After a year’s worth of story the end of Dark Reign starts with Siege: The Cabal that also is the prelude to Siege mega-event that will yet again change the Marvel Universe’s landscape. It may be because I have largely stayed away from Dark Reign, other than the stories in Amazing Spider-Man, Invincible Iron Man, and Captain America: Reborn, I am actually looking forward to Siege.
With that said, after Brian Bendis’s last few attempts at writing a Marvel event with House of M and Secret Invasion my expectations for Siege is a bit low. Bendis has just not showed he has been able to handle books that have more than one main character. Still I am optimistic he can turn in a good read with this one-shot. Let’s see what Siege: The Cabal has in store for us.
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Michael Lark
Inker: Stefano Gaudiano
Colorist: Matt Hollingsworth
Story Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: We begin with a quick look outside of Asgard. The next thing we see is Norman speaking to someone who is telling Norman how Asgard does not belong on Earth. The voice continues saying that immortals should walk the same ground as mortals. Norman says he will talk to Loki but the voice says Loki cannot be trusted as he is the God of Mischief. Norman tells the voice he is right and thanks it.
The voice tells Norman if he is able to pull of getting Asgard off Earth that Norman will be untouchable and he will be what he is remembered for in the history books. We then see that Norman has been speaking to his Green Goblin mask this whole time.
Sometime later in Avengers Tower all of the Avengers are in their rooms sleeping while Norman, in his Iron Patriot armor, is waiting for Doctor Doom in The Cabal meeting room along with The Hood, Loki and Taskmaster. Doctor Doom teleports in asking Norman what Taskmaster is doing there. Norman explains that Taskmaster has been running his training camp and decided he should join The Cabal after Emma Frost and Namor crossed the line with him.
Doctor Doom asks Norman if that he is going to eliminate everyone who doesn’t follow his orders and only keep around those who do. Taskmaster takes offense to this but Doctor Doom tells him to be quiet. Norman says that he has done nothing to Doom in the past and that the only reason he hasn’t killed Namor yet is out of respect for Doom. Norman then tells Doom that as they did with getting back Latveria for Doom they are going to do the same for Loki with Asgard.
Doom request Namor to be brought back and then he will consider Norman’s plan. Norman says no and that Doom must respect his throne just as Norman did for Doom’s throne. Doom tells Norman he never had a throne (BURN!!!).
Doom continues to request Namor to be brought in but Norman tells him he has ways to deal with Doom physically. Doom tells Norman he is playing with his own life. Norman just calls his enforcer from the shadows and orders him to kill Doom.
Doom is blasted through the wall. Norman puts on his Iron Patriot helmet and Loki tells Hood to disappear. Doom tries to fight back but Norman’s enforcer again blasts Doom with some lightning, all the while Loki looks on in amusement.
Norman checks up on Doom but he sees that it was just a Doombot. A bunch of robot bugs fly out of the Doombot and they all attack Norman and everyone in Avengers Tower.
Norman orders an evacuation of everyone from the building. All the Avengers wonder what is going on but Ms. Hand tells them to just follow orders. While the whole Tower is overrun by the robot bugs the Avengers make it to the jets. They all board them except for Sentry who goes to look for Norman.
Norman has one of robots in his hand and tells Doom that Doom just declared war on a country 50 times his own. Doom just asks Norman how many fights he thinks he can fight at once. He finishes by saying Norman will not lay a hand on him as he is Victor Von Doom and if he does he and his son will be dead. The robot bug explodes.
Sometime later Norman is trying to convince the President to allow him to go through with the Asgardian Operation. The President tells Norman he cannot approve of the operation Norman wants to go through with as there are too many X factors. Norman tries to plead his case but the President just denies the request and hangs up on Norman.
Loki appears in the room and tells him they knew the President wouldn’t approve of the operation. Norman says that Asgard is a threat. Loki talks about how the Superhuman Civil War started with an incident that killed many lives specifically a school of children.
Norman then gets the idea of starting their own incident. Loki says he can arrange that to happen but Norman will have to hold it together and be strong. He says he will as he stands in front of a portrait of the former Avengers. End of issue.
The Good: Siege: The Cabal was a good way kick things off for Siege next month. Though there were some weak moments during this issue. Still Bendis did a much better job handling Norman and The Cabal, specifically Doctor Doom, much better in this issue than the last time I read a Bendis Dark Reign book, which was Secret Invasion: The Cabal.
Bendis served some very good writing. Even though there was the typical Bendis-speak in the issue each character had their own voice. This one-shot was going success was based on how Bendis was going to write the meeting between Doctor Doom and Norman. And the star of this issue was without a doubt Doctor Doom.
This is the first time that Bendis actually wrote Doctor Doom that sounded like the character. When this one-shot was announced I thought that Bendis would have Norman kick Doctor Doom’s ass. But thankfully this Bendis proved me wrong and actually had Doom outsmart Norman.
I like that throughout the meeting between Doom and Norman that Doom pointed out that Norman is trying to fight to many battles which is what is going to prove his own downfall. Over the course of Dark Reign we have seen Norman battling the X-Men, Spider-Man, Iron Man, Mighty and New Avengers, Punisher, etc. and all of this battles he is having to fight is stretching his forces thin. With Norman’s plan to attack Asgard it makes his downfall even more inevitable as Norman himself is causing it with all of these battles he is fighting.
And with all the battles he is fighting adding Doctor Doom as another opponent to have to fight is not a smart move by Norman. Doom clearly pointed this out throughout the beginning of the issue. Doom showed that unlike in their previous meetings Doom was the one with all of the power this time around as Norman needs Doom. Norman does not have the luxury of making more enemies. Even though Norman tried to have all of the power in this meeting Doom was clearly not buying it as he knew what Norman has been doing since gaining his power.
My favorite line in this issue was when Norman tried to say Doom needed to respect his throne that Doom pointed out Norman has no throne. Unlike Doom Norman actually answers to someone and even though Norman thinks he is all powerful he is not. Like any other government worker he answers to someone which showed in the Norman’s meeting with the President.
Bendis did do a good job throughout the issue to show that Norman is slowly losing the control he had when he first came into power. The best example of this was the first few pages of this issue were Norman was speaking to his Green Goblin persona. Since the end of Civil War Norman has been suppressing his Green Goblin persona through the use of various drugs and we all know the drugs affects would not work forever. And with that opening scene it is clear that Norman is going to become the Green Goblin, or at least give into that madness, again during Siege.
This has made it easier for him to be manipulated by someone like Loki. With losing Namor, Emma, and now Doctor Doom the only powerful ally Norman has is Loki. Norman is now mostly surrounded by mostly street-level villains like Hood and Taskmaster along with his Avengers and person in the shadows. And Bendis did a great job showing this as Loki easily manipulated Norman into going through with the Siege on Asgard. It will be fun to see what role Loki plays in the end of Siege as he is the puppet master of this whole event.
It was great to have Michael Lark be giving a chance to do the art for a big event issue. Lark is a talented artist and he stepped up his game to provide some of his best artwork on this issue. Throughout the issue he provided some great artwork as he gave the meeting between Norman and Doctor Doom an intensity that it need to have as both characters went back and forth getting more heated each time they spoke. Also he did a great job with Loki and showing that manipulative smirk Loki always has to show he is going to use what is happening to his advantage.
The Bad: Even though I want to know who the mysterious enforcer Norman has working in the shadows and attacked Doctor Doom I am not very interested in the character themselves. This mysterious character just seems to be an dues ex machine that Bendis is using because there aren’t any powerful villains that Norman has as a ally that Bendis has created this mysterious figure as his enforcer.
Also I do not understand why the mysterious person just disappeared after blasting Doctor Doom the second time. The only reason for the person not appearing was because Bendis did not want to show who the character actually is. It was a big copout by Bendis to make the mysterious character disappear when Norman and everyone at Avengers Tower were in danger.
And as Rokk and Shawn pointed out in the podcast, I also do not dig the blatant rehash of Civil War with Norman and Loki causing their own incident like the one the New Warriors caused. It is just very uncreative by Bendis that makes readers that have read Civil War feel like they have read what has happened in Siege. Bendis took away the whole “WOW” factor out of the first issue by doing this.
Also I have to say from the preview to Siege #1 I was not very excited for the series. And most of this is because the art by Oliver Copiel look like it was rushed. It did not have that epic look that his artwork had when he was on Thor. Hopefully the art will look much better in the rest of Siege than it looked in these first few pages of the first issue.
Overall: Siege: The Cabal One-Shot was a good read but is not a required for people who are going to read Siege. This was a filler issue just to tell us that Siege is going to involve Norman attacking Asgard which Marvel already revealed back when this event was announced. So you can pass on this issue and pick up Siege #1 without missing anything as Bendis has made the first issue of the event new reader friendly, from the preview we get. Still if you are a Norman Osborn and/or Doctor Doom fan pick this issue up if you have an extra $4 to spend as it is a good read.