Posted - December 26, 2011 | Updated - April 20, 2013 | August 21, 2015
An 'elevator pitch' for Siege would go this way : Norman Osborn is now head of H.A.M.M.E.R. an organization much like S.H.I.E.L.D, he controls the Fifty State Initiative and the Thunderbolts, superhuman organizations formed during the aftermath of Civil War. He also leads the Dark Avengers. With all this power and resources at his command he decides to attack Asgard. End of pitch.
That pretty much made me interested in Siege.
An external factor that makes me interested in Siege is that it is the Marvel event for 2010. A Marvel Event. This means that Marvel, the no. 1 comicbook company, would make major investments in Siege. The best artist, writer, packaging, etc. and so on and so forth. Money will be spent making this good. I'm always excited by that.
The main creative forces behind Siege are Brian Michael Bendis on script and Oliver Coipel on art.
The story starts with a trap that involves an attack on Volstagg, one of the Warriors Three. An attack perpetrated by these characters.
The U-Foes. Let's see, that would be Ironclad, Vapor, Vector and X-Ray. Ironclad is the strong man of the group. Vapor can change herself into different types of gases -usually poisonous. Vector is a powerful telekinetic and X-Ray is a being of pure energy able to emit radiation. The origin of the U-Foes lies in an attempt to recreate the incident that created the Fantastic Four. These four exposed themselves to cosmic rays just like Reed Richards and company and this is what happened.
Getting back to Volstagg, they hit the Asgardian, throwing him into the middle of a football field during a game at which point they really pour on the power. So much power that everybody in the stadium is killed. This massive disaster becomes Norman Osborn's reason to launch an invasion of Asgard. What amazes me is Volstagg. Here he is in the middle of the cataclysm that envelopes the stadium.
He's obviously physically ok. A bit baffled but fine. I never new Volstagg was this tough.
At this point, some of Coipel's women really jump out at me. Here, Victoria Hand.
Currently working for Norman Osborn but will become a triple agent between the Avengers and H.A.M.M.E.R., ultimately dying in the line of duty, firmly on the side of the heroes.
Here, Moonstone as Ms. Marvel.
Wow. Moonstone has "borrowed" the uniform of Ms. Marvel.
There are two speeches in Siege. Both speeches are made to rally troops before a war. The first is by Ares in front of Norman Osborn's forces. The second is by Steve Rogers in front of his troops. I love how Coipel handled this one, because viewed side by side, Ares' speech really suffers beside the stirring call to arms of Captain America. It is not absolutely bad, but very subtly inferior. Which is as it should be since Captain America really trumps Ares (and maybe everyone else) in the charisma department. This is just one example of how Bendis puts this subtle layers on his script.
Coipel is, of course, no slouch. I love his rendition of the oval office.
With the invasion imminent, Loki barges in to warn Balder, who is king of Asgard.
Great panel, I mean, it's nice to see that the Balder is getting lots of R and R.
Viewed from a certain angle, this invasion is insane. For one thing, Thor is the mightiest Avenger. And for another, we all saw how tough Volstagg was, and he's representative of his race. We're talking about a whole city of superhumans here - with extremely sharp weaponry. The reason Norman Osborn goes ahead with it - aside from the fact that he's insane - is that he's got this guy.
Superman. Marvel calls him Sentry but that's just to avoid lawsuits from DC. This guy is Superman. One good reason to get Siege is you'll pretty much see Superman flying around in the Marvel Universe. There is one key difference between DC's iconic hero and this lameass : Sentry is even crazier than Osborn. But the power levels, I mean 'the power of a billion exploding suns' or something like that. The fact that the other team has a player of this magnitude makes being on the side of the heroes a very exciting read.
And now we come to the first big splash page from Coipel. The arrival of Norman Osborn a.k.a. The Iron Patriot, his Dark Avengers, his Initiative forces, and his H.A.M.M.E.R. forces
There are some panels in Siege that are extra-special. I'll call them anticipatory panels because they anticipate a major turn in the story that happens in the panel right after them. Bendis writes in such a way that the buildup to this anticipatory panels are so well played and the break from these panels to the next just puts the 'event' in event comics. Here is one such panel.
That's Balder, son of Odin, brother of Thor. Balder who is currently the King of Asgard. Just look at his face. One moment he is being given an abrupt wakeup by Loki, the next he is looking at an invasion force gunning down for his kingdom. The way Bendis writes it and Coipel illustrates it, this panel is raw emotion.
This next panel has both Tony Stark and Steve Rogers but what I really like about it is Maria Hill in casual clothing.
So here is Don Blake realizing what is happening in Asgard, he's about to slam that walking stick into the ground.
Here is the lightning bolt that changes Blake into Thor.
In this next panel everybody sees the lightning, everybody hears the thunder. They KNOW. Osborn says one thing :
This panel is so simple, its' brilliant. It's all there in the layers of this one panel. How worried they are of going against Thor. How impressive Thor's reputation is in the Marvel U. This is a risk for Osborn, even if he does have the Sentry.
Later on we have this.
Hear the news : "The mighty Thor is being brought down by Norman Osborn and his Avengers". You know what's so brilliant about this panel? We can't see the mighty Thor being brought down by Norman Osborn and his Avengers. The shot is too hazy and is too far back from the action. This panel forces us to use our imagination. And what comes up in my head, Thor lover that I am, is pretty heartbreaking. I am reading Siege and I am getting mad and that is a sign of a good comic.
I've always been fascinated with Heimdal. The guardian of the rainbow bridge, with acute senses, huge weaponry, and that heavy, intimidating helmet; and also, brother of Sif. I've never read a comic were Heimdal was the focus so there's always been an aura of mystery surrounding him. That might be why this panel jumps out at me.
His words, identfying himself as the all-seer; I don't understand that. I don't want to understand that. That's all part of his mystery. Together with why one of his eyes is all red. Visually and through his dialogue this is just an amazing Heimdall from Bendis and Coipel. And then they do the most important thing - they forget about him. We get a glimpse of Heimdall and that's it. That's perfect.
There are a lot of characters in this next panel, but my eyes keep coming back to Moonstone. Wow.
Did you know that the first major counter maneuver in Siege was done by a hero with no costume and no super-powers? Yup, here she is
Maria Hill. After Thor gets pummeled she comes riding in with a bazooka. No costume, no powers, but she does have a sidekick. That's Jason driving the truck. So Maria hits Osborn with that bazooka and then she turns a machine gun on Moonstone. The panel where the bullets fly at Moonstone and phase through her? That's a wonderful shot
In the end, Maria and Jason escape in the truck headed away from the chaos with Thor in the truck bed. Rescue successful. All of a sudden I'm a big fan of Maria Hill.
A great two page spread showing Captain America's team.
It's the New Avengers + the Young Avengers and Nick Fury.
Perhaps the most significant incident in the second issue is the death of Ares at the hands of the Sentry. But before that we have this single page layout.
The fight is imminent. Both combatants know it. Ares doesn't have a chance against Sentry. Both combatants know it. So given that, I really have to admire Ares. The God of War is showing a lot of class at this point by looking at his own death with a steely eye. The actual death scene is a double-page gross out panel that I was staring at with morbid fascination - I mean, Sentry literally tears Ares in two. Sentry is a total whacko and I can't wait for Thor to take this guy out.
Oh yeah, during the Sentry/Ares fight we also get this panel which I find really interesting.
Bottom left is Balder beheading a H.A.M.M.E.R. operative; its the most violent I've ever seen Balder. To the right is a cameo from the goddess Sif.
Here's another one of those anticipatory panels
Before this panel Osborn was having a fine time of it, everything was going according to plan. Now he looks up and he sees Cap's forces bearing down on him. The thing I find tantalizing about this panel is that the Iron Patriot armor shows no emotion but you can bet that Osborn is reacting underneath that mask. How exactly? We are left with our imagination and that just makes this panel all the better.
This two page spread presents the arrival of the heroes. Moonstone is such a scene stealer!
At long last.
Look at this guy - the heir to Quicksilver.
Fist time I ever saw Speed but I Like him already.
Tony Stark shows up in his old armor and it is looking gorgeous.
I have read a lot of great Iron Man stories with Tony in this armor. I love that they did this.
One of the most striking two page spreads in the whole series is this one showing the fall of Asgard.
I should say the physical fall of Asgard, because the Asgardians are far from defeated.
Norman Osborn, shorn of his Iron Patriot armor, is shown to be more of a total whack job than even I thought. If anybody has the right to come in and punch the Green Goblin its Spider-Man
Robert Reynolds a.k.a. the Sentry didn't get his power because he's mutant, he didn't get it as a reward from some higher power, or invent it for himself. Robert Reynolds became the Sentry when he shot himself with a serum while he was looking for drugs. Robert Reynolds was a junkie and just like every junkie he has a darkside; it even has a name - the Void. As the Siege story arc winds up into its conclusion, the Void increasingly goes out of control.
The Void is so powerful that the heroes are helpless against him. And this leads us to the sudden appearance of the most unlikely hero of all.
The God of Mischief's little joke on Asgard has been pushed too far and Loki goes for atonement by giving every hero a power-up courtesy of the Norn Stones. It is an act that will cost Loki his life. Here's the single-page 'power up' panel.
In short order, the Avengers' Big Three make their mark against the Void.
Thor satisfies by scoring some big hits against the Void, but the single biggest assault is from Tony Stark who commandeers the H.A.M.M.E.R. flying airbase and uses it as a bullet against the Void. The two-page spread that Coipel creates to chronicle the event is the best two-pager in the entire series. I particularly like the silhoutte of the Asgardians in the foreground as they look on.
Very soon after this, we have the death of the Void at the hands of Thor.
It is also an event that signals the death of Robert Reynolds and the exit of Sentry from the Marvel U.
Steve Rogers becomes the head of S.H.I.E.L.D while a new Avengers team is formed.