SPOILER WARNING: This article contains major spoilers for "Siege" #2, in stores now.
The small town of Broxton, Oklahoma is currently the most important city in the Marvel Universe, mainly due to the fact that hovering in the skies above is the mythical city of Asgard, the fabled home of the Asgardian Gods. Norman Osborn and his partner, the villainous Asgardian Loki, don't want it there, though for differing reasons, and in the current "Siege" mini-series by writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Olivier Copiel, the duo is waging war against the Asgardians for control of their city. Osborn himself is the general of his army, and his troops are numerous, including: The Dark Avengers; the combined forces of the intelligence agency H.A.M.M.E.R., and every member of the Initiative.
In "Siege" #2, the battle was joined by the forces of the Avengers, and the first major casualty of the Siege of Asgard occurred. In our third installment of STORMING HEAVEN, CBR welcomes Bendis back for a page by page commentary on the issue that marks the halfway point in a battle for the fate of the entire Marvel Universe. If you missed our first two installments where we discussed the "Siege: The Cabal" prologue and "Siege" #1, go ahead and get caught up on all the intel, then get yourself to front lines soldier! The fun is about to start.
CBR News: In issue #1 we saw the aerial bombardment of Asgard, and it looks like issue #2 begins as the ground war has started.
Brian Michael Bendis: Yes, the ground war has begun, and it's bloody and as real as you can get in comic books.
Here, we see Ares crossing swords with Balder. One of the reasons Ares took part in the invasion of Asgard is that he incorrectly believes Loki is in charge of the city, but he also seems to have strong feelings that Asgard should not be on Earth, or Midgard, as the Asgardians call it. Why does he feels this way?
Matt Fraction isgoing to explore more of this in his "Thor" run. Basically, if Asgard is on Earth, the entire alignment of the nine realms in Asgardian mythology is broken. It's not as it should be, and even though it's very magical to have Asgard here, what's filling it's place in the Nine Realms? What's where Asgard used to be? How does the rainbow bridge connect to things? Everything is amiss and every second that Asgard is here could be making things worse and worse in the Nine Realms. Just imagine if there are supposed to be nine things in nine places and the second thing is on top of the seventh thing. It's clear that something is wrong.
Here, and on the page preceding it, you got to write Steve Rogers delivering a big Prepare the Troops style speech. It almost seems like a counterpart to the one Ares gave Osborn's troops last issue.
Yeah it's an old trick, but one I do love. You get to hear both points of view very clearly, and when you get to hear those speeches from both sides, it's a lot of fun. It makes you feel like they're both equally invested.
It also seems like you're enjoying the chance to write a very angry Steve Rogers once again.
I love angry Steve Rogers, love him. I love Captain America running down the streets of Harlem as they burn; the Englehart and Kirby stuff. That's my Captain America.
It's very cool and it's funny; I was thinking that I've actually typed Steve Rogers more this week than I've typed Norman Osborn the whole year. I can't say much right now, because so much is going to happen to the character over the next couple of months, and me, Ed Brubaker and everyone else are knee deep into the end of next summer already with the character. So we're well past where you guys are, but it will be very fun to watch you guys react to what's coming - and there is a lot coming with the character.
I noticed that Hank Pym's Mighty Avengers aren't part of the group Steve has assembled. Will they be part of "Siege?"
They are busy at the moment, but they have a part to play in "Siege." Their involvement in the story will be dealt with in Dan Slott's "Mighty Avengers" book.
One group of characters that is included in this meeting is the Secret Warriors. What made you want to include them in "Siege?"
I did create most of them, so it's nice to write them again. And they come with Nick Fury, who is part of this. What Norman has done to S.H.I.E.L.D. is as perverse as anything he's done to the Avengers, and in the pages of "New Avengers" #62 you'll see Nick Fury and Cap team up over this. With that comes the Secret Warriors too. Plus, when you're going to war, you need bodies.
Here we see the grizzly murder of Ares by the Sentry. What can you tell us about the evolution of this scene from script to printed page?
This is funny. This scene is what I wrote. I did say, "Makes this as bloody and real as we're allowed to get," knowing that it does shift every once in awhile, but there is a line. So it did seem to me that this scene would involve silhouettes or something. It wouldn't be like it is. Then the pencils came in and they were, "Whoa!" [Laughs]. And I laughed at it, but I said to myself, "Wow - I wonder how far that's going to go? How much of that is going to get silhouetted out?" Then I got inks, and it was still there, it was still bloody. Then in came the colors and I was like, "Wow! That's bloody!"
I think over the years I've proven that I'm not one to do gratuitous [violence], but this scene did do what I indicated in the script. I wanted you to see that Ares died. I don't want there to be any doubt or expectations that he's coming back in the fourth issue. He's dead, and that was the plan. So I like this scene because it does get the job done, it is in the moment, and I'm glad I'm not a very bloody writer. Because when you do get moments like this, they're more powerful. It's a very bloody and action packed book, but at the same time, nothing like that happens in most of my books outside of "Powers."
I saw Dan Buckley in LA the other week and I said, "I kept waiting for someone to pull the plug on this book." Because it's happening at the same time Disney is buying Marvel, but I think it showed everybody that we're doing our own thing. There's no sanitizing.
In current issues of "Dark Avengers," you're chronicling how the Sentry's alter ego Rob Reynolds and the Void are battling for control over the power of the Sentry. In this scene, it appears that the Void might have emerged victorious. Or is there still more of that story to be told?
There's going to be some big developments coming. There's a new issue of Dark Avengers coming out this week. That is the premise for the next two issues of "Dark Avengers" as well as what happens next issue in "Siege." So all of your questions about the Sentry will be answered. Some people will like the answers and some people will hate the answers.
Here we see Jarvis handing Steve Rogers a briefcase and asking him to "Be a good man and help him." Assuming that "him" refers to Tony Stark, has Jarvis put the final bit of healing balm of the ideological wound that was "Civil War?"
Yeah, that was misread by most the audience. That case is actually filled with porn. It's stuff that Jarvis found in Tony's room. He was really put off by it, and wanted it out of the house. It was like enough is enough [Laughs]. That, of course, is not true. Jarvis has always been the team's backbone. He knows it's time. The band has to get back together.
The shield descending here is an interesting sequence. How did this scene come about? Was it something you wrote or something Olivier Copiel came up with?
It's funny - that scene is exactly the way I wrote it. I think it was Joe Quesada who didn't care for it. He thought it wasn't as strong as it should be compared to what was happening three pages before. I thought about it and decided that maybe I was being too clever. I thought that it might have been a better opener for the next issue than it was a closer, and I could see his point. We had like four or five spectacularly huge moments in this issue.
So I rewrote the scene as something else, but Copiel was still working off the old script and then he drew this scene and it was even better than I had described. It was fantastic! And then [colorist] Laura [Martin] came in and arranged the shield pieces. We worked together to make sure that every little overlay was exactly where it needed to be on the mask. So, it is the original idea, but it is better than any of us had hoped for. I was thrilled when I saw it. The reaction it got was thrilling too, because when I wrote it, I wanted people to go, "Here it comes!"
Also, I wanted to try show almost every scene from an angle you hadn't seen before. That's been a big thing that Bagley taught me with "Ultimate Spider-Man." His goal for many issues was to always show Spider-Man at an angle that we had never seen him at before. Like a lot of people keep doing Gil Kane or Ross Andru when they draw Spider-Man. I think some spectacular images came out of the work by those artists, but in thinking about these fight scenes and what they mean, I've been looking for angles and images that you haven't seen before, and that was one of them and it really came out perfectly. I think, if anything, it's a testament to the team as a whole, because every single person who added to the image made it better and better. So my point is, technically Joe was right. It was only because Copiel, Mark [Morales] and Laura were so great did the scene come out as as good as it did.
These pages seem like a great way for new readers to get acquainted with the Secret Warriors. Was that your intent with them?
No. A couple people online seem to think that the back up features are deleted scenes, but they aren't. They are actually written after the book is drawn as a whole. I look at it and I look at what angle would be the most interesting. I think I was going to write this issue's back up pages from another point of view, but after looking at it, I felt that the Secret Warriors and Nick Fury's point of view would be the most interesting. Nick Fury is a pretty major player next issue, and I think his point of view is valid here. I think these pages add a color that you're not getting in the book, and it's not taking away from all the moments. At the same time, it adds another flavor. You get the scope of what they're attempting and what they'll be facing when they hit the frontlines.
I did these in the "Secret War" mini-series, too, and for me it was some of my favorite stuff. And when I hear about "Secret War," that's a lot of what I hear about; the back up stuff. So that's a lot of what you'll see here too.
Bendis' final thoughts on "Siege" #2
As I said to you last time we gathered, I was pretty sure I was going to have to unplug my computer. But lo and behold, the moments that I thought would aggravate people seemed to make them happy, which is of course what I wanted. I've learned not to expect it though.
I can't think of the last time I had a book on the stands that got this much positive reaction. I really can't. My Twitter feed was pummeled with just hundreds and hundreds of responses, and Facebook as well. So I thank everybody. They're really having a good time, and that really is the point of the whole thing. So that's great. I think issue #3 tops this one, in a way. I'm excited for people to see the next issue. It's the best drawn issue of the entire series. So no matter what you think of what I'm doing with the Marvel Universe, you have that to look forward to. And again, the reaction to this issue was a lot of fun. It was more than any writer in the world can hope for. So, what a relief [Laughs]! And really, thanks to everybody.
I also want to give some more credit to Copiel, because in the fight scenes, he took more pages than what was asked of him. Every panel is what I wrote, but he spread them out across the pages because he had what seemed to be a potent feel for them and wanted more space for them. He added a couple of pages. He had the Ares and Sentry fight laid out so every blow had much more oomf. So, you've got to give the guy a lot of credit for that.
Bendis Looks Ahead to "Siege" #3, on sale March 17th
There's a big fight scene. Somebody puts on some armor, and you will genuinely see something you've never seen before in a Marvel Comic, and it's not easy to say that. I promise you this is true, though. You're going to see something that really wows you. Plus, the real villain of the story will reveal himself.