IGN interviews Tom Brevoort about Siege



 IGN Comics: In terms of Siege, with the change to more franchise-driven storylines, would you say this ultimately is a more Avengers-focused event? It seems like so far the plot really is focusing on key Avengers characters versus other events in the past that might have had a wider scope… ? 

Brevoort: Well, Siege is very much an Avengers story, but I would make the argument that Secret Invasion was very much an Avengers story if what you were focused on was the Secret Invasion title. The Invasion reached out and had crossovers and tie-ins across the line, mostly because it was a big thing and it was eight months long, but really the core of it, I think, was an Avengers story. In that same sense, Siege is very much an Avengers story. Most of the central players will be Avengers. That said, there are still tie-ins in other places – issues of Dark Wolverine, New Mutants and so on. 

But the aftermath of Siege, similar to Secret Invasion and its aftermath Dark Reign, is going to sort of reset and reshift the landscape of where the Marvel Universe is for the next... however long that is. And that could potentially have an impact on any book we're publishing. There were plenty of books that weren't directly involved with Secret Invasion that had a shift in direction due to the fact that Osborn was now in charge. There will also be books that spin out of Siege, as there tends to be any time we do one of these events. 

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IGN Comics: This is the third Brian Bendisyou've helmed. When you enter a big event like this and you're working with a creator for the third time, does that make this sort of endeavor easier in a sense, knowing that you have someone who's experienced and proven with something like this? 

Brevoort: I think there are plusses and minuses. Certainly beyond the fact that he's done two of these before, I work with Brian on two Avengers titles every month… and have pretty much since the beginning of time at this point. So it's an interaction that's pretty comfortable. Also, having done two of these, Brian has learned certain things about what works, what doesn't, how to make things stronger and better and what new avenues to explore and try. He's certainly more savvy about how to build one of these things than he was heading into House of M – and hopefully I am as well. 

On the other hand, both Brian and I were wary of him doing two events in a row, having just wrapped Secret Invasion. Anybody can get stale or fall back into the same repetitive bag of tricks. It's always refreshing to change things up, so the readers don't get bored and the stories don't go stale.That's one of the reasons Brian opted out of the two issues of Dark Avengers that were a part of the Dark Avengers/Uncanny X-Men "Utopia" crossover. He figured he'd give people a rest and let that be Matt Fraction's event to tell.. 

But certainly Brian has a huge track record over the last six, seven, eight years, with comics that readers really want to follow, and his Avengers for the last five or six years has really been the center of the Marvel Universe. So it's a pretty easy thing to say that he's doing a big crossover and to have people take that story seriously. I think Brian carries a stature that you know going in, if for no other reason, that any impact will then be felt in the Avengers titles he writes. And certainly Olivier Coipel is, from Thor and House of M, a world class artist. It's a pedigree that's easy to have great confidence in. 

IGN Comics: I wanted to focus on a couple characters and their roles and motivations heading into Siege and in the first issue. Let's look at Norman Osborn for a second. What do you see as the biggest threat to him at the moment? I sort of see three things tearing at him – first, his lack of sanity; second, his overextension of power, and we see his Avengers directly questioning him in issue #1; third, his alliance with Loki and how much someone like that can really, truly be trusted. Is there one of these that challenges him more than others? 

Brevoort: I think Norman's quintessential flaw is that he's a man who's not well. I think Brian particularly, myself having now read a lot of comics where Norman has appeared, does a good job of portraying Norman as a well-rounded character and as a believable character. He's not necessarily a nice guy, and he doesn't necessarily have the political point of view that you or I have, but he has his point of view and it seems to hold water. If he wasn't completely schizophrenic and off his nut, he might actually be good at this. 

So Norman's quintessential problem is that he is not in his right mind. And he's been trying to keep reigns on the worst aspects of himself, even though those aspects are what enabled him to get to this position in the first place, while being in this pressure cooker of a situation that comes with being the guy with that job and responsibility. Norman has had a pretty good ride and done a pretty good job considering he's had to face down all those demons. And now we see him starting to overreach, now that he's losing his center. He's starting to spiral a little out of control. He's doing the classic, crazy Alpha Male maneuver, trying to grasp tighter on something even as it slips through his fingers. And by squeezing he only hastens the process. 

Loki is certainly a wild card, and anybody in an exchange with Loki who trusts him completely is probably getting the worst of that deal. So Loki has his own agenda going on, and he's also had things going on in Thor and Dark Avengers and Mighty Avengers. So he's definitely a problem too. But there's also the issue of attacking Asgard in the first place. Asgard has a population of hundreds, maybe thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands of guys who pretty much have been waging battles, and enjoying it, for… eternity! –laughs- Even putting aside Thor, putting aside Odin… this is not the smartest course of action. In the history of Asgard, it's been very rare that we've seen instances of it being taken over by anybody. And certainly not a chemical tycoon from New Jersey. So just on that level, the physical challenges of setting that course… plus the fact that Osborn has engineered the excuse to go in there… there has to be evidence of that conspiracy out there somewhere in the world. He's doing things against the orders of his Commander-in-Chief. And he figures if he does things right, he'll stay on top. There are guys in history who have tried this sort of thing… sometimes it works. 

Certainly the odds don't seem too terribly stacked in Norman's favor right now. He too might be the gambler who has rolled the dice past the point where he should have walked away. 

Siege #2 Cover

IGN Comics: I wanted to ask you about The Sentry, as he seems to be front and center in Siege, even taking on Thor directly in Siege #1. The character has been around some seven or eight years by this point, but he still seems to be pretty controversial, even being hated by many. From your perspective, why is he so divisive? 

Brevoort: To me it's pretty simple. I think many fans, maybe even most of them, look at him as sort of a pretender. He was retrofitted into the early days of the Marvel Universe. He's been around for decades and was really important… but nobody remembers him and you don't know who he is. So on a certain level seeing him stand shoulder to shoulder with Captain America or Iron Man, people see that and say, "No, that's a guy that Paul Jenkins and Jae Lee came up with. That's not the same as Cap or Spidey or Iron Man. He doesn't deserve to be here." 

I see a lot of chatter when I'm online about characters deserving stuff, particularly characters deserving respect. "Why doesn't Marvel respect so and so?" To some extent that's a crazy statement. It's talking about these characters as though they're real and not just lines on paper. And that's good, because you want people to invest in the characters, but we respect all these characters - as characters. So in that same way I think we see a lot of people not clicking with the Sentry because they see him as "not worthy" of standing amongst these guys in the same way. "This is Joe Quesada's pet character and now he's being forced down our throats." But ultimately he's a character and hopefully we're finding interesting things to do with him. And some people will like him and some people won't. 

You know, you mentioned Thor and The Sentry. I think that's a crux point of a lot of peoples' frustrations with Sentry as well. Certainly a lot of people have been waiting for Sentry to face off with Thor. It just goes back to that most basic thing, who's stronger – this guy or that guy. We've seen it before with Superman/Thor or Thor/Hulk. I lived through both of those conflicts very directly due to various projects. Fans of these characters, you know, can hang out together and be the best of friends, but when it comes to this one question, there is no straddling the line. You're a Hulk guy or you're a Thor guy. And the other guy just isn't wrong, he's evil and bad and should be crushed. Because Hulk or Thor is clearly stronger and to say otherwise isn't just stupidity, it's heresy! And it was the same with Thor and Superman. The storm that kicked up in the midst of JLA/Avengers was amazing, and it was partly because weeks before those same people were saying, "We want to see Thor and Superman throw down with a definitive winner and ending! No cop-out!" But once you run that through your Translator-Tron, what people were really saying is that they wanted their character to win, and forevermore silence the opposition. And when it didn't play out the way they wanted, they went bananas, and started coming up with theories of bias, and demanding a reversal. Looking for the cop-out excuse that they absolutely didn't want the week before. 

So I think it's the same kind of situation with Thor and Sentry – even moreso than Hulk and Thor since Sentry also has a cape and long blonde hair. Certainly there are plenty of Thor fans irritated that there's another guy out there that can stand toe to toe with the God of Thunder. And for it to be the guy retrofitted into the Marvel Universe? That can't be right! That's blasphemy! So… I think people are looking forward to this throwdown, but I think what they really want is for Thor to beat the s**t out of this guy! –laughs- And others just want a good fight. Others want to see the Thor fans get upset. So I think that has to do with it, not loving one being stronger than the other and so on. 

At any rate, there's a lot of Sentry stuff in Siege.     

IGN Comics: I wanted to briefly touch upon the appearance of Steve Rogers at the end of Siege #1. At the end of the Who Will Wield the Shield special, it seems pretty clear that Bucky is going to keep the identity of Captain America while Steve looks toward something different on the horizon. However at the end of Siege #1, we see Steve in his Captain America attire… 

Brevoort: Well, he just came back to life, he doesn't really have a lot of spare clothes… 

IGN Comics: -laughs- Well I'm curious if Steve is having second thoughts or is internally conflicted about his role in the Marvel Universe. Is this sort of hinting that he might actually want his name back? Maybe he needs to be Captain America? Is Siege introducing that ambiguity? 

Brevoort: Well, certainly in the course of Siege we'll see Steve step up and do some stuff. But I think Wield is a fairly definitive statement, at least for this moment. To be honest, it's a statement with a bit of a sloshy center, because Reborn #6 hasn't come out yet. In trying not to give away the last part of Reborn, we had to dance around a beat that's in that issue. Once the issue ships later this month, fans will see a little more of what this is about. And ultimately, Steve is in the partial Cap costume because that's a much better visual for that last page than a blond guy in a bathrobe getting upset at his TV. These are super hero comics, after all. 

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IGN Comics: It's interesting you brought up Reborn, because I think a lot of readers have assumed that, having now read Wield, the final chapter of Reborn isn't really necessary. You're saying that's definitely presumptuous? 

Brevoort: Yeah, I think a lot of people are thinking they don't need to read it. They beat the Red Skull. The End! No, there's a bit more going on in there, and there's stuff there that will really determine what Steve and Bucky will be doing for the next year. What the Special set up was that Bucky will be Cap and Steve will not. But exactly why Steve is doing what he's doing is shown in the last couple sequences in Reborn #6. In Siege, a lot of things will be happening. His friends will need him and he'll be going where he's needed. So we'll see him there. 

IGN Comics: My last question has a couple parts, really. Siege's opening operates in a parallel to Civil War, and we even see Loki and Norman openly discussing this idea. They want to affect a similar response through this action. It seems there is a fair amount of history repeating itself to some extent or another. Additionally, Siege is a pretty easy concept to explain – it's a Siege of Asgard. And the first issue really plays along these lines. What would you say to the person thinking this series will be predictable? How many twists and turns are coming in the next few issues? 

Brevoort: Well, it certainly would have been easier if we just did Civil War over and updated the outfits… -laughs- And we'll do it in four issues so we get it done on time this time and not run into delays! 

No, Siege is not Civil War. Certainly Loki and Norman have learned the lessons of Civil War, by taking a public situation and using it to galvanize a specific reaction. Beyond that, it's not really the same thing. There definitely will be some surprising stuff. I'm betting and banking on there being a moment in issue #2 that is going to surprise a lot of people. I can't tell you what that is, but I know once people hit that page there's going to be a lot of reaction to it. And the same things in issue #3 and #4. There will be plenty of character bits, spectacle and so forth. 

And this is a lot more concentrated, being only four issues. We'll get to the point a lot faster. Stuff just happens bang, bang, bang, bang. There's not a lot of standing around time. 

IGN Comics: I'm planning on talking to Brian about his Avengers titles, but can you run through some of the other Siege tie-ins so fans have an idea what is happening with them? 

Brevoort: Sure, two issues of Mighty will tie in, though the Mighty Avengers will be involved in Siege pretty much from the get go in Thunderbolts as they'll be taking on the black ops T-Bolts to keep them from accomplishing a particular objective. 

Back in Mighty, we'll see the rebirth of Ultron in a new and interesting place, and he'll clash with Hank Pym with the background of Siege. And there are a variety of other titles like Dark Wolverine and New Mutants. And Thor… absolutely nothing critical will be happening in Thor. They'll just be sitting around in a diner… Volstagg will be making flapjacks… 

Thor #608 Cover

IGN Comics: Just so you know, I'd read that Thor book. Flapjacks? Sold. 

Brevoort: -laughs- But, you know, the challenge we lay out to the creators is to tell a story that matters to their book, that's not just punching from one place to another in terms of the tie-ins. Sometimes we hit that note better than others and sometimes we're completely surprised. We had a great response with the Incredible Hercules tie-ins to Secret Invasion. That was a story very much off the beaten track of Secret Invasion, having to do with the Skrull gods. People really dug that because it was so different from anything else they were getting and yet it still played into what that book was about and what Secret Invasion was about. That kind of thing is the real objective.

I don't know that we always hit it perfectly, but hopefully we hit that more often than not, and it's not just an unending parade of – "It's issue #1 and the dead hero with a connection to our character is back, so now we have to punch him for three issues." 

IGN Comics: Tom, thanks so much for taking the time to discuss Siege. We'll talk soon. 

Brevoort: No problem. Thanks, Rich!