REVIEW: Marvel’s Fear Itself #7

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Marvel’s Fear Itself certainly didn’t run behind schedule, but it feels as though the event and series have been going on for far longer than seven months. An extraordinary number of tie-ins and mini-series likely added to this feeling along with the fact that DC Comics’ competing “Summer Blockbuster,” Flashpoint, ended in August ushering a completely new DC Universe that’s running strong into its second month. It was never suggested that Fear Itself would have that kind of impact on the Marvel Universe, and the landscape has shifted to some degree. Unfortunately, it’s difficult not to see the changes as retreads of earlier stories.

Spoilers for Fear Itself will follow.

KevinMLD: Ha. I totally forgot about this title. I can tell you what my comments on it will be before I even read it. How could it have been better? They could not have killed Bucky.

PTB: That’s a good start, especially when his return is already being teased. It’s part of a long list of status quo changes coming out of Fear Itself that make little sense to me. It feels like Thor just returned (granted that was in 2007) and is now gone again. Odin seems to be on a similar path having died and returned already in that period and is now gone again. The Asgardians were living on Earth, returned to Asgard and got dropped right back off in Broxton, Oklahoma during the course of this very series. That’s not shaking things up, that’s picking things up and putting them down.

KevinMLD: Yeah the fact that Bucky is currently narrating his origin over in Captain America and Bucky makes this all even dumber. Marvel clearly isn’t sure what to do with Thor besides kill him and resurrect him. He’s the new Jean Grey. Whatever happened to his clone? Wait. He really IS the new Jean Grey.

PTB: If the double-page “It’s Coming” ad at the end of the book is anything to go by, Jean Grey might get a chance to come back first this time. Speaking of the X-Men, I can say with certainty that I enjoyed some of the tie-ins to Fear Itself far more than the main series, particularly Kieron Gillen’s Uncanny X-Men. Obviously, the main title provided the backdrop for these stories, but I need it to do more than that. I haven’t felt this way about any of Marvel’s other recent event series.

KevinMLD: Yeah, I don’t want to beat a dead horse because it’s a complaint I think I’ve made on MLD many times, but I HAVE felt that way before about Marvel’s events… and often. This may have to do with the fact that I never read the tie-ins (because I shouldn’t have to), but Civil War was a particularly hollow exercise when you just read the main series. Secret Invasion on the other hand stood on its own two feet pretty well.

PTB: Stuart Immonen’s artwork has been outstanding in this series. His pencils are rock solid again in the final chapter, but I feel like a lot of panels were dedicated to Thor’s battle with the Serpent and some of them looked too similar to one another.

KevinMLD: I was a fan of the art throughout. I’m not sure the final Thor-Serpent battle was as intense as it could have been, however. The Serpent transforms into an actual giant serpent and then gets stabbed in the head by a magic sword? And what exactly killed Thor? A fall? Was he constricted to death?

PTB: It was very different from the way Bucky’s death was depicted and left a lot of questions. There’s also an odd choice to have Wolverine alone appear transformed into one of The Mighty when Iron Man returns with their mystical weapons from Asgard. The others are holding their new armaments, but appear in their normal costumes. Stark in particular should look different after throwing himself, armor and all, into the Uru pit.

KevinMLD: I didn’t even notice that. There Wolverine goes again, always letting you down.

PTB: Colorists Laura Martin, Justin Ponsor and Matt Milla did a great job with all of the swirling mystical energies found throughout this book and it really jumps off the page.

KevinMLD: Agreed about the mystical energy effects. I’m not sure I’m a fan of the TRON-inspired costumes though.

PTB: I didn’t mind that for either “the Worthy” or “the Mighty,” but I do like TRON. On the topic of weapons, Captain America’s shield is out of play and he takes up Thor’s hammer to bring the battle to the Serpent. It’s actually a really cool moment. I’m not crazy about the return of his shield with a crack though. That just seems like the type of thing that’s not going to last.

KevinMLD: Cap wielding Thor’s hammer was definitely the highlight of this issue… Maybe the series. And my first thought upon seeing Cap’s damaged shield also was: how long until this is ignored in his other books?

PTB: Just before this, Cap is helped to his feet by one of the men of Broxton returning to defend his hometown against impossible odds. Cap calls him the wrong name and says some really strange things. He also seems unhinged when he gets his hands on Sin. Is this the result of a head injury, or is there more to this?

KevinMLD: I guess we’ll find out, but I took it as he was confused after taking such a beating.

PTB: The other big moment here is Thor’s apparent death in defeating the Serpent. As mentioned, we’re left not knowing how or why he died, but I feel like the pages dedicated to his fall and funeral give it some of the emotion that Bucky’s death earlier in the series lacked.

KevinMLD: See my previous comments: Bucky’s death = dumb. Thor’s death = New Jean Grey

PTB: We also learn that the Serpent’s name is Cul.

KevinMLD: This information might have been nice to know earlier.

PTB: Possibly, but it means nothing to me. I tried investigating it, and all I really get back is information about cul-de-sacs.

I’m not sure what the energy on the last page of the main story is meant to be. It looks like the Asgardian Rainbow Bridge may still be connected to Broxton or someone or something is crossing over, but it’s unclear. It almost reminds me of the mass of mutant energy shown above the Earth at the end of House of M.

KevinMLD: It definitely stuck out. It’s probably that new dumb, fake Thor from the John Romita, Jr. drawn ads arriving on Earth.

PTB: The main story is followed by four epilogues which I assume explain the book’s $4.99 price tag. One leads into a series called The Fearless which also started shipping this week, and another sets up something called Battle Scars which left me perplexed as no one on the pages looked familiar from Fear Itself.

I was also surprised by the Hulk’s involvement in the other two epilogues. The setup for Marc Silvestri and Jason Aaron’s Hulk #1 looks like it could be diametrically opposed to Defenders #1.

KevinMLD: So wait, could the Hulk have split off from Banner at any time? That is so stupid. And yet I’m very excited for this series. And my interest in Defenders has gone up considerably knowing now that the real Hulk is actually involved. Not a fan of the way the Hulk just looks like some random green dude in the art. I like my Hulk to have a little more monster in his face.

PTB: I have very little interest in the “aftermath” of this event. A 12-issue maxi-series starring Valkyrie and Sin is fine, but Marvel is also publishing three “.1” (point one) issues to handle the fallout for Captain America, Thor and Iron Man. So we’ll be getting Fear Itself #7.1, #7.2 and #7.3 this Fall. It feels like a misuse of the “Point One” concept which has been a lot of fun to date.

KevinMLD: That is crazy. Wait. So Sin just killed Bucky and beat Cap down pretty good. So what’s next for her? A feud with Valkyrie? Seriously? That makes Bucky’s death even worse. Marvel totally made him job to this dumb, fake Red Skull.

PTB: I’m afraid all of this will continue the trend in Fear Itself where the emotional and character implications will be in those books rather than the main series.

KevinMLD: In that respect, this event is a flop, but I suspect it’s worse than that. I think there won’t be any real emotional fallout from this at all. Maybe in the Cap Fear Itself aftermath book, but then it’ll all be swept under the rug while we greet a new dumb, fake Winter Soldier or Bucky returning as the Winter Soldier in 2012. I don’t get the point.

PTB: Agreed. At that point, it’s just a bunch of stuff that happened.

Read more about Marvel’s Fear Itself on MyLatestDistraction,
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Fear Itself #6

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