The heroes unite, the reign of Norman Osborn meets its end, and a lot of very big things fall apart.  It’s all in yet another chapter of Marvel’s latest event.  Is Siege worth your attention?  Read the review to find out!

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

Norman Osborn’s unsanctioned attack on Asgard catches the White House’s attention, and the President orders Norman arrested for treason. At the battlefield, a large team of heroes led by Steve Rogers attacks Osborn head-on.  Down in Broxton, Oklahoma, Thor fights Sentry, who has seemingly succumbed to his dark side completely.

The Hood’s gang appears, Speed delivers a retro suit of Iron Man armor to Tony Stark, and the American military shoots down Osborn’s hellicarrier with Victoria Hand inside of it.  As Thor fights Sentry to a standstill, the Sentry begins to morph into his monstrous alter-ego, the Void.

The good guys gain the upper hand in the battle against Osborn’s goons.  Osborn himself finds his Iron Patriot armor disabled by a command from its true owner, Tony Stark.  Before he loses everything, Osborn gives one last command to the Sentry: bring Asgard down.  Sentry flies through Asgard’s foundation, causing the entire floating city to collapse into rubble. 

At ground zero, Osborn’s armor flies off, revealing that is face is covered in green paint.  He raves nonsensically in front of the news cameras for a while before Spider-Man shuts him up with a clock to the jaw.  Osborn declares that the heroes are all dead because he was the only person who could control the Sentry, who has now taken a truly sinister form and hovers above the field in a cloud of black lightening.

On the surface, the first two thirds of Siege #3 hit the same note (singular) as issues #1 and #2.  New combatants enter and bigger objects get trashed, but Bendis and Coipel still provide more of the same mindless fighting over a Norse-themed backdrop.  The subtle difference, however, is that the story’s moral ambiguity has cleared away.  After many years, the real Captain America is back, the good guys are on the same page with the government, and all the bad guys are clearly bad guys.  The most morally gray character on Osborn’s side, Ares, died last issue, and even the Sentry looks like a clear-cut villain now.  As much as I love it when comics emulate the complexity of human choices, showing that they often do not fit into easily labeled categories, every now and then this kind of black and white clarity is satisfying.

Even though the bulk of the issue involves the same old punching and kicking, we get some interesting developments.  For one, Asgard goes down like some kind of Monica Lewinski/London Bridge hybrid.  The art on that page is staggering!  It’s a little silly that no one standing on Asgard looks worse for the wear after the collapse, but I guess that’s what you get in a city populated by gods and superheroes.  I wonder where the Thor franchise goes from here.  Will the gods have to integrate into human society?

Also, Norman Osborn’s hold over the Marvel Universe has apparently ended.  I expected a climactic last stand of the Iron Patriot, but he pretty much went down because Iron Man flipped a switch.  Spidey gets a punch in, but I wanted him to have a more direct role in his arch enemy’s downfall.  The green makeup was an interesting visual, and it made Osborn come off as strangely pathetic in the end.

I like that Bendis positioned Sentry as the “final boss” of Siege because it means he will probably die.  Whatever merits this character had to start with, convoluted storytelling and characterization that made him look like a lamely creepy crybaby have squandered it all.  No one at Marvel can think of a better way to use the Sentry in a story than to blow him up or to have him cry it out in space, so they may as well kill him for good after one last hurrah as the ultimate villain.  The design for the Void persona he takes on at the end looks pretty wicked, so I optimistically await the showdown.  But please, for the love of Baby Jesus and all the frankincense in his crib, KILL THE F***ER!

Anyhoo, most of what I just described is cool, but one storytelling choice brings it down a notch or two.  Bendis decided to narrate most of the issue through the President’s dialogue with his advisors, which appears in caption boxes over the main action.  The problem is that the commentary describes exactly what the panels already depict, making it redundant.  Perhaps the idea was to explain what’s going on to new readers, but honestly there isn’t much to explain beyond “good guys are punching bad guys.”  It makes the issue take longer than necessary to read and it violates the maxim of showing over telling.

3 out of 5.  For those following the Marvel Universe, reading Siege is mandatory.  This issue managed to deliver a turning point in the longer story, which I appreciate.  On the other hand, the paradigm shift occurs in a less-than-climactic way, and the script’s overuse of text hurts the reading experience.



Liked it? Take a second to support the Crawlspace on Patreon!