Honestly, I’ve never been much for inter-company crossovers. I feel that comic book publishers have just made this a cheap way to avoid coming up with creative stories and merely uses these gimmicks to sell more comics. Jim Shooter was highly criticized for doing this in “Secret Wars 2”. Marvel has been on a roll though, much as I don’t like crossovers, they have had some good ones with “Secret Invasion”, “Siege”, “Civil War” and “Messiah Complex”, while some were disappointing as with “Shadowland“ and “Infinity Crusade“. Ok, sure, the main title and a few of the supporting titles were good, but I would warn anyone to buy into the gimmicks born out of trying to sell more books. (I don’t buy each every one of the story arc since most of them are unnecessary) I would advise picking up the issues of Avengers, Invincible Iron Man, Journey Into Mystery and New Avengers along with this title.
WARNING: Pictures May Have Minor Spoilers
Well, Matt Fraction and Stuart Immonen seemed poised to change the way I see crossovers since they have created something that appears to be able to go to the limit with “Fear Itself”. Inspired by Roosevelt's famous quote, the premise takes Marvel's characters against the rise of the God of Fear. I’ve always liked the way Marvel always seems to know which direction they should go as they remember past groundwork and continuity. As a stand-alone 7-issue title, “Fear Itself” is tense, thrilling, grim and sometimes even scary. It is a tale of sacrifice, of courage and defines exactly what it means to be a hero and the line that separates a hero from a ruler and a ruler from a warrior.
Sin, the daughter of the Red Skull has discovered a forgotten Asgardian secret and has unleashed a being called “the Serpent” from the bottom of the Marianas Trench. A mystic hammer empowers Sin and she becomes his herald, Skadi. The Serpent summons his WORTHY and sends 7 additional mystic hammers to fall from the heavens that transforms its wielder into his engine of destruction and fear; more fear and panic would empower The Serpent until he is powerful enough to overthrow Odin. Each hammer has power to rival Thor’s hammer Mjolnir, and has granted Asgardian power to already powerful beings such as the Hulk, The Thing, Juggernaut, the Absorbing Man and Titania, the Grey Gargoyle and Attuma. If an ordinary man can be granted the powers of Thor, imagine what these hammers can do these already fearsome super-humans?
Learning of the Serpent’s escape, Odin withdraws Asgard to plan a counter attack. He intends to destroy the Earth so that the planet’s ‘fear’ would not add to the Serpent’s might. Thor disagrees and is struck down by Odin. Now, the Avengers must face the hordes of the Serpent and without Thor, their chances of victory are very slim….
Heroes will rise, heroes will fall, and soon, a prophecy may come to pass….
“Fear Itself” is a tale of heroism and sacrifice. Fraction truly did his homework as the story he had crafted felt inspired by Norse mythology and injects some Marvel continuity into the premise. What I liked about the series is the way it brought forth a sense of suspense, all the while adding some human drama into the mix. We see the gods of Asgard; we see their desperation, fear and confusion as an ancient mysterious threat had risen. Then we see, the human heroes; they refuse to lie down and die and would do anything to fight back. There is an almost eerie atmosphere as we see Odin and Thor argue, bicker and then come to blows. Thor is a god of Asgard and Earth; Odin had shaped him to be as such and now this is the innate character that opposes him. Though Thor has displeased Odin many times, this may well be one of their greatest and grimmest of stand offs. Once again, it is a battle of duty against principle and it is a father’s love and a son’s mistrust that may be the root for all of this.
If we talking about suspense and shock value, “Fear Itself” has a lot of those in store. It is hard to describe what made the title special, but when I talked ‘courage’, I meant it. The heroes of the Avengers are really getting hurt and I could buy into the developing fear that this may indeed be the end. Fraction was successful in bringing forth that feeling of dread and the urgency of the situation as we see the heroes fight and take chances out of desperation. When I said ‘sacrifice, I also meant it. Heroes will lose their lives and some would find what it meant to be an “Avenger”. Matt Fraction also wasn’t afraid to go into the depths of principle as we see just how important dignity and honor is; sometimes they are more important than life. In a nutshell, Steve Rogers (Captain America), Tony Stark (Iron Man) and Thor are played with stakes that come from their own history and they must make a choice in combating their own inner demons and realizing the lengths of which they would go. It is also to be noted that each have their own character; Cap is a hero and a soldier, Stark is an atheist and an inventor while Thor is more of a man and a god.
Be it as it may, Fraction also adds some ‘shock value’ to demonstrate the power and the wickedness of the Serpent as the ‘Big Three’ are hit real hard. While the gods have retreated, our heroes with their backs against the wall and they keep pushing forward. It was a struggle against fear and to try to salvage what they could in the face of defeat. The writing was also excellent in bringing forth dialogue (with some profanity) to express the emotions of each scene. The art by Immonen was intense and he made the panels express the sensation and the fervor of each situation. He uses shadows and facial close ups to generate the emotions and this was a good approach to make the characters feel more human.
The Avengers also have their part to play as they engage in hopeless combat to buy more time; Earth's mightiest heroes becomes Earth's Last Hope. Yes, the series has a lot of action and some of them are very brutal. Highlights of those would have to come from the fight between Sin and a team of Avengers, the confrontation between The Serpent and Cap and then it has a true battle of epic proportions; Thor takes on two of the Serpent’s strongest fear mongers; the empowered Hulk called Nul, breaker of worlds and the Thing now called Angrir, breaker of souls…not one but two. We all know that the Hulk at his own could match Thor in a fight and at this state, Hulk was indeed more powerful as enhanced by Asgardian magic. The god of thunder (after the events in his title, Thor no longer has the Odinforce in his body and is now anchored to his hammer) is shown at his best, fighting through the Serpent’s guards and then facing the dual menace of Angrir and Nul. You would not believe the outcome and may have answered the question as to who is really stronger and more powerful. The major battles illustrated by Immonen reminded me of the Pollard and Simonson eras (most especially the final battle).
The one flaw I could probably say about the mini-series is the fact that the cross-over thing and tie-in stories feel threaten to hamper its enjoyment. Not all of them were well-written, and some even spoiled the storyline’s outcome (leave it to Quesada to make an editorial goof). I also felt that this storyline should’ve been “cross-overed” more on the “Thor”, “Avengers” and even Captain America; the premise truly fit in those titles while others felt forced. I thought several areas were unnecessary, and they were obvious marketing ploys, they weren’t carefully thought out titles and tie-ins. I know this statement is unrelated to the 7-issue mini-series but it did hurt “Fear Itself” a little; since there were times I felt that it was a little rushed and unfocused. (then again, such is the flaw of most company-wide crossovers). This would have been so much better tied-in only with Thor and the Avengers titles. Quesada should accept that NOT every major story has to include Spider-man, The X-Men and Wolverine.
“Fear Itself” has a finality that brings everything full circle and involves a climactic battle between all the major players. The final act is filled with drama, Norse references, action, surprises and the definition of courage and sacrifice. Marvel always knew how to wrap things up (when they put their minds to it) and this series is no different. Thor, Captain America and Iron Man have faced their demons and now they have nothing left to lose, but to face their innermost fear. Death, humiliation, and destruction are all catalysts for fear, but sometimes the coming fulfillment of a prophecy can bring as much doubt and confusion.
The Harrowing Secret of the House of Odin....Iron Breaks....Soldiers Fall...and Even Gods can Die.... Let’s see who is afraid, shall we?
This is Mature storytelling at its best... (Yeah, which is why I wonder why Hollywood thinks comic book movies should have comedy)
Matt Fraction and Stuart Immonen takes inspiration from Roosevelt’s famous quote. This mini-series is the core for an inter-company cross over that involves most of Marvel’s famous characters. A forgotten evil has resurfaced and is set to destroy Asgard and the Earth. The mini-series carries some references to Norse mythology and reveals several secrets in the House of Odin. A Tale of Sacrifice, Heroism and Courage, “Fear itself” is filled with tense … more
In this time of global anxiety, economic turmoil and mass hysteria, Sin, the new Red Skull, has made an awesome discovery...a shameful secret that will rock the foundations of the Marvel Unverse! A revelation that will divide father and son, turn friend against friend, and herals the rise of Fear personified. Who is the Serpent? As Odin and the Asgardians leave the Earth to fend for itself, the Avengers and the world's remaining heroes battle the unstoppable avatars of his evil? And how can the Avengers respond...to fear itself? The Mighty Thor--imprisoned by his own father! Steve Rogers makes the decision of a lifetime when a hero falls! And Iron Man makes the ultimate sacrifice. Matt Fraction and Stuart Immonen bring fans the biggest Marvel event since CIVIL WAR!