Siege #4

“House of M.” “Secret Invasion.” “Siege.” Three Marvel event series written by Brian Michael Bendis, three Marvel event series that ended weakly. After the first two events, many doubted that Bendis could end “Siege” in a satisfying and meaningful way and, so far, his writing on the series was strong enough that it suggested that he would silence those critics. However, the final issue of “Siege,” while not a failure by any right, isn’t the strong ending that the series or the recent tenor of the Marvel universe needed as it heads into “The Heroic Age.”

The third issue ended with Norman Osborn unleashing the Sentry/Void to do as he wishes with everyone in the ruins of Asgard. Finally, the ‘hero’ with a power of a million suns shows his true colors and it looks like everyone is doomed since, as we’ve seen before, the Sentry can’t be killed. Immediately, the tide turns a little when Loki uses the Norn Stones to power up the heroes in a twist that no one saw coming, because it doesn’t make much sense. The entire Siege of Asgard was engineered by Loki in an effort to both embrace his true nature and break free of it; his change of character here doesn’t ring true at all. Maybe it’s just part of a larger game plan of his, but it gets the issue off to a somewhat baffling start.

From there, the downfall of the Sentry is accomplished with an equal amount of confusion, never providing a solid reason for his defeat aside from an allusion to the finale of “Secret Invasion” and the death of an Avenger there. The battle never seems believable as the Sentry is too powerful and isn’t brought down by anything special. The entire fight comes off as mechanical, a necessary endpoint to set-up the last seven pages of the comic, which acts as a conclusion to Norman Osborn’s “Dark Reign.”

The best thing about this issue is the art. Throughout the series, Olivier Coipel, Mark Morales, and Laura Martin have done fantastic work, this issue no exception. They make the fight scene between the Sentry and the heroes look bigger and more impressive than it is. The Sentry looks frightening, like a mad demon god, almost unstoppable and inhuman. The initial onslaught of the heroes against the Sentry is impressive and executed strongly visually. Martin’s colors in particular add a lot to the art, making a good use of effects and broader, blanket colors to give a feel of classic superhero art with a contemporary feel. She uses a lot of bright, primary colors to reinforce the idea of the heroes reclaiming the Marvel universe.

There are some issues with panel-to-panel storytelling as the issue jumps around so much that it’s not always easy to tell where characters are in relation to one another. But, Coipel’s compositions and line work are always interesting and used to communicate what’s happening in direct and easy-to-read a fashion as possible. That he does that while producing gorgeous pages is astonishing.

In the end, Bendis attempts to provide some necessary closure on numerous plots and subplots since “Civil War,” while also laying the foundation for “The Heroic Age.” Like previous events, though, the end of the issue is only partly a conclusion, acting more as a set-up for what comes next. One of the biggest problems with previous events was that they never ended, they only offered yet another ‘to be continued…’ and that’s the case here. Yes, the Marvel universe goes on, but after years of problems, of heroes fighting heroes, Tony Stark in charge of S.H.I.E.L.D., the Hulk taking over New York, the Skrulls invading, and Norman Osborn running H.A.M.M.E.R., this issue needed to be more than a quick wrap-up of the Sentry plot and seven pages of infodump about what happens next to lead into next week’s “Avengers” #1. “Siege” was meant to be the capstone to years of stories, the final payoff, and, instead, it just feels like another story in the never-ending sequence of stories with the real closure happening in “Dark Avengers” #16 and “New Avengers Finale” #1.

Clocking in at an expanded 30 pages of story, “Siege” #4 feels like it needed more pages at the end to really bring the event and the events of the past five years to a stronger conclusion. Bendis provides some nice feel good moments, but nothing firmly final. That’s been his problem with these event books in the past and it continues here, sadly.

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