Sunday, May 02, 2010

Longbox Special: Under Siege

It does seem like forever since I last posted something here, don’t it?  It’s been a busy few weeks and things had been a bit quiet on the Siege front, which seems to have changed for this week.  Also, there was the Pittsburgh ComiCon last weekend and I’ve been busy with federal job testing and buying a new car.  I completely spaced on the God Of War III/Clash Of The Titans reviews that didn’t get much further than a sentence, something I’d like to remedy here in the next few days.  Anyway, without any further ado, here is this week’s
This time around I’ll be looking at six, that’s right six, books covering pre-siege, siege, and post-siege stories.  One book wraps itself up, another gets ready for its last issue, while another is set to have its status quo shaken up... again.  First, let’s tackle the one shots.
Siege: Spider-Man #1 is a brawl book that takes place during the siege before Sentry knocks Asgard out of the sky.  The action focuses around Spider-Man musing about his place in the Avengers while taking down Venom on the streets of Broxton.  Also, Ms. Marvel of the Carol Danvers variety shows up to lend a hand.  Oh, and of course a secret is revealed.
For the past few months, Mac Gargan has been posing as Spider-Man on Osborn’s team of Avengers and Peter Parker has been wanting to have a crack at him.  He gets his chance as the two engage in Asgard only to have their fight make its way out of the Norse city and into the human one.  Ms. Marvel shows up to lend  hand by pulling Mac out of the symbiote and winding up an inadvertent host.
In typical good-guy-absorbed-by-bad-guy tradition, Spider-Man must now try to smack the holy hell out of Venom while trying not to do any damage to Marvel.  And of course, a way is found to free her only to have Mac Gargan become Venom again to continue the fight.  Spider-Man and Ms. Marvel are able to send Venom flying back to Asgard to continue the fight away from civilians.
While it’s a pretty straight up action piece, the best parts of this book are the humor.  Brian Reed delivers great dialogue and pulls from some Dark Reign material without making the story dependent  on having full knowledge of what Venom has been up to.  Also, he opens up Spider-Man’s doubts as he questions what a street level hero like him is doing in a situation like this.  Ms. Marvel lets him know that she appreciates him on the team and that it’s entirely possible she has a super hero crush on him.  Great.
Siege: Secret Warriors #1 puts its focus mostly on Phobos and how he reacts to the death of his father, Ares.  We also get to see Nick Fury let Osborn know that is minutes are numbered as he and the Steve Rogers Captain America prep their counteroffensive.
Following news reports of the death of Ares at the hands of Sentry, Phobos moves to carry out what could be considered his father’s last wishes should he ever be killed.  These wishes carry the young god of fear to the White House where he cuts through a seemingly endless supply of Secret Service officers in an attempt to get to the president.  A target he ultimately doesn’t reach but leaves a clear message for.  Meanwhile in Asgard, there is some flavor bits as Nick gets chummy with Cap in the middle of a fight.
Jonathan Hickman delivers the kind of dialogue that makes his stuff a joy to read.  His characterizations are pretty spot on and while he doesn’t get to draw on history too much, his love of it does pop in here and there.  I’m hoping some of this stuff carries over into the regular Secret Warriors title.
Thunderbolts #143 brings a conclusion to this book’s involvement with the event to a close and sets it up for what’s going to be coming after Siege.  The issue picks up with Iron Man taking down Norman Osborn and Osborn’s attempt to get the Spear of Odin to hopefully win the day.  Turns in the loyalties of team members are made and the Mighty Avengers continue in their attempt to stop the Thunderbolts.
Scourge, leader of the Thunderbolts, has possession of the Spear of Odin and is ready to deliver it to Norman in a last ditch effort to turn the battle.  However, it seems that Paladin has had a change of loyalty in an extreme, shoot you in the face, sort of fashion.  He pits himself and Ant Man against the remaining loyal Thunderbolts.  Also, the Mighty Avengers are there to add more to the mix and ultimately provide the conclusion to the fight when Quicksilver shows up and reminds us just how badass he can be.  In the end, the current team, minus Paladin and Ant Man, are taken into custody and those that aren’t are left to move their lives in new directions.  The issue wraps up with the book pointing itself in a new direction as well as Luke Cage is shown preparing to take the helm of the Thunderbolts.
While the first part of these tie-ins was weak, the last two issues really pulled things up.  It became less about the mission for the spear and more about the characters setting their own directions.  Even though I’m still not so familiar with the characters, I found them to be humanized pretty well.  Hopefully the book will carry on in a strong way with its new direction.
New Avengers #64 is another side piece that offers insight into the events in the main book.  This time, Bendis focuses on The Hood and where he’s headed in the aftermath of the event.
The issue starts with a flashback to Avengers Tower and a meeting between Osborn and Parker.  Osborn is interested in how Loki assisted Parker with the Norn stones.  It’s the kind of back-room dealing that cost Osborn his initial cabal, but that he sees as a way of maintaining control of the situation.  Things move back to the siege itself and Parker’s loss of power as Loki takes the stones back to power the heroes in their effort against Void.  This leaves The Hood and Madame Masque in need to get as far away as possible.  The fate of Mockingbird is also resolved as the fight shifts after the fall of Asgard.
This issue felt a bit like a hodge-podge of background material and last minute resolutions.  I have to wonder at just how Bendis is going to wrap up this title next month.  Maybe I’ll tackle that one even though it’s not a Siege tie-in.
Thor #609 continues to follow the Asgardians as opposed to the titular character, which doesn’t really harm the book much.  I’m just glad that they left the Ragnarok character behind for now.
The issue opens with Kelda prepared to turn herself over to H.A.M.M.E.R until Asgard falls from the sky at which time the agents open fire on her.  In Asgard, the troops begin to rally as Tyr is shown to be very much alive and Loki does his thing in an attempt to save his own hide.  Back in Broxton, Bill’s family acts to protect Kelda by putting themselves in the line of fire.  Kelda acts to protect them all and Volstagg cleans up the troops that decided to make a run for it before heading off to Asgard himself to deliver justice.  Balder and Loki have words and Loki is exiled from Asgard.
This was another book that was sort of all over the place but not in a bad way.  It’s been progressing the three stories of Volstagg, Kelda, and the Asgardians fairly well in during the tie-in without becoming too lost.  I’m just glad that the book’s role is done and can hopefully get back to focusing on Thor.
Mighty Avengers #36 sees an end to the book and the current storyline, which is still somewhat confusing as to what it has to do with the event book.  It’s Pym vs. Ultron Pym and his army of brides.  There are flashes to the Mighty Avengers and what’s going on in Asgard but it’s mostly material transplanted from Thunderbolts #143.
Hank explains to Ace and One-Eyed Jacquie (agents of G.R.A.M.P.A) that the infinite mansion was constructed as a harness to maintain Jan’s form in Underspace and the Jocasta bodies were used to maintain her brain functions.  This doesn’t sit well with Jocasta but the conflict with Ultron, now calling himself Ultron Pym, takes priority.  Okay, things really start to break down as the whole situation is dealt with by Jocasta marrying Ultron and Hank using a ploy from an issue back to fool Ultron.
This book lost me at that point and the rest of it just seemed like a tacked on ending that felt uncomfortable.  I can’t say this is the best way for a book to end but at least it’s over.  I still can’t see why they bothered to include this title in the tie-in other than for the last few pages where the Mighty Avengers finally come back together in the eleventh hour of the conflict.  I’m just glad the book is over.
And that’s it for this week!  That was more tiring than I thought it would be.  There’s only five more books in the Siege Checklist so soon I’ll be done with this and might be able to get back to talking about other stuff.  Till the next...

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