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Fear Itself #7 – Review

By: Matt Fraction (writer), Stuart Immonen (pencils), Wade von Grawbadger & Dexter Vines (inks), Laura Martin, Justin Ponsor & Matt Milla (colors), Chris Eliopoulos (letters), Lauren Sankovitch (assistant editor) & Tom Brevoort (editor)

The Story: It all ends here with the Serpent taking on the Avengers.

Five Things: 

1. TGIO!  Or Thank Goodness It’s Over!  This was a crappy event because this story just wasn’t robust enough to warrant it’s line-wide treatment.  It didn’t need to take 7 issues to complete over 6 months and it didn’t need ~100 tie-in issues.  The only thing keeping me from being angry at how much of my money went into this event is that I’ve already taken most of the issues to Goodwill.  There were a few high points (The Deep, Hulk v. Dracula, Jeff Parker’s tie-ins on Hulk and Thunderbolts), but mostly this was really unremarkable stuff (and Parker was just making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear).  Part of it is that this gets graded on a curve.  When you tell us the story is an “event”, more is expected.  If this had been a crossover between Invincible Iron Man, Mighty Thor and Avengers (2 issues each) it would have been much better.

2. Really choppy storytelling.  There was a lot of unnecessary bouncing between scenes in this issue and it wasn’t always entirely clear when the switches were taking place.  It just wasn’t clear where this Thor/Serpent battle was taking place relative to the bigger scrum between the Avengers and the Worthy.  Heck, I wasn’t sure who was fighting with the Serpent for most of the issue (“Is that Thor?”).  It was like everyone was in a hurry for this to be over.

3. Death = “Meh…”  Isn’t it amazing that an event that…… SPOILER……  kills both Captain America (or at least a Captain America) and Thor would be a “meh?”  How does that happen?  Well, it happens because death is no big deal in comics any more.  Comic fans are long conditioned that superhero deaths are temporary, but they’ve rarely felt more temporary than they do right now.  All of these characters have been dead before and Marvel is rarely letting them stay dead for any length of time.  The whole point of these folks dying is to see how the universe exists without them, but when you (a) tell all of your stories in a decompressed fashion and (b) bring the dead folks back in a year, we only get to see one 6-issue story before Marvel starts teasing the “return” of the characters.  How can I miss you when you won’t go away?

4.  Art not up to Immonen’s usual standards.  This isn’t bad art by any stretch of the imagination, but I think the excellence that Immonen was bringing to the early issues of this event were covering up some serious flaws in the story.  I don’t know if Immonen got rushed at the end or just got bored with the crummy story, but this just isn’t his best stuff.  The devil is always in the details.  For example, there is a double-pager showing the Avengers with their silly new weapons springing into action towards the reader that has all kinds of dumb poses: Iron Fist is kicking for no reason, Spider-Man is swinging on a web that is attached to nothing (like he’s being dragged behind a truck), Black Widow is doing some bizarre ballet pose and Hawkeye is hovering higher in the air than any of the other Avengers despite the fact that he cannot fly.  This is the kind of spread I expect from Greg Land, not from Immonen.

5.  Not much closure.  Unless you want to get worked up about the deaths, there isn’t any closure here.  I want an ending where the heroes slap each other on the back and declare that it’s Miller Time.  There isn’t even anything like Norman Osborn saving the day at the end of Secret Invasion.  The ending is basically that Sin is going to try to get her hammer back.  Of course, this is just so that story can bleed into Fear Itself 7.1, 7.2 and 7.3 and the new 12 part maxi-series “The Fearless”.  Count me out.  If Marvel wants to do that, just have an ongoing series called “The Status Quo” and quit making us add stuff to our pull lists.

Conclusion: It’s over.  Marvel did a lot of damage in this one.  Nothing happened in this event except for a couple of temporary deaths.  Bad job.

Grade: D

-Dean Stell

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17 Responses

  1. I wasn’t really interested in this from the start (other than Venom, I’m pretty much bored with Marvel at this point), so I’m glad that I didn’t sink any $$$ into this.

    I just wanted to post and say that the line about Marvel making an ongoing series called “The Status Quo” was freak’n priceless.

    Well played, sir.

    • I’m biased, but I’m enjoying just about everything at Marvel that ISN’T Matt Fraction. Like the X-Men since he left. I do enjoy Bendis’ Avengers. Secret Avengers has been awesome since Warren Ellis did those one shots. Parker’s Hulk & Tbolts are awesome. Cap and Bucky is incredibly good. It’s just that you have to avoid Fraction’s Fear Itself/Iron Man/Thor. I also don’t think the new Brubaker Cap is anything very good. Oh yeah….Spider-Man is great right now.

      That’s the shame about a bad event. It kinda creates a stink in the room. It’s like there was this incredible party going on and then someone farted and all the party animals who were having so much fun a second ago have to act like the fart smells good.

  2. Definitely a shallow storyline overall and the last issue fell completely flat. The pacing was choppy; the dialogue was goofy; and the whole thing was rushed. Ask yourself this: If the Asgardian weapons blessed by Odin were enough to trash the Worthy, why didn’t Odin just arm his own men with the weapons? Why would Odin need to be convinced by Stark to allow him to make the weapons? That makes no sense, and it can’t be explained away by saying that Odin was to stupid to think about himself so he let Stark take a shot at it . Sorry, major plot hole. The ending reminded me of the ending of Secret Invasion where the Skulls were suddenly defeated when Osborn killed the queen. In fact you could easily replace Skrulls with the Worthy and it reads the same.

  3. As much as I hate to agree ( I spent a lot of money on this bore fest), you are so right. Tedious. Why did Thor’s death feel like less than a footnote. And was that Bucky’s funeral? Thanks for pointing that out. Charlie brown not kicking a football, again, is more intense.

    • It’s too bad that everyone agrees with me because I’d be happier if someone had enjoyed this, but alas…..

      It reminds me of a story I heard Quesada tell. Supposedly Fraction tossed out the idea for Fear Itself at a Marvel retreat and as the group talked about it, Quesada said, “This could be a real event.” So, it sounded like Fraction pitched it as a storyline or crossover and then Quesada morphed it into an event. So, as much as I like to pick on Fraction since I don’t really enjoy his writing very much, this one might not wholly be his fault (although…as a professional writer, he should be able to adapt his vision around what other folks are adding to it).

  4. Pretty mediocre for a world event. The one good thing to come out of it, IMO, is Journey Into Mystery; a kid Loki who’s sorta-good-sorta-not makes for a slyly fun book, and he did genuinely interesting stuff during Fear Itself. And when is Bucky coming back? They threw him under the bus to get Cap back in the uniform and get some buzz for this event, and I was mainly reading Cap for him at this point.

    • I did enjoy Journey into Mystery for the most part. I’m not a huge Thor fan, so I ended up dropping it, but it was pretty good.

      I’m just curious to see how the explain Bucky coming back. Dude is just a normal human who got stabbed with a huge hammer and had a gaping wound about 12 inches across in his chest. You can’t explain that away by saying “he was lost in the timestream”. And it isn’t like Thor who just kinda collapsed. Bucky looked pretty darn dead to me.

  5. Aside from all the flaws listed, Fraction didn’t seem to understand his own villain, or deliberately cheated. The Midgard Serpent seen in FI #7 has been in THOR before, and not written as Odin’s brother. That monster couldn’t be used as a lead villain, of course, so Fraction, et al. apparently decided to write it as another character (aside from the “Serpent” reference) up until the last issue.

    How could that switch possibly work for anyone except desperate people?

    SRS

    • That’s one of my complaints with Fraction as a writer. I think he tells HIS story and doesn’t worry too much about what other stories have come before or what other creators are doing with the same characters. I’m all for giving writers creative freedom, but the point of a shared Marvel universe isn’t to have 5 different versions of all the big characters.

  6. Spot-on, Dean. I’m not even bothering with the Fearless and all of the odd after-stories. Marvel practically did their own version of a reboot with both X-Men and the Avengers now, but it was done so poorly.

    If you’re going to kill Thor, they could have made a bigger deal out of this. I figured Thor was going to die when I saw the solicits for later months. It was just ridiculous.

    What Fear Itself was – an interesting ret-con which you’re right, could have spanned a few issues rather than seven. (Did the Holy Armor really do anything for our heroes?) It’s a shame it’s just going to fizzle out.

    I’ve dropped all of the Avengers titles minus Secret and Children’s Crusade, leaving me all the X-books and a few others. If anything, the only “cool” event that happened out of Fear Itself was with the first Hulk epilogue.

    • I bought Fearless #1 and I can report that it was crap (although I kinda liked the art). I am 100% out on that whole story thread.

      The Holy Armor was really dumb. We didn’t get any real evidence of what it did.

  7. It was overall, lackluster. I actually enjoyed the way that Bucky passed, (getting his arm ripped off was cool in my opinion) but as soon as they told us about Thor’s catch 22 and knowing he is the only one that can kill The Serpent due to prophecy…..we all knew what was coming. However, I enjoyed reading it and gotta give Marvel some credit for the “Event”…..The tie-ins killed it. They have too much story telling that is not self-contained within the event and unfolds in side stories.

    • I guess we all need to smarten up and not buy the tie-ins next time, huh? I hate it, but I can’t really blame them for producing them when they’ll make an extra 200-300K selling tie-in books.

  8. is this the worst event? what was the previous low bar? siege? wow.

    • Siege was WAY better. It had a more coherent story. The action took place 99% within the event. It didn’t have many tie-ins and those that it did have weren’t too bad (that Siege Frontline mini with Volstag riding around in Ben Ulrich’s news van and begging for pork rinds was pretty awesome). It had better art. And….it was over in 4 issues (even if there was a delay I think before the 4th issue). Not saying Siege was great, but it wasn’t that bad.

      • It was overall, lackluster. I actually enjoyed the way that Bucky passed, (getting his arm ripped off was cool in my opinion) but as soon as they told us about Thor’s catch 22 and knowing he is the only one that can kill The Serpent due to prophecy…..we all knew what was coming. However, I enjoyed reading it and gotta give Marvel some credit for the “Event”…..The tie-ins killed it. They have too much story telling that is not self-contained within the event and unfolds in side stories. Infinity Gauntlet did it pretty well.

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