SIEGE #3 WRITER: Brian Michael Bendis PENCILS: Olivier Coipel INKS: Mark Morales COLORED BY: Laura Martin LETTERED BY: Chris Eliopoulos COVER BY: Coipel, Morales, Martin   *WARNING: CONTAINS SPOILERS*   Despite my criticisms of writer Brian Michael Bendis in various Avengers reviews, his work on the Siege event has been nothing short of epic. For those who doubted if the author could turn the tables on himself and produce grandeur, character moments and the sweep of an epic without those trademark talking heads, well, folks, Siege is your proof. As fine as issue #2 was (loved that moment with Ares and Heimdall before the shocking rip), SIEGE #3 blew me out of the water with its scope. From the halls of political Washington D.C. to the skies above fabled Asgard, this installment of the four-issue mini (a fine choice for this event, by the way) packs all those moments we fan boys have been hoping for as Steve Rogers’ Avengers assemble in a grand Olivier Coipel splash that would make a fine poster or wallpaper. With the ring of their battle cry, it gives one hope that in the coming Heroic Age we will be treated to Avengers tales of a caliber yet unseen. Perhaps Bendis and John Romita Jr. can give us classic Avengers action with a modern twist as Kang the Conqueror rears his ugly head again in Avengers #1 this May. Whether pass or fail in that title, thus far Siege has been nothing but action and character moments on a grand scale. In this issue alone we see, albeit in too abbreviated a form: Thor vs. the Sentry, Steve Rogers vs. Norman Osborn, a spread-out battle royal, the return of Iron Man, and a very satisfying moment for old-time Spider-Man fans. (Get rid of the written back-up, for d’ast sake; more story!) We are even treated to a taste of Young Avengers action. For someone like myself who is just discovering these characters, that in itself is a blast. What is missing here in part is what the cover depicts: our assemblers fighting with the Asgardians. Besides Thor and a token “thanks for the hand” by King Balder, there are few close-up moments with Odin’s people save in faraway battle scenes. After the Cap & Gods cover, I was hoping for a different tact. Some reviewers of this piece panned too much use of the written word herein, but I actually thought it worked to Bendis’ advantage. Comic books, despite claims to the contrary, are not a visual medium but rather a nice blending of words and pictures trying to tell a great story and when I see too many pictures and not enough words these days, it makes me want to show doubting parties the beautiful comics (Jungle Action, War of the Worlds) once produced by a most prolific writer, Don McGregor, in tandem with great artists. No, in Siege #3, words and pictures blend effortlessly to give us our best issue to date. And what pictures they are! I cannot praise highly enough the detail, draftsmanship and facial expressions delivered by Olivier Coipel. From top to bottom, he has done a fine job in rendering what will go down as a classic in the Avengers mythos alongside such tales as “The Kree-Skrull War.” Coipel and the art team give a weight to Asgard that I have never before seen. Not Kirby or Buscema’s gleaming kingdom across a Rainbow Bridge, but one of stone and dust that can be damaged by the denizens of Midgard be they mighty enough. When the Sentry plowed through those hallowed walls the first time, you felt that floating mass over Oklahoma give way. The occurrence in this issue was even more devastating. We still have not had our Big 3 reunion as depicted on the Siege #1 cover and what to make of the Sentry and those scorpion-like tendrils growing out of his person has yet to congeal in my mind. (Where is Bob’s brain these days?) But if an event is making me look forward to a book – or in this case, franchise – relaunch (an act of modern marketing I do not favor), then Siege is accomplishing its goal. And how!