Siege: The Cabal (drawn by Michael Lark) and Siege #1–4 (drawn by Olivier Coipel), written by Brian Michael Bendis
Reading this collection really brought home the odd aspect of reading a lot of contributing series in trade paperback form. I read New Avengers, Dark Avengers, Captain America, Iron Man and Secret Warriors in trade form; these all come out at different times, so exactly where they fit in with this story is rather complicated. I feel like I should be drawing a chart with arrows telling me where I am in the time line.
This trade is the UK version (from Panini Publishing), so it includes the Siege: The Cabal prequel, well drawn by Michael Lark, in which Norman Osborn is pushed to the edge when he tries to take down Doom and Doom retaliates. This leads to Loki persuading him to attacking Asgard, which leads into the big mini-series itself. The story is fairly straightforward: Osborn attacks Asgard, which is hovering over the American town of Broxton, Omaha, after Loki has provided an ‘inciting incident’ involving Volstagg. With cameras watching, they attack Thor, which causes Steve Rogers to assemble the New Avengers, the Young Avengers and the Secret Warriors to fight back. Meanwhile, the Sentry rips apart Ares after Ares rebelled against Osborn; Osborn brings in all of the Hood’s supervillains, bringing together practically everyone for a massive rumble, especially when Tony Stark returns as Iron Man and takes back his armour from Osborn. The final issue is then a big fight with the Sentry, who has become the Void, leading to the return of the original Avengers.
The point of this sort of story is the spectacle – big fights, big explosions, big action, big wins for the good guys. Oliver Coipel does a very good job – he has a muscular dynamism but he also has a nice cartoony and angular hint to his work, with particular emphasis on the facial expressions, very impressive in the middle of big fight scenes and helicarriers exploding. I also like the fact that he draws good-looking heroes and villains; the good guys look heroic and the villains have a sneer on their faces. Coipel tells the story clearly and powerfully, so that you can always tell what is going on in the story, something that can get lost in a crossover series.
The other main contributor here is Bendis – this is the culmination of his Avengers stories since the infamous Disassembled storyline destroyed the original Avengers and then turned them into the number one franchise in the Marvel universe, finally bringing back the big three (Captain America, Thor and Iron Man) to the same team after Civil War and Secret Invasion and Dark Reign. This is effectively handled – the necessary story beats are all hit and the necessary emotions are involved – but it doesn’t feel as big as it should or perhaps Bendis was aiming for; I sometimes get the impression that Bendis understands story and drama well, and he speaks a good story and what his comics will be about, but it doesn’t always continue through to the actual comics he produces. For example, the fact that Iron Man can switch off Osborn’s armour so easily makes you wonder why that didn’t happen earlier? It’s enough to make you think they ignored it so they could do a year-long storyline where Osborn was in charge … I’m probably being cynical – this is functional and fun mainstream superheroics (which don’t overstay their welcome at four issues), but it could have been a little more special.