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…
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…