Fear Itself #6
Written by Matt Fraction
Art by Stuart Immonen, Wade Von Grawbadger, and Laura Martin
I’ll give Matt Fraction credit for something as I start this; there is a lot of energy in this title, and he really does succeed in putting over that the bad guys are winning pretty definitively. In those regards he has created a success. Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way I’d like to bring up the fact that this title is still void of any and all emotional reactions from the reader. This issue continues to barrage the reader with big and shocking moments, but aside from a single interaction, they just feel like Hollywood “I’m going to be a bad ass” moments.
Captain America, in particular, comes across like some mash up of Clint Eastwood and John Wayne who happens to wear a flag. He backs down from no man, and he shit talks a God to his face. Seriously, I’m fine with Steve Rogers being awesome, but he comes across throughout this issue like a writers idea of a do-all super soldier. He doesn’t feel like Steve Rogers, sure, he wants to protect his country, but I just keep getting red flags on his actions and dialogue. I get that he’s not responding well to his country being torn apart, but he feels straight out of a western. Spider-Man isn’t much better, as he is given two pages to spotlight his own journey in this issue and the attempted emotional moments just falls completely flat. He swings around New York screaming for May Parker, then when he finds her has to make up an excuse for why he’s looking for her. Then she gives him a pep talk about responsibility, and he’s back in action. This sequence, to me, is him screaming at her “I’m Spider-Man, how have you not figured it out?”
The devastation across the world, all the deaths and destroyed countries, everything the Serpent has done, and it feels like a backdrop. Marvel was banking on people to be shocked at the sheer amount of death and destruction, but it’s been such a background issue that I highly doubt anyone reading this series believes for a second that any of it is permanent. Maybe it’s that they tried too hard and pushed too far, but I have a problem believing that any of this is going to last past the end of this series. Then, we have our generic villain, who now has the added depth of wanting to kill everyone for his daughter. However, his daughter is apparently the hammer being wielded by Sin. So he’s doing all of this so an evil hammer possessing a girl with a red skull can rule the world. I’m sorry, but this hurts my head. He’s a big threat because they keep telling us he is one, but then they also tell us that he’s going to die to wrap it up at the same time.
Stuart Immonen is the only remotely impressive thing about this issue, because for as bad as it is, it looks great. Really all of the selling being done in this issue is by him, as its the faces of our characters, and the chaos in the back of panels, or even the ravaged cities. Looking at the book it feels at times like its the end of the world, so at least somebody bothered to try and put that fact across. Asgard continues to look awesome, and the forces of Asgard intimidating…which makes it a shame that they just stand around. For as much as I didn’t like the scene, the Spider-Man part is one of the visual triumphs of the issue as, well, it makes New York look completely chaotic. The splash page of Iron Man jumping into the fire also looks kinda cool.
This series is draining on me, and for a change I don’t mean my wallet. How long can characters I enjoy be the recipients of faulty characterization for the sake of a story that makes almost no sense featuring villains that nobody is going to remember in a year? And I’m not even suffering from event fatigue! Fraction has learned all of the wrong lessons from Brian Bendis and Secret Invasion, substituting characterization and strong storytelling for “OMGWTF” moments and summer movie dialog. Far and away the best part about this issue is the knowledge that the next issue is the last one. Wait, no, the Thor/Odin stuff wasn’t too bad, especially considering their interactions earlier in this series.
And just because I can, the best event Marvel is currently doing (because they’re doing three), is Spider-Island. Why couldn’t that event get its own mini series to accompany it’s umpteen spin offs? This did! This could have happened as an arc of Avengers! I mean, sure, an arc of Avengers doesn’t scream “tie ins!” like an event mini, but an arc of Amazing Spider-Man is doing it.
I’m hoping Battle Scars blows Fear Itself away, and I believe I’m not the only fan thinking that way. They need to do something to regain the momentum this series is killing.
Tags: Captain America, Fear Itself, matt fraction, Reviews, Stuart Immonen, The Avengers, Thor