Or – “As An Evil Orb Once Said, ‘From One World…  To Another!’

Yesterday’s review of a huge crossover shmageggi leads inevitably (in the interest of balanced coverage) to today’s review of a huge crossover shmageggi.  Unlike yesterday, however, today we open with a musical interlude:

Ma, Ma, Ma, Marvel hits me so hard!
Makes me say,
“Oh my word!”
Why is the Red Skull’s kid
in league with an Asgardian cryptid?

It ain’t good!
When the hammers fall down,
And our superdupe heroes get knocked around!
You’d think
they’d know as much!
A hammer from the sky?  You can’t touch!

BREAK IT DOWN!

Uh oh!  Uh oh!  Uh oh!  Uh oh!
Uh oh! Here come the hammers!

FEAR ITSELF #3
Writer: Matt Fraction
Penciller: Stuart Immonen
Inker: Wade Von Grawbadger
Colorist: Laura Martin with Larry Molinar
Letterer: Chris Eliopoulos
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: $3.99

Previously, on Fear Itself: The Red Skull may be dead, but his legacy lives on in a daughter with similar facial scars and psychoses.  Sin, as she has come to be known, has come into possession of a lost hammer of Asgardian myth, allowing her to channel the powers of Skadi (a giant and goddess who actually never carried a hammer anywhere but here, it seems).  Making things even more complicated is the fact that Skadi is only part of a plan involving more hammers falling around the globe, each allowing familiar Marvel Universe faces (Juggernaut, Hulk, Grey Gargoyle, Titania and more) to channel their own Asgardian deities, each of whom seems to have the same mission:  $&@$ some $#!+ up in the name of the mysterious Serpent.  Sin has made a frontal attack on Washington DC, while the heroes of the Marvel Universe are scattered dealing with multiple, massive, extinction-level events.

Sounds a little bit like Final Crisis, doesn’t it?

Every Time You See Me…

I really can’t believe that it’s been three months of this story already, as we open this issue mere moments into Sin’s attack on Washington, as Captain America, The Falcon and the Black Widow (and, for seemingly only one panel, Shang Chi, the Master of Kung-Fu) are MASSIVELY outgunned by an army of giant mechas led by a putative Asgardian gawd.  There’s some nice dialogue (when Sin threatens that she will kill Bucky Cap, Barnes snarls back, “Take a number, lady!” without missing a beat) but it’s all fighty-fighty for the first third of the book.  It is nicely rendered fighty-fighty, though, with Immonen and Von Grawbadger pulling out all the stops to give the battles some scale.  We get quick vignettes of carnage (Juggernaut in Missouri, Absorbing Man in Dubai, the Hulk in Brazil) as Thor finds himself busted out of Odin’s dungeons by a very unexpected person.  (Hint:  Rhymes with ‘smokey.’)  We are also given an insight into the nature of the hammer possession, as Betty Ross almost-but-not-quite manages to reach her beloved for a split second before he continues rampaging through Rio.

Ring The Bell, School’s Back In!

The most emotional development comes in Brooklyn, though, as the FF investigates the hammer found on Yancy Street.  While Reed tries to analyze the strange energies, a heckler in the crowd (making particularly tasteless comments about the recent death of Johnny Storm) angers Ben Grimm into just stalking over and picking the thing up.  Our hero is immediately transmogrified into Angrir, the breaker of souls, and devastates several city blocks with a single stamp of his foot.  It’s a real “Holy Crap!” moment made even more terrifying by the possession of the Marvel Universe’s everyman.  The Asgardian underground (the Warriors Three, Sif, Heimdall and Loki) try to sneak Thor back to Midgard, but they are immediately caught by All-Father Odin, who has decreed that the Serpent must fall, even if the Earth dies.  Thor taunts his father into sending him to Earth (Odin literally hurls him through space, throwing Mjolnir after with a terse “Don’t say your father never gave you anything.”  Heh…) while Steve Rogers leaves his command post to enter the fray himself.  The issue ends with a very shocking moment, as Captain America again engages Sin/Skadi in battle, leading her to rip off his cyborg arm and stab him with the hilt of her mighty hammer.  Cap loses consciousness as he murmurs warnings of The Serpent to his friends and we fade to white…

The Verdict: A Dozen Interesting Tangents

This is not a bad issue at all, but it serves as a very high-level overview of a massive situation, checking in with various characters at several key points of the story, and ending with a key of where to check out the continuations of which plot-threads in other Marvel titles.  The lack of a greater context really dogs the whole issue, reminding me that the whole story will only be told to those who read all the comics that come out this week with the big green banner on top.  Even though I’m the kind of reader who only pays attention to characters he likes (and, say, where did Shang-Chi go during the big battle?) it’s a bit galling to wonder what’s really going on.  Also kind of frustrating:  We see The Avengers (Spider-Woman, Ms. Marvel and Protector) all clustered up together, leaving Washington to be defended by four hand-to-hand fighters and a bird of prey.  Yes, it’s been a very short time since all hell broke loose, but are all the heroes tied up elsewhere?  We get glimpses and hints, but it feels odd not to have somebody show up just in the nick of time.  As with my review of Flashpoint yesterday, there’s a LOT going on with the crossover, and the main title is designed to show you the tip of the iceberg.  For four bucks, lacking a central character like Flashpoint’s Barry Allen, this issue leaves you wanting in several major ways, resulting in Fear Itself #3 earning 2.5 out of 5 stars overall. It looks pretty amazing, and it reads well, but the a amount of content delivered and the price simply don’t jibe for me.

Rating: ★★½☆☆

Faithful Spoilerite Question Of The Day: Have I done myself a disservice in not reading ALL of the first two issues worth of tie-ins?

The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture!

And a nice red uniform.

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14 Comments

  1. LemmyCaution
    June 2, 2011 at 10:36 pm — Reply

    Nice. I think that:

    “I really can’t believe that it’s been three months of this story already, as we open this issue mere moments into Sin’s attack on Washington…”

    …pretty much perfectly sums up my sentiment on this whole schmuhgegggy (that’s how we spell it in France).

    This is only 3 of 7? Back in our day, you “yutes”, we’d only be about halfway through the first issue by now. Damn you, decompressed storytelling! Marvel is actually making me yearn for “Atlantis Attacks.”

    I don’t mind these big events so much as how *long* they drag out. “Siege” ended nice an quick. It was nice and quick. More of the same, please…

    Thanks for the review, Matthew. Unfortunately, I read the issue first when, turns out, I could have just skimmed it.

  2. gilberto nieves
    June 3, 2011 at 12:26 am — Reply

    damn, is marvel really killing off cap/bucky in this way? i know steve is coming back as cap but bucky was really coming along as a great character in his own right in the modern marvel universe. to kill him off now is stupid and senseless. for that matter, why even bring him back, him and the original captain marvel were two characters who were untouchable in terms of their deaths not being tampered with, but i admit they brought bucky back with thought and intelligence in the cap title. marvel should have had bucky take up the name of nomad in honor of jack monroe who bucky killed while as the winter soldier. to bring bucky back into the current marvel universe and get us to care about him and just kill him off is just asinine.

  3. HunterDan
    June 3, 2011 at 5:17 am — Reply

    cheers for the update

  4. @lantis
    June 3, 2011 at 5:33 am — Reply

    In fairness to Spider-Woman, Ms. Marvel and The Protector, they did abandon Cap to go fight the Hulk, so it isn’t like they were running to the easier fight.

  5. Ced
    June 3, 2011 at 7:46 am — Reply

    I agree the pacing is slow. I hoped that the story would have been exploring a new situation by now.

    The tie-ins are probably slowing down the main story.

  6. Noobian74
    June 3, 2011 at 8:36 am — Reply

    The fact that you commented on this miniseries with a parody of an MC Hammer track has me applauding and laughing at the same time. WOW!

    BTW: still not buying this miniseries. Still reeling from Chaos War.

  7. Noobian74
    June 3, 2011 at 8:40 am — Reply

    Considering the fact that Marvel does more crossovers than an NBA forward, it’s no sin that you didn’t read the others. I remember reading the fourth issue of Secret Wars and not buying another one until number 12.

  8. TaZ
    June 3, 2011 at 10:04 am — Reply

    Well put review. I did enjoy “Siege” as well as it took the long “Dark Reign” arc and wrapped it up very nicely as well as settling Steve Roger’s status quo (for at least a couple of months). To be honest, I completely skipped Chaos War because other than depowering Hercules (for about the 100th time) and making him live in Brooklyn (which is better than being sent to the Bronx) it meant nada.

    I make no secret that I favor DC over Marvel but I’m still a mark for Captain America, Thor and the other original Avengers that I grew up reading. Based on that I went into “Fear Itself” with a semi-open mind (or at least as open as my mind can be), even more-so than “Flashpoint”. I ended up enjoying Flashpoint so far and am actually hesitantly looking forward to the DC revamp. “Fear Itself” has been too much hype for too little and seems to be just a long, drawn out way of putting Bucky Barnes on the shelf just in time to put Steve Rogers in the old red, white and blue in time for the opening of the “Captain America: First Avenger” movie (YAAAAY!) and using an Asgard-centered foe to pull in interest from the “Thor” movie. Nice marketing. Awful pacing.

    The couple of Marvel titles that I follow will be the ones most impacted by this “event” (if it ever ends) and that’s unfortunate, especially “Secret Avengers” where I was just getting into the “Steve Rogers as Nick Fury” vibe.

  9. June 3, 2011 at 12:26 pm — Reply

    While Reed tries to analyze the strange energies, a heckler in the crowd (making particularly tasteless comments about the recent death of Johnny Storm) angers Ben Grimm into just stalking over and picking the thing up.

    You know, sometimes I feel that the Marvel-verse people don’t deserve the heroes they get. If someday the Marvel and DC comics merge, they should just ship the heroes and Villains to the DCU and let the people in Marvel U blow up.

  10. June 5, 2011 at 9:12 am — Reply

    As for your qotd, I think that, regardless of whether you’re missing anything or not, the fact that you aren’t buying all the tie-ins is more realistic to what the average reader will do.

    I think I’ve mentioned on here before that Armageddon 2001 was the last time I bought a tie-in. The fact that NONE of the tie-ins from that series wound up actually contributing the story was the breaking point, but another contributing factor was spending all that money on annuals (which were less expensive then than standard issues are now).

    • Noobian74
      June 8, 2011 at 11:14 am — Reply

      Armageddon 2001? I can see why you stopped buying the tie-ins, Chris. It’s not the money, but the TIME that needs to be refunded to you.

      • Noobian74
        June 8, 2011 at 11:18 am — Reply

        One of the better tie-ins for a so-so crossover event was New Mutants 37 for Secret Wars II. The Beyonder came, killed the team and resurrected them. What made it good was that the following issues showed the repercussions of the action. Their minds were so addled by it that Magneto sent them to be with the Hellions and Emma Frost. Good storytelling!

        • June 10, 2011 at 9:14 pm — Reply

          I’ve read that issue (the one where the New Mutants were killed). It was heart-wrenching.

  11. Giaco
    June 10, 2011 at 10:31 am — Reply

    I can’t believe no one’s talking about Fearsome Four! Easily the strangest comic this week and a great tie-in to Fear Itself. It’s going to probably end up being the only cross-over I really seek out. Howard the duck and She-Hulk and Frankenstein and Nighthawk and Man-Thing? Yes please!

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