Bad jokes aside, Fear Itself is the recently finished Marvel company-wide crossover event, primarily centred around Thor and Captain America, two heroes that had movies releasing over the summer.
The story revolves around Odin’s Brother, The Serpent (First name : The, Last Name : Serpent) escaping the prison once set for
him and then , with the help of his 8 hammer powered henchmen, Sin, Hulk, the Thing, Attuma, The Absorbing Man, Titania, Juggernaut and the Grey Gargoyle, engulfs the whole planet with fear trying to make himself stronger.
This was originally planned as a Cap/Thor crossover but soon developed into a Full Blown crossover, considering the fact that Marvel hadn’t come up with one for a year and a half.
Pre-launch, the series was said to have metaphors for how fear has gripped the modern real world.
Also, if you plan to read Fear Itself, this is me SPOILER ALERTing this aricle and advising you to read this after you read the series.
Review : The Main Series
Personally, I’ve never been a big fan of Matt Fraction writing for books with bigger casts. At one hand, he can come up with some of the best work in comics today with titles like Invincible Iron Man, The Mighty Thor and Immortal Iron Fist, while on the other hand, he has been under fire from critics for titles such as his consistently inconsistent run on Uncanny X-Men.
Fear Itself reads very different (and much better) when read in a collected form, rather than individual issues over months. Fraction is known to expand a given story to insert more characterisation, an approach that does seem to be working well for the early part of the event, with Fraction effectively portraying the public gloom as things get grittier for the heroes, but sometime around the Death of Bucky Barnes, that approach pretty much gets thrown out of the window, making way for people with hammers fighting. We do get plenty of great moments for the characters(more on that later), but somewhere before the middle of the series, cohesive storytelling gets affected severely.
What the series does have going for it is the fact that it led to a lasting impact on the three most prominent heroes in the Marvel Universe : Captain America, Thor and Iron Man. Bucky dies, whic means Steve has to wield the shield again, right in time for the movie. Iron Man breaks his sobriety and bows down to Odin. And Thor takes nine steps and sacrifices himself to save Midgard. Except for a little bit here and there, everyone else is pretty much in the background.
Despite the problems with the script, the one man who managed to make this title a must read is Stuart Immonen. This event was certainly his biggest break, after stellar work on Ultimate Spider-Man and New Avengers, and he didn’t disappoint. We have some beautiful visuals throughout, along with brilliantly rendered action scenes which make you feel every blow. I loved Oliver Coipel’s work on Siege, the last Marvel event, but this is on a whole different level.
Moments from Fear Itself
Steve Rogers has no idea what to do with an agitated mob
Tony Stark proposes a solution : To Rebuild Asgard as a gesture of goodwill.
The Name’s Serpent, The Serpent
Odin knows there’s trouble brewing and leads the Asgardians out of Earth.
The Red Skull attacks Washington
Bucky dies a soldier’s death. No one seems to care much about him after this, though.
Aaaaaaand Cap’s suited up again.
In what is easily Tony Stark’s defining moment in the event, he loses his sobriety to gain Odin’s Attention.
Thor challenges the Serpent, but is instead sent to face Hammer-powered Hulk and Thing.
Just to show that he’s a badass, The Serpent breaks Cap’s shield.
People going out of character all over. Spidey runs away to be with his Aunt, and Cap accepts defeat. Double Facepalm.
Cap has balls.
After making Odin-blessed Uru weapons for the Avengers, Stark has to take a Molten Uru bath for his armor to be blessed.
Cap decides to hold the line against Dark Asgard solo. He’s confident it’s gonna be alright because one Cap has already died in the event.
All hail the mighty.
It appears Cap is as worthy as they come.
Thor strikes the Serpent, sacrificing himself in the process.
The stage is set for Shattered Heroes.
Fear Itself was very different from other events because the tie-ins turned out to be not only good, but quite a few were actually better than the Main series. Here’s a few.
1) Invincible Iron Man
Remember what I said earlier about Fraction on this title? This is what I was talking about. The Fear Itself arc covers the fall and subsequent rise of Tony Stark during the event. One half of the arc is about him fighting the Grey Gargoyle in a Grey Gargoyle-d Paris (and getting his posterior kicked) and then creating weapons for the avengers in Odin’s workshop. Excellent character work.
2) Journey into Mystery
Kieron Gillen writes the best Loki I have ever read. Excellent writing with an amazing blend of humor and myth makes this a must buy
3) Uncanny X-Men
X-Men vs. Hammer powered Juggernaut. Colossus takes up Juggernaut mantle. Written by Kieron Gillen. Take my money, please.
4) Avengers Academy
The faculty and students battle the worthy. Excellent character work and team dynamics throughout. Christos Gage at his best.
Jeff Parker’s current run really proves that there is no such thing as a bad character. Red Hulk vs the Thing/Angrir.
This is my least favourite recent Marvel crossover event. What it has working for it is Stuart Immonen, overall good tie-ins and some memorable moments with some lasting impact. What it doesn’t have working for it is Fraction’s confused writing, overall weak premise and the fact that it is centred around just 5 characters (Cap, Thor, Stark, The Serpent and the Red Skull). It’s certainly not a painful read, but it’s also no Civil War. The final verdict is this : Buy Watchmen if you have a choice between this and Watchmen. Bad Example, I know, you always buy Watchmen when it’s a choice between anything and Watchmen.
Score : Main Series : 6.8/10 (2.2/5 for Fraction, 4.6/5 for Immonen)
Overall Event : 7.5/10