Okay, we should all have this particular saying down pat by now: it's "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me." Basically, if I tell you an issue is going to be 48 pages of all new content for $4.99 and then you get the issue and it's like half that plus a reprint of an issue I didn't want? That's a bad thing to do and I should feel bad. But if I tell you that I have another 48-page issue of all new content for $4.99 and I again farm out half those pages for a reprint or ads or a bunch of encyclopedia biographies? Then you're the one who should be reading solicitations more carefully and not buying the issue when it comes out.
Hits a little too close to home? I'm sorry; that's bad and I do indeed feel bad.
Anyhoo, Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me. Get smarter, says the credo. Don't fall for the same trick twice.
Hey everybody! Siege: the Cabal came out yesterday! Let's go take a look inside, shall we?
(WARNING: Spoilers for Siege: the Cabal, the first six-pages of Siege #1 and Dark Avengers Annual #1 reside below. Yep, it's a doozy this week, folks.)
Okay, so Siege: the Cabal is pretty much the start of the end of the line for the Year of Osborn. This is going to be his last hurrah as, with all over-dramatic super-villains, too much power sinks your ship. The beginning of the book puts it nicely by saying that most people when they reach this allotment of control and power hoard it for fear of losing all that they worked so hard to gain and, because they squeeze too hard, it all slips through their fingers. Well, that's the basic point of the mysterious purple-fonted majesty of the Other Voice Norman's talking to. It might be coming from the mask, his own mind, psychic influence or outer space at this point, it's up for debate in any direction. But Purple-Fonted Voice's reasoning is sound: "Norman, do you know how men of power lose their hold? It's because once they get into power they worry so much about holding on to that power that they never do anything with that power."
What Purple-Fonted Voice is forgetting is that when men of power's reach exceeds their grasp, they can lose it all as well. It's fine balance of holding all the cards and playing them at opportune times; please see Doctor Doom in this issue. He joins the Cabal as it suits him and he has players within on his team. The moment Namor is out, a man he's had a deal going with for quite some now (please go read the Sub-Mariner mini-series by Matt Cherniss, Peter Johnson and Phil Briones; you'll be glad you did. Ooh, and the Super-Villain Team-Ups where Doom and Namor- sorry, you get the idea). Since Dark Reign: the Illuminati, those two have been planning to dump Norman Osborn the moment this 'Cabal' turned disadvantageous for them. In Siege: the Cabal, Doom's alliances are shaken, so he takes his ball and goes home. Again, Norman Osborn bites off more than he can chew; Doom's been in the global supremacy game longer than Norman. He holds a lot of cards and plays them when the time is right, like now when Norman is taking advice from a God of Lies and stretching out beyond his reach. Not even the President thinks it's a good idea to go after Asgard and he fights zombies!
The Cabal now consists of Loki, Loki's Lackey the Hood, Norman and well... Taskmaster. Things are looking dire. He can't go in legally after Asgard (Thanks, Mr. President!) so Loki, the God of Lies and Trickery, suggests a plan: since it worked so well for the Super-Human Registration Act, why not engineer a highly public superhuman (in this case, godly? mythic?) catastrophe that will force people to react and badly?
Why not? Because you JUST SAID you did that back in Civil War! That idea has been used, please shelve it and come up with something different. Loki says "There was an incident. An inciting incident. It could have happened anywhere to anyone. But it happened at a school. Children died." Loki offers to create such an incident again and instead of saying, "No, that's stupid because the American people wouldn't have the exact same reaction a second time, they'd either oust me for not doing my job or witch hunt all the super-humans themselves, with say militia groups or a new form of -ism that causes mass hatred of empowered people. Society would crumble, no one would trust anyone, cats and dogs living together, mass hysteria, no! No, Loki, that's a bad idea! Let's just use USAgent's logic from the most recent Assault on Olympus and admit that the Asgardians are no more godly than Captain America, call them in for Registration and when they refuse, take 'em out.", Norman Osborn says nothing of the sort.
You can see I've probably thought about this way too much (I'd have the pages illustrated by Salvador Larroca!).
The first six-pages of Siege (no 'the', just Siege, like Cher or Sting) are the story of Volstagg the Valiant, Lion of Asgard. In these six pages, he fights the U-Foes, throws down some Asgardian skills against the enemies and, when he's tossed back into the middle of a rather well attended football game, deflects a blasts from the terrible U-Fiends that's so powerful the entire football field explodes into a panel of bright yellow energy and fire. This can't be good. The preview is not only in Siege: the Cabal but Dark Avengers Annual #1, wherein Captain Marvel (Noh-Varr flavor) tries to find a place for himself on Earth now that he knows Norman Osborn is a loony. Norman, not being one to let someone walk around thinking he's a loony, sends the Sentry to go bring Noh-Varr back and a fight ensues because that's what happens when you send the Sentry on errands. Logistics of character motivations aside (why is the Sentry still with Norman Osborn when the Void and he were separated by Emma Frost in Utopia? Isn't the Supreme Intelligence dead twice now?), let's just take this for what it is: a big four-color fight. Noh-Varr throws big heavy things, the Sentry blasts big heavy blasts, it's highly super-powered and incredibly well drawn by Chris Bachalo. In fact, there's this amazing two-page panel looking over Marvel Boy's shoulder at the Sentry as he's the only color in this near-wasteland of buildings and rubble.
Now, what's the difference between this and the last panel of our six-page preview?
Both of them are superheroic battles causing great damage in their wake. One is even done by some known criminals! The other is Noh-Varr throwing a car with a bomb on it at the Sentry (just in case you might have been confused). Both are in public, explosive, devastating and happen very quickly, no time for innocent bystanders to flee into harmless safety. So where's the difference? Why is it that Siege is a four-issue mega event seven years in the making and The Destruction of the Dark Avengers isn't? Is the Average Man on the Marvel street that nitpicky about his wakes of destruction?
Then again, it's a six page preview. The next panel, everyone in the football stadium could be holding kittens and they go with the Register Gods idea above. Patton Oswalt spoke rather eloquently about the Comics Fan's ability to pre-judge and hate what they do not know, so this all might be just that: a pre-judgment of a series that Bendis took seven whole years to think up, devise and set in motion. He's been writing these books for a very long time now and people do not get paid for rehashing what someone else did coming up on three years ago just because it's referenced in a couple panels. Why get up in arms about previews that couldn't possibly encapsulate the next four to five months of Marvel comics? The three books that arrived this week are by no means everything there is to know about Siege, it's a taste of things to come, just as the milk chocolate surrounds the delicious creamy peanut butter center of a Reese's peanut butter cup.
Then again, fool me once...