Fear Itself #7
Written by Matt Fraction
Art by Stuart Immonen, Wade Von Grawbadger, and Laura Martin
To say that this title has been one of the banes of my existence over the last half a year is an understatement. It’s been a haven of bad characterization and Michael Bay action for actions sake. Matt Fraction has decimated the Marvel Universe and done an awful job at showing you why you should care, and that’s horribly out of character for the usually fantastic Mr. Fraction. There are a lot of things that happen in this issue, and it does bring together a sense of closure, but the real question is whether or not it gives you a sense of caring, or if it lets the big action speak for itself.
There are really two main segments to the main story of this issue. There’s Thor’s battle with the Serpent (who is now a giant snake, go figure), and Cap leading his army against Super Nazis and evil hammer people. There are monologues and one liners, and I can’t say much for the quality of either. The Serpent is a generic bad guy with too much power once he starts screaming about ruling the world and fear for the billionth time. Fraction has tried to get us to care about him by relating him to Thor and Odin, but it never created the right kind of emotional tie. He remains a villain created for this series that will most likely never be seen again, and while he may be gone, the aftermath of his big boom deeds will probably last longer than he did. It doesn’t hurt that Thor continues to come across holier than thou as he lives up to prophecy. The action between the two is really well handled, but the dialog is just bad.
The other fight is shown off through a series of spotlight scenes with our newly Odin empowered Avengers. Not even all of them, either, just a few. Now, that isn’t to say it doesn’t come across pretty cool, because it does, but it just further my Michael Bay statements. There is so much action going on in this issue, and you recognize the characters involved, but it happens so fast going between mini fight to mini fight that you don’t really wind up feeling satisfied with any of them. Sure, there’s a spotlight fight in Thor vs the Serpent, but then you have Wolverine vs Juggernaut, Red She Hulk vs Attuma, Iron Fist and Dr. Strange against Titania, etc etc, and each is just a handful of panels on one page a piece. Then, you top all of this with Asgard ready and waiting to run in and bat clean up, wait for the bad guys to be weak then run in and KILL EVERYONE. Odin’s master plan is to let the bad guys get weakened by the good guys, then raze the whole planet.
The art is gorgeous and glorious and the best part of the issue. Even the Tron designs on our empowered heroes look cool. The battles look awesome, and while I’ll complain about their length and unimportance, they are cool to look at. There is that. One thing this series has had going for it from the first issue is top notch art, and thankfully Stuart Immonen hasn’t slipped. Same goes for our colorist, Laura Martin, who had to be working overtime to handle this series. It’s vibrant, it’s colorful, and there’s no one set color tone for the book. Every place stood out by the uniqueness of the coloring and it was kinda cool. This was easily some of Immonen’s best work, and it’s just a shame that the story was a mess.
Obviously the story ends with the day being saved and the good guys winning. Obviously. Now, I won’t spoil casualties and status quo changes, as we have both, but I will say that the book makes no effort at all to establish fixing up the mass devastation in the world, or the complete annihilation of Paris. Fraction does sort of effectively say that it takes a week for people to do their best at getting back to life as normal, but I really can’t help but wonder how long it will be until the world is magically repaired and everything is back to normal.
There are four epilogues at the end of the issue to set up the four titles launching out of this. There’s one featuring Sin by Cullen Bunn and Mark Bagley that sets up what she’ll be doing in Fearless, which to be honest, feels like Luthor coming out of Blackest Night. The second is Jason Aaron and Mike Choi setting up Incredible Hulk #1 and I’m astonished that the events of their four page epilogue didn’t happen in that first issue, they’re that big. The third is a teaser for Battle Scars by Chris Yost and Scott Eaton that I can’t say I understand or care about, and apparently there’s some guy named Sergeant Johnson who is really important and people are being killed to get him in place. Finally Fraction and the Dodson’s use Hulk in a story to set up the new Defenders series, and I have to say, I kinda like how he writes Hulk.
There was enough content in this issue to warrant the $4.99 price tag, but the quality isn’t quite there. It’s one of the better issues of the series, sure, but it still retains all of the issues that had been cropping up. There is no emotional tie to anything happening in the book. Cool shit happens, you say cool, page is turned, repeat. If anything, the biggest accomplishment of the series is that it’s over now and I don’t have to whine about it.
Tags: Captain America, Fear Itself, Iron Man, Marvel Comics, matt fraction, Reviews, Stuart Immonen, The Fearless, Thor