Siege probably isn’t the easiest read for someone brand new to comics. There are a lot of characters–our protagonist Abigail especially–with very complicated backstories at play. A few of them will be at least somewhat familiar to any readers who have watched a couple of Marvel movies. The origins of Scott Sommers’s clone army and the complicated relationship Abigail had to them in the Avengers vs. X-men battle aren’t so as important as the fact that they’re working together now. Nor is how Dr. Doom came to rule Battleworld or why S.H.I.E.L.D. isn’t quite the government organization we usually think of but an actual wall that surrounds the Earth. Thankfully, writer Kieron Gillen (The Wicked and the Divine, Young Avengers) is smart enough to give us the information we need for this particular story: Abigail was born on Breakworld, it was destroyed the last time the Wall fell, now she’s sacrificed pretty much everything else in her life to make sure that never happens again. Now her worst nightmare is about to come true when an ally from the future warns that in 20 days the wall will fall.
It’s a simple premise, but one that allows Gillen to play in a world he’s spent a lot of time in. Gillen has stated on his Tumblr that he will be taking a break from the imprint for the foreseeable future because of his various creator-owned projects and the series feels like the perfect swan song to his time there. You can see his desire to sort of touch on his best moments with who he chose to include in this comic. A medieval literal princess version of Kate Bishop gets to interact with a perpetually sassy Ms. America Chavez in a similar way as his Young Avengers. Leah, Loki’s one-time jilted lover and best friend of Illyana Rasputin (aka Magik), is a reminder of his equally-lauded work on Journey into Mystery. The only character missing is Iron Man, though there’s still time for Tony Stark to make an appearance.
Still, while readers familiar with both the Marvel world and Gillen’s work in it will probably get the most out of the book, there’s still plenty for newbies to enjoy. On top of the countdown to the apocalypse plot, Gillen teases a few choice nuggets of information that the referred-to loss of her lover Hank McCoy (aka Beast) make her just sympathetic enough to invest in her. There’s also Leah’s search through the dangerous wilderness for Magik and the possible mystery of where the Pym family (as in Ant-Man) — who is caught perpetually regenerating ant-armies that–in a gruesome twist–has a plea for death embedded in its DNA.
There’s also the art, most of which is done by Filipe Andrade, though he gets assists from James Stokoe and Jorge Coelho for the truly fantastic double-page spreads. His figures are sort of long and spindly, like fashion figures come to life. Rachelle Rosenberg’s colors have a somewhat painterly quality with a muddier palette that’s equally essential to expressing the grit and exhaustion of this particular part of Battleworld as Andrade’s lines. The one weak link, unfortunately, is the cover by W. Scott Forbes, which looks like half of two cool images mashed together. Regardless, this particular book is one that shouldn’t be judged by its cover. Like much of Gillen’s work, what’s inside is dense, somewhat bleak and highly self-aware, but if you can just go with its flow, it promises to be a rewarding read. Or you’ll just have to watch earth get destroyed while all your favorite characters die. That’s equally likely with him.
By day, Marisa Carpico stresses over every detail of America’s election system. By night, she becomes a pop culture and celebrity obsessive. Whether it’s movies, TV or music, she watches and listens to it all so you don’t have to. You can find her risking her life by reading comic books while walking down the crowded streets of New York City, having inappropriate emotional reactions at her iPad screen while riding the subway or occasionally letting her love of a band convince her to stand for hours on end in one of the city’s many purgatorial concert spaces. You can follow her on Twitter to read her insightful social commentary or more likely complain about how cold it is at @MarisaCarpico.