100 Days, 100 Comics #51: ‘Siege: The Cabal’ #1

Siege: The Cabal #1**SPOILER ALERT** Brian Michael Bendis’ Siege: The Cabal #1 at #51 was a coincidental follow-up to #50. It packs a memorably malicious exchange between Dr. Doom and Norman Osborn and lead into Marvel’s new “Siege” event, but it also left me completely stunned throughout the second half with a scene I misinterpreted with anticlimactic consequences. So this review is going to be as much about what didn’t happen as was did happen.

The premise of the Siege title going into this read was presumably that it would be about Norman deciding on what to do about the big fat kingdom of Asgard that’s currently hovering above the United States and how he’s going to storm the gates and get rid of it. His anti-Illuminati cabal of villains, The Hood, The Taskmaster, and Loki are predictably along for the ride when he solicits the help of Dr. Doom. There’s a beautifully melodramatic discussion between Osborn and Doom about why that won’t happen that leads up to a Siege of a different kind, but my post-9/11 reading of the sequence ending that confrontation had to be rewound and reread. My explanation requires an extra image, which you’ll see after the jump…

Avengers TowerHere we have the Avengers Tower, which upon turning the page appeared to be falling down. Sentry then seems to be racing the Tower’s collapse to save Osborn, which he does, and then pair appear to be standing in the rubble of the demolished Marvel Universe landmark. However, on the very next page Norman is clearly conference calling from the Avengers Tower, stonewalled upon requesting permission to storm Asgard because there is no “actual reason to even engage” the Norse gods.

“Brilliant!” I thought. This was a sudden flashback, and he prompted Doom to attack and destroy the Tower in an unexpected homage to 9/11 conspiracy theorists who believed that George W. Bush and Dick Cheney were responsible for the 9/11 attacks because they needed a reason to launch the Iraq war.

The next panel, however, confused the heck out of me because it references “last night’s attack” on the building, which was the point in the issue where I was forced to flip back, not understand what I was missing, arrive back at that panel and then understand that the Avengers Tower in fact survived the complete disintegration of its foundation.

This eventually rendered the Siege #1 preview at the end, which my colleague Caleb Goellner discusses over on Comics Alliance, a little anti-climactic. I appreciated where Bendis is going, now that things are set up though. Overtly bringing up the Stamford, Connecticut, incident that kicked off Civil War makes it look like Bendis is regurgitating plot twists, but one of the things I’ve always enjoyed about his writing is how self-aware he is of his stories and the tropes and tricks he plays with as narrative devices — like he’s letting you see his cards and knows that you can see them. I don’t know if I’ll be investing in “Siege” tie-ins as heavily as I have with “Blackest Night,” but I’ll definitely be picking up issue #1.

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