I would call this one a disappointment, except that I had low expectations to begin with. Don’t get me wrong, I wanted to like this, but it’s just so hard to. Too much happens in this issue, even for a double-sized book, and yet I didn’t care about anything. No panel time was given to have any sort of emotional moment anywhere in this issue. Instead it’s just a bunch of fighting crammed into the first half followed by a bunch of half-hearted fallout scenes. The fighting moves too fast to even make any sense, and the big hyped up battle between Thor and Serpent barely gets any panel time at all. Fear Itself 7 is a disappointing end to an event that should have been much better than it was.
Fear Itself was plagued with problems from the start. The first two issues were both an introduction to the event, something that could have easily been narrowed down into one issue, and the next two (3 and 4) were nothing but build up. Four issues into this seven issue series, it felt as if the main event book was only there to tease us for the excessive tie-ins. Issue five was actually pretty good, finally giving us some pay off as Thor fought two of the worthy and almost died in the fight. Issue six sunk right back down into boredom as nothing actually happened. Yeah, six issues in and the story was still just build-up. Half of issue seven could have easily been put into issue six, allowing more space for issue seven to have more cohesive fighting scenes and to actually take the time to make us care the fallen heroes.
Fear Itself was the major Marvel event for the summer. It’s about some ancient enemy of Asgard dropping eight hammers to earth to be used by “the worthy.” When the worthy picked up their hammers, they became far more powerful than they were before, but their minds are taken over and they start attacking earth. The worthy are: The Hulk, The Thing (from Fantastic Four,) Titania (the second strongest female in the Marvel Universe – and a villain,) Sin (red skull’s daughter,) The Juggernaut (x-men villain,) Attuma (an Atlantean villain,) Grey Gargoyle (a somewhat obscure villain) and the Absorbing Man (a villain who mimics the properties of anything he touches.) The leader of the worthy is Serpent, the god of fear and Odin’s brother. In concept, this sounds awesome. The entire Marvel Earth is in danger, and Asgard is ready to destroy the planet to prevent Serpent from attacking them next. The heroes of earth cannot even slow down the worthy, not to mention the vast armies supporting them. Issue seven introduces the mighty, a bunch of heroes given weapons blessed by Odin to give them similar powers to the worthy. The members of the Mighty are as predictable as possible: Wolverine, Black Widow, Iron Man, Captain America, Dr. Strange, Spider-Man, Red She-Hulk, Miss Marvel, Hawkeye and Iron Fist. Not only should there have been more surprises in The Mighty, but they should have been introduced sooner than the final issue.
The problem is that the main event spent so much time building itself up and referencing some of the tie-ins that it’s not self-contained, not interesting and it’s almost impossible to care. In the event *spoilers* Bucky dies, Thor supposedly dies and that’s all that really changed in the Marvel Universe so far. Is it really necessary to kill Thor seven years after his previous death? He only recently returned to the comics and he just had a very successful movie this past summer. Both Bucky and Thor had funerals in Fear Itself 7, but nothing was said about either characters or how anyone felt about their passing. It’s a complete waste of a character and panel time. *End spoilers.
Another major problem I have with this event is the excessive tie-ins. There are 16 limited tie-in series for this event. That’s simply way too much to keep track of. Another 17 ongoing titles tied into the event, which means to read the entire event you’d have to read over 120 issues total. Is that really what’s become of Marvel lately? Has it really just turned into a series of event after event? I only read four of the tie-ins, and two of them were terrible. That’s why I like titles like X-23 and Uncanny X-Force, they’re self-contained and they ignore all the major events. Marvel needs more of that if they want to gain more readers; because 33 tie-ins is way too intimidating to new comic fans, not to mention the 12-part aftermath series called Fear Itself: The Fearless. Marvel also has eight X-Men team books to intimidate new readers and as good as they may be – THEY NEED TO CUT DOWN!
It’s not all bad though. The artwork in this issue is brilliant, and the Incredible Hulk preview in the epilogue actually makes me interested in the upcoming series by Jason Aaron. It’s just that $4.99 is simply not worth paying for a confusing fight scene with very little payoff. Skip this pointless event, there is nothing special here.
Matt Fraction wrote the event shortly after he left his lackluster run on Uncanny X-Men. He creates good plots and is perfectly competent on major solo titles, but he really shouldn’t be writing team books and events – he simply cannot handle a large cast. Fear Itself: The Home Front 7 was much better … speaking of which.
This series is much better than Fear Itself was. It’s an anthology mini-series where each issue had four stories. The first story in each issue is about Speedball in a seven-part story. The second stories in each issue were also multi-part stories, but there was one story in the first four issues and another in 5-7. The third story is a 1-page story, and the fourth is a short one-shot.
Speedball’s story is one of redemption. He returns to Stamford for the first time since Civil War, where he and a team called “New Warriors” is partially responsible for an explosion that killed 600 school kids. He’s doing volunteer work for the mother of one student under his secret identity when the Fear Itself events begin. He ends up helping people connect around the world and spread messages of hope. It focuses on the normal people of the Marvel Universe, making it feel closer to home. In the end, Speedball improves his relationship with the city of Stamford. The art is almost perfect. It has a realistic feel to it, has plenty of detail, and I couldn’t notice any problems with it.
The second story in Home Front 7 is the third and final part of “The Chosen.” This story is about five legacy characters: X-23 (Wolverine’s clone,) Spider-Girl, Power Man (a friend of Iron Fist’s,) Amadeus Cho (brilliant kid who works with Hercules) and Thunderstrike (some relation to Thor.) They come together to stop a second Pearl Harbour attack. It’s little more than a dumb fun story, but for the most part it works. It’s entertaining, it’s actually really funny, but it’s far from perfect. The artwork is alright but inconsistent, from the characters’ round heads to X-23 having the wrong eye colour again. My only real complaints come from two of X-23’s lines. In the first part, she says that she was helping the X-Men evacuate San Francisco even though SHE LEFT THE X-MEN A YEAR AGO! In issue seven, she says,
“The name they gave me is Laura.” What do you mean “they”? If you mean the facility, they only called her X-23. The name Laura was given to her by her dying mother; calling a singular person “they” is grammatically incorrect and Laura only speaks in perfect sentences. “My name is Laura” would have been more than enough. Anyway, the writer made up for this mistake by having X-23 kick Cho in the balls to end the story – awesome!
The other two stories in this issue were also pretty good. The one-page story felt kind of pointless, but it’s an entertaining short piece of Peter Parker talking to J. Jonah Jameson (now the mayor of New York in the Marvel Universe.) The fourth story is about a man helping people around town as he’s trying to find his family. He spends the story thinking that he’s a coward because he left Captain America on the front line, but eventually decides to return in the end. This story is briefly referenced in Fear Itself 7, but without reading this first it feels out of place there. Here, it’s a simple, effective story that further explores regular people in a world in the middle of a superhuman war. Overall, this issue, and this series, is easily the best part of Fear Itself. If you have any interest in the event, I recommend that you read this tie-in series and avoid the main event. As long as you read Wikipedia for the overall plot of Fear Itself, this series will make perfect sense. I strongly recommend this comic, although Speedball’s story will mean more if you read Civil War first.
This series is brilliant and anyone who is interested in Batman should be reading it. I could end the review right there, but that would be lazy. In this series so far, Batman is facing a new threat only known as the Court of Owls. They want Bruce Wayne dead and we don’t yet know why. Meanwhile this issue has more than enough action to keep our attention and enough mystery to make each month’s wait for the next issue feel too long. Everything about this book is excellent: the mystery, the characterization, the art, the pacing and the action. I can’t think of a single problem with this book and I cannot recommend it enough. Of course by now it’s probably sold out by now because of how awesome it is.
If I have the time I’ll review Wolverine 17, Supergirl 2 and Nightwing 2 later this week, but I’m making no guarantees.