Fear Itself #7.3


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Fear Itself #7.3


  • Words: Matt Fraction
  • Art: Salvador Larroca
  • Colors: Frank D'Armata
  • Story Title: Chapter 7.3: Iron Man
  • Publisher: Marvel Comics
  • Price: $3.99
  • Release Date: Nov 16, 2011

A forgettable event ends with one of the major ramifications undone, but Fraction and Larroca do the best they can to add soul to maintenance work.

With the dust of Fear Itself and Blitzkreig USA settling, Iron Man and the other heroes have to put the pieces together. Captain America needs to form a new team of Avengers, the Hulk must now fight the machinations of Dr. Bruce Banner, Thor has died but Tanarus has been the god of thunder all along, and Iron Man and Rescue failed in a horrific way: the city of Paris and its inhabitants have been destroyed and damaged beyond belief. The super powered Grey Gargoyle has unleashed Hell on the city, and very few survived. Iron Man's not happy about that. Tony Stark, being of high ego, finds it's up to him to discuss what happened with both Odin and the terrorist that decimated the city of lights.

This issue of Fear Itself, or post-mini-series-mini-series as it were, basically has the problem of plot. Fraction and Larroca, standard caretakers of Iron Man for the past few years, do their best with the story, and it hits all the right notes, but the issue's big twist and reveal, that the Grey Gargoyle's destruction of Paris and its people is magically reversed, is just insulting. It's deus ex machina, it's the problem of most Marvel books sharing a continuing, ongoing universe. Destroying cities, while an easy thing to script, but a hard thing to manage in the long run, can have immeasurable repercussions for a narrative. DC Comics did it with Coast City, Marvel themselves did it with the destruction of Pittsburgh in the New Universe, alongside Stamford in Civil War. While the concept of magic and mysticism ran throughout Fear Itself, it's a change that comes out of nowhere and cuts off a whole line of concepts that could come out of it. Effectively, it allows Iron Man's core book to close the chapter on Fear Itself without having major world repercussions, only keeping the alcohol plot and that of Rescue's breakdown running. The characters will carry the "battle scars" internally, but the world won't carry the scars of battle. As Fraction wrote Fear Itself and The Invincible Iron Man, it seems almost silly or annoying that he introduced a rather intriguing plot point, only to cut it off himself by the end.

Beyond this core concept of the issue, Fraction and Larroca continue to be a great team for the job. Larroca's pencils, only supported by D'Armata's color work, do great with the intensity and emotion that a book largely devoid of action desires. They're consistently a dream team, and when they leave Iron Man, it'll take either a superior set (which might not exist) or a drastic tonal change (like Pak to Aaron on Hulk) to offset the loss. Fraction's writing, and the book as a whole, manages to work on two different levels. The first read through gives the benefit of surprise and awe, alongside fear and trepidation. Is Paris truly destroyed? Would Tony Stark kill a man for crimes he didn't knowingly commit, without giving him a fair shot? The second read through, if you chose to rework the pages and panels into chronological order, works a little better, if only from a clearer path. It's like watching Memento backwards; you lose the style and flair that defines the work, but you can gain a clearer knowledge of the actual story progression and facts.

Iron Man could have carried the scars of this battle in his own book. Instead of letting the loss affect him towards the future, Fraction wraps it up nearly nice and tidy in an otherwise unnecessary continuation of a miniseries that not too many people asked for. While the story's nice, it washes away much of the damage that Fear Itself could have let linger.

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