By: Sean McKeever (writer), Mike Norton (art), Veronica Gandini (c0lors), Clayton Cowles (letters) & Lauren Sankovitch (editor)

The Story: Even when you have THREE teams of Avengers, they can’t handle everything.  When FEAR ITSELF strikes on a global scale, the need arises to call in some C-listers to help out!

What’s Good: Even though I “liked but didn’t love” FEAR ITSELF #1 and #2, I’m pretty much resigned to the fact that my OCD nature will force me to read the entire event.  One of the big things FEAR ITSELF is pitching is that this is a global catastrophe, but that just didn’t sink in during those first couple issues.  Sure, there was action happening under the ocean and whatever rainforest Hulk was hanging out in when the hammer fell from the sky….and of course, TWO hammers fell in NYC.  But, everything still felt pretty contained as if folks living in Atlanta were still going about their daily lives, playing Farmville, grocery shopping, etc.

What made this issue kinda neat is that it really drove home the point that FEAR ITSELF is a big deal.  Anytime you’ve got Steve Rogers asking a batch of C-listers for help maintaining the order, you know events are dire indeed.  Maybe that sounds like a backhanded compliment, but it isn’t meant as such.  As comic readers we are desensitized to seeing Thor, Hulk, Cap, etc. facing off against global devastation because it happens almost monthly somewhere in the Marvel Universe.  But, what doesn’t happen every month is that the problem is so BIG that civilization needs the help of Prodigy, Gravity, Stunt-Master, Thor Girl, Ultragirl, Red Nine, Firestar, Komodo, Cloud 9 and a bunch of other folks from the Initiative days.

And what makes the concept and issue even better is that these C-listers aren’t being asked to save the day.  They just need to help maintain order in the cities while the big guns are out dealing with the Serpent and whatever bug has crawled up Odin’s butt.  I’m sure these kids will get sucked into more frontline duty for the sake of drama, but it should be fun.  Folks always complain that there aren’t enough new characters in comics, but here’s Marvel giving some new heroes a chance.  For most of them, we readers will be reminded why we haven’t seen them in a few years (i.e. They’re not very interesting yet).  But, there’s always a chance that McKeever will come up with a really cool twist on one or two of them and they could stick around.

I’m a big fan of Mike Norton who handles the art in this issue and it’s nice to see him out from being DC exclusive where I can enjoy more of his work (since I read very little DC).  Norton kinda has the whole package: good storytelling, strong basic anatomy skills, energetic character designs, varied panel layouts, willingness to do an ultra-detailed panel where appropriate, etc.  This miniseries should be a visual treat.

What’s Not So Good: Well, I don’t think this miniseries is going to be central to the FEAR ITSELF event, so it is certainly skippable if you are on a budget, but I’d advise against that since I enjoyed this issue more than the first two issues from the main event.

No other huge complaints.  There are a few panels where the facial shading gets a little too highly rendered for my tastes, but the rest of the issue is pretty nicely colored, so it seems unfair to harp on that.

Conclusion: Having McKeever write younger characters and having Norton drawing anything is a recipe for success.  If you’re having trouble picking between all the FEAR ITSELF tie-in series, this looks like it will be pretty good and add a lot of depth to the main series.

Conclusion: B

-Dean Stell

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