Struggling economies and job markets all over the world, mass media sensationalism, consumerism, religious wars, and natural disasters have all contributed to the very real state of the world. Never has there been more fear manifested and felt than today. Marvel reflected that in their event comic of the year, Fear Itself. It’s a wonderful concept about on a Norse god named the Serpent: The God of Fear who rises to power by feeding off the fear of others. He has a bone to pick with Odin who used magic to hide him but now he’s loose and Asgard and the Gods at their weakest.
Written by Matt Fraction and art by Stuart Immonen, the main book is seven parts but will eventually cross over into every major Marvel Universe book, including the X-Men books. If readers choose to supplement the main book, they can purchase eight mini-series, two one-shots, 14 tie-ins, and pick up Fear Itself: The Worthy 1-8 as a Digital-only download. That said, there’s enough to satisfy the most casual Marvel Comics reader with just the main title.
Five things that I loved about the first issue:
1) It’s easily accessible. Outside of the Asgard destruction, someone off the street should be able to pick up this issue and run with it.
2) Odin vs. Humanity. I love it when Odin rips into the human race. His insults are often amusing if not true often times. Everything looks like it will set up Odin accepting help from humans, super-powered or not. The first issue leaves both sides separated but they will probably need to band together to beat the God of Fear.
3) Odin addressing Uatu the Watcher. It’s rare that anyone see the Watcher, let alone speak to him. Again, the arrogance of Odin is fabulous stuff even as his world is a giant pile of rubble. You’d think this crisis would offer up plenty moments of humility. Nope. Not Odin.
4) The nod to Franklin D. Roosevelt’s famous line: The only thing to fear is… fear itself. In the current climate, it’s even more relevant today than when he first said it.
5) The connection with Hitler, his Thule Society and his fascination with the Norse culture was a cool bit of back-story. The fact that Sin is a major player in Fear Itself and that she is able to pick up the hammer of Skandi was an Excalibur moment. Now she becomes a major thorn in both Captain America and Thor as a new villain. She was a bad ass in the pages of Cap, but wielding a hammer that can rival Mjolnir puts Sin off the charts.
The book has great timing with Asgard falling and needing to be rebuilt. Tony Stark slimes his way in to offer to rebuild the city and create jobs in Oklahoma was pompous and transparent move. Is anyone surprised by Stark’s opportunistic ways? The Thor movie is just a few months away and Fear Itself is part of they hype machine; Thor continues to be at the forefront of the Marvel Universe as expected. This is great for current fans of the Thor comics as he’s never been featured in so many titles–ever. However with so many spinoffs, potential new readers from the movie could get confused as far as where to start. Hopefully not.
One fear that can be assuaged is that Fear Itself is pretty straightforward. Immonen’s art is rock-steady. Some of the big moments like Skandi being resurrected and Thor’s tussle with Odin were filled with eye-widening moments but Skandi’s underwater battle with the sea dragons guarding the God of Fear was chopped up too much for a scene that seemed to lend itself to larger, more fluid panels or splash pages.
Fraction writes Thor majestically, though relatable in Fear Itself and puts the friction with Odin back beeping on my radar. Fraction continues to show why he’s one of Marvel’s “Architects” to take Thor and other key Marvel characters into the future and his take on Steve Rogers is pretty good too. One just hopes this big event doesn’t let the quality of Invincible Iron Man or Thor slip, but I’m betting that more of Fraction’s writing benefits the readers. Let’s not forget that the Captain America film will be released when Fear Itself begins to wind down, another coincidence? I think not, but Marvel’s smart to keep these two characters at the front and center of the stage and if that excites you, then Fear Itself is an event you don’t want to miss.
I’ll hold my breath thought to see what type of lasting effect this will have on the Marvel Universe as these event comics can be lacking in that department. This episode also sets up the rest so I’m expecting bigger things down the road. But if the rest of the series is as good as the first chapter, then Fear Itself will be one of the more inviting and more enjoyable summer rides to have ever come into town.