Written by Brian Michael Bendis
Art by Oliver Coipel and Mark Morales
Coloring by Laura Martin
Lettering by Chris Eliopoulos
Published by Marvel Comics
Review by David Pepose
For just over a year, Norman Osborn and his Dark Reign have held sway over the Marvel Universe. Since then, the pressure between hero and villain has increased dramatically, affecting Iron Man, Captain America, and rest of the Avengers -- and in Siege #1, it all comes to a head. With battle lines drawn, H.A.M.M.E.R. meets Mjolnir, and the Dark Avengers are looking to kick some serious Asgardians for all the marbles in Midgard. But is it any good?
Comparing Siege with Marvel's previous crossovers is an interesting exercise. To me, Siege, at least in the first issue, is far and away more compelling than its predecessor, Secret Invasion, due at least in part to the tremendously polished art crew. Penciler Oliver Coipel is a widescreen artist with a great sense of motion as well as a unique quality that really pairs him up well with Bendis -- it seems that the more panels Coipel has to work with, the smoother and more effective the read. Of course, when you give him action, Coipel just knocks it out of the park -- the Dark Avengers, despite being a largely street-level team, really have a menacing feel, whether it's them riding into battle on jetplanes and Goblin gliders, or closing in on Ares' face when someone unwisely brings up his father...
Of course, Coipel isn't riding alone into this battlefield, and he has some of the best artistic collaborators in the business: his former Thor collaborators, inker Mark Morales and colorist Laura Martin. Morales gives Coipel a nice fluidity and weight to his pencils, occasionally reminding me of a scratchier, less shadowy version of New Avengers art team Stuart Immonen and Wade von Grawbadger. Martin, meanwhile, is an unsung heroine for pumping up Coipel's work -- as compared to the more subdued hues of Frank D'Armata in House of M, Martin really invites you to drink in the rich colors of Asgard, giving each page such a strong energy.
In terms of the writing, there are those who might argue that the introduction of Brian Michael Bendis' story -- a preview that Marvel has heavily promoted in many of its other books -- could be considered a direct repetition of Civil War. In certain ways, they're not wrong, and in the story, it's referenced that way intentionally. But unlike Civil War -- which focused on the brooding atmosphere and political allegories -- this is high-octane action all the way, and it's a surprisingly refreshing way for Bendis and Coipel to get you hooked into the story. It's also an interesting way to see growth in both creators here -- just over four years ago, the first issue of House of M was largely actionless, with the sheer number of panels feeling very stifling. That's certainly not the case here -- Siege moves fast, bringing the tension of the last year to its inevitable breaking point.
Despite me finding this to be a more compelling book than some of the last crossovers Marvel has put out, Siege #1 isn't a perfect read. There will certainly be those who find the plot a little predictable or light. Meanwhile, while I found Bendis' attempts to reinforce the internal logic of the story -- something I think hobbled Secret Invasion -- a step in the right direction, I would also argue that these conversation scenes lasted a little too long, at the expense of the action sequence at the end of the issue, the last pages of which could have used some breathing room to let Coipel really cut loose. Despite the shakiness of the last couple pages, I would say this: While it's lacking the thematic weight of Mark Millar's Civil War, in terms of pacing and above all action, this is certainly my favorite Bendis-penned megaevent yet. When it comes to a popcorn actioner like Siege, what you see is certainly what you get -- but when it looks this good, how much is there to complain about?