Siege the day!

“The Siege of Asgard – Phase Two”
WRITER: Brian Michael Bendis
PENCILER: Olivier Coipel
INKER: Mark Morales
COLORIST: Laura Martin
LETTERER Chris Eliopoulos

Balder and Heimball inform Ares that Osborn lied about Loki controlling Asgard, Maria Hill helps Thor escape from Iron Patriot, Moonstone and the U-Foes, and Steve Rogers rallies the New Avengers, the Young Avengers, and the Secret Warriors to join the battle.  Ares turns on the Dark Avengers, leading to a drawn-out fight between him and Sentry.  The fight ends when Sentry tears Ares in half.

Bucky gives Steve the shield to use in the fight, Nick Fury orders Phobos to sit this one out, and the whole team of good guys flies to Asgard in a super-fast SHIELD helicopter thing.  Iron Patriot turns his head just in time to get a face full of Captain America shield.

Like Secret Invasion, Siege focuses on action and outsources its characterization to the tie-in stories running in other titles.  If you want to see Sentry rip Ares’s guts out, for example, then read this book, but if you want to know WHY he’s in a guts-ripping mood these days, then you have to read Dark Avengers.   That’s the nature of these events.  In one sense, it makes them more exciting, because few if any talking heads bog down the instantly gratifying parade of explosions and decapitations.  On the other hand, explosions and decapitations are just visual noise if they lack a human foundation.  It’s weird to complain about an action-centered story after a year of the Avengers sitting around a table and discussing their feelings, but the key is in striking a balance.  When all the exposition goes into one title and all the action goes into another, neither will satisfy.

To be fair, Ares reaches a turning point in Siege #2, but with so much ground to cover in four issues his change in allegiance had to be abrupt and half-heartedly justified within the story.  Plus, it ultimately only led to his death.  Speaking of which, CHRIST that was graphic!  Even as someone who started reading comics in the modern era, this is a level of gore I never thought I’d see in a mainstream Marvel comic.  If you pick up Siege, prepare to see individual strands of intestine, chunks of spine, and bloody organs splattering all over the place.  I have no moral objection to violence in comic books, but this scene is so pointlessly shocking that it dulls the impact of everything else in the issue.  And can Ares even really be dead?  He’s a god, right?  That makes it even more of a transparent shock tactic.  It also doesn’t help that his death stands as this chapter’s only significant plot development.  One would think such a short event would progress faster.

Now I need to say something positive, or else the tone of my review won’t match the score at the end.  Like I said, Siege is nothing but crazy violence, but it’s some of the biggest and most exciting crazy violence Bendis has ever written.  Maria Hill’s head-on bazooka attack against Osborn’s goons conveyed the guerilla insanity of the situation perfectly, and the Sentry/Ares showdown really felt like a clash among gods.  And, of course, Olivier Coipel’s art could not be better suited to depict an Asgardian bloodbath.  The comic’s sheer visceral thrill offsets its mediocre plot significantly.  I just hope issues #3 and #4 have more to offer, or else Siege might degrade into a slightly less pathetic version of Ultimatum.  Still, unlike that gore-drenched snuff film of a Marvel event, Siege is at least a coherent story.

3 out of 5.  Siege is mindless, but fun.  Shallow, but beautiful.  Never underestimate how much slack amazing art can pick up.



Here’s Sentry, ushering in the “Heroic Age”:

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