In any prolonged war, there are some battles looked at as the culmination and then final arc of the conflict; both in real life such as the Battle of the Bulge and even in classic fiction such as Final Battle in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. And in landscape of the modern Marvel Universe, the quiet battle between the forces of Norman Osborn, H.A.M.M.E.R. and his Cabal versus the remaining heroes.
In the upcoming Marvel miniseries Siege, writer Brian Bendis is writing what he calls the “final act” of the Dark Reign era of the Marvel U as Norman Osborn sets his sights on Asgard and its conquest. Spurred by the events of Dark Reign: The List, Osborn is going after Thor’s homeland with all his combined forces behind him. But how does Loki figure in? With the inner strife between the members of the Cabal beginning to bubble to the surface, who’s side is Loki on?
And what of Thor? He’s currently banished from the kingdom of Asgard thanks to the secret machinations of Loki, and he’s not yet on the best terms with his peers in the Avengers. But Bendis has promised that the core trinity of the classic Avengers – Thor, Iron Man and Captain America – will reunite in the pages of Siege. With all the strife those three have accumulated in recent years during Civil War, World War Hulk and Secret Invasion, that’s another conflict readers are dying to see a resolution too.
Joining Bendis to work on this four-issue miniseries is artist Oliver Coipel. Coipel, fresh off an award-winning run on Thor, is also a former collaborator with Bendis on the best-selling House of M series as well as some work on New Avengers. But now, Coipel is taking Thor and Asgard into the wider Marvel U with Bendis at the wheel. For more, we talked with Brian by phone.
Newsarama: What can you tell us about Siege, Brian?
Brian Michael Bendis: Well, it's two things at once. For one, it's the shocking finale of the Dark Reign that poured all over the Marvel universe this year. At the same time, it's the opening of a very very large brand new chapter, particularly for the Avengers franchise – but also for things going forward in the Marvel U next year.
It's a tight four-issue miniseries, not eight or ten; four issues that sets up and delivers what I think will be a huge payoff for people picking it up. And for people waiting for an event to reunite the classic Avengers all on the same side, this is it. That hasn't happened since I've been on the book – and even further back, to a decade I think.
Nrama: When we first heard about this, Thor and Asgard came to mind. Are they a part of it?
Bendis: Asgard is part of it; Thor is a big part of it, and so is Iron Man, Captain America, the New Avengers, the Mighty Avengers, the Dark Avengers, the Secret Warriors and more. Maria Hill makes a giant comeback in this too.
Asgard is a foundation for what they're all fighting over – the whys and whats happening to it and who's really response are things that'll be revealed in the miniseries.
Nrama: For awhile, Thor and Asgard have been cordoned off from the larger Marvel U for the most part, but over the past year Loki’s turned up in the Cabal. How do you think Thor and that fits in with the wide world of Marvel, and what makes him so important to Marvel as a whole?
Bendis: Well, in the biggest sense Asgard has been a key part of Marvel, and the Avengers, for a long time. The threat of Loki is what brought the Avengers together in the first place – probably Loki's biggest boner move on Midgard.
Bendis: Second, the idea that Asgard is now on earth means something is wrong with the nine worlds.
Nrama: You're talking about the Nine Worlds, the realm of which Asgard existed in up until Asgard's move to Oklahoma in Thor #1.
Bendis: Right. Asgard shouldn't be on Earth – or Midgard, as Asgardians call it.
From Norman Osborn's point-of-view now as head of H.A.M.M.E.R., it's a massive threat. Consider the situation – all of the sudden another country is laying on top of the United States. That can't be seen as a good thing by anybody on the outside, but more a hostile move. Norman's thoughts are that this is a legitimate threat and could easily be seen that way by others. Loki also agrees this is wrong, and not the way Asgard should be.
But for the heroes, it is what it is. There isn't a person in the Marvel U that Thor hasn't chipped in to help out once, so they're on his side.
Nrama: You mentioned earlier a possible reunion of the classic Avengers, and foremost in that is the unofficial trinity of top tier heroes: Captain America, Iron Man and Thor. On the record now, will you confirm they're teaming up once more in Siege?
Bendis: They're all three in the book. Will they get over themselves and their previous disagreements to get on the same page and reunite? The answer to that is the price of admission – the price of the comic. There's a lot going on with these characters – that's not an easy sell, considering they've been beating the shit out of each other in recent years. Most of them have died and come back to life since their last team-up. Do they feel the same way they did two years ago? Wait and see.
Nrama: As you said, it's been awhile since the three have teamed up. You've been writing Avengers for years and never had the chance to do it – yet. How long has this been in the works?
Bendis: We've been aiming towards this for some time. Siege is part of a larger arc that includes Secret Invasion and Secret War before that.
Here's what I'll promise – coming out of Siege, there will be a big change to the Avengers' books line-ups and rosters; as big as it was after Avengers: Disassembled. I promise at the end of this event, this miniseries will change the entire Avengers franchise. And it's not something we have to do.
Nrama: How do you mean?
Bendis: Usually, big shifts like this are precipitated by a change in creators or lagging sales or something, but not for this. This status quo change isn't something we have to do – but it's something we want to do.
Nrama: Digging deeper into the origins of this, how far back were the ideas that developed into Siege start popping up and being discussed?
Bendis: Well, my initial pitch of Secret Invasion and its' effects on the Marvel U was the idea that with Norman in charge, everyone gets to be Peter Parker. None of the other writers were forced to be a part of it, but people jumped onto it. Seeing that I realized how potent the idea was. In the initial pitch for Secret Invasion when the Cabal assembled (then called the Illumi-naughty), everyone at the table puts forward one big thing they want out of this. In there, you get Doom's desire to control Latveria, and the Hood wants his gang, and Loki wants Asgard.
Asgard's the big get – the hardest on the wish list to acquire. How does a mortal like Norman Osborn wrap his head around getting ahold of the god realm of Asgard. That was the original finale of Secret Invasion, but we decided to hold back to make it mean more.
Nrama: Will the tie-in issues be as widespread as Secret Invasion?
Bendis: That's the good news for people – readers, your voices have been heard. We're keeping a tight lid on the tie-ins to Siege, and really pulling it together to be a tightly connected series of events relating to the core Siege miniseries. So we're only doing a handful of tie-ins as opposed to getting a little out of control, which both Marvel and DC have done from time to time.
Everything's being kept pretty tight – you can buy what you want to buy, and the tie-ins provide different angles based on events in Siege. I'll be writing both New Avengers and Dark Avengers and handling that while Siege goes on.
Nrama: For some of the previous big miniseries, Marvel has put out a prologue or preview to get things started. Are you doing this for Siege?
Bendis: Yes! There will be a eight page free prologue posted on Marvel.com, which will be drawn by Lucio Parrillo. He's an amazing painter, and one of Gabriel Dell'otto's protégés. It's going to come out on December 29th on Marvel.com.
Also in December, we'll have the Siege: The Cabal which will be drawn by Michael Lark.
Nrama: Wrapping things up, we can't go without asking about your collaborator in this. For this, you're reteaming with your House of M collaborator Olivier Coipel. After House of M he went straight to beign the artist who redefined Thor and Asgard in the pages of the newly-launched Thor series with writer J. Michael Straczynski. What made him the go-to guy for this?
Bendis: It was a no-brainer to me. I had a blast working with him on House of M – I think it was one of the great things we've ever accomplished. I don't look back at my previous work too often, but when Olivier signed up for Siege I went back to look at House of M and it was so much better than I remembered. I remembering being in love with Olivier's pages as they came in, and I also remembered that we really got into the groove once House of M started rolling. We've worked on a few things since this, like an issue of New Avengers, and we've been talking about doing something major again and this is it. For awhile, Thor was taking up all of his time but when Siege came up, he was on top of my list. It came to me when I was thinking which artist had more influence on both Thor and the Avengers together, and it's him. He's perfect, so we hit the ground running.
And he's not coming in alone. Long-time inker Mark Morales is on-board, as well as newly exclusive Marvel colorist Laura Martin – who's been coloring Secret Invasion and Thor. It's real A-List super team.RELATED STORIES: POLL: Reaction To Marvel's SIEGE? Right To Assemble: The Power Trio