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

The Story: The young Initiative characters are still being pressed into action during Fear Itself and Thor Girl is asked to “take one for the team”.

What’s Good: Young heroes are hard to introduce partially because it’s hard to find good stuff for them to do.  During a “normal” time in the Marvel Universe, there are usually at least several major threats to the Earth/universe and the A-list heroes tackle those threats.  It’s a problem I’ve always had with characters like the New Mutants: If the threat is HUGE, it seems like something the X-Men-proper should handle, but if the threat is small, I don’t feel like I need to spend money to watch B-list heroes tackle B-list problems.  It’s a Catch 22.

Enter Fear Itself!  With a mega-event like FI, it makes all kinds of sense that the kiddie heroes and B-listers would get drafted into action out of necessity.  If escaped criminals from the Raft are rampaging in my town I’d want Thor to show up, but I’d rather have Frog-Man than nothing.  That’s basically the set up for Youth in Revolt.  As in the first issue, the mere presence of these kids drives home what a nasty situation FI is and we get to see some non-traditional heroes doing their best and being heroic.  In some ways, they’re almost more heroic because they aren’t as tough.  At one point, the kids end up in battle with a semi-major villain.  Thor or Red Hulk or Iron Man would just destroy the guy, but these kids are legitimately threatened by this villain and you can really respect their actions all the more because of it.  With any luck, one or two of these characters will be compelling enough that they might end up in some other Marvel books after FI.  Others (like Frogman) will go back on the shelf until the next event.

The Thor Girl angle is pretty entertaining too.  She’s asked to turn herself in for her actions in the last issue because it’ll help to calm the public.  Of course, that doesn’t turn out very well and it seems like we’re going to get a teenage female superhero team-up story.  I’m a tremendous sucker for those stories!

Boy, am I glad that Mike Norton is out of his DC exclusive deal (since I don’t read much DC) and I hope Marvel keeps him really busy.  This is really nice art.  One of the things I love about Norton’s art is it just looks effortless.  I know that it isn’t (nothing this nice would be effortless), but his panels never have the look of panels that have been fussed and noodled with.  It looks like he has a coherent vision for each panel, he plans it and then just draws it and moves on to the next panel.  And the character drawings themselves are all great and full of energy.  Bravo!

What’s Not So Good: A problem I’m having with the entire Fear Itself event is the scenes of neighbors ready to shoot each other or riot.  I know it’s because the Serpent is doing something to make people “afraid,” but rioting isn’t something I associate with “fear.” I think it is more like “anger.”  Regardless, these scenes of neighbors pulling guns on each other kinda deflate the story for me.  It seems like you could have 99% of the same effect by just having a crowd of people upset that a hammer-wielder has smashed the power plant and they’re angry that their AC isn’t working in the summer, the gas pumps won’t work and the authorities don’t seem able to fix anything.

Conclusion: Another really tight issue featuring some kids and B-listers.  I’m really enjoying a few of them (Thor Girl, Cloud 9 and Ultragirl) and hope they can stick around in the Marvel U after Fear Itself.

Grade: B+

-Dean Stell

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