Eye on Comics

Comics criticism and commentary from Don MacPherson

Planting a Siege of Doubt

Posted by Don MacPherson on January 7th, 2010

Dell'Otto variantCoipel coverSiege #1
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Pencils: Olivier Coipel
Inks: Mark Morales
Colors: Laura Martin
Letters: Chris Eliopoulos
Cover artists: Coipel & Morales/Gabriele Dell’Otto/Joe Quesada & Danny Miki
Editor: Tom Brevoort
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Price: $3.99 US

Though Marvel Comics has been the target of criticism over the past year when it comes to pricing and the value of its products, I think it’ll be this comic book that serves as the point when many readers realize that the publisher is out to pad its bottom line at the expense of its customers’ good will. The first issue of Marvel’s latest event certainly does constitute a siege, but the siege isn’t on Asgard. Instead, it’s a siege on the readers’ wallets. This four-dollar periodical offers little content of substance, and it offers even less value for one’s money. Yes, the artwork is attractive, but that’s all this comic book is: pretty. The events of this are completely miss-able, and that weren’t annoying enough, the plot doesn’t even make all that much sense.

Quesada variant coverNorman Osborn, AKA the Iron Patriot and the director of H.A.M.M.E.R., wants desperately to launch an invasion of Asgard, a city of Norse gods that’s hovering over Braxton, Oklahoma, but he needs something to justify the invasion to the U.S. president. His ally Loki engineers such a motive in the form of an Asgardian god’s reckless behavior in a battle with super-villains, leading Osborn to lead an army of super-villains against the Asgardians. As the gods defend themselves against this surprising attack, other heroes take note of these recent developments and prepare to enter the fray.

Coipel’s artwork is certainly a good fit for this event title, as he’s adept at capturing the immense scope of the superhuman action. Furthermore, this story features Asgard as a vital component of the plot, and Coipel’s recent stint on Thor had him design and convey the new direction for the Asgardians in the Marvel Universe. My favorite aspect of his art in this issue, though, was his take on the U-Foes (not that they’re identified as such). His interpretation of these lesser-known Hulk villains made them seem far more alien and inhuman than what we’ve seen in the past, and I found that choice to add to the threat they posed.

Of course, the strength of Coipel’s work comes as no surprise, since Marvel readers have already seen several of these pages. In Siege: The Cabal, six or so pages of this comic book were offered up as added value, but they’re included in only 23 pages of story and art in this $3.99 US comic book. So for four bucks, Siege are really only getting 17 pages of new story and art. There’s other material at the back of the book, but it’s promotional material, for the most part. Joe Quesada’s sales pitch is not added value. A Fall of the Hulks preview is not added value.

If that weren’t enough, the majority of this issue consists of mindless fight scenes. For a continuing storyline that’s had politics and ethics as key foundation concepts, this culmination of the direction of so many Marvel Universe titles for the past year is surprisingly devoid of those elements. Also irksome is the lack of logic in the plotting. The story opens with Osborn being frustrated that he has no way to justify his invasion plans to the president; once his justification is manufactured, he doesn’t even both to present it to his boss, opting instead to charge ahead recklessly. It makes no sense.

Just about everything about this comic book shows a lack of respect for the reader. The pricing, given the padded nature of the product, shows a lack of respect for the buyer. The plotting shows a lack of respect for the audience’s intelligence. And it also shows a lack of respect for some of the stronger storytelling that us up to this point. 3/10

Follow Eye on Comics on Twitter.

11 Responses to “Planting a Siege of Doubt”

  1. Vaughan Johnson Says:

    I hate to say it but I agree. I’m not one of Bendis’ loyal followers but I like his work and buy most of his stuff but this was probably one of the worst things he’s produced in a long time. The story was needlessly confusing and that last page had no lead in or impact whatsoever. In fact, it’s a tactic that’s already been used in 2 or 3 other books since Reborn so it’s starting to wear a little thin. We get it. He’s back and he doesn’t like what’s going on. Now how about showing him actually do something about it.

  2. ThatNickGuy Says:

    *snort!* Hm? Wuzzat? Marvel’s doing another stupid, meandering event?

    Wake me when both companies are done doing those.

    *rolls back over into his event-induced coma*

  3. Don MacPherson Says:

    Well, Blackest Night is proving to be a lot of fun.

  4. Dave Lynch Says:

    But Nick will have wait how good BN is so far cause he waits for the trade! Unless, he poo poo those comic events.

    I can see why there are criticisms for Siege #1 having 23 pages (17 pages of new material of those pages) but where is the outrage for 23 pages of Blackest Night #6 price at $3.99 as well!?! Not counting the promotional bits and The Book of Black page, I mean who reads that? I’m outraged there is no outrage for this! I’m so enraged, a red ring will be coming to my house pretty soon! Yes, Siege #1 has 17 pages of new material but DC is the one, who are the torchbearer for only pricing comics at $3.99 if the comics contains more pages than your average comics.

    As for the lack of respect, it’s that a bit too much, Don? Your criticism is valid but fans won’t care with the price. Siege #1 will be No. 1 for January especially since BN takes a month off, even if not, I predict Siege #1 would still No. 1 in sales anyway. I doubt there will be a huge drop in sales for the next issue of Siege in protest of Marvel’s lack of respect.

  5. Don MacPherson Says:

    The difference between the 23 pages of story and art in Blackest Night and the same count in Siege is that after reading the former, Dave, I didn’t feel as though I’d been ripped off. There’s more to consider than page count. There’s the content of those pages as well.

  6. franktiger Says:

    I was thoroughly entertained with this issue, and am excited for this event. I think Marvel is genius in the continuity that’s been built up to this event, and I can’t wait for #2. I didn’t even realize it was $4 until your bitchin’ about it actually, didn’t feel ripped off at all circumstantially.

    My gripes, however, is that I didn’t know who these U-Foe villains were, would’ve liked some ‘name boxes’ like what is done so effectively in some of the X-Men books for example, and not sure Thor would’ve really been overpowered like he was in my opinion; and finally, I think Joe forgot about World War Hulk in his synopsis of the continuity leading up to this event.

  7. Don MacPherson Says:

    For the record, the U-Foes are Vector, Vapor, X-Ray and Ironclad. Vector’s the orange/yellow guy, and X-Ray’s the purple/pink energy being. It’s pretty obvious which ones are Vapor and Ironclad.

    They gained powers by trying to replicate the circumstances that gave the Fantastic Four their powers.

  8. ThatNickGuy Says:

    Yay! I’m being criticized for buying trades! That never gets old!

    Seriously, I was excited about Blackest Night, at first. I’ve been digging the Green Lantern stuff (even though the trades – not hardcovers – are only up to the Sinestro Corps War) and been looking forward to hearing what BN has been like. Sadly, I think it’s suffering a bit from Secret Invasionitis, in that it’s taking too long to get done and over. It started last summer. And while there hasn’t – to my knowledge – been any blips in scheduling, I think the overabundance of mini-series and such has bogged it down.

    Plus, the collected editions announced? They’re doing one for BN itself, one for the GL issues and one for the GLC issues. This is despite the fact that, from what I’ve understood, the GL and GLC issues have been important to understand what’s going on in the main BN series.

  9. franktiger Says:

    I love it how in “Dark Reign,” the Cabal, Dr. Doom and Namor knew amongst themselves that Osborn would eventually trip up and make a mistake; like this is the mistake Osborn is finally making in deciding to confront and invade Asgard. Of course it is taking the manipulation by one of its own gods to influence Norman into doing this, curious to see how Doom takes advantage of this situation, and to what end Loki is plotting and scheming toward. He can’t really believe Osborn will be successful in this endeavor, can he?

  10. Dave Lynch Says:

    @ThatNIckGuy: Nope, I wasn’t criticizing you. If I did it would be hypocritical of me since I also buy a lot of trades. As for the “poo poo” comment, just thought you’re one of those guys who dissed those comic events and berated the unwashed comic event buying masses like me. I mean, I get it that some indie titles from some unknown publisher is not surviving because of us but we don’t need to have Scott Pilgrim shoved into our faces.

  11. ThatNickGuy Says:

    Dave: Sorry, man. I thought you were the one that heavily criticized me for waiting for the Unwritten trade (though your criticizing motivated me to buy the first two issues). Anyway, I most assuredly am against comic book events in general.

    It’s just sad when things like Atomic Robo and Elephantmen aren’t as well known.