Do you fear… event fatigue? I hope not, as Marvel is here with its latest big event, promising magical Mjolnirs for all the bad guys, paranoia and panic for the good guys, and expanded page counts for all the readers. The only thing you have to fear is not reading this review for Fear Itself #1!

Written by: Matt Fraction
Pencils & Cover by: Stuart Immonen
Color by: Laura Martin
Letters by: Chris Eliopoulos
Edited by: Lauren Sankovitch
Published by: Marvel Comics
Price: $3.99

“Volstagg and the Avengers! Imagine it, Steven! With your mind!”

So here we are, Dear Readers, with another earth-shattering, paradigm-punching, multiverse-mangling mega-event in the making. Fear Itself promises to force Marvel’s Mightiest to face up to their deepest doubts, and also give a bunch of bad guys magical hammer-y things. Right, so how’s it do?


Fraction starts the story off in Lower Manhattan in the middle of an angry protest/counter-protest regarding something being built on a suspiciously prominent hole in the ground. This is obviously supposed to signify the whole “building a mosque near Ground Zero” kerfluffle, and it’s something that works. Fraction obviously wants to make a statement about how fear can be toxic to society, and it’s a topic well worth exploring. How well it will be explored in this miniseries is another question.

At the protest, Steve Rogers and Sharon Carter are standing around looking good in their jumpsuits and ostensibly keeping the peace, when things go pear-shaped and Steve catches a brick in the face for his troubles. This leads to a nice bit where ex-Cap can’t believe that the riot wasn’t induced by some nefarious means and that regular, ordinary citizens are capable of violent madness all on their own. Then Red Skull’s daughter (Sin) gives us some Nazi-on-Nazi action, gets possessed by an evil hammer, swims past some dragons, and wakes up a skinnier, eviler Odin. Meanwhile, Odin yells at The Watcher, beats up Thor, throws a party, beats up Thor again, and makes all the Norse gods leave Earth.

Stuart Immonen’s art is good, but nothing really pops off the page. I do miss the cartoonier style he used in Nextwave, although that wouldn’t really be appropriate in this book. But without that distinctive style, there’s not much separating this from the usual Marvel house style. It’s workmanlike and efficient, but never really exciting. The same goes for Laura Martin’s coloring: good, but not great (albeit with one mistake, where Red Hulk turns green for a panel – they gotta let Thunderbolt Ross grow his mustache or this will happen a lot in group scenes).


The best parts of the story actually focus on the regular people. The riot in New York is fictional, but feels all too possible. The most fascinating pages focus on Rick, some random schlub from Broxton, Oklahoma, the new home of Asgard post-Siege. His neighbors are victims of the housing crisis, his town is overrun by gawking tourists, and his son is afraid of all the strange lights in the sky. Rick’s story gets swallowed up by page after page of Odin yelling at stuff, but the mortal’s is the more interesting drama. Odin gets a lot of ink in order to sell the epic nature of this series, but I hope that Rick or someone like him gets more attention, since it’s what links the nebulous super-hero-y God of Fear stuff with the very real fears that the readers all have. If this story is to be meaningful, it has to be grounded in something more than just “Juggernaut gets a hammer while Cyclops cries about being Magneto-esque.” Good science fiction is entertaining first, but it also creates metaphors for something involving the human condition. I think Fraction is attempting that here, but so far it’s too wrapped up in Marvel mythology to be truly compelling. I hope that changes in future issues.

I’m as sick of these big crossover events as anyone, and I was originally going to give this one a pass, but what the hell, I checked it out. And it passed the comics litmus test – I was entertained reading it and didn’t feel ripped off. But these big event comics have to be held to a higher standard than any regular monthly. After all, the writers and artists are asked to invest a lot more, as are the readers. And nothing other than page count separates Fear Itself from any other comic. I haven’t seen anything in this story that wouldn’t be at home between the covers of any issue of Thor, and honestly, this issue feels like it could’ve been told in less than 44 pages. If the publishers are going to push these big events, they really need a reason for these miniseries to exist outside of the usual monthly confines. I’m interested enough to keep reading, but if you’re ambivalent about Marvel’s latest BIG EVENT, don’t sweat it if you miss it.

Fear Itself #1 features four dragons, four blows to the head, three cows, Thor ignoring the first rule of the Ghostbusters (“When someone asks you if you’re a god, you say yes”), an interview with a VERY smirky Bendis and Odin chokeslamming Thor. It also majorly skimps on sound effects, providing only one (albeit very poignant) tch-chk.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

The Author

George Chimples

George Chimples

George Chimples comes from the far future, where comics are outlawed and only outlaws read comics. In an effort to prevent that horrible dystopia from ever coming into being, he has bravely traveled to the past in an attempt to change the future by ensuring that comics are good. Please do not talk to him about grandfather paradoxes. He likes his comics to be witty, trashy fun with slightly less pulp than a freshly squeezed glass of OJ. George’s favorite comic writers are Warren Ellis and Grant Morrison, while his preferred artists are Guy Davis and Chris Bachalo, He loves superheroes, but also enjoys horror, science fiction, and war comics. You can follow him @TheChimples on Twitter for his ramblings regarding comics, Cleveland sports, and nonsense.

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  1. Ricco
    April 11, 2011 at 11:30 am — Reply

    If this was called “Event Fatigue itself” I might be interested in reading it, but I’ve seen so many bad events with results that dissapear 24 hours later that I can’t seem to care. If it gets good enough review I might get the trade next year, maybe.

  2. TaZ
    April 11, 2011 at 2:00 pm — Reply

    “Fear can be toxic to society”.

    I think too many writers (not just comics but otherwise) with a more liberal bent blur the difference between “fear” (ie, concern and foreboding over reality) with “paranoia” (overly undue concern and foreboding over what may or may not be real).

    Using the “mosque” issue as an anchor point for “irrational fear” overlooks something: These are people living in a city that within the last two decades had the tallest buildings in Manhattan explode and then later collapse after having two jet planes full of innocent people turned into missles on a “normal” morning. The fact that the persons who hijacked and crashed these planes, attempted to blow up the trade center years before, and have been involved in general mayhem and murder around the globe happen to be members of a sect of the same religion attempting to build said “mosque” at that location in the city where damn near 3000 people died, billions of dollars were lost and “life, liberty and the pursuit of happines” would generate public concern, protests and some anger is not, in my opinion, the same as a “God of Fear” running amok.

    I guess that’s a long-winded way of saying that Marvel can keep this particular “allegory” and I won’t be purchasing it.

    • April 11, 2011 at 2:40 pm — Reply

      The writer doesn’t say anything is rational or irrational about the mosque issue, and treats it largely apolitically and briefly. Doesn’t even mention mosques, for what it’s worth. In the real world, people on both sides of the issue can be said to exhibiting fear, non-judgmentally. I don’t think Fraction was trying to come out on in favor of either side, I think he’s just trying to ground his story in the contemporary political atmosphere.

      Ultimately, he focuses more on mundane aspects of fear – the residents of Broxton fear the change in their town, they fear joblessness and recession – that’s the interesting stuff to me, and what worked best.

    • April 11, 2011 at 4:13 pm — Reply

      You’ve proved Fractions point. There are 1 billion muslims in the world. They are not all trying to kill you. That is irrational fear and paranoia put together.

      I live in NYC. I am Jewish. I watched the towers fall on 9/11 with my own 2 eyes. And yet, I see the “Ground Zero Mosque” controversy, which is a completely bullshite name for it, is a conjuring of the worst kinds of fear and demonization possible.

      The world is as it is. If a writer chooses to seize on it to ground his book in current events, it all makes sense. Don’t buy it if you don’t want to, but don’t pretend the point doesn’t have merit.

      One more thing: I am liberal, but I know plenty of conservatives who feel the same way about this particular issue. Its a made up controversy to push tv opinion shows ratings and divide the American public who don’t waste time with things like “facts”

      • Allen
        April 11, 2011 at 6:34 pm — Reply

        I’m with you fellow NY’er. I worked a block away, in that shabby old neighborhood that is anything but “hallowed ground” and was deeply ashamed as an American to see what went on. They should address it in any way they want.

        • RedneckTaZ
          April 11, 2011 at 7:45 pm — Reply

          But despite your personal feelings on it, could you “put yourself in another’s shoes” and understand why people would feel that way and it really not be “unreasonable paranoia”. “The world is as it is.” Ha! I wish I had a buck for every time I’ve heard one of my NYC friends or old college pals from Brooklyn or Manhattan say that or something similar (One of my favorites was “Hey? What can you do? Huh?).

          • April 12, 2011 at 2:20 pm — Reply

            No. To “put myself in another’s shoes” doesn’t make it not fear and paranoia. It just would mean that I would feel fear and paranoia. But it would still be just that. And highly irrational and dangerous.

            When I said “the world is at it is” I didn’t mean there isn’t anything to do, I meant the world is as it exists in reality. And a writer can and should choose to use that, if possible to make it more grounded.

            • April 12, 2011 at 6:57 pm — Reply

              When I said “the world is at it is” I didn’t mean there isn’t anything to do, I meant the world is as it exists in reality. And a writer can and should choose to use that, if possible to make it more grounded.

              But doing it like this seems extremely coy and trivializes something that’s very important to a lot of people…

  3. April 11, 2011 at 3:43 pm — Reply

    The seeming unwillingness to actually talk about the mosque issue is what turned me off, with it’s utter vagueness. Honestly, this issue is far too vague on a number of issues for me. It feels like a zero issue, setting up a sense of post-Civil War unease that just HAS NOT been set up by the comics themselves… Revisionism in the pursuit of a good story is still revisionism, kids.

    • TaZ
      April 11, 2011 at 4:12 pm — Reply

      Good points, Matthew. It’s kinda like “Can we still have the ‘Heroic Age’ but still make the surroundings as bleak and scary as we see things are right now?”

  4. Stefanie
    April 11, 2011 at 7:27 pm — Reply

    It sure would be nice if Marvel would FREAKIN STOP THE %$#@&*^%$ CROSSOVERS!!!!!!!!!! I can’t read marvel anymore because it’s always “earth-shattering, paradigm-punching, multiverse-mangling mega-event in the making”. ARGH!

  5. Armaan Babu
    April 11, 2011 at 8:39 pm — Reply

    Reading the comments, I kinda think you guys would really really like Fear Itself: The Homefront.

    If I had to choose, I’d skip it over the regular title.

  6. Pablo
    April 12, 2011 at 11:25 am — Reply

    It really felt… padded. What took *pages* could’ve taken three panels…

    Panel 1:
    IRON MAN: Say, Thor, I think it’d be cool if humans rebuilt Asgard. Ya know, since we kinda blew it up.
    THOR: Verily, golden one, ’tis true! I shalt seek counsel with mine father ‘pon this most noble request!

    Panel 2:
    My son, I say thee NAY! The All-Father needs not the aid of mere mortals! Let us return fabled Asgard to its proper place amongst the heavens!
    But father –
    Doth Odin need to smite a Thunder God, my son?

    Panel 3:
    So, what’s the word, Goldilocks? Are we a go for project New Asgard?
    Mine father hath declined thine generous offer, Avenger. For he is most butt-hurt over events of late and shall not yield ‘pon the matter.
    Ah, well. Maybe we can punch the fear out of America, then.

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