Big guys whomping on each another is obviously a major element of superhero comics, but it’s not the primary draw for KevinMLD and I. That being said, the battle between Thor and the transformed Hulk and Thing in Fear Itself #5 was spectacular. We’ve cited this series for lacking big emotion to go along with its big moments and we’re split as to whether that starts happening here. Regardless of what the characters are feeling, we’re seeing them move closer to the end of the series and things are looking grim.
Spoilers for Fear Itself and its associated titles to follow.
PTB: I’m not usually not one to spend a lot of time speculating about “who would win in a fight between…” but Thor put himself in the win column over Thing and Hulk even with the Serpent’s power up. Of course, Thor isn’t looking so good by the time it ends.
KevinMLD: I disagree. By the end it’s clear Thor can’t beat Hulk so he takes him off the board. That never works. Ask the Illuminati. He’ll be back and determined to destroy the world as a result.
PTB: It’s true Thor doesn’t defeat both of his opponents, but I think some of his statements about whether he could defeat Hulk/Nul were meant to lure his opponent in for the lightning strike. Plus, he apparently sent Hulk straight into a fight with Dracula in another tie-in book, so who knows if he’ll even be back. Their fight even had some great emotion that’s been missing from the series.
KevinMLD: I’m not really with you here either. The closest we get to emotion was Mr. Fantastic’s brats feeling the need to intervene to save their “uncle.” They’re not even really related, are they? Send those kids to their room without supper.
PTB: I was seeing emotion during the actual battle. With a few words, I came away with the sense that Thor really didn’t want to hurt Thing and really doesn’t like Hulk and never has. It’s not much, but it struck me.
The early pages of the book establish where things are for the Avengers big three and the there’s a through-line of loss and sacrifice for Cap, Thor and Iron Man. Thor has turned away from his father and kinsmen, Cap has seen Bucky die again, but a significant event from last issue that we did not discuss was Tony Stark sacrificing his sobriety to summon Odin. This is a big deal for an alcoholic, but much like Bucky’s death it lacks all of the complex emotions that should surround it. It comes off that Tony just goes and does this, and we never get any sense that this is necessary or that they’ve tried some other means. This should be the last ditch effort not just the next thing that happens.
KevinMLD: Yeah, there has been loss. I’m just not sure the magnitude of it is really conveyed on the page. I’m not even trying to trash the issue. I thought it was a decent comic. It just seems like the consequences of the actions aren’t being felt. An example that really bothered me is when the Serpent declares, “I am God.” It basically looks like a nuclear bomb has gone off. But our heroes are just knocked out and the villains just walk away.
The city is devastated but do we see a single body?
PTB: And for Tony to do it to create weapons isn’t sitting well with me. We saw a teaser for a magically amplified group of heroes called “The Mighty” in the past few weeks. It looks like they’re intended as a foil to “The Worthy” who are serving the Serpent. I finally saw the Captain America movie last week and one Cosmic Cube trumps eight, sixteen or any other number of magic hammers at connecting Cap and Thor’s histories.
KevinMLD: Do we need sixteen Thors? Seriously?
PTB: The revitalized Serpent makes his appearance and does some real damage. The way Fraction and Immonen put these pages together really worked for me and I was glad to see it with two issues to go. For me, this establishes what the world should be afraid of.
PTB: I came away focusing on the fact that The Serpent had just completely incapacitated the Avengers, but chose not to kill them for some reason. Perhaps they’re just not worth his energy. Something has to be said for that kind of power.
On that note, last time we briefly touched on the fact that this series isn’t addressing the kinds of fears presented in the teaser images (although we did see Captain America looking down at a shattered shield in both the teaser and this very issue). I’ve been thinking about this, and in a way I think it would trivialize the real world issues to have some nefarious force behind the economic crisis or anything like that. However, things like Cyclops fearing what he’s becomes in leading all of mutantkind, or an exploration of Spider-Man’s fears should absolutely be part of this series.
KevinMLD: I don’t think they have any intention of ever addressing any of those teasers.
PTB: Franklin Richards using his mutant powers may be the most significant event in the book. He heals Thing and returns him to his right mind after being twisted by the Serpent. Franklin has been kept mostly under wraps during his publication history and the last time I recall him doing anything was Onslaught/Heroes Reborn.
KevinMLD: It was a weird scene. I almost expect a Franklin Richards vs. Serpent finale at this point as he seems all powerful. That would be pretty disappointing.
PTB: It would also be sad to see them use Franklin in a major spot only to back off again and not address it when the dust settles. Although this take on Franklin Richards has me reconsidering everything.
We didn’t talk at all about the artwork last issue, but I feel like I have to acknowledge how solid Stuart Immonen’s work is on this series. It’s consistent, beautiful and on schedule. He’s not an artist I would have sought out before this event, even though I did like his work on New Avengers. As Fear Itself has gone on, he’s become someone that I will watch going forward much like Ivan Reis after Blackest Night and Brightest Day.
KevinMLD: He had an awesome Hulk run a few years ago, if I’m not mistaken. He’s a strong artist.
PTB: I’ve been going back and forth in my opinion of the “split” cover design for this series and I’ve come to the conclusion that it just doesn’t work for me. Neither image has the impact that it should given how little space it’s compressed into.
KevinMLD: I don’t mind the cover. Don’t love it. But it’s not bad.
PTB: I was also happy to see there wasn’t a preview for the Castle comic book in Fear Itself #5. It was an unwelcome inclusion in the other Marvel comics shipping this week.
KevinMLD: Apparently, we’re in for some sort of Castle-Marvel crossover on the series this fall. Lucky us.
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