Review: Fear Itself #6

Oh, by the way, this thing is still happening.  It feels like an alternate reality or something, doesn't it?

Andy Hunsakerby Andy Hunsaker

Fear Itself 6

Oh, Fear Itself.  You're like a parody of all event books.

Seriously, you have ridiculously high stakes with obnoxious levels of catastrophic worldwide destruction that are freely ignored in every book that doesn't have your name emblazoned across it.  You have countless moments of absurdly forced drama (seriously, Cap, who are you screaming "MAN DOWN!" to on the opening page of Fear Itself #6?  All your friends are already right there helping you cart Thor around!) while seemingly ignoring the points where some dramatic build would have really helped.   You have characters out of character and intractable positions reversed after a stern talking-to with no discernible convincing arguments.  All punctuated with manufactured moments that plead with us to think they are "badass."

There's a reason Spider Island is apparently pretending you never happened.  That is, unless the final issue of Fear Itself ends with some handwave of "oops, sorry about the mess!  Everything's fixed now because we're gods."

It's such a weird thing.  There's this huge global mess going on, but there's also X-Men: Schism and Avengers: The Children's Crusade that are apparently happening concurrently and designed to end at the same time as Fear Itself.  So it just kinda feels like the whole Marvel Universe is on hold until this silly thing stops coming out as opposed to the whole Marvel Universe being wrapped up in an monumental epic like it was supposed to be.  It was clearly designed as a vehicle for Thor and Captain America to try and cash in on their movies, and the result is what happens when you contrive something this artificially.

Fear Itself #6 feels like a stalling tactic, filler to make the series last for seven issues when it has no real reason to.  We've known that the Avengers are gonna get souped up with magic armor stuff so they can kick the asses of The Serpent's Worthy for months now, but apparently after all those issues of just random chaos while the Avengers were sitting around, staring at this and going 'man, somebody should do something about this,' the final fight is going to be crammed into one issue.  All that happens here is Cap gets bitchy and Odin gets all weepy about Thor even though he's been a total dick about Thor and everything else for the last five issues.  Apparently, seeing Thor beat to dirt gets him in a sentimental mood, and maybe he'll forestall the complete razing of Planet Earth for a few hours to give his son a chance to hit more things with hammers.

Stuart Immonen is doing his best to make the script he gets look awesome, though.  Captain America looking all surly with rifles and calling the Serpent a son of a bitch, or getting in Odin's face to berate him for abandoning Earth, or Iron Man diving into a boiling cauldron of uru to get his armor all blessed – the stuff looks fantastic, like any event book should.  It's all the more saddening that Matt Fraction (or however many cooks have contributed to this spoiled broth) hasn't crafted a story strong and deep enough to give that art the impact it should. 

Fear Itself has felt like a Michael Bay movie in every way.  It's got a lot of cool things being destroyed, but it's sprawling on and on for far too long and giving us nothing of any significant substance.  All it needs is three pages of splashy close-ups of Ms. Marvel's various body parts to really bring that comparison home.  After seeing the teasers for the year-long aftermath series called Fear Itself: The Fearless, Valkyrie might step up to take that hit for Carol Danvers.  Or maybe Fraction will be able to bring some better work to the table when he doesn't have the pressure of making it a "premiere event" or have to sync up with three other books and poorly manage a crapload of tie-ins (how's the Red Hulk back in this one after getting his ass beat down and knocked out of the park back in that New Avengers issue a month or so ago?). 

As it stands now, though, Fear Itself has no business being this boring.