SPOILER WARNING: This article contains major spoilers for "Siege" #3, in stores now.
Norman Osborn's "Dark Reign" over the Marvel Universe has been in effect for over a year now, and during that time, the former Green Goblin has gotten used to simply crushing any obstacle that stands in the way of his goals. The latest thing blocking his way is the city of Asgard, home to the Asgardian Gods, which floats over the city of Broxton Oklahoma. In the current "Siege" miniseries, by writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Olivier Copiel, Osborn is using all the power at his disposal to try to crush Asgard, but the head of H.A.M.M.E.R. is getting more resistance than he bargained for.
In "Siege" #3, the besieged Asgardians received help in the form of an all-star Avengers lineup that featured the team's "trinity" of Captain America, Iron Man, and Thor, reunited for the first time in almost a decade. This infuriated Osborn, and the Iron Patriot unleashed the deadliest weapon in his arsenal, the insanely powerful being known as the Sentry. For our fourth installment of STORMING HEAVEN, CBR News welcomes Bendis back for commentary on the penultimate issue of the series that brings one era of the Marvel Universe to a close and ushers in another. If you missed our first three installments of the series, where we discussed the "Siege: The Cabal" prologue and issues #1 and #2 of "Siege, go ahead and get caught up. We'll save you a front row seat, but watch out for falling pieces of Asgard!
CBR News: So, after "Avengers Disassembled," "Civil War," "Secret Invasion" and "Dark Reign," how does it feel to get to this double page spread of Steve Rogers leading the Avengers into battle with their signature battle cry of, "AVENGERS ASSEMBLE!?"
Brian Michael Bendis: It's cool. If you were talking to me the day before this issue came out, the reaction would be, "I don't know." But the reaction to "Siege" is up there with some of the best reactions I've had to any of my stories. Certainly the immediate reaction is through the roof. I was very happy writing this scene. When I saw it drawn and colored and all the finishing touches were put on it I was personally pleased as much as I can be with my self loathing streak. The public reaction to it, though, has been so strong that it's made my appreciation of the whole issue very, very big.
Here, Osborn lays prone after taking a shield to the face from Captain America, and he calls to Loki for reinforcements. We haven't seen Loki since issue #1 of "Siege, and many of us are wondering where he's been and if he'll be part of the final issue?
Loki is in the bathroom. Listen, not all food is meant for Asgardian consumption. He stopped by an In and Out Burger on his way to the siege and had to make a pit stop. No, he will reveal himself next issue. I don't think that's any surprise.
Now we see Speed arriving at the hospital where Tony Stark is currently being treated, to deliver Stark a suitcase containing his armor. And it looks like this is the point where "Siege" syncs up with the story Matt Fraction has been telling in "Invincible Iron Man."
That wasn't totally up to me, so I'm glad they got them pretty close together. I'm hoping that I can support Matt's awesome Iron Man story without doing any damage to it. Thanks to Tom Brevoort for this. He's the man.
On the previous page, the president gave the order to take down Osborn's intelligence agency, H.A.M.M.E.R. And here we see some fighter jets launch a strike to disable the H.A.M.M.E.R. helicarrier. What's running through Victoria Hand's mind on this page?
She's thinking, "We're losing the battle." It's pretty bad. You'll see more of her next month in a big way. She's got the best seat in the house for the biggest ass kicking in the history of Marvel comics. And she's not on the right side of it.
Did she see this coming, or was it a total surprise?
I don't want to ruin anything for next issue - or more importantly "Dark Avengers" #16 - but we are going to learn exactly how she feels.
So, the president has given the order to take down H.A.M.M.E.R., but how difficult is that going to be? Is the average H.A.M.M.E.R. agent more committed to Osborn or to his country?
You're asking very good questions, and this one will hopefully be answered to your satisfaction very soon. I have very good answers for you, but I'm going to have to let the work speak for itself for now.
Here we see one of Norman Osborn's worst nightmares coming to pass as he's confronted by both Steve Rogers and Tony Stark. Did he ever imagine this would happen?
Clearly he didn't plan for them, or being overwhelmed like this in general. And his emergency backup plan was for the Sentry to be let loose - and that's a crazy person's plan.
One of the reasons "Siege" is occurring is that Thor reestablished Asgard on Earth. On the previous two pages, the Sentry has destroyed Asgard, and here we see Thor watching the city fall. Now that Asgard has been turned to rubble, is Thor rethinking his Asgardian relocation decision?
That is a great question that will be answered in the pages of "Thor" and "Siege Aftermath: Avengers Prime," but I don't think he feels a hundred percent about it. I don't think he's having a great day.
What is going on - physically and mentally - with Norman Osborn on this page?
What we've been building to is that Norman's failure is really because he's unable to get in front of his own demons, even though he was given every opportunity in the world to do that. As of last month, Victoria said, "You are going to fall if you refuse to deal with this." So either this was going to happen or he was going to get over himself. And this is what happened.
What's happening here is more of a mental thing. I know people are asking, "Did he physically turn into a goblin?" No, it's that he's completely fallen apart because this is the road that he always goes down. This was his best shot at personal redemption, and his own worst enemy was him.
There's been a lot of speculation about this page and what it reveals about the Void's true nature, with one line of thought being that maybe the Sentry's encounter with Carnage back in your first "New Avengers" story ended up with Carnage and the Void merging into a new entity.
[Laughs] I saw that too. I also saw that he is now evil incarnate in the form of a red lobster. That's also not true.
What I've always enjoyed about The Void is, the character itself has all these different physical manifestations. They're unexplained until you realize he's got the power of someone, say, like a Molecule Man. He's got power over physical space, but his mental illness makes it where he creates these creatures. Some people with severe bipolar disorders see these creatures in the corner of their eye, and I've actually known people who this has happened to. I knew someone who literally had to sculpt them into creation to make them go away. So my version of this is he is someone who, with his power, literally creates them in the persona of the Void. This is the latest manifestation, and I believe the creepiest.
And I've always loved how different artists have interpreted that. Deodato drew the Void as this black mass, and Jae Lee had him as these tendrils. I like how every artist came up with a different persona for the Void. I think that says a lot about the artist, as well.
With the Void about to unleash hell on the Avengers, I suppose it's a good time to ask you about his partnership with Osborn. We know why The Sentry's alter ego, Bob Reynolds, worked with Norman, but why did his dark half, The Void, also choose to play along?
They are the same person. I don't think it's clearly a case of The Void and Bob. It isn't like one personality takes over the other. I think there's varying degrees of each in the different versions that you see, like the best version of Bob had a little bit of The Void in it so he could kick some ass. That was the Sentry who ripped Carnage in half. Without that influence, you get this simpering guy who can't move. That's Bob on his own.
So, The Sentry is not a classic case of Multiple Personality disorder?
No. I've done those stories before, and I wouldn't classify it as this. Bob is a sick man, with the power of a god, who created The Void to be all these things that are in his head that he cannot control. Scary!
Bendis' final thoughts on "Siege" #3
As I said earlier, I'm absolutely thrilled with the reaction to this. You never know. And people are having such a good time with it. I'm still coming off the genuine thrill of the Emerald City convention in Seattle, which was just one after the other of people coming up and wanting to share their thoughts and feeling about this stuff. What a blast!
So I just want to say thanks. Every single day on Twitter, Facebook or my message boards, there's been a pounding of positive thoughts about it, and I hope issue #4 lives up to the impossible hype, which it won't [Laughs].
Bendis Looks Ahead to "Siege" #4, on sale May 12
Issue #4 is double-sized. #4 closes the story. #4 has the battle of the Avengers versus The Void. It has a final battle, which not everyone walks away from. Bad guys are punished, good guys are victorious and from there, the new status quo of the Marvel Universe is locked in and you can now go and enjoy all that the "Heroic Age" has to offer.