Overview

Fear Itself #6

Review

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Fear Itself #6

Credits

  • Words: Matt Fraction
  • Art: Stuart Immonen
  • Publisher: Marvel Comics
  • Price: $3.99
  • Release Date: Sep 14, 2011

Fraction delivers much-wanted plot points, yet they do little to save this wayward event.

Earth’s mightiest heroes lick their wounds, say their goodbyes, and prepare for the final showdown with the Serpent. Last issue was all brawl, and this issue is all talk. Fraction offers up some much-wanted plot details, but the information revealed has little impact since Fear Itself has failed to scare up any real sense of drama.

It’s hard not to compare this event to Geoff Johns’s Blackest Night. A second-tier hero (Green Lantern/Thor) has his mythology expanded upon with variants of his signature weapon (rings/hammers) and must face a villain with a scythe (Nekron/Serpent) that embodies a horrific concept (death/fear). I am not making this comparison to whine about how Fraction is copying Johns. Marvel and DC imitating one another is hardly anything new. Rather, I am noting that the blockbuster success of Blackest Night has changed the format for event comics. Instead of all-out battles with super-folk punching each other in the face, events have changed to focus on a single character in a personal manner. Unfortunately, Fraction seems to have misplayed his hand every step of the way.

At the start of Fear Itself, the big question was “Who gets a hammer?” But after they were handed out, all seven wielders fell into the background and their stories were resolved in tie-ins, making the whole concept all build-up and no pay off. The next big question was “Who is the Serpent?” During this penultimate chapter, we learn exactly why he is Odin’s most shameful secret, but the Serpent has had such little page time and character development that one would be hard-pressed to truly care. All the while, readers are supposed to be afraid for their favorite heroes. Sadly, laughable Nazi mech-warriors, destruction of famous landmarks, and heroes running from battle did little to inspire fear in the vaguest sense.

These same heroes have defeated the likes of Galactus and Thanos, so dealing with the Serpent should have been just another walk in the park – nothing worth quitting over due to paralyzing fear. Want to know what’s scary? Go read the opening of Blackest Night where the Hawks are brutally murdered by zombies. To elicit fear in a reader, a writer must expertly craft a scene with attention to atmosphere, timing, and characters the reader cares about. Fear Itself has a melodramatic tone, inconsistent pacing, and characters behaving out of character just so people have something to point at and say “See look! Spider-Man ran away, so that means he is afraid!”

Speaking of Spider-Man, Immonen helps sell a heart-warming moment that could have been terribly cheesy in less capable hands. Although, it is ironic that his most memorable moment in Fear Itself was not a moment of fear. His pencils are expertly detailed with lots of different settings that allow him to stretch his creative boundaries. The giant furnace where Tony Stark builds new weapons looks awe-inspiring, especially the light-staircases that seem to come from nowhere.

This issue not only gives the heroes time to prepare for their battle against an uninspired villain and several B- and C-list characters holding hammers, it also gives the reader a chance to realize how empty the entire event has been. If Blackest Night is any indicator, then the final installment can be easily predicted: the heroes get new Asgardian-Tron outfits, the Serpent is defeated, and something life-altering happens to Thor.

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