One of the chief tools Norman Osborn has used to cement his Dark Reign over the Marvel Universe is the press. Victories by the various underground heroes against the former Green Goblin would often turn pyrrhic thanks to Osborn’s ability to spin things in the media. However, there is one person in the Marvel U who can do something about this, and come January, he’s ready to help take Norman Osborn down for good. That person is Ben Urich, one of the most respected reporters in the Marvel Universe, and in the four issue “Siege: Embedded” mini-series, Urich sets out to give the public the real story about Norman Osborn and the war he wants to wage against Asgard. CBR News spoke with with writer Brian Reed about the title, which launches on January 6th.
This won’t be the first time Reed has written Ben Urich. The intrepid reporter was part of an ensemble cast in “Secret Invasion: Front Line,” a mini-series that Reed used to explore the impact that last year’s Skrull invasion of the Marvel Universe had on the common man on the street. “The ‘Frontline’ concept is technically the same as ‘Embedded,’ since it’s about reporters, but ‘Embedded’ is a different kind of story. ‘Secret Invasion: Front Line’ wasn’t about reporters getting a story out, it was about surviving,” Reed told CBR News. “Since we were going back to reporters, it felt like we should give the series a different name. It also felt like we were doing something different thematically, since we were doing a story about embedded reporters. So it was like, ‘Hey, lets call it “Embedded!”‘
“When the government started using embedded reporters, as far back as Vietnam, it was with the idea that they were really putting people in place to tell the story they wanted told, but we all very politely pretend that’s not what is going on,” Reed continued. “This is that [concept] run through the filter of Norman Osborn.”
In the Marvel Universe, Urich is the author of a book titled “Legacy of Evil,” which is about Norman Osborn’s career as the Green Goblin. Given their history together, and Urich’s incorruptible nature, sparks are sure to fly when the reporter becomes part of the embedded press corps covering Norman Osborn’s campaign against Asgard. “I’m looking forward to an upcoming scene with Ben and Norman. We got a glimpse of this scene at the end of ‘Secret Invasion: Front Line,’ but Norman had the rest of the world press there to defend him at the time,” Reed explained. “What’s going to happen when it’s just Ben and Norman? That’s a scene I’m looking forward to writing.”
“Siege: Embedded” is a road trip style story that begins at the location of the incident which kicks off “Siege” and follows the action all the way to Broxton, Oklahoma and Asgard, the mythical city that floats over it. “Ben starts by going to look at the incident that starts ‘Siege.’ In the process, he realizes that Norman Osborn has stacked the deck and is using the reporters he wants, to tell the stories he wants to tell,” Reed revealed. “Ben being Ben doesn’t like that, and when you add that to his already volatile relationship with Norman, it means it’s now time to kick Norman Osborn’s ass using the bastion of journalism.”
In order to accurately cover the events of “Siege,” Ben Urich has to figure out how to frame the story. The involvement of Norman Osborn and the fact that it’s a story about men going to war with the legendary Norse Gods makes that especially difficult. “In the first issue, Ben says, ‘I’m here to figure out what this story is even about,'” Reed remarked. “How are people processing the fact that there are gods living over Oklahoma? It’s a thing the Marvel Universe seems to have rolled with. Now, though, with ‘Siege,’ it’s like, ‘Hey, wait! What are they doing there!’
“Ben is trying to talk to people on the street. He asks them, ‘What do you think of all of this? What is your take on the Asgardians, Norman Osborn, and everything else that is happening?’ A lot of us as fans have wondered, ‘Why the hell is Norman Osborn in charge? Don’t you people know who he is?'” Reed continued. “It’s one of those things, though. The men and the women of the Marvel Universe go, ‘We know who he is and we know what he did – he saved us.’ And as much as we don’t want to admit it to ourselves, we do the exact thing with our real politicians. It’s like, ‘We know he killed that girl, but we’re fine because he also cut our taxes.'”
Throughout the course of the mini-series, Urich will interact with a variety of characters, new and old, but unlike “Secret Invasion: Front Line,” Urich will never be far from the spotlight. “In ‘Front Line,’ we had a cast of dozens, but Ben is our guy throughout this series,” Reed explained. “We get introduced to an old friend of his who was on New York television at some point. We also get to hang out with Volstagg from the Warriors Three for a couple of issues, and we’ll see the Dark Avengers around. So there are some new and some old supporting characters, but everything is very much focused on Ben.”
“Siege: Embedded” also features a different tone than “Secret Invasion: Front Line” in that it’s not as dark. “There is a chance for humor here, which sounds funny considering what the subject matter is, but when you’ve got Volstagg on the page for a few issues, there’s a chance for humor,” Reed said. “And there are some elements going on with different characters where they lend themselves to lightening the situation a bit more than ‘Front Line,’ where it was a normal day and then all of a sudden it was, ‘Oh God! We’re all going to die!’
“This also has scenes where we’re talking with soldiers and learning how much downtime there is in a war situation, and the best thing you can do at that point is make yourself laugh,” Reed added. “Otherwise, you’re just going to go nuts waiting for bad things to happen.”
For this series, artist Chris Samnee will be bringing Reed’s scripts to life, and Reed couldn’t be happier. “He’s fantastic! I admit I wasn’t terribly familiar with his work before this gig. I started looking at his stuff while I was writing this, trying to give him things that I thought were catering to him. When you get a chance to plan ahead for your artist, the work always comes back twice as strong,” Reed stated. “There’s a two page spread of the Dark Avengers that he did, and when I saw it I was like ‘Wow! I have to give him more to do!’ What’s great is that I had an outline for issue #2, and I changed the last 10 pages of it because of what I saw of his work on issue #1.
“Chris also brings a nice sense of brooding,” Reed added. “He makes things feel dark all on their own. So you don’t have to stand there and hammer it.”
“Siege: Embedded” is a tale about a battle between superheroes and supervillains taking plce at the same time as a battle for the hearts and minds of the citizens of the Marvel Universe. It should also prove to be a very important part of the final chapter of Marvel Comics’ “Dark Reign” saga. “‘Siege’ has been promoted as the end of ‘Dark Reign,'” Reed said. “Ben Urich was there when it started, and he’s definitely going to be there when it ends.”