When a graphic novel is used to compile a storyline that runs through different comic series, with different authors and artists working on each comic, it's usually a hit-or-miss affair. While one story might have an outstanding team working on it, another might feel like a complete waste of paper, and honestly, this is the very reason that we pick and choose which titles we pick up every month at the comic shop. Consistency throughout any graphic novel plays a very large role in its success as a work of art.
SIEGE: BATTLEFIELD is just such a collection, meant to be read alongside Marvel's Siege series, as BATTLEFIELD won't make too much sense without the larger event to frame these smaller battles in and around Asgard. Siege, by the way, is an exceptional comic, with events so epic and involving so many characters that the Siege: Battlefield series uses five comics to develop specific events within the battle, so the best way to handle these is one at a time.
Loki's story crawls throughout the entire timeline of Siege, as he's the character who subtly catalyzes the war. It describes many of the machinations employed by Loki to set things in motion before they spin completely out of his control. Contracts are signed, alliances are made, but nothing exceptional or revelatory really happens beyond the first few pages --- but those first few pages hit hard. The art is forgettable, but the other stories in the collection make up for it.
Spider-Man's story is a highlight of the collection. It's an old-school team-up with Ms. Marvel as they both battle against Venom, complete with witty Spider-Man dialogue and great art, which is always fun to read no matter how disillusioning comics can become. This is a one-shot story that does every character justice. They break off from the big fight, handle a bad guy, and return to the fray within the span of a comic. This is how comics should be done.
Captain America's segment is a great story. Captain America finally returns to battle after a long period out of action, returning him to both world-altering battles and small-town America all at once, just as Cap should be. The story also answers the question of what happens to the surrounding town when the explosive events of Siege occur. Unfortunately, the story is so weirdly inked and colored that it's difficult to look at. It's a weird Jae Lee impersonation that doesn't connect.
Young Avengers is another highlight (glaring typos and all), showing the roles of Marvel's youngest heroes as they find their way through the war. It's a title that emphasizes the use of teamwork in superhero comics, and the weight placed upon each team member for the survival of the others. Young Avengers is generally a pretty great title anyhow, so seeing them handle Marvel's largest battle in recent memory is interesting.
Finally, the Secret Warriors story begins with Phobos, son of Ares, watching his father getting literally torn in half. The rest of the comic is Phobos's murderous rampage into the White House to leave the president a note, killing everything that comes between him and the Oval Office. For all of the simple violence, it's very well done.
Potentially objectionable content includes all of the requisite comic-book violence inherent in superhuman wars and a kid killing a large number of grown-ups in a quest for vengeance.
SIEGE: BATTLEFIELD is an excellent companion piece for the Marvel Universe, but it's unlikely that it can stand alone successfully. Siege is exceptional and should already be in your library anyhow, so this shouldn't be an issue.
Reviewed by Collin David on December 8, 2010