My biggest criticism–and it’s not a very big criticism–is that the first two issues were a lot of setup, flashbacks, and stage setting. Not a lot actually happens. Kieron Gillen spends more than 40 pages fine-tuning an epic sense of foreboding–we’re acutely aware that something is about to happen, and thanks to this run’s many spectacular battle scenes, we’re acutely aware of the terrible scale upon which it’s about to happen.
But yeah–not a lot actually happens. (Maybe this is really the kind of comicbook storytelling that works best in TPB, so you can read it all at once instead of issue-by-issue.) Siege is a story about trauma, repetition, stalemates, and stagnation, and, appropriately, the structure of Siege #1 and #2 is sometimes repetitive and stagnant. It’s a bit unconventional, but I like it.
Anyway, forget all that, because Siege #3 is when the Big Bad Things that narrator Abigail Brand has spent two whole issues forewarning us about actually start to come to pass. After two whole issues of meticulously setting up the stakes, the characters, and the story, Gillen briskly whisks away the tablecloth and lets the fine china fly where it may.
The result is pretty chaotic, but also very pretty. Siege #3 has a lot of action and development happening all at once, with revelations, twists, and character transformations galore. Several characters undergo a major development in this issue–and, meaningfully, each of those transformations has an intimate relationship at its core. Ironically, during a battle that’s literally tearing the universe apart, Seige’s big action is driven by characters moving closer to other people.
Miss America and Lady Kate Bishop stumble away from danger in each other’s arms.
Summers–all of the Summerses, really–get some long-awaited validation: they’re valuable as individuals, not just as cannon-fodder.
Abigail Brand gets some desperately-needed last-minute assistance from the two captured robots in her dungeon. The two silver prisoners have fallen in love, and, consequently, discovered their will to survive and protect each other… and, consequently, protect the entire world.
Then, Brand gets some even more desperately-needed, even more last-minute assistance from another pair of lovers. Leah and Magick return from the badlands with a vengeance, surfing on a giant Colossus and laying waste to the invading armies. The “demonic queens” have returned not just to protect the Shield, but to openly defy God Doom–but Brand lets that slide because, well, desperate times.
Perhaps the most radical and unexpected character development in this issue belongs to Kang, who ends up risking his life to blast Nick the Fury through a sea of chronomines and into oblivion. This is also the weirdest, least comprehensible character development in this story–if you’re wondering how or why Kang grew from a snarky underling openly gunning to replace Brand into a self-sacrificing hero who (um) hugs her.. well, I’m still wondering, too. There are more things in Battleworld than are dreamt of in our philosophy, I guess.
Overall, Siege #3 succeeds as the big, bombastic payoff to all the poignantly stagnant buildup of the first two issues–and still delivers a heck of a cliffhanger to be resolved in next month’s final issue.
The entire creative team throws out all the stops here. Kieron Gillen’s dialogue ranges between over-the-top floweriness and self-effacing excess and improbable beauty, between Leonardo da Vinci’s verbose prologue to Kang’s egotistical proclamations to Lady Kate’s Jacobean banter.
As a narrator, Brand’s prose has been rather grim and often terse–but in #3, she’s become someone who writes sentences like “Synthezoid fascist attack waves danced with Leonardo’s sky armadas.” Yikes. I guess the end of the world’ll do that to ya.
And Siege’s art continues to deliver a spectacular array of colors and drawing styles. Felipe Andrade and Rachelle Rosenberg tell the main story–gangly, long-legged warriors with pupilless eyes set against a dreamily jewel-toned space opera sunset. Guest artists (Julian Totino Todesco, Juan Jose Ryp & Andy Troy, Michael William Kaluta) contribute three outrageous double-page battle-scene spreads: wall-to-wall devastation as an army of blue cats attacks an army of Ultrons, or Nick the Fury tears through the Endless Summers(es) with his fist-cannon, or Leah and Magick rip through walls of undying robotic nightmares.
Artistically, thematically, even grammatically: Siege is a jumbled, chaotic, apocalyptic pastiche. It’s the frenzied exhilaration of throwing a bunch of awesome elements together at the end of the world.
I’m really enjoying it.
Written by Kieron Gillen
Drawn by Felipe Andrade with colors by Rachelle Rosenberg
Mad Moll Green writes in Los Angeles and Vancouver. She loves horror movies, comic books, and ironic spandex.