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Siege: Embedded #1

Posted: Tuesday, January 5, 2010
By: Dave Wallace

Brian Reed
Chris Samnee (p & i), Matthew Wilson (colours)
Marvel Comics
Editor's Note: Siege: Embedded #1 arrives in stores tomorrow, January 6.

Siege: Embedded is a companion series to the main Siege comic in the same way that the Civil War, World War Hulk and Secret Invasion "Frontline" series complemented those events. Like those previous books, a lot of Embedded's success rests on the strength of the core series--and since I wasn't a huge fan of this week's Siege #1 (due to its derivative sensibilities and illogical plotting), the book automatically has the cards stacked against it. Unfortunately, writer Brian Reed doesn't help matters, with some implausible plotting of his own that further detracts from the credibility of his story, and a general lack of excitement or interest throughout the issue.

Embedded's premise revolves around Ben Urich writing Frontline articles as an embedded journalist, from within the besieged Asgard. However, we don't see any of that in this issue: instead, it's all setup, as Reed introduces a right-wing political pundit who is recruited by Norman Osborn for vaguely sinister purposes, and we see Urich freed from police custody by a fellow journalist (who manages to confound the cops by asking for access to Ben for interview purposes; which they of course happily grant, only to apparently wander off so that Urich can simply walk away from their car). That's followed by an interlude with Volstagg that again doesn't make a huge amount of sense, but which allows the plot to move forwards towards the issue's ending, which sets up the premise of the rest of the series.

Whilst this might have been all well and good for a subplot in the main Siege series, there's just not enough here to make for an interesting story in its own right. Furthermore, Reed has to force implausible situations (like Urich's escape from police custody) into the story to get the characters to where they need to be, and even contradicts the timeline of Siege #1 in places (the Dark Avengers are shown mobilising from Avengers Tower to Asgard in that issue, whereas here they apparently have time to help out at the Oklahoma disaster site on the way). Finally, the relentlessly cynical and downbeat tone of the story--which is even explicitly acknowledged within the issue itself--feels like overkill, especially after having suffered through a year of Osborn's "Dark Reign", leaving the book's occasional lighter moments (such as the newsroom flashback) as the only scenes that are actually enjoyable to read.

Chris Samnee's visuals are perfectly serviceable: it might not be the most memorable artwork you've ever seen, but it's clear and consistent stuff, with a grounded style that was for me a little reminiscent of John Paul Leon's work. Sadly, though, it's nothing particularly special, and so can't redeem the weaknesses of this story.

Perhaps things will pick up once we get to the meat of Brian Reed's story: I always enjoy seeing big Marvel Universe events depicted from a more grounded perspective, and it may be that Reed has a lot more to offer than this clunky setup hints at. However, for many readers, one issue is all they need to decide whether to continue reading a book or not, and at $3.99 I can't foresee many people sticking around for the second part of this story.







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