Originally posted Sunday, August 29, 2010.
(Future Chris – since posting this review I have read Avengers Disassembled and Civil War, and thus have gained a much more fleshed-out understanding of the contents of Siege. I will be posting a review in context of these other series’ soon, but for now this comes before I read the others)
DISCLAIMER: I have not read the miniseries Avengers Disassembled, Civil War or Secret Invasion, and have only read portions of Dark Reign (primarily Deadpool, X-Men and Dark Avengers). I therefore approach this book more as a standalone than as part of the main story presented in the aforementioned series’. I have, however, read the cliff notes for each series, so I understand (mostly) what’s going on.
In my Cry for Justice review I stated I was trepidatious with approaching team books, such as Justice League or The Avengers. For me, it just feels like each character needs to have their own book with the occasional crossover to other events, giving them the ability to grow and develop as a character on their own. Keeping them in a weekly team series, however, can dilute that effect and simply make some characters seem like they are just there for the hell of it. Having these characters smooshed in for the sake of having a flashier cover page is like trying to cram peanut butter, fudge brownie and Baskin-Robbins cookie-dough ice-cream into a jam jar – it’s tasty, but largely ineffective at holding itself in correct proportions (I’ve suddenly made myself hungry now).
Whilst Siege is not, strictly speaking, an Avengers title, it may as well be. The main good guys are Thor and Captain America, as well as half of Marvel’s superhero population who’ve been in hiding for the better part of a year during Dark Reign. The final battle is a giant who’s-who smackdown of Marvel supes vs. Marvel villains, culminating in a rather spectacular bashing of Norman Osborn and The Void, the dark entity that had apparently taken control of The Sentry in Dark Avengers. By story’s end, the Dark Avengers are kicked out and the new ones (and by new I mean the originals, so technically they’re not new) are put on the job. The final shot – a truly, truly epic panorama of Wolverine, Luke Cage, Captain America, Ms Marvel, Spiderman, Tony Stark, Steve Rogers and Thor – is of Avengers. The heroes of the story are Avengers.
Come on, it’s an Avengers title.
This is where Siege failed a little for me; don’t get me wrong, as a story it works really well and I certainly enjoyed reading it. It is by no means a bad book, much the opposite. It does, however, fail on the “cross-over” aspect that was touted for Siege during its initial run in single issues, and instead just seems like a big Avengers smackdown. There’s Spiderman – and since when did he become a deadpan snarker, coz that was awesome – and Wolverine, with the latter making very small appearances, but apart from that there feels to be very little crossover, per se. Thor, Iron Man and Captain America were all Avengers anyways, so there’s nothing really new there. The X-Men barely made an appearance, though I suppose they had their big story with Utopia. There was no Deadpool – a major character through a lot of Dark Reign. The only real crossover element was the inclusion of Loki and Asgard, so if anything it’s a Thor/Avengers crossover, ish.
The aforementioned issue of smooshing characters in also has lack of appeal. For instance, there is a panel towards the end of Chapter 4 that has Iron Fist in it. He has no dialogue, does nothing drastic and has no discernible effect on the story. He’s just there as part of a reaction shot. This greatly disappointed me, particularly because Iron Fist is one of my favourite Marvel characters. They could have at least given him a snarky line, or indeed a regular line, or something. His purpose could’ve been served by any of the other heroes in the battle instead, without wasting the opportunity to tease us with Iron Fist then not give him anything. It feels like masturbation without the orgasm.
Another chief offender of this is Luke Cage. He really didn’t seem to serve any substantial purpose. He was there to utter a few lines of cliché dialogue here and there, but he felt largely superfluous to the story. Again, his purpose could have been served by another character instead, who actually did something meaningful within the story.
As I said though, this does not make it a bad book. Disappointment at lack of substantial crossover aside, there is quite a bit to like. For one thing, Spiderman makes some great quips throughout. Then there are the epic battles by the barrelful, with my personal favourite being Ares vs. The Sentry. So what if he got discombobulated in the process? It was fucking epic!
The best bit of the book, however, is one that had me both laughing and exulting inside. I’ll let you guys do the math – Captain America’s shield. Iron Patriot’s head. I never thought the words would be coming out of my mouth, but maybe Captain America isn’t so bad after all. In fact, I may even go so far as to say he’s pretty bad-ass.
Gotta say, I was really glad that I both picked this up at Comic-Con and managed to get it signed by Brian Bendis, the author and Olivier Coipel, the artist. Definitely worth the extra effort.
Overall, I was pleased with Siege. I went in expecting a lot more than I got, but what I got was still enjoyable. As comics go, you could do a hell of a lot worse (for more information, see Cry for Justice review).