Siege #4

When I reviewed issue #2 of this series, I noted how fast-paced it feels. Unlike the slow burn (or smoke sans fire) of “House of M” or the redundancy of so many “Secret Invasion” comics and tie-ins, “Siege” feels like a crossover event on fast-forward. Heroes appear and immediately jump into the fray. Villains pop up, then disappear, then pop back up. Cities fall. People die. And so do a couple of gods.

It’s a surprisingly quick wrap-up to a multi-year Marvel saga that, in many ways, began all the way back when Brian Michael Bendis started writing “Secret War.” No more hiding in the shadows. No more running from the law. The Heroic Age has begun by the end of this issue, and it may not seem completely earned, but it feels like it’s been a long time coming. “Siege,” in the end, was a zesty palate-cleanser, more than a denouement-machine.

Issue #4 concludes many things: the mischief of Loki, the life of the Sentry, the reign of Norman Osborn, and the days of the “Superhuman Registration Act.” Now I don’t know how the government works in the Marvel Universe — all I know is that the president tends to find himself in surprisingly poorly-lit rooms all the time — but the instant repeal of a national piece of legislation seems a little ridiculous. Until you realize how quickly the law was adopted, and how immediately Norman Osborn was handed the keys to the kingdom o’ superherodom. If the past few years were any indication, Marvel politics move at hyper-speed, which makes sense in a world filled with evil superhumans who can break the sound barrier and blow themselves up.

The point is that the ending of this series, and the end of the, ah, Unheroic Age, comes abruptly, but no more abruptly than many of the developments along the way. And at least this one had the benefit of being a whiz-bang fun adventure against the forces of darkness and insanity and dark insanity. Even when a hero resorts to murder, it’s presented in a romantic, jaunty way. It’s a deed that had to be done to bring forth sunnier days, and it works in the context of the story.

This issue doesn’t show off Olivier Coipel’s work as well as the previous three, but it’s still a strong showcase for his talents. He’s good at square-jawed heroes and menacing monsters, and his pages have the kind of swift energy this story needs.

As a story, it probably works better in conjunction with the other two companion Avengers issues released this week, but as a comic — and as a finale to a short burst of a series — it serves its purpose well. It gets the characters where they need to be, and it does it with a bit of flavor. It’s the citrus sorbet of the comic book world.

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