With another Marvel event beginning, that can only mean one thing: it’s time for another “Front Line” book to provide that ‘man on the street’ perspective that Marvel is quite fond of. This time, the book is titled “Siege: Embedded” as the focus is shifted from Ben Urich to also including another member of his (putting it loosely) profession, Todd Keller, a blowhard TV pundit who is taken along with H.A.M.M.E.R. to invade Asgard after the disaster in Chicago depicted in “Siege” #1. This adds an interesting dynamic to the series, but isn’t delved into nough to make an impact in this issue.
Rather, the bulk of this issue focuses on Ben Urich and an old friend of his, a former anchorman turned cameraman thanks to a drunk on-air incident. Given that the focus has been on Urich in previous “Front Line” mini-series, this seems the logical choice, but his use here is less than entertaining. He bumbles through a series of coincidences that function as means to move the plot along as mechanically as possible, rather than flowing from one scene to the next organically. It begins with the coincidental meeting with his old friend while being held in the back of a police cruiser and continues with the coincidental meeting with Volstagg, who is somehow walking around Chicago after the disaster he was involved in without anyone paying him any mind.
The Keller scenes as he’s escorted by a H.A.M.M.E.R. agent to observe the actions taken by Osborn, the Avengers, and other agents are limited because this series can’t get ahead of the main book, leaving that aspect of the series in teaser mode. Once you get beyond the beginning of the book where Keller is introduced, he only makes one more, one-page appearance, which is disappointing since ‘Ben Urich reports what’s happening in the big event’ has been done numerous times, while the angle of a pro-government, right-wing pundit reporting on these events as they happen offers an interesting change of pace.
While the writing shows potential and doesn’t deliver, the art is superb; I’m left wondering where Chris Samnee has been up until now — doing fill-in work on various titles and drawing “The Mighty” for DC, apparently. His dark, blocky style is very expressive and is gorgeous to look at. His style is perfectly suited to this sort of ‘down to Earth’ title as he humanizes the few appearances made by superheroes and draws the interactions between Urich and others very well. His characters wear their inner feelings on their faces, allowing Reed to pull back at times and let Samnee’s art do all of the work. At times, this becomes too much as not everyone is so easy to read, but Samnee’s art here shows the promise of a young Sean Phillips and definitely warrants notice.
“Siege: Embedded” #1 provides two plots for future issues to follow up on, both of which show potential. This issue, unfortunately, presents neither well. The Urich plot is fuelled by coincidence and a sense of unavoidability, while the Keller plot doesn’t have a chance to get going. Hopefully, as “Siege” moves forward, the possibilities presented here will be exploited.