Graphic Novel Review: Siege

(Panini �12.99)

A STORY years in the making, this is the culmination of Marvel Comics storylines dating back to the dissolution of the original Avengers in 2004, taking in the world-shattering House of M, the divisive Civil War, the covert Skrull Invasion and the rise of former Green Goblin Norman Osborn as the most powerful man in America…

After proving himself as a force for order when he led the defeat of the alien Skrulls, Osborn was put in charge of the government agency HAMMER following the dissolution of peacekeeping taskforce SHIELD. But despite controlling the United States’ superhero community, Osborn finds himself riddled with insecurity, culminating in the decision to launch an all-out attack on the Norse Gods’ city of Asgard.

Following the recent resurrection of the mighty Thor, Asgard has been floating above the town of Broxton, Oklahoma, which Osborn sees as an incursion onto US soil. An attack upon the Asgardian warrior Volstagg results in the destruction of the packed Soldier Field football stadium and the deaths of everyone present, giving Osborn the motive to launch a pre-emptive strike on the Norse Gods themselves…

As you might expect from that initial synopsis of the first chapters in this storyline, there is a great deal here which has been seeded in assorted comics over the course of recent years, which might suggest Siege is impenetrable to all but the most ardent Marvelites. Fortunately, this collection includes enough background information to fill-in newcomers who might not be aware of the state of the nation in the current Marvel Universe.

Writer Brian Michael Bendis succeeds in swiftly explaining the political dynamics of Osborn’s so-called Dark Reign, including the fractious relationships between his allies, the instability of his Dark Avengers, and the madness which threatens to consume him. He also brings the reader up to speed on the divisions caused by the superhero Civil War, and how the Marvel triumvirate of Iron Man, Captain America and Thor must overcome their differences in order to save not only Asgard, but the rest of America as well.

Despite being action-heavy, Siege succeeds in featuring strong moments of characterisation and atmosphere in the midst of the carnage, and also resolves numerous long-running plotlines of recent years, which is a remarkable achievement for the creative team.

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If you know your modern-day Marvel Universe, you’ll love this world-defining story, but even if you don’t then you can be sure of enjoying an explosive epic where the stakes have never been higher. And when the Siege is finally over, the new Heroic Age is ready to begin…