layouts could have been better. While the introduction to Asgard on pages 13 and 14 is beautifully done, and the fight between Volstagg and the U-Foes is well executed, the actual attack on Asgard looks a bit cramped. Bravo to the creators for showing some restraint with the splash pages, but it might have helped clarify the fight between Thor and the Dark Avengers to free up some panel space by having a one or two page splash of Thor and the Sentry taking each other on.
Overall, I quite enjoyed this issue aside from some minor flaws. I look forward to seeing how the story of Norman's fall bears out over the next three months.