It's about time that our heroes are finally allowed to be heroes again. For four years, they've been fugitives, exiled through time, replaced, and as far as the classic heroic narrative is concerned, completely removed from standard, reliable heroism. SIEGE is the essential book in which the tides are turned, serving as a vital point around which all of Marvel's continuity hinges from here forward. Thankfully, it's an amazingly done book.
If Marvel has a trademark "feel" for their superheroes, it's their use of pathos, bringing heroes to a very human level in spite of their superhuman powers. This element is what makes for a compelling, relatable story, especially when your flagship characters have been out of commission for quite some time and are constantly evolving. With Marvel's top talent fleshing out every corner of SIEGE, they've built a beautiful, hopeful thing. It restores our hope in the heroes we love, and our faith in comic books as a medium to deliver a heartfelt story, even when it's based in a fantastic world.
So, ex-villain Norman Osborn (former Spider-Man arch-nemesis Green Goblin) has earned control of the U.S. government's top-secret, ultra-powerful task force via ostensibly legitimate means, but it's not very surprising that he's secretly still evil and working to reshape the world in his image. His madness is pushed by Loki, the Norse god of mischief (and Thor's half-brother), and all of Osborn's trademark hubris eventually mounts in an assault on Asgard --- which happens to be hovering above a field in Oklahoma at the moment, having been displaced from its position in the heavens. Of course, attacking the city of the gods is a nearly insurmountable challenge, and the ensuing clash is suitably explosive and all kinds of can't-stop-reading exciting.
It's the kind of epic, huge excitement that's rarely been felt since reading The Ultimates. Big things are happening, and they're easy to grasp, and the weight of them is made very real and visceral by an amazing combination of slick writing and beautiful artwork. Brian Michael Bendis's plots run for years on end, and they might get tangled in themselves and seem like they're going nowhere fast, but SIEGE actually hits the big, red reset button in a sensible, believable way. We get our heroes back, and it was all worth it. At the same time, a few heroes are killed, and many rewrite their own roles in Marvel's mythology. Without providing any spoilers, Captain America is back (and awesome), Iron Man is still a fun read, and The Sentry is a character who is unexpectedly complex and enjoyable, despite being a very recent addition to the familiar roster of heroes.
Olivier Coipel's elegant, powerful art is stunning. He's able to capture movement and emotion, expression and depth without missing a single stroke. I think I've found my new favorite comic artist. It's a class in perfect visual narrative that I can't stop looking at.
There's plenty of comic violence, including one scene of someone being ripped in half by someone else --- but it's definitely not without narrative relevance. It's an epic battle that lasts for four issues, and it's Tolkien-esque in scope and detail, with additional books in the Siege: Battlefield collection adding to the scope of these events. The orchestration is impressive, and as such a vital book (and a hopeful story), it's a great addition to the collection.
Reviewed by Collin David on November 17, 2010