Sunday, March 28, 2010

Longbox Special: Under Siege

So here we go again with another big week for Marvel’s latest big event book.  This time around feels almost like a repeat of the last time they put out five books in a week.  Two of them are fairly lackluster, two are decent entries, and the fifth book makes me wonder why it was included at all.  Anyway, let’s have at it...

Might Avengers #35 is the book that made me scratch my head and wonder at why it’s being included as a Siege tie-in book this week.  The main focus of the book is on Pym and the return, once again, of Ultron.  The book skirts along side Siege but never gets itself directly involved.  There’s a call to arms from Steve Rogers, Vision and the other Mighty Avengers have taken off to assist, and Jarvis is shown leaving with the mystery case, which was delivered to Tony Stark during last week’s entry into the main event book.
Otherwise, this book features Hank, Jocasta, and a couple members of G.R.A.M.P.A as they are attacked by an army of Ultron controlled Jocasta bodies.  It’s all build up to a reveal that Pym built his Infinite Avengers Mansion on the body of The Wasp who it turns out is the sole inhabitant of Underspace, the opposite of Overspace, the realm where Eternity resides.
The book itself is fine for a Mighty Avengers story but I haven’t been following them for some time now.  Supposedly the next issue is a Siege tie-in as well, but if it’s anything like this issue I have to wonder at why this book is being included.  It forwards little to nothing of the main event story and serves mainly as a revelation to the fate of The Wasp.
Thunderbolts #142 is the book that Mighty Avengers #35 should have been.  However, like the last installment of this book, there’s just not anything going on that I really find myself caring about.  The action picks up where the last issue left off with the Mighty Avengers, sans Pym and Jocasta, fighting with the Thunderbolts who have been tasked with retrieving the Spear of Odin.
There is, of course, a lot of hitting and shooting and what not, all leading up to the eventual retrieval and fight for the spear.  There’s some indication that not all members of the Thunderbolts are behind Osborn and would rather see him not come into possession of such a devastating weapon.  Things get complicated when Asgard comes falling from the sky and the spear is lost in the rubble only to be recovered by an Osborn loyalist on the team.
I’ll admit that this issue wasn’t as bad as last but then again there was a lot more action and not so much talking going on.  Still, there was really nice development with the Thunderbolts just in the reveals of certain characters and their loyalties.  All the same, I could have spent my time better elsewhere.
Thor #608 wasn’t really that better elsewhere but it certainly picked things up a bit from last issue.  A prophecy made last issue comes to pass and puts one of the Asgardians on the spot.  Braxton is a battlefield for another pair of warriors, and Kelda visits with Bill’s family to break the bad news to them.
Tyr leads the Asgardians from the back lines terrified of a prophecy pertaining to the death of the god of war.  Upon seeing the corpse of Ares, he faces his own cowardice only to engage with The Hood who is now wielding the Norn Stones.  Volstagg and Ragnarok battle in the streets of Broxton until Volstagg retreats, the memory of Soldier Field still fresh in his mind.  This battle concludes itself in the shadow of Asgard.  All the while, Kelda has made her way into town to face the parents of Bill who take his death understandably hard and would rather have nothing to do with Kelda at the moment.  H.A.M.M.E.R forces show up to take Kelda into custody, a request she seems willing to see through.
Of course this issue wraps itself up with the fall of Asgard, something most of the books address this week.  It’s unclear if the floating city dropping on Ragnarok has taken him out of the fight or not.  This is another issue that is a vast improvement on the last but that’s not saying too much considering how weak that one felt.  Considering how key Thor is to what is happening, it’s surprising how distant this book feels from the heart of things.
Avengers: The Initiative # 34 splits its focus right down the middle of the book, starting up where the last issue left off.  First off, the Avengers Resistance is busy trying to take down Camp H.A.M.M.E.R.  Then, The Hood and most of his lackeys are called to Asgard, taking them out of one fight and into another.
Things look bleak for the team attempting to take down Osborn’s training facility, which is being overseen by a significantly powered-up Hood and his equally powered up thugs.  It’s in the eleventh hour that Penance makes his move and joins the fight, seemingly evening the odds.  This is all just in time for The Hood and company to be called by Osborn for back-up.  The book follows them to Asgard as they join the fight we see in the main book.  Constrictor and Diamondback suffer a bit of miscommunication as Asgard is brought down before she can reveal her affections for him.
Again, the fall of Asgard is the coup de grace for the events of a tie-in book but it’s an effective plot point to help tie in the events from one book to the next.  This time around, it looks like they’re pulling focus away from Taskmaster and spreading it out.  It makes me wonder if this is the beginning of the transition towards the end of this title.
Finally we have New Avengers #63 where two relationships are explored and, of course, Asgard goes boom.  Bendis is still using this book to explore more of the interiors of characters as opposed to focusing on the events of the event book.
This time around we get a look at the couples on the team, first up is Luke Cage and Jessica Jones.  They talk about being superheroes and parents, how those two things need to be prioritized in their lives for the sake of their kid.  Next is Clint and Bobbi’s relationship, which has seen its fair share of strain since her return after the Skrull invasion.  Her and Clint spend some time doing some old school hero stuff taking down a B-List villain and talking about the future.  Both of these stories are juxtaposed against the team’s attack on Osborn and his forces that are moving against Asgard.  With the city taken down, there are of course questions as to the fate’s of some of these characters.
New Avengers has managed to be a fine side book to the Siege event and plays itself very well as not being key to the events and more key to the characters.
Okay, there we have it, another week and another five books down.  Soon we’ll be moving into April and with it, the end of Siege.  I’m not sure how much I’ll miss writing these weekly bits up since I always seem to find myself at a loss in the how to address things.  Mind you, Second Coming is starting up this next week in the X-Books and I do like me some mutant story events.


Matthew Olcese said...

I've liked the Siege main book, but the side books I've been reading (New Avengers and Dark Avengers) have left me cold. I'll be happy when the event is over and I can drop all Bendis-written books I've been reading at a nice closing point.

Anonymous said...

Indeed, the Siege series is most worthy of praise. One can only pray that Bendis is not bombarded with excessive criticism. It really is unreasonable...