UGC Week: Blackest Night and Seige

by Jeff on January 26, 2010 · 0 comments

in Stuff I Like

Bill says, “Blog about comics. Like, compare/contrast Siege and Blackest Night.

I generally try to avoid the nerdiest of nerdy comic stuff here, saving it for Alert Nerd, but I do what my readership commands. Because I care.

I have, in fact, written about Blackest Night in a meta kind of way, a few times before. But not in this space, and not in earnest after the first issue actually hit stands. Seige, I have been a bit reticent about.

To bring the non comics-savvy up to speed…

Blackest Night and Siege are ‘event’ comic book miniseries being published by DC (Batman) and Marvel (Wolverine) respectively.

Blackest Night spins out of events building over the last few years in the Green Lantern books (being Green Lantern and Green Lantern Corps), and deals with the emergence of Black Lanterns – zombie versions of deceased characters empowered by black power rings and running around acting like jerks and ripping out the hearts of the living in order to facilitate the return of Nekron, the physical embodiment of death in the DC Comics universe. There is also now a Lantern for every other color in the rainbow, not just Green. The Orange Lantern is like a deranged Muppet on acid. Right now, Blackest Night is six issues into its 8 issue story and have seen lots of inconsequential characters (Aqualad, Hawkman, Damage) get butchered by zombie superheroes, seen the Flash literally outrun Death (again), and seen an exploding zombie Batman.

Siege is, as Marvel bills it, “an event seven years in the making,” going back to Brian Bendis and David Finch’s Avengers: Disassembled, a story in which a deranged Scarlet Witch, grieving the loss of the imaginary children she had with her android husband The Vision (don’t ask), freaked out and used her ridiculous reality-altering powers to murder Ant Man, Hawkeye, Vision and Jack of Hearts, blow up Avengers mansion and generally pave the way for a new take on the Avengers as a super-team, a take that included Spider-Man and Wolverine as team members and generally met with howls of derision from tens of people who were big fans of Photon and Jack of Hearts and Triathlon and Doctor Druid (ie. while I, as a writer, do not believe there are inherently bad characters, these characters come shockingly close to such a distinction). In Siege, the Green Goblin is the Director of Homeland Security and he and his team of Avengers (who are actually criminals dressed as the Avengers; the real Avengers are all basically criminals in a stunning twist) are starting a war against Asgard, the place where the Norse gods live, which Thor has conveniently parked a few feet above a farm in rural Oklahoma. Captain America (who was dead until like a month ago), Iron Man (who is in a persistent vegetative state in his own monthly comic) and Thor (who is basically awesome because he is Thor) are going to team up again to save the day, and this is a big deal because Iron Man is basically responsible for Cap’s death and used Thor’s DNA to make a cyborg murder drone that looks like Thor, which resulted in nobody liking Iron Man very much for awhile.

The two events are emblematic of the way that each publisher handles big events. On the DC side, the main attraction is the miniseries itself and its attendant fireworks show. Big stuff happens in each issue, with lots of sturm und drang, and there is a surfeit of bitchin’ fight scenes and macho dialogue. It is a formula that DC has used well over the years, going back to 1986′s Crisis On Infinite Earths (which is still the event comic that all other event comics are judged by). With Marvel, however, the trend seems to be that the aftermath of an event is more interesting than the event itself. Civil War led to the Initiative storyline, which is still affecting at least a few books; the end of Secret Invasion led to a status quo where Norman Osborn ran everything and the heroes were forced to go underground, and Siege is already promising another huge status quo change in its wake that Marvel is calling “The Heroic Age” in its marketing copy.

Ultimately, Blackest Night and Siege are two very differently structured events, but I’ve been reading and enjoying both for what they are.

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