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Siege #4

Posted: Friday, May 14, 2010
By: Bill Janzen

Brian Michael Bendis
Olivier Coipel
Marvel Comics
This is it, Siege #4, the issue people have been itching to get their hands on and the culmination of a year's worth of Marvel story lines. Many Marvel fans waited with breath held, hoping that writer Brian Michael Bendis would finish this with a final issue as good as the first three were.

This issue is kind of unique for me in that to really express my thoughts on it I feel like I'll have to give some major spoilers. I'll give due warning below before doing that but here's what I can say without spoiling. I can say that I had two very different reactions to this issue. At first, once I read through the issue, I was satisfied with it. It wasn't great, but the art was great, the action had an epic feel, and at least it had an actual conclusion rather than forfeiting a real conclusion for a lead in like most of Marvel's "event" stories have done in recent years. Nothing is more of a letdown then expecting a conclusion and realizing that all they've really done is set you up for whatever they want to sell you next instead. So, at first, I thought it was okay. Some of it just didn't sit right, and I'll get more into that below, but it was okay. But then I actually sat and thought about the issue. And when you actually think about the issue, instead of just letting the art and grandeur suck you in, it all falls apart completely and quickly.

Alright, here's your spoiler warning. SPOILERS!!!

So, as I said, it seems good until you actually think it through. Yes, it's a conclusion, in that the Void/Sentry is the big threat and in the end he is killed (an ending that nearly every comic fan saw coming months ago). But the problem is that everything is contradicted by what they've revealed about the Sentry in issues of the Dark Avengers over the past few months. For example, the Sentry has come back from the dead multiple times. He's been disintegrated by magic and by molecular manipulation, and both times came back from the dead. So why in the heck doesn't he just pop back up from death when he's killed in this issue? What, getting hit by lightning is somehow more lethal to the Void/Sentry than getting ripped apart molecule by molecule? Ridiculous. Not to mention, why the heck does the lightning even hurt the Void in the first place? No clear reason is given and it darn well should be since the Void had already taken multiple attacks from Thor previously and wasn't even slightly hurt by them. So why is this one lethal? On top of that, they get rid of the body by throwing it into the Sun as if that's somehow final. Just a few issues ago in Dark Avengers the Sentry tried to fly into the Sun himself to commit suicide but it had virtually no effect at all! Even the Sentry couldn't figure out how to kill the Sentry!

What makes this all much much worse it that it is Bendis himself who wrote the Dark Avengers and these Siege issues. So it's not a matter of continuity getting trashed because of confusion between writers--this is one writer who isn't bothering to keep track of what he's doing with one of his own primary characters! Or at least he's not bothering to actually explain any of it outside of his head and on the comic pages. Even if Sentry's death did make any sense (and it doesn't even come close) there's still tons of other things Bendis wrote about the character that he doesn't give any conclusion to at all. Such as, why did he make a bunch of vague insinuations that Void was God's angel of death? Besides completely mucking up Sentry's origin and making a confusing mess of the story line, what did that accomplish since Bendis doesn't bother explaining it at all here? It's almost as if the last half dozen issues of Bendis' own writing in Dark Avengers was a deliberate attempt to hijack his own conclusion in Siege, because without those issues this conclusion would have been basically fine. Instead we're left with a bunch of unexplained, hanging plot threads and with contradictions between Bendis' own writings on a character.

The lack of explanation of Sentry's new powers shown in Dark Avengers is ridiculous. It's as if in an issue of Spider-Man suddenly he started flying, but then in a key moment the following issue when flying could save his life the story is written as if he never had the ability to do it and no explanation as to how or why he could do it was ever given.

All of that is not even yet getting into how Bendis has taken a character that was noble and heroic at his foundation and sucked out all nobility. He makes the character pathetic at best and completely villainous at worst.

Overall, this issue, like 90% of what Bendis has done with Sentry in the past two years, is tremendously disappointing. I recently reread the original Sentry mini-series and once could only conclude that it was brilliant. The Sentry is a character that had an ingenious beginning and incredible potential, but he has been dragged through the mud, taken in terrible creative directions, and now finally not even given a decent ending. At this point even I, a major Sentry fan, am glad they've killed him off so that at least they (and at this point by "they" I primarily mean Bendis) will stop ruining what started off with such promise.

I'd like to say good things about this issue. I can say that the art by Coipel is fantastic, but without some good writing to work with that can only do so much. I can also say that there was at least one twist, involving Loki, that I did not see coming and which was a pretty thrilling turn of events.

I've already spoken with a number of Sentry haters who loved the issue just because he dies in it, but all I can say is if you use your intellect at all when you're reading a comic book, if you have any critical reading skills, this issue isn't for you. If you can shut your mind off completely and just sit back and take in the spectacle, or if you can completely ignore continuity outside of this mini-series in its entirety, then pick this issue up and enjoy. Unfortunately, I can't do either.

When they inevitably resurrect the Sentry the writer who does it had better read that original mini over and then reread it to make sure they actually get it right next time.



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