Wow. When some of the most unbalanced individuals in the world call into question your decisions, something must not be right. Ares initially refuses to help, BullsHawkeye thinks the plan is outrageous, and the President of the United States gets angry enough to drop the phone. All of this is beautifully drawn by Oliver Coipel. Coipel's Broxton is as refreshing as the country air to be found in such a place, his Asgard is majestic and grand. The characters in both locations - and everywhere in between- are lithe and graceful, but packed with power. You can't help but feel the thunder as Thor crashes onto the scene.
Bendis' story is one that's been brewing a while, and any reader of any Marvel comic of late knows that Asgard and Midgard are on a collision course. I don't think I'm telling tales out of school when I say it comes as no surprise that as the battle lines are drawn and the sides begin to measure one another up, Loki is right there in the middle. The god of mischief is certainly making some mischief here. If Marvel and Bendis have anything to say about it, that mischief will be memorable for a long time to come. This issue certainly seems well-constructed to withstand the test of time.
Most of the action of this issue - and by action I mean limelight - features Norman Osborn and his "Dark Avengers." For the first time, to me, those hero-poseurs seem like more than just a reinterpretation of "Acts of Vengeance" gone wrong. None of them are the least bit likable, and Bendis does nothing here to change that opinion. Add their actions in this title to the televised beatdown Osborn delivered to a nearly-incapacitated Tony Stark, and it is a wonder that one of Osborn's own team hasn't turned on him. In doing so, that character would be glorified for taking out one of the biggest bullies in modern times. How Osborn has held onto his power this long escapes me. One redeeming quality of this story is that it seems as though Osborn may lose his hold on that power.
This story has legs. This issue offers a few "Oooo!" and "Ahhh!" moments, but ultimately the story seems cut short as there are fifteen (!) pages of "not-story" in this issue. That's right, fifteen pages. Sure, five of the pages - the "Ares War Plan Transcript" could be considered part of the story, but only barely. It's more like a deleted scene on a DVD than actual contribution. Beyond that, there is the obligatory checklist of the "Siege" related comics (thirty-seven of them folks!) set to pummel fans' wallets for the next four months. Yes, it is the same checklist that was in the skip week "Siege" preview and the same as the list on the postcard sized giveaways many retailers have on hand. No real surprises there. Add in three pages of a very special "Siege- Cup o' Joe" and six pages devoted to a preview of "Hulk" #19, and that's how the covers are filled out after the initial twenty-three-page story. I've whined in this direction before, but in this case, given the fact that we've seen more than a few pages of this issue online or in printed previews, $3.99 seems like a pricepoint that is just a little too heavy for the product delivered. Yes, it is a good story. Yes, Coipel's artwork is gorgeous, but for $3.99, I expect more story, or at the very least more product relevant to the story at hand. What's here is good; I just wish the issue were true to itself. The extreme fluff to justify the pricepoint massively detracts from what could have been a great issue.