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Siege #3

Posted: Tuesday, March 16, 2010
By: Matthew J. Brady

Brian Michael Bendis
Olivier Coipel
Marvel Comics
Editor's Note: Siege #3 arrives in stores tomorrow, March 17.

Event comics can be a tricky thing, destined to fail to meet the expectations which have been built up by months of preliminary storylines, yet still quite popular, or at least high-selling, if only because readers of modern superhero comics feel they have to read them to keep up with whatever is going on in all the other comics. This particular event, which supposedly puts a cap on nearly a decade of ongoing shared-universe storytelling, has some heavy lifting to do to fill the role into which it has been forced, but due to a perceived backlash against such events, Marvel has apparently decided to scale it back, which has resulted in an odd sort of "highlights only" story that probably won't be satisfactory to anyone. It's a strange choice, especially as a way to end the drawn-out "Dark Reign" story which has stretched out for the last year.

Writer Brian Michael Bendis has received a multitude of complaints that he doesn't write large-scale superhero action very well, and he's certainly not going to deter any of those feelings here. His strengths are in character and dialogue, elements which are nearly absent here. In fact, everything aside from the bare outline of a story is absent, leaving page after page of heroes and villains posing and spitting out bits of dialogue, interspersed with scenes of the U.S. President (shadowed to obscure his all-too-obvious identity) reacting to the events and making ineffectual orders. It's almost like a parody of a Bendis comic; there are two different splashes of groups of characters charging into battle, although the actual fighting wraps up a few pages later, rendering the whole affair to little more than posturing.

The one thing that can be said though, is that it is extremely nice-looking posturing. Olivier Coipel renders everything with care, filling pages with uniquely-posed figures and expressions that aren't just the same grimacing face copied over and over. Backgrounds consist almost entirely of smoke and rubble, but that's the setting he has to work with, and he doesn't make it look completely uniform. He does occasionally deliver the confusing layout, including one of those signature double-page Bendis scenes that's hard to follow due to characters overlapping panels left and right. But then he makes up for it with an astonishing bit of action or effective reveal (Norman Osborn's appearance under his armor is especially freaky), and he manages to actually make the Sentry seem like a horrifying villain rather than a whiny yellow doofus.

However this works out, it's probably for the best; if the event had dragged on any longer, it would have seemed like another one of those long affairs with a disappointing payoff. This way, it can finish up and get to the next status quo with a minimum of fuss. Of course, it's really not necessary at all, but if fans have to have this sort of thing, Marvel could do a lot worse. Either way, don't expect me to shell out any money for it.







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