At this point, there should be no doubt that Brian Bendis knows how to handle himself with the opening issues of “event” books. From House of M, through last summer’s Secret Invasion, Bendis has shown he knows how to get the ball rolling. The problem is what happens afterwards – traditionally 5 or 6 issues of people talking and prepating and arriving for fights before anything actually happens. Hopefully, with Siege squashed into a mere 4 issues, Bendis will be forced to curtail his decompression a little.
Still, that leaves us with this to consider. Siege #1. The first issue of a plot that, by this point, we’re all plenty familiar with. Osborn and Loki conspire to get the latter in control of Asgard, bringing about the re-assemblage of The Real Avengers and the downfall of Normal Osborn. If anything, it feels almost TOO famliar.
The familiarity isn’t helped by the events of the issue. Bendis openly riffs on the flashpoint of Civil War, as Osborn and Loki con Volstagg into a public confrontation – but acknowledging in-story that you’re copying previous events doesn’t prevent the sense of deja vu from permeating the story. More so the final page – merely the latest instalment in a series of final pages featuring a “shock” splash of Steve Rogers that have been turning up since, ooh, last November?
In short – there are no surprises in this issue. But happily, that’s the only really big criticism that can be levelled against it. If you’ve somehow managed to avoid the onslaught of promotional material, the issue establishes its story rather definitively, with no additional reading required. The banter between Osborn and his Dark Avengers is Bendis’ at his naturalistic best (although the transcript bonus material – misprint aside – is less so). Ares, in particular, gets some decent moments, with Bendis’ enthusiasm reminding us that it was he who brought the character into the Avengers’ fold in the first place.
Although it’s an enjoyable read some smaller concerns do creep in around the edges – is Volstagg really that easily tricked? and what the hell is Maria Hill wearing? But in general, Siege #1 is confident and assured, and ultimately only a little bit uninteresting for it.