Or – “The Best There Is At What He Does: Moving Marvel Product.”

The more I read ‘Fear Itself,’ the more I think that it is designed entirely as a “Oh YEAH?” to DC’s ‘Blackest Night’ crossover.  The ‘seven mysterious new weapons related to one we already know,’ the general fear factor (Not the Joe Rogen one, mind you) and the use of specific characters in specific roles make me think that, at least at some point, someone said “Let’s do that, only with our guys!”  It’s a common story in comics, but what does it mean for the actual stories?

FEAR ITSELF: WOLVERINE #1
Writer: Seth Peck
Artist: Roland Bosche
Cover Artist: Daniel Acuna
Colorist: Dan Brown
Letterer: VC’s Joe Sabino
Editor Jeanine Schaefer
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Price $2.99

Previously, on Wolverine – Fear Itself: Blah blah blah daughter of the Red Skull, blah blah blah ancient Norse thingy, blah blah powersource, blah blah hammers from the sky blah, blah blah terrible tragedy no one would ever have predicted.  And then they all fight.  Also:  There’s Wolverine!

Yet Another Legacy Of Norman Osborn

This issue starts by cementing something that I’ve been wondering about for a while:  Something weird is going on causing people to panic and riot, leading to the strangenesses we’ve been reading about in ‘Fear Itself.’  It’s nice to have that for certain, but it’s odd that it wasn’t spelled out anywhere until I read this issue.  In any case, we start out with the discovery of the U.S.S. Prometheus, a helicarrier that was designed by Norm-O for use in his evil future plans, but mothballed when He Of The Corduroy Hair was unseated by the events of Siege.  (I know that was recent, but doesn’t it already feel like FOREVER ago?)  The ship is inevitably stolen by ne’er-do-wells, in this case members of S.T.R.I.K.E. (a paramilitary group created by Alan Moore years ago during his run on Captain Britain, but mostly inactive since) who have a mysterious mission for the ship.  At the same time, Wolverine is in the midst of the rioting in New York, forced to fight The Scarecrow (Marvel version) who is using the fear and panic for his own ends.  This moment is another that seems designed solely as a response to DC’s use of THEIR Scarecrow in their emotion-based limited series.  Unlike his counterpart, though, Marvel’s Scarecrow is something of an idiot, and is easily dispatched by Wolverine with a gas canister, leading us to some interesting character stuff…

Things I Didn’t Know About Jim Howlett

Apparently, our pal Logan (yes, I’m aware that nobody calls him that anymore) has a steady girl, a reporter named Melita Garner, who is also stuck in New York amidst the chaos.  We see a very loooong sequence that amounts to little more than talking heads as Melita and Wolverine discuss the weirdness, his job, her job, the fact that he’s not protecting her or nothin’, and a couple of other bits of interesting information.  Commander Steve Rogers suddenly calls with information on the S.T.R.I.K.E. helicarrier skyjacking, and asks Wolverine to intervene.  He, in turn, sends Melita back to Avengers Tower (which sets this particular story earlier than last week’s issue of Avengers, apparently) to dig up information on S.T.R.I.K.E.  If he’d just waited a page or three, she would have had more than enough information, though, as the helicarrier shows up in the skies over New York City, dragging a number of bodies beneath the ship to…  I dunno.  Apparently, to take advantage of the general tenor of fear?  Our hero infiltrates the ship, and his plucky girl Friday discovers the shocking secret of Norm-O’s flying superfortress:  Two words, rhymes with “wuclear fom…”

The Verdict: Clawed Rains

The good news is that this seems to be quite strongly tied to Wolverine’s new corner of the Marvel Universe (they even have a handy guide to the Wolverine books, treating them as their own sub-universe, apparently) using his supporting cast, and presumably staying true to his post-movie characterization.  I don’t normally read his books, but you can see where fans of the regular title would be gratified to have a coherent character.  That said, I don’t see why this wouldn’t work within the Wolverine title, except to raise the units sold, and this particular corner of Fear Itself is pretty far removed from the central conceit of the story.  All in all, though, it’s a competently handled book, with intriguing art, but the execution of the story is talky and run-of-the-mill.  Fear Itself: Wolverine #1 is designed to get the hardcore fans of the character while remaining accessible to the casual buyer, and it’s good enough to get the job done, earning 2.5 out of 5 stars overall. I wasn’t overcome with the urge to buy more Wolverine titles, but I wasn’t left out in the cold, either…

Rating: ★★½☆☆

Faithful Spoilerite Question Of The Day: Is it better to see these sort of side tales rather than try and stuff all the heroes into the main narrative (ala Infinity Gauntlet)?

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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8 Comments

  1. Rome
    July 6, 2011 at 9:12 pm — Reply

    Hmmm…. Good review. What is annoying is not the story itself, but the fact that this so-so story requires its own mini, rather than just being a part of the ongoing. Aren’t they putting all of those Fear Iself banners on everything right now anyway?

    And Infinity Gauntlet was well handled even though it had many of the A-list characters involved, for the the very reason that it DIDN’T feel the need to push them to the front and center of the story where they were obviously background roles. Recent cross-overs suffer from trying to do WAY TOO MUCH in every single event, bringing in every single character, when they often aren’t necessary and just make the plot more convoluted.

    • Damascus
      July 18, 2011 at 10:34 pm — Reply

      But I wouldn’t mind having stories that relate to the events going on from the perspective of a character I wanted to read about, that didn’t have to be read to understand the main storyline. Like supplemental material, not necessary but if you care about the Great Lakes Avengers and want to know what’s going on and if they’re all a-feared of stuff then you’d be able to read about them too. I do hate it though when a book has to do something really stupid to just slightly mention the main events of the ongoing and then avoid it entirely and I hate when a book has no reason to, but becomes all about the event too. Just give us a valid reason why you aren’t apart of those events or act like they don’t exist. (the Outsiders after Dini took over is a prime example, in one flight on a stolen Markovian ship the War of New Krypton started and ended before they landed.)

  2. Armaan
    July 6, 2011 at 11:08 pm — Reply

    Blackest Night had GOOD TALES.
    I felt like there was a good reason to bring so many dead titles back to life.

    Fear Itself is ridiculously shameless in it’s “Buy more of our comics!”

    Hm.
    As is Flashpoint.

    • SenorEjaz
      July 7, 2011 at 5:22 am — Reply

      I couldn’t disagree more. In my opinion (obviously) Blackest Night had a gazillion pointless tie-ins to a story that went on forever for no obvious reason. I’m not the biggest fan of DC characters (dunno why) but I loved the Sinestro Corps War until Johns managed to kill any interest I may have had with the tricks that he uses over and over – fetishising continuity, gratuitious gore, the League of Rainbow Lanterns (started well, got dumbver and dumberer) and being head over heels in love with two of the most boring characters ever – Hal Jordan and Barry Allen. I don’t care about these lame-o’s, which may be why I’m not huge on Flashpoint.

      I enjoyed Final Crisis however, even though it was confusing and I didn’t know all the characters and they weren’t signposted like in Marvel Comics.

      I’d argue all event comics are shameless in plugging tie-ins, I think its part of the business model.

  3. SenorEjaz
    July 7, 2011 at 5:10 am — Reply

    Hey Matthew, I reckon this is more of an homage to Final Crisis rather than Blackest Night. I read an interview with Fraction where he talked about how awesome he found Morrison and Final Crisis. With the facing off between Gods with Earth as a battlefield and the spread of fear (anti-life?) it seems to me that this owes more to that than Zombie Lanterns ‘r’ us.
    As to your question, I’d rather have characters like Wooolvie and Deadpool (ugh) in side stories where I don’t have to see them instead of forced on us in the main story. I hated House of M because it wasn’t even about House of M, instead we got endless (and boring) issues of Wooolvie wandering aimlessly telling us how outraged he was at this mutant paradise.

    • SenorEjaz
      July 7, 2011 at 6:23 am — Reply

      Another connection I’d add. I read (somewhere) that Kirby if he’d stayed at Marvel the first time intended to Ragnarok the Norse pantheon and replace it with the Fourth World. (personally I’m glad he didn’t get the chance. I like the fourth world but Odin et al are great!)

  4. TaZ
    July 7, 2011 at 9:06 am — Reply

    With the exception of X-Factor I’m about as worn out with Wolverine as I am with Spiderman (with the exception of FF). I am just not able to get into any of the Fear Itself plots and side stories, especially Ben Grimm being stupid enough to just pick up a hammer that he knows is something that he should let “Big Brain” look at first just because some stupid “New Yawker” from Yancey Street is talking trash about a dead family member (apparently this guy was visiting from New Jersey). Now they have to go back through the “super-powered persons and mutants are a danger….yada yada yada that led to “Dark Reign”, which apparently is still a part of this whole thing since Marvel can apparently no longer run an “Event” without including Norman Osborne or Loki as part of it.

    I’m not really comparing Fear Itself to Darkest Night. Personally, I enjoyed both Darkest Night and Brightest Day because they focused on some of the DC characters that have been rarely used in recent years. I also had no problem with the other Lantern Corps as I thought that the more interesting corps (Red Lanterns, Orange Lantern and Blue Lanterns) would end up getting some exposure after the end of the GL war. My only complaint of BN/BD was that the Indigo Lanterns had a little bit too much mystery left in them and what they can do with their part of the spectrum seems to still be nebulous, probably “to be continued” in the New Guardians series.

    For now I’ll be content with my few Marvel selections (X-Factor, Secret Avengers, Thunderbolts) getting back into a groove as soon as this “Serpent” stuff is over.

    Very good review.

    • Armaan
      July 7, 2011 at 2:39 pm — Reply

      I kinda like that compassion is still mysterious and we have yet to understand it completely.

      Just like real life!

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