Or – “I Have A Theory!  It Could Be BUNNIES!”

Given the events of the last ten years of Marvel Comics, taking into account the comic-time dilation effect, factoring out Earth-A doubles and the occasional altered time-stream, there’s really only one way to to explain the way continuity unfolds at good ol’ Marvel:

EVERY SINGLE PERSON in the Marvel Universe is dangerously unstable.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, we can look at a ‘Fear Itself’ crossover.

(Be warned:  Spoilers for the main book are most certainly ahead!)

FEAR ITSELF: YOUTH IN REVOLT #2
Writer: Sean McKeever
Artist: Mike Norton
Colorist: Veronica Gandini
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Editor: Lauren Sankovitch
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: $3.99

Previously, on Fear Itself: The Serpent, an ancient Asgardian thingama of fear and stuff (don’t say Parallax), has sent a series of hammers to Earth, giving various denizens of the Marvel Universe Thor-like powers.  This has led to wide-spread panic, rioting, and fighty-fighty-fighty (the third fighty means it’s extra brutal) and has quickly brought back the public’s overriding fear of superhumans that only really shows up in big crossovers and X-Men books.  The Initiative has been reactivated, and various teams of less-experienced heroes are out in force to face down the threats, but most (if not all) of them are far out of their depth.  To make matters worse, when Thor Girl (she’s a girl with the powers of Thor…  You’re welcome.) pulls out her own hammer of power, a riot ensues, and innocents end up getting killed.  Summary:  It’s bad out there, and the heroes are getting beat the $&@$ up.

All The Young (Super) Dudes…

If you have to do exposition in comics (and you do), I like it when they do it well.  This story starts with a first-person explanation of very minor character Thor Girl, from her own first-person perspective, quickly and effectively detailing her upbringing, her career, and giving us the Cliff’s Notes version of her character.  It’s a nice open, leading directly into the first problematic scene of the issue:  Prodigy calls a press conference, and explains to the press that Thor Girl is putting herself in custody to prove that she has nothing to hide.  Aside from the fact that she’s done NOTHING to warrant even protective custody, aside from the fact that HE cannot make that decision for her, aside from the fact that it’s a dumb development, Prodigy makes it clear that he’s just following orders.  There’s no explanation of WHOSE idea this is, but it’s just dumb enough to be Initiative-era Iron Man, which makes me wonder exactly who IS pulling the strings here.  ‘Youth In Revolt’ is a very appropriate title, second only to ‘All The Teen Heroes We Keep Cancelling’ in terms of honesty, as this book stars the remnants of The Initiative, The Slingers, The New Warriors, The Young Allies and also Frog-Man.  Firestar and Gravity, co-leading an Initiative team in New Jersey, end up chasing down an escapee from the Raft and find themselves faced with Crossbones, murderer of Captain America, who quickly shoots Gravity in the chest.

Oh, Look… Corrupt Government Guys.  What A Shock.

While all that is going on, Thor Girl is interrogated and tortured by two shadowy figures who believe that her ties to Asgard give her insider information about what they call “terrorists.”  It’s a VERY ham-handed real-world metaphor, and another very problematic scene, as she postures and threatens, then gets electrocuted for her troubles.  The New Jersey team is played for suckers (honestly, ALL the young heroes in this book are written as idiots this month, with the single exception of Cloud 9, who disarms a panicked citizen and prevents a murder in so doing), Gravity isn’t really dead (again), and Geiger (the girl who dresses like Doc Samson) is seriously injured, while Hardball and Komodo are mobilized to fight The Juggernaut.  As the issue ends, Thor Girl’s tormentors are dropped by some sort of gas, and Thor Girl herself is busted out of jail by Cloud 9, who finally got a decent costume, since her old one made her look like Captain Ultra’s kid sidekick.

The Verdict: Far Too Familiar

I’m going to be honest with you:  I’m pretty sure I read this EXACT issue, with different players, during Civil War, and then again during the reign of The Initiative.  There’s a lot of characters jockeying around in this issue, far more than can be realistically developed during the six-issue time frame, which makes me think that we’re about to see some teenagers get killed.  To be honest with you, I’m not entirely sure that I’d mind, since Spider-Man influenced teen heroes are far too plentiful, and thicker on the ground than peanut butter from the deep freeze.  (That sentence started SO well, and then…)  We’re back to fear and paranoia about heroes again, and the issue also tries to make a lot of drama about the seeming murder of James Barnes in the main title, but I’m just not feeling it.  Maybe it’s that the ‘Heroic Age’ was supposed to be a change from five years of that, maybe it’s just that we’ve gone back to this particular story well too often.  Pretty much the last 7 years of Marvel crossovers have boiled down to “there’s a huge unheard-of menace and then they all fight!” and this one seems to be no exception.  This issue’s art is workmanlike, feeling a lot like Paul Pelletier, but doesn’t do anything special to elevate the story either.  All in all, this issue feels pretty lightweight and inconsequential, serving mostly as flavor text for the big fights in another title.  Fear Itself: Youth In Revolt #2 tries hard to bring the tension and high-stakes, but falls flat in the plot, and compounds the problem with listless characterization and crossover cliches, earning a very disappointing 1.5 out of 5 stars overall.  I actually have a fondness for many of the characters in this book, which makes it doubly sad for me…

Rating: ★½☆☆☆

Faithful Spoilerite Question Of The Day: Is anyone else still unclear on what The Serpent is all about?  Halfway through the miniseries, and I’m still not sure what’s causing all these disjointed disasters to happen…

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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10 Comments

  1. Armaan
    June 16, 2011 at 7:45 pm — Reply

    Um, the serpent summoned seven smashers. I mean, hammers. The Worthy. Plus Sin. So we’ve got eight powerful-as-gods villians and they’re tearing up THE ENTIRE WORLD.

    Or bits of it.

    In the meanwhile, everyone’s feeling more fear than they actually would. Like they’re hopped up on fear pills.

    So all The Serpent(who looks like a skinny evil Odin) has done(aside from increasing a general feeling of fear) is summon the Hammers that The Worthy pick up. It’s The Worthy who are doing all the main damage.
    Oh, and the hammer that came to Juggernaut opened up The Raft(again) so THOSE guys are free.

    I believe communications are screwed up too.

    Lastly, there is extra panic amongst the heroes because they’re afraid all their titles will start from number 1 in a huge relaunch that reboots much of their history including tiny off-panel moments where they got to enjoy a nice ice cream.

    Is that better?

    • June 16, 2011 at 8:53 pm — Reply

      Lastly, there is extra panic amongst the heroes because they’re afraid all their titles will start from number 1 in a huge relaunch that reboots much of their history including tiny off-panel moments where they got to enjoy a nice ice cream.

      Is that better?

      I actually expect that to happen, sooner rather than later.

  2. Alisha Mynx
    June 16, 2011 at 8:22 pm — Reply

    “Given the events of the last ten years of Marvel Comics, taking into account the comic-time dilation effect, factoring out Earth-A doubles and the occasional altered time-stream, there’s really only one way to to explain the way continuity unfolds at good ol’ Marvel:

    EVERY SINGLE PERSON in the Marvel Universe is dangerously unstable.”

    You’re just figuring this out? I thought everyone knew this long, long ago! ;p

  3. Arbor Day
    June 16, 2011 at 10:49 pm — Reply

    Cloud 9 is awesome, she kinda reminds me of Squirrel Girl, in the seemingly limited nature of her powers. Would that the Civil War had cleared out some of the old vanguard of Marvel supers, and let ones like her into the spotlight.

    Also, I miss Slapstick.

  4. Noobian74
    June 17, 2011 at 9:55 am — Reply

    Careful mentioning Slapstick like that. Somebody in the Marvel Bullpen might get an idea to have their more funnier characters (ex: Deadpool, Impossible Man, Slapstick and Madcap) decide to join together to destroy the world in the next crossover event. The tagline will be, ‘Dying is Easy, Comedy is Hard.” Throw in a one-shot for Wolverine and call it ‘For SNIKT’s and Giggles.”

    Don’t laugh. You can see it happening…

    • TaZ
      June 17, 2011 at 10:42 am — Reply

      Yes…yes I can.

  5. TaZ
    June 17, 2011 at 10:57 am — Reply

    I think I speak for a lot of comic fans who say…”Who are these people?” I pretty much skipped over the “Marvel Youth Movement” (Avengers: The Initiative, Young Avengers, Young Warriors, Young Love, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young…) due to complete lack of interest. The first of these types of titles that I paid any attention to was Avengers Academy but I still can’t take it too seriously because the kid that turns into dinosaur parts is just too campy and reminds me of the animated series where everyone is really short (although the midget Ms. Marvel was interesting in a kinda creepy way…)

    I have REALLY tried to give this Marvel “event” a chance but other than the plot tie-ins in the “Fear Itself” title the other books just aren’t that interesting. As Matthew said it seems like someone is just recycling the plots from Civil War and Dark Reign. And folks flipping out because a blonde girl’s got a hammer when folks in the marvel u have seen Thor flying around for years, Thunderstrike and Beta Ray Bill is kinda unreasonable even with the “fear monster” out there. It’s not like she’s suddenly 7 feet tall, glowing like lava and speaking ancient Norse while bashing the hell out of everything in sight.

    But then again many of us DC fans have already seen this type of “event” before where the evil, scary baddie baddie was Darkseid and Glorious Godfrey was the “hatemonger”. At the end of this series I’m waiting for all the kids to run out and protect their heroes (of course, with art by John Byrne).

    And as far as the “other big event” aka “Spider Island”…uh, yeah. I’ll pass on that. Especially since the plot isn’t too far off from “what if there were a ton of people on Earth with all the powers of Superman?”

    • Damascus
      June 25, 2011 at 9:07 am — Reply

      Actually more often then not, I’m drawn to the younger characters (pretty much all of the titles you mentioned, well except for Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young of course) more than the big events they’re spawned from. I liked the Initiative characters, loved the Young Avengers and all that other stuff too.

  6. Ced
    June 17, 2011 at 11:29 am — Reply

    -I miss the Runaways.
    -I enjoyed some parts of the Initiative
    -You really have to be motivated as a super-hero to want to save the average jerk that populate the Marvel-U.

  7. Steve
    June 17, 2011 at 3:10 pm — Reply

    Fear Itself has not been helped by shitty tie ins like this one or the fact that the main series has as a villain a woman who’s never appeared outside of Captain America or won at anything and the God of Retcons who Odin fears Just Because. Did issues two and three seem like the same exact story? Aside from Bucky getting Ryan Choi’d it was all Odin being a dick inexplicably and hammers falling. Mock a Bendis event all you want but don’t people miss that now that they’re seeing what we get from Fraction? The guy is all about Cool Ideas and Plot that engages the mind while never really touching your heart. FI joins Countdown as being the only Big Events I have stopped buying midway through….

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