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Comic Book / Under Siege

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Wake up, Avengers! This is not the moment to take a rest!

Under Siege is a 1980s storyline of The Avengers (1963), by Roger Stern and John Buscema, running through issues #274 to #277 (with issues #270 and 271 serving as a prologue).

Zemo and the newest version of the Masters of Evil monitor the activities of the Avengers, and overrun the mansion at a moment it's empty. They easily subdue most of the Avengers that enter it, unaware of the problem, and eventually flee when the remaining Avengers regroup.

This comic book has absolutely no relation with Under Siege of Steve Seagal, or with the comic book crossover Siege published in 2010.

This storyline has been adapted in two animated series, both The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes and Avengers Assemble.

Under Siege provides examples of:

  • Alcohol-Induced Idiocy: Part of Zemo's plan is getting Hercules completely brickfaced before he strikes, courtesy of a Honey Trap. It works. While Cap and Wasp are able to intercept Herc before he can stumble into the mansion, his surly attitude means he takes offense to Wasp telling him what to do and rushes in anyway.
  • All Your Base Are Belong to Us: One of the most famous instances in comics, a large group of supervillains, the Masters of Evil, take over the Avengers Mansion and turn its weapons, comms, and other systems against the heroes.
  • Berserk Button: Reminding Hercules that the Wasp is the boss that gives him orders is not exactly a good idea.
  • Call-Back: Zemo returns after his apparent death in Captain America issue #300. He explains privately to Fixer that thanks to his headband and his would-be killer breaking off her attack when she THOUGHT he'd died, he hadn't actually died, just been knocked out.
  • The Chains of Commanding: Discussed by Wasp. When grieving over her team-mates being decommissioned and Avengers Mansion being occupied, Black Knight consoles her but Wasp points out that it's her responsibility that the Masters of Evil took over since it was her watch. She didn't plan out the defenses or anticipate the situation they were currently in and that makes it her responsibility as team leader.
  • Chekhov's Gun: "And, in another news, supervillain Moonstone has escaped from prison. Back to studios". It shouldn't surprise anyone that she shows up later.
  • David Versus Goliath: Ant-Man & the Wasp vs. the Absorbing Man and Titania. It can hardly be more unfair than that.
  • Delayed Reaction: Cap initially doesn't respond to Zemo's destroying his personal things, partly because he won't give the man the satisfaction. It's only once everything's over Steve allows himself to feel, and it hits like a ton of bricks.
  • Dirty Coward: When the situation looks tough, Moonstone cuts and runs.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Rita DeMara joins the Masters, but she's mostly just a petty criminal, disgusted by Hyde's Ax-Crazy nature and Zemo's willingness to discard allies the minute they stop being useful.
  • Evil Is Petty: When the Masters take over the Mansion, the Wrecking Crew start smashing up the place, just because they can.
  • Eye Scream: Wasp's go-to tactic for immobilizing enemies, blasting them right in the eyes with her stings, first using it on Absorbing Man, then on Hyde.
  • George Lucas Altered Version: Birrah asks Namor for help liberating Atlantis, and he leaves with him, not to be seen the TPB, at least. Actually, Namor calls the Avengers at the end of #271 and they help him in #272, but this is removed from the TPB to keep the story more focused.
  • I Ain't Got Time to Bleed: Thor, due to events over in his own title, is suffering from brittle bones that won't heal, thanks to Hela. He takes some serious injuries here, but just powers on through (though Janet does notice he's clearly trying to play down the pain).
  • Imposter Forgot One Detail: Zemo and Fixer use a voice-scrambler to pretend to be Wasp to try and lure Cap into the mansion. However, he reports on fighting Whirlwind over in his own title, and finds something odd when "Wasp" has no reaction, given her history with Whirlwind. This prompts him to visit Jan, and finds her just chilling at her New Jersey residence, with no idea what he's talking about.
  • I Reject Your Reality: Helmut Zemo is convinced he's avenging his father's death and family dishonor despite the Avengers and Captain America telling him that his father was a Nazi war criminal, a culprit of its atrocities, that he got himself killed, and it was him who brought all the difficulties on himself and his family as consequences of his actions. Helmut is too insane and evil to accept this, of course.
  • Kick the Dog:
    • Zemo doesn't really gain anything from tearing Captain America's photo of his mom. It's just because he's evil.
    • Mr. Hyde also decides to savagely pummel Jarvis while the Black Knight and Captain America are Forced to Watch.
  • The Knights Who Say "Squee!": Ant-Man (Scott Lang) when he meets Thor.
  • Know When to Fold 'Em: Yellowjacket ultimately surrenders rather than trying to fight the Avengers further.
  • Legion of Doom: The new and improved Masters of Evil, with Stern boosting the numbers to over a dozen.
  • Love Makes You Stupid: Dane's got a crush on Janet, and gets all jealous when she meets her ex Paladin, leaving him easy pickings for the Masters.
  • Mirrored Confrontation Shot: Avengers #271: The Black Knight, Wasp and Paladin vs. the Grey Gargoyle, Yellowjacket (Rita Demara) and Screaming Mimi.
  • New Meat: Screaming Mimi's intended role in the Masters, per Stern's notes, but she doesn't last long enough to do much. The new Yellowjacket fills the role herself, being a fresh supervillain drawn into Zemo's petty revenge scheme.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown:
    • Hyde inflicts several of these, including on Black Knight, Jarvis and Hercules.
    • All the Masters give one to Hercules, so bad it very nearly kills him.
  • Not So Stoic: Zemo tears the only photo of Captain America's mother up in front of his face. Cap stays serious and collected, only saying "I will remember this, Zemo". Once the battle's over, Cap cries.
  • Powder Keg Crowd: As a mob are outside the mansion protesting Namor's involvement, Moonstone shows up pretending to be a woman widowed by one of Namor's rampages.
  • Put on a Bus: Issues #270-271 have Screaming Mimi and Grey Gargoyle on a recruiting drive, but they're beaten, and play no more part in the main event, without even a handwave.
  • The Resenter: Hercules does not like it at all that the Wasp is the team leader.
  • Some Nutty Publicity Stunt: Namor saves a helicopter from crashing, and the two men inside. The protesters against Namor dismiss it as a setup, much to the exasperation of the people he's saved.
  • Spiritual Successor: Several of this arc's Masters of Evil lineup would return years later as the original Thunderbolts.
  • The Starscream: Zemo worries Moonstone might betray him given half a chance. He's right to worry, since that's exactly what she's planning, but she never gets the opportunity.
  • Stay in the Kitchen: Namor has left the team, to fight against Attuma, who has invaded Atlantis. The Wasp is a bit angry over this. Hercules says "Facing Attuma alone is a point of honor. But then, I shouldn't expect a woman to understand such things!"
  • Superman Stays Out of Gotham: The Avengers do have a large amount of friends and reservists they could call upon, but for one reason or another can't. The Fantastic Four are off doing FF stuff, as are the Avengers West Coast. Scarlet Witch and Vision are on vacation. Hulk's imprisoned. And the Falcon... is off sick.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: One advantage this version of the Masters of Evil has over past attempts is that the team has enough members to outnumber the Avengers' current roster, where previous Masters just attempted to match the Avengers one-on-one directly.
  • Trauma Button: Janet is a little unnerved meeting Scott Lang, what with the Ant-Man thing, but also because the hospital they're at is one she previously went to when badly injured by Count Nefaria.
  • Underestimating Badassery: Zemo thinks Wasp is no real threat, even though she's leader of the Avengers. He pays for that one.
  • Violently Protective Girlfriend: Titania vows to kill Wasp for hurting her boyfriend, Absorbing Man.