The Siege You Saw Coming: Bendis Talks! Part 1

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BF recently sat down with Brian Bendis for an interview on Siege. Turns out, it turned into a huge conversation, touching on Siege, Thor, the new Thunderbolts team, and much, much more. Because, like Siege, all good stories are told in four parts, we've broken the Q&A down in equal parts, of which we'll be serving you one piece each day through Thursday.

Here's part one of your Brian Michael Bendis diet.

BROKEN FRONTIER: What gave you the idea to complete the Dark Reign storyline by having a Siege on Asgard?

Well, it was always part of the pitch, like, “We definitely need the biggest climax/finale that there ever was” if we were going to pull something like this off. I think you’ll agree that things like this, they’re only as good as their big finales.

For me, this one was really about putting together a threat big enough, dangerous enough, to have this Holy trinity of Avengers get over themselves and Civil War, and get back together. Because really, if you look at the course of their arcs over the last couple of years, it seemed near impossible that you’d get these guys back on the same team.

It really had to be something… but at the same time, very much within the realm of Avengers history—that’s how the Avengers were put together in the first place. So I thought, “What fun that would be” and I hope I’m the one that gets to do it, because I’m the one that Disassembled them, and it’d be nice to be able to put them back together again.

The Avengers break up in Avengers: Disassembled (2004)

BF: Did the fact that Thor was kind of off in his own corner of the Marvel Universe for a while now play into the decision to make him the center of this?

It was two things; number one, the fact that this interesting element was added by JMS by having Asgard in America, floating right above it. It’s a fantastical, magical element for the Thor book, but I always like to look at things like that from other angles, for someone like Norman to go, “No, that’s a threat to his well-being.” That absolutely is something he would have to deal with.

But more importantly, the only thing I could think of, that would get Captain America and Iron Man fighting alongside each other, is Thor. Their mutual love of the Thor. So that was it right there. It became about that to me.

And you know, watching all the pieces gel together… I mean, yeah, we have other things to deal with, like Captain America being dead, and Tony Stark being a potato, and there were a lot of pieces that needed to gel together before we could even pull this off but as the pieces were gelling closer and closer together, it seemed like the right time.

BF: You mentioned Osborn seeing this as a threat to him. He seems lately to be playing with even fewer cards than he normally does; in Siege: The Cabal, you showed that he seems to be going off the deep end more so than usual.

What it is, and I said this from the get-go when we started Dark Avengers is that Norman, to me, represents, and I know a few people like this, who, whatever genius move they made that got them where they are, some of them really overshoot, and that’s what loses it for them. Norman was just crazy enough to do all this, and that’s the same kind of craziness that’s going to show him the door.

Now the question is, how much damage will he do to himself and others before this is over, and will the Avengers make it in time? I don’t know if you know people like I do, people who just don’t know when to stop. And he is mentally ill, but mentally ill doesn’t mean he’s running around doing goofy stuff; it’s just watching the people around him going, “No, you need to not be in that armor, you need to talk to somebody, you need to deal with this” and him just pushing ahead and pushing ahead and pushing ahead as if that will make it all better.

BF: And he’s not thinking too far ahead in terms of the consequences? I mean, one of the things that struck me in Siege #1 is that he completely blows off the President.

Obviously he can in theory do this right now without the President’s permission, but he doesn’t seem to be thinking about what happens to him afterwards.

Well, if you read your not-too-long-ago modern history books, there have been a slew of real world events where people do things because they think “Once they see how I right I am, I’ll win.” There’s been a lot of that. And that’s what it was based on.

His defiance of the President is that he knows he’s right, and when he brings down Asgard, and wraps that all up, he’ll be seen as the hero just like he was at the end of Secret Invasion, and the President will have to eat his dick, for lack of a better term.

BF: So, with him not knowing when to stop, Loki is sort of playing the role of helping him over the cliff, is that it?

I don’t want to reveal too much, because that’s coming up, but all that will be dealt with, right away. It’s only 4 issues, you’re gonna know pretty soon.

BF: Ok, so basically, there’s more for Loki’s plan to unfold.

Yeah, and also, if you read the prologue, there’s a bit of difference between Loki and Norman. I think it sets them up pretty good. You can read it online for free.

BF: Now, what gave you the idea to put Volstagg in the Speedball role here?

[Laughs] The Speedball role. That’s the first time I’ve seen it associated with that.

BF: I’m assuming Volstagg isn’t going to become the new Penance.

A big, fat Penance. You know, I’d written it down originally as Balder, because I like Balder. But JMS had written a throwaway line about Volstagg going off onto Earth and being Thor. “I wanna go kick some ass like Thor! What a great adventure, instead of being cooped up here all day.” That was a great bit of business, and JMS kind of went in another direction with his stories and never really got back to it. And when he left, and I saw that he never picked it up, I said “Oh no, it’s gotta be Volstagg.”

First of all, what a great motivation for the character to journey out. He journeys out with the best of intentions, but he just doesn’t have all of the knowledge that Thor has about his power and what a fight like that would do to Earth, or what it would feel like to Earth. It’s not like he’s gullible or naïve, it’s just this is information he doesn’t have. A battle feels like a battle, so he gets set up by his own good nature to take the hit here.

BF: Just to be clear on his culpability here, it seemed like he sort of deflected the U-Foes energy with his sword?

Yeah, he was in personal battle; he didn’t even look like he knew where he was, to me at least. But on camera, it looks like Volstagg has this big magic sword and he lit Soldier Field on fire.

I see some people online accusing me of ripping off Civil War, but I have to defend myself a little here…

BF: You could also see it as an homage: all this mess kind of started in some ways with Civil War, and now it’s maybe going to end because of similar circumstances.

It’s even a little more grotesque than that; as Loki says in the book, “We’ll manufacture our own inciting incident, we won’t wait for it to happen. We’ll make it happen, and then we’ll go do whatever we want.” And I think there’s more than a few people in this country who feel that that’s happened in our lives.

That things were manufactured so that those who wanted to go to battle could go to battle. So that was my feeling; that they looked at Civil War as “Well that worked, let’s do that. We’ll just make our own.” So if anything, it’s the Dark Reign version of the Civil War incident. It’s the manufactured version.

BF: Is the public any wiser than they were after Civil War? I remember after the Civil War in the Marvel Universe, the public became very reactionary; everyone was saying “Down with superheroes!” and all that. Have they kind of smartened up and realized that they’ve been manipulated into following somebody who’s not too kosher?

Well, we’re going to discover that stuff during Siege. Spoilers, dude!

BF: Ok. Now, Ares took some convincing; what was his big hesitancy in joining Osborn on this?

Well, these are his brothers; even though it’s not his realm, it’s almost his sister realm, and the only person that Ares probably looks up to in the world is Thor. So, I think he voiced it very clearly; he says “It’s not your fight”, blah, blah, blah. But Norman hits him back with some solid truth; he goes “Yeah, that might have been the way it was, but that is not the way it is now. Thor’s not there, Odin’s not there.” He paints a picture that Asgard’s already under siege, in fact they’re taking it.

BF: Now, in using the Hood’s villains in the attack on Asgard, is Osborn exposing himself? Previously he sort of kept his connection to the Hood’s gang, a group of known criminals, under wraps.

Again, this will be revealed. But to him, there’s a fine line between what the Thunderbolts are and what the Hood is. If he signs them up to his program, then he’s legally allowed to do this; he has the right to do that.

BF: So he’s basically deputized them, in other words.

It’s almost as if this country were using Blackwater armed guards in another country!

As weird as that might sound! That weren’t supposed to be there but then you find out they’re there, and what are they doing there? Hmm, hmm. And really no one’s do anything about it! Hmm.

BF: Speaking of the Thunderbolts, there’s something I’ve been wondering for a while, and since you’re writing the Dark Avengers and handling The Hood, as well as coordinating with all the Norman Osborn/Dark Reign stuff, I thought I’d ask you.

The new Thunderbolts team that’s been formed during Dark Reign by Andy Diggle, and now taken over by Jeff Parker; how does that team fit into Osborn’s structure? How do they differ from the way he uses the Hood’s gang, vs. the Dark Avengers, and so on? Do you have any insight on that?

My insight is, when I had Osborn deputize the Hood’s gang, it’s just that there’s a tendency with leaders, when things aren’t working, instead of retracting, to just pour more on. “Oh, I’ll do more! MORE!” They’ll kill it with more. Again, given any number of modern examples…

BF: So that new Thunderbolts team doesn’t fit into that structure?

Well, they don’t fit into Siege right now because I don’t want to give away what’s happening in that book. I just don’t want to spoil his book.

BF: What about the Sentry? Where’s his head at right now? Is he finally getting suspicious of Osborn? In Ares’ war plan “transcript” at the end of the issue, what really struck me is that for the first time we saw the Sentry questioning Osborn, asking him “Is the right thing to do?”

For those who are frustrated with the Sentry or hungry for Sentry answers, Dark Avengers #13, 14, and 15 will answer EVERY single Sentry question; exactly what’s going on with him, how is he even still alive, didn’t we see his face blown off, what’s going on with Lindy, all of this will be answered clear as the day itself.

A lot of that has to do with what you just asked, which is what is the deal with him and Norman?

Check back here tomorrow for Part 2!

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  • Kris Bather

    Kris Bather Jan 25, 2010 at 8:10pm

    Great interview Matt!

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