Thursday, February 11, 2010

Chronic Review: Siege # 2

Siege # 2
Marvel Comics

Script: Brian Michael Bendis

Pencils: Olivier Coipel

40 pages for $3.99

OK. Not only is thing $3.99, but it's an event book, which makes it completely anathema to me. So why am I buying this piece of crap?

Well, for credibility. I love to bitch about these things, no place quite as comfy as my soapbox of toxic filth, and I feel that it's important to sometimes get dirty so that I know whereof I speak. I talk a lot of shit about event books, but I haven't really sullied my hands with a Marvel event since Civil War.

Didn't read Secret Invasion. Bumped into Dark Reign just a bit during my normal reading of Amazing Spider-Man, and I read the Punisher: List book because Timmy Callahan put me onto Rick Remender's work there and I thought I'd test drive it. And that's about it.

So now after reading the first two issues of Marvel's new "blockbuster" Siege, you'll know that I speak from experience when I tell you what a pungent slop of rubbish this story is.

Let me show you exactly why these books just don't, just CAN'T work right now. And listen, it's not all bad. I dig the respect that Ares showed toward Heimdall. I dig the text-heavy backmatter at the end that tries to sell the gravity of attempting what amounts to a coup.

And of course something potentially very strong happens in this book, and I'm about to spoil it, so buckle up. The issue's been out long enough where everybody knows the "big doing" of this issue, so I don't feel too bad.

To put it plainly, the Sentry rips Ares inside out. He does. And they show it, in the sort of detail that you would expect Jacen Burrows might even cringe at. And it affected me not one jot.

Here's the thing. There is debate about the reality of "event fatigue" and I suppose that everybody has their own threshold. Maybe somebody out there can still feel something. I can't. I don't see how anybody could at this point, because it's been done so many times in the last, oh I don't know, 3 minutes that it's all rote now.

Bob splashed the ground with Ares' guts. OK. But that's not what I register as I page through Siege. I feel like I have Rowdy Roddy Piper sunglasses on from "They Live". And instead of seeing exploding god meat, what I actually see is "Insert super impactful character death demonstrating harsh reality of conflict threat here."

Because we've seen this before, and this is where that goes in Act 2 of this little machine they like to run. This is where Bill Foster bought it in Civil War. This is where Martian Manhunter bought it in Final Crisis. Insert "impactful" character "death." Yawn. It's paint by numbers, it's coupon redemption storytelling, and it happens so often now you can't help but see the bullshit behind the curtain.

That should have been the coolest thing ever, a shocking moment and a departure into the macabre for a mainstream entity. Yawn.

See here's the thing that eastern philosophy gets that we just can't get through our thick western skulls: the yang only has power because of the yin. Your coffee cup is useful because of its empty space. Excitement only seems that way because of the quiet moments in between. Take away the quiet, and all that shouting just drowns itself out as white noise. And that's where we're at, folks.

Marvel can turn the volume all the way up to 11 and I can't hear it, because it's all we've been hearing for years now. Shocking secret. Never the same again. Change this team forever. You won't believe what happens next. Yawn.

And you can't tell me that this is inspired, that this is the story Brian Bendis has been waiting his whole life to write. He doesn't care any more than you do. Let me prove it to you with a little blurb that really full-on pissed me off:

"I'll do what I do." Are you kidding me? Does that line land for ANYBODY? Would you think that was cool if you were eleven years old, even? I certainly hope not. As though that line says anything, means anything. It's just lazy writing.

And before anybody thinks I'm going too crazy on Bendis, let me say that his work on Daredevil is some of the best superhero comics ever written, and he does know inspired storytelling, and he does know fresh dialogue. But ahhhhh....this aint it.

My Rowdy Roddy glasses see that line and it reads "Insert super cool character elevating moment here." It's all so transparent and so tiresome. He didn't want to write that line, but it was that time in the cycle, and if you don't really give a shit, dreck like that will slip out.

And by the way, everything in Siege will all be undone and ignored three months from now, when the next unbelievable-never-be-the-same-again bullshit washes over us, and we all know that now as well, as sure as the sun will rise, as sure as gravity. We've seen it too much and too recently to forget any more. Marvel, give us time to forget!

Hey. I love comics, and I'm not going anywhere. But this is not where the medium lives and breathes. This is assembly line, neutered, RUBBISH. I saw it, so now I'm sayin' it. Now go find yourself a copy of Secret Six or Fantastic Four and discover how a living comic book operates. Do it now!

- Ryan

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