SPOILER WARNING: This interview contains major spoilers for "Siege" #4, in stores now.
The last several years have been a tough time for the heroes of the Marvel Universe. They've had to endure conflicts brought about by the controversial Superhuman Registration Act, The Hulk's return from outer space and a "Secret Invasion" orchestrated by the shapeshifting Skrulls. The greatest indignity came, however, when Norman Osborn was given a position of almost absolute power and made villainy the dominant paradigm in the Marvel U. The heroes fought back as best as they could; earning small victories here and there and looking for an opportunity to take Osborn down for good. Their greatest opportunity recently came about when Osborn and his allies invaded the fabled city of Asgard at the beginning of the four issue "Siege" miniseries by writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Olivier Copiel. In "Siege" #4, Osborn's "Dark Reign" finally comes to an explosive end as the heroes wage their final battle against the former Green Goblin and his chief enforcer, the awesomely powerful being known as the Void.
In our final installment of STORMING HEAVEN, our in depth look at "Siege," Brian Michael Bendis joins us one last time for page by page commentary and insight into the final issue of "Siege." If you're just joining us, it's not too late. You can catch up on our chats with Bendis about the "Siege" prologue, and issues one, two, and three with these links, then hurry back! The party is in full swing and we don't know how long we can keep Volstagg away from the deli tray!
CBR NEWS: You open the issue with something I was surprised to see - Loki lamenting the way the Siege of Asgard has gone and blaming himself for helping Norman Osborn orchestrate it.
Brian Michael Bendis: Yeah, how about that? He blew it! He mischiefed himself into a great big hole, but even the devil has a little bit of heart in him
In this scene, Loki says, "I meant only for Asgard to rule in greatness as it has done in the past." So what did Loki ultimately want? Did he want things to go back to their original status quo with Asgard not being located on Earth, or was he after something else?
That's always been up to different writers' interpretations. Some writers portray him as a character who just wants to fuck with his brother all the time. It seemed to me, though, that he believes himself to be the rightful ruler of Asgard; that he's better than his brother and his vision is the truer one. That's the way I always perceived it. And here we are in this new era of Asgard, where it's on Midgard and everyone has been resurrected. It's a perfect time for all these characters to have their agendas very clear. Now they're getting and going after what they want, and Loki decided he was going to use Midgard to make Asgard the way it should be.
So, Loki felt that Asgard's existence on Midgard was an affront?
Yeah. I think a lot of the Asgardians do. It's wrong. It's not the way things should be. Thor agrees with them, but he feels like that's the way things are and they have to deal with it. Loki and others, though, would strike back from it. We set this up pretty clearly in "The Cabal" prologue and the first issue. Loki's agenda was clear. I think the reveal is that he was telling the truth. He's someone who lies if he needs to, and he wasn't lying here. If you go back and read issue #1, it's right there.
On the previous page, Loki apologizes to Thor for the part he played in the destruction of Asgard. And here Loki is killed by the Void. What's running through Thor's mind as his brother is killed? Is it horror? Shock? A bittersweet tinge of sadness for the death of a family member?
I think it's a bittersweet moment. He's experiencing a mixture of emotions, but I didn't want to overwrite this scene. Even if he hated his brother with all of his being, watching that is still horrible. It's still the son of your father.
In "Siege" #2, Ares, the God of War, was killed by the Void, and in this scene, Loki is destroyed. It's interesting that the divine body count outnumbers the mortal one in this series. Why did you decide to do that?
It wasn't a conscious choice. Ares died for a number of reasons, but the biggest one was because I thought it made things much more scary when Thor got involved. It showed that a lot of scary things could happen when Thor faced the Sentry, but also, this storyline was the end of the "Dark Reign" and the "Dark Avengers." Each "Dark Avenger" got their comeuppance; some surprising, some not.
And someone had to pay the piper for this story, so I thought it was much more interesting that Loki pays for his sins immediately instead of being banished off to some netherworld where he can simmer. Norman is the one that goes to jail, because when villains die at the end of a story, you can't watch them be punished and you want to do that. Comic book deaths are sometimes too quick. It's like, "There it is, boom!" Also, it looked to me like the worst thing you could do to Loki was kill him and the worst thing you could do to Norman was not. If Norman died, it would almost make him a martyr to his cause.
Here, Norman gets captured, and it's not by Captain America, Thor, or Iron Man. He's apprehended by Volstagg, the Asgardian who he tricked into creating the incident that allowed for the invasion of Asgard. How important was it for you to give Volstagg this scene?
It was very important and very hard to get him back into this story. I like it when things come full circle. Volstagg certainly deserved a moment, and even though it seemed like a minor moment, it's actually a very big one. I think, considering what Norman did to Volstagg, it was important that just as Norman was about to make his escape, Volstagg clocks him one and changes the whole course of his life.
In this scene, Thor finally ends the threat of the Void AKA Bob Reynolds by killing him. It seems like when you consider the Void's power level, the only way this could have happened was because the Void wanted to die.
I see there is a lot of online speculation about that, and I thought it was pretty clear. I don't like to over analyze these things. I prefer the work to speak for itself, but I'll put two things out there.
I think we've all met crazy people in our lives, and I think you learn pretty quickly that when you're dealing with a crazy person, you can't trust what they're saying to be true. Just because the Sentry/The Void announced that he had the power of the Molecule Man, it doesn't mean that he actually did. He just thought that he did. He was a crazy person and maybe a drug addict, as the character's creator, Paul Jenkins, put out there. So not everything he was saying wasn't necessarily true. Maybe it was. Maybe it wasn't. I know that's difficult for some people, because when they read a story, they don't want to feel like they're being fucked with. That character, though, was not in control of himself. There wasn't one second throughout the run of "Dark Avengers" where he was in control of himself.
Number two, yes, Bob realized that things had gone as far as they could possibly go. There was no other end for him and without his cooperation he doesn't go away. I just didn't want to have a line in the script where someone like Spider-Woman goes, "Boy, if he didn't want us to kill him, we couldn't have killed him." I see a lot of people got it, though, or they were just so happy to see the Sentry die they didn't give a shit how it happened [Laughs].
I've noticed that a couple of people had a problem with Thor killing the Void, but Thor is part of a pantheon of deities worshiped by a warrior culture. So I imagine that while Thor might not like killing much, when push comes to shove it's something he'll do.
Right, and it also wasn't his first choice. It was a third choice. He flat out said, "No I won't kill you," and then no choice was given. So if anything, it was one of the most noble and heroic things Thor has done. He tried everything in his power to be the better man and then took care of business when he had no other choice. So I thought it was a good moment.
When and where did the idea for Steve Rogers to become the next "Top Cop" of the Marvel Universe come from? Does the idea predate his "death?"
I can't remember if it predates his death. I do know it's been coming a long while. Ed Brubaker, myself, Matt Fraction and everyone was aiming towards this. We were ready for this. That's where the idea for the "Heroic Age" first sprang from, because we've seen what the world is according to Nick Fury. We've seen what the world is according to Tony Stark and Norman Osborn. So what is the spirit of Steve Rogers?
With Steve in charge the "Heroic Age," everyone is rising to the challenge. No one in the Marvel Universe goes, "What a dick!" when it comes to Steve Rogers. Half the people in the Marvel Universe go, "What a dick!" to Tony Stark. Half of them think that about Nick Fury. 99% of them think that about Norman Osborn, but no one looks at Steve Rogers and goes, "I'm so sick of that guy! What an asshole!" So there's a different agenda. We have people saying, "I have to earn my place in this."
I'm sorry, I honestly can't remember more of the specifics. It was birthed out of a retreat. It was definitely voted on and argued upon. Does he become Cap again? Does he stay Steve Rogers? But when it was all said and done, it was left up to Ed, because his work with the characters has been so meaningful and important, particularly to this generation of comic book readers and creators. So it was important that he got to continue the story that he wanted to tell. If Ed turned to us and said, "Steve is Captain America again." We would have been like, "Fine." After much deliberation, though, he decided that this is what he wanted Steve Rogers to be, and we all rallied around it.
I'm especially thrilled about it because I love writing Bucky as Cap. Because you get Captain America with a little edge to him. He's got the gun and he legitimately doesn't know things like who the fuck Kang is. He's never met Kang. So you have an Avenger on the team that has no idea what's going on when it comes to certain character. So you can get your exposition out without it being bullshit. He's both a newbie character and an icon. It's a very cool mix. Usually the newbie is like D-Man, or somebody, and it's like "Why is he stopping the story?" But when Captain America stops the story, you want to listen.
That's Heimdall's Observatory on top of Avengers Tower, correct?
Yes, a damaged and repaired version of it. Not to spoil things, but there will be a new one in Asgard. They take this broken piece of the observatory, though, and they put it on the building, and now we have what I think is a beautiful icon that espouses what they said in the script.
So it's more of a monument than a working observatory.
Yes, it's really just a monument. I think there will be some traveling here and there via it, but there is no Rainbow Bridge shooting out of it or anything like that. It's not like they'll open the door and the inhabitants of Jotunheim will come pouring out of it, or you hit the wrong button and suddenly there are a bunch of dwarves running around.
Before "Siege," there was some bad blood between Thor and Iron Man and possibly even Steve Rogers. But Thor's speech on the previous page and here seems to indicate that, because both Iron Man and Rogers came to the defense of Asgard, those bad feelings are gone or at least not as strong. Is that true?
A lot of that is going to get picked up in "Avengers Prime," which is coming very soon and it's gorgeous. My first impression, though, with Thor is that he's like, "Fuck all this bullshit. You guys are my brothers. I was hurting and you came to save me." Tony and Steve may still have some issues to work out, but I think Thor is more in love with them right now. They were there. They showed up and you can't help but be moved by that. I think you'll enjoy "Avengers Prime" #1 a great deal. It was a lot of fun to write.
And here we are at the final double page spread where the "Dark Reign" era ends and the "Heroic Age" begins. Why did you choose these characters for this final scene?
I didn't. Copiel did. I wrote "everybody," and this is who we got [Laughs]. He picked very carefully though. They each represented a bit of business. So I was very happy when I saw it. I didn't ask for more.
I will tell you, though, that I rewrote that last line 70 times. There must be 70 versions of it. People are going to read this and go, "Really?"
It seems pretty organic to me.
It wasn't organic. I'm glad it feels organic, but it was not.
Bendis's Final Thoughts on "Siege" #4
I had a lot of fun last Wednesday. It wasn't the original plan for "Siege" #4, "New Avengers Finale," and "Dark Avengers #18 to all ship at once. They were supposed to roll out week after week, but that trifecta was certainly a potent finale. You got 75 pages of finale to this story. When I first heard that they were all shipping the same day because they had to, I was like, "Oh, that's not what I wanted." Then, when I got them all together, I was like, "This is a smorgasbord! This will be a lot of fun!" So Wednesday was a lot of fun. A lot of people were happy, and I annoyed the people I always annoy [Laughs].
I was just so proud of all the books. They were all so beautiful, and for them to all come out all at once, and with "Avengers" #1 coming out May 19, it's really a fun time for me, personally, and the things I want to accomplish. Plus, the response has just been fantastic. So I really want to thank everybody. Retailers and fans alike. What a blast! I like when people have fun. I really do. When people are having fun with their comics, it's just the best in the world.