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Monday, February 08, 2010 

Don't let Marvel besiege you with this crossover

The Nashua Telegraph gushes about Marvel's latest time-wasting crossover, Siege, doing little more than pay undeserved lip service:
A lot of comics fans say they have “event fatigue,” meaning they’re tired of sprawling, company-wide story lines.

If so, I hope that doesn’t put them off “Siege,” a sprawling, company-wide story line that began at Marvel Comics in January.
I'm afraid more than enough have been put off, long ago. This very article is enough to put one off too. And if the following tells anything:
January gave us “Siege” No. 1 (of 4), where the primary story takes place, and “Siege: Embedded” No. 1 (of 4), which follows various journalists covering the story. But naturally it’s bleeding over into other titles, especially the four Avengers titles and solo titles of major characters.
So there's two miniseries or more as the hub of this crossover? In that case, there's even less reason to bother: with their comics going up to four dollars now, it means that the customer is expected to buy more than 10-20 dollars worth in just one month. Pure ripoff. And that shows how they're still trying to milk the buyers for what'll become a big nothing in the next decade or so. Which contradicts their claim that they're trying to make it easier on everyone.
Now, I wouldn’t be telling you all this if I didn’t like the story. In the first month alone, we’ve seen a spectacular invasion, sometimes surprising reactions, a vicious attack on the New Avengers, the shocking fall of Thor, a major betrayal and, of course, lots of cool fights.

But my favorite part is the terrific characterization. (This is achieved primarily through dialogue, Bendis’ strongest suit.)
Oh please. Even dialogue is one of Bendis' weakest suits. It was when he did Avengers: Disassembled 6 years ago, and it still is now.
“Avengers: The Initiative” gets into the heads of grade-z characters Taskmaster, Constrictor and Diamondback. Taskmaster is a blue-collar villain, who usually avoids the spotlight. But now he sees the invasion as a chance to be something more – although it will very likely get him killed. Is leaving his mark worth dying for?

Then there’s Diamondback, described derisively as “a gymnast who throws fake diamonds,” but who is a mole for the good guys – which might get her killed. How far does she go?

That problem also confronts Constrictor, who knows his girlfriend is a traitor and also knows he’s in over his head. Does he flip sides? Does he turn her in? Does he run?

Thanks to Bendis, I care about these dead-end characters despite myself.
But I don't, and I'm not sure what they mean by grade-z. That only describes Bendis' very own work on the Earth's Mightiest Heroes.
Then there’s “Embedded,” which contrasts Ben Urich, a principled newsman, and Todd Keller, a Glenn Beck-ish Osborn shill. Urich is accompanied by a former anchorman and recovering alcoholic who is balancing a desire for redemption against self-preservation.
So either the miniseries, or the reporter, or both, are injecting their personal politics with a gratuitous dislike for Beck? Sorry, but that too, falls flat.
“Dark Avengers” is finally telling us not who, but what, The Sentry is – and it isn’t pretty. “New Avengers” spotlights the original Captain America and his successor, plus Spider-Man hitting on Spider-Woman. (Maybe.)
I'm sure I won't want to know how that turns out.
So, yes, “Siege” is a superhero comic-book story with lots of bright costumes, exotic powers, bizarre technology and things blowing up real good. But the psychological explorations, the complexity of the plot, the character arcs and learning curves, the conflict of principle, the romantic complications, the classical allusions and the epic scale all push “Siege” a little higher up the scale, bordering on literature.


Plus, did I mention things blow up real good? “Siege” is superhero comics at its best, and I highly recommend it.
I'm sure even the explosions are nothing great, and border more on implosions.

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Taskmaster is grade-z? The guy that could mimic anyone's fighting style and skills from memory? Always thought he was cool, guess he actually sucks. Thanks for setting me straight, Hashbrown Telegraph.

Coulda sworn Diamondback and the Constrictor used to be in the Serpent Society that Cap used to have so much trouble with back in the day. Guess I imagined that, and they're really grade-z pushovers with no history or relevance in Marvel history. Thanks again, oh comic experts of maple syrup land.

Perhaps they need a Millarized makeover to get good press from this distinguished reporter read by dozens. Taskmaster could be a gay activist, and D-back and Constrictor could become racist, anti-woman Tea Party attendees that Robobucky has to kill in a gruesome manner. Yeah, that's the ticket. Make mine Marvel.


up there is a link to indy planet, where the good the bad, the ugly and the truly truly awful all jostle for attention. All they have in common is this: they are independently owned and sold by their creators. To the extent monthly comics even have a future, you're looking at it. Marvel and DC (the wholly owned subsidiaries of whoever currently owns them) have drowned on their own vomit.

Indies forever. :)

Like I said, DC and Marvel should try and make comics cheaper, and that has nothing to do with the price of books...

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