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The Casualties of War

February 21, 2010

     The Siege of Asgard is on, and nobody is safe.  After all, gods and beings just like gods (i.e. Sentry) are involved.  In the middle of a duel with Balder, Ares is informed by Heimdall that Norman Osborn tricked him, that Balder is king of Asgard, not Loki.  Having been reluctant to attack Asgard in the first place, Ares is now royally pissed.  While Osborn in the Iron Patriot armor, Ms. Marvel (Moonstone), the U-Foes, etc. stand over Thor, Maria Hill comes in to cause a distraction (which she does quite successfully) and rescue Thor.  Steve Rogers gathers the New Avengers, the Young Avengers, and the Secret Warriors to head to Asgard, and Ares confronts Osborn.  However, the Sentry shows up and starts beating the crap out of Ares.  This epic fight culminates in Sentry literally ripping Ares in half.  Captain America (Bucky) gives Steve his shield back because he’ll need it symbolically for the upcoming battle.  Edwin Jarvis also hands Cap one of Tony’s old armors (presumably) because he knows that Tony is nearby.  Nick Fury tells Phobos that he has to stay behind, and the team goes off in a fancy S.H.I.E.L.D. transport thing that creates a wormhole between New York and Oklahoma.  Wolverine (Daken) gets fried when he finds Thor, and Thor stands to fight to the bitter end.  And just then, Cap’s shield is reflected in Osborn’s armor…

     It’s obvious that Brian Michael Bendis is using the smaller amount of space for this miniseries to make it an action epic.  Extra character development is taking a back seat to the main plot.  Unfortunately, the best stories manage to balance those two, so that’s making Siege much less than it could be.  Really, the only two characters who get good moments in this book are Ares when he realizes Osborn’s treachery and Phobos when he tries to convince Fury to let him go.  And Ares is dead now, so… yeah.  However, because the book structurally is written very well, this is more satisfying (at least so far) than other Bendis offerings, where he stuffed in character development, but it was too long, and the plot suffered.  Okay, so it is a bit of a stretch to think that Maria Hill and one Oklahoma native could manage to distract Osborn and his flunkies long enough to get Thor out of there.  But that’s one little hiccup that isn’t that much of one, if you consider that Thor helped them out at the very end, and how disorganized these supervillains, even under a central authority, tend to be.  Olivier Coipel’s pencils are absolutely epic in this issue too, especially during the Ares/Sentry duel.  Everything he draws is charged with eneregy and exciting, and he really is one of the best comic book artists around.  So the tie-ins and future writers will have to deal with most of the character development and moments that inevitably come out of this story.  But Bendis is still doing a damn good job of writing one action-packed ending to all the stories he’s been writing for the past few years.  Let’s just hope he doesn’t fumble the ball like he so often does.

Plot: 8.8      Art: 9.4      Dialogue: 9.0      Overall: 9.0

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