Or – “ROUND SEVEN:  FIGHT!”

Last issue left off with Thor, Captain America and Iron Man preparing for war, each in their own way, arming themselves with guns, the Odinsword and a bucket of liquid uru, respectively.  Will all our heroes make it out of this one?

FEAR ITSELF #7
Writer: Matt Fraction
Penciler: Stuart Immonen
Inker(s): Wade Von Grawbadger With Vines
Colorist(s): Laura Martin with Ponsor & Milla
Letterer: Chris Eliopoulos
Editor: Tom Brevoort
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: $4.99

Previously, on Fear Itself:  Serpent.  Skull’s daughter.  Hammers.  Possession.  Fighty-fighty.  Avengers Tower falls.  Spider-Man panicks.  Iron Man plastered.  Captain America angry.  Odin indecisive.  Fighty-fighty-fighty.  Revelation.  Smelter.  Shotgun.  Resolve.  Lather.  Rinse.  Repeat.  And now, we’re cha-cha-ing…

CINEMATIC STORY-TELLING…

So, for nearly half a year, we’ve been building to this event, this moment-of-truth, this date with destiny.  And I find myself immediately irritated at how much of it had already been revealed in the teasers, the promos, and the solicitations.  Iron Man comes back from Svartalfheim with the weapons he forged for the nine Avengers (himself, Spider-Man, Wolverine, Hawkeye, Iron Fist, Doctor Strange, Red She-Hulk, Black Widow, and Ms. Marvel), but there’s very little time spent on what the weapons are or what they do.  There’s an immediate return to the fighty-fighty, including bits and pieces of stories that are taking place in the various crossover miniseries, before we shift focus back to Captain America (minus his legendary shield) holding Brooklyn against the Serpent’s invading army with nothing more than automatic weapons and true grit.  We get a satisfying moment when, as the cavalry arrives, Cap allows himself a quiet half-smile, and murmurs, “My team.”  The Avengers/Mighty battle the hordes of the Serpent’s hammer-wielders while The Mighty Thor takes up arms against his father’s brother, transformed into a giant serpent.  Constant shifts of place and focus undermine all but the broadest strokes of characterization, and at the half-way point of the issue, my mind is awhirl with the “Look over here!  Now over here!” storytelling.

…BUT WE’RE STUCK IN THE MULTIPLEX.

Though he is engaged with fighting the Serpent (using the Odinsword), Thor either intentionally throws or loses his hammer in battle, and the Avengers power is swelled again as Captain America picks up the hammer and cries, “Avengers Assemble!”  Imbued with the power of Thor, Captain America takes the fight straight to Sin, while Thor battles and Odin prepares his armies to sweep in and destroy Earth.  Stuart Immonen really sells the range and scope of the battle, but having nearly everything in ruins somewhat undermines the sense of place, so I’m not entirely sure whether Thor’s battle is taking place on Earth or in Asgard or both.  It’s a pretty fascinating issue to look at, and when Thor finally strikes, wedging his sword in the Serpent’s face, I am overwhelmed by a sense of dissatisfaction.  It just can’t be this easy, can it?  After months of magic and fear gods and what have you, it all just boils down to, “They get bigger hammers and they fight!”, can it?

Yes.  Yes, it can.  The issue ends with a fallen Thunder god, All-Father Odin’s penance, The Avengers’ vows to fix it all, reg’lar fellers coming together to overcome adversity and band together.  It also ends with about 20 pages of previews of coming attractions, including some interesting moments with Bruce Banner, but once again proving that the summer crossover is George Jetson’s dog-walk, and none of us can get Jane to turn off the crazy thing.  I was initially pleased to see that this issue was 5 dollars for nearly fifty pages, but 40% of the book consists just of previews of Incredible Hulk, Defenders and other coming books, leaving me purchasing a story that’s about 35% larger at a price increase of nearly SIXTY percent.

THE VERDICT:  I HATE WHEN THEY NO-SELL IT…

This crossover had so much potential when they set it off, and I was really feeling a little bit optimistic about how it might go, but once again, Marvel editorial proves that the setup is more important than any follow-through.  Worse still, we’re stepping into another post-crossover Age that will get us through mid-spring before the die is cast for NEXT summer’s Next Big Thing.  This issue is full of wide-screen kablammicus (not THAT Kablammakus) but in order to understand the effects that it might have on the characters, you have to go buy issue 7.1, 7.2, and 7.3.  Fear Itself #7 is a complete deflation of all the tension of the first six issues without making a satisfying resolution of any of it, and earns a frustrated and demoralized 2 out of 5 stars overall.  I have a sad suspicion that the scar in Captain America’s newly-reforged-by-dwarves-with-Uru shield is going to be the only actual ramification of all of this, presuming you don’t count the twelve issue continuation series…

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Faithful Spoilerite Question Of The Day:  Comics (especially crossovers, these days) have mastered the art of the build-up, but are there any issues that effectively complete the tales they tell in a satisfactory manner?

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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20 Comments

  1. October 20, 2011 at 9:28 pm — Reply

    I actually enjoyed every issue up until this final one. Granted it looks like each ‘part’ is told in more detail in other comics but – IT SHOULDN’T BE. It should have all been here. The fight between Mr. Odin’s fearful little brother and Thor was too quick and felt that, aside from Thor’s death, had too little immediate impact.

    I do appreciate the Hulk setup as it’s the first time I’ve been TRULY interested in Hulk in awhile but … ugh I really didn’t like this issue. I think they made some mistakes here that are really a disappointment and you pointed the all out. The only thing they didn’t really touch on is there were a lot of early spoilers that Tony’s drinking was going to become public knowledge and I feel they should have somehow slipped it into this issue.

  2. Petro
    October 20, 2011 at 10:21 pm — Reply

    “I have a sad suspicion that the scar in Captain America’s newly-reforged-by-dwarves-with-Uru shield is going to be the only actual ramification of all of this, presuming you don’t count the twelve issue continuation series…”

    So stuff like Tony relapsing, Bucky dying, Thor dying, Odin locking the Asgardians on Earth, the Defenders reforming, and Colossus becoming the new Juggernaut don’t count?

    And that’s after you said the 12-issues of The Fearless plus the new series Battle Scars don’t matter.

    Perhaps, you’re right and by the time the Avengers movie rolls out all of this stuff will be long forgotten. But, for the sake of someone who enjoys long-term continuity storytelling I hope you’re wrong.

    • October 20, 2011 at 10:56 pm — Reply

      But, for the sake of someone who enjoys long-term continuity storytelling I hope you’re wrong.

      Honestly? I hope I’m wrong, too… Bucky might stay dead, I don’t suspect Thor will, Juggolossus is an inherently temporary concept.

      Looking forward to Defenders, though. :)

  3. October 20, 2011 at 10:59 pm — Reply

    And that’s after you said the 12-issues of The Fearless plus the new series Battle Scars don’t matter.

    I said that? I don’t remember having said that…

  4. Armaan
    October 21, 2011 at 3:38 am — Reply

    Marvel tried so, so, SO hard to make Fear Itself matter.

    I can’t for the life of me figure out WHY.

  5. WildThrashersDotCom
    October 21, 2011 at 8:12 am — Reply

    This would have been a great series if they would have actually “finished” it. It was worth a couple of extra issues to really show some great one on one battles with the new weapons. Tony survives his molten experience for what to show a temporary armor design? Spiderman just did what he always does-enhancements=useless. I would have loved to have seen Iron Fist with asgarsdian weapon versus the Absorbing Man. Was Ms. Marvel even in this book? Letting them keep the weapons blessed by Odin would have been a good status quo change and have some surrender them (Wolverine/ SpiderMan) and they become kindling for an extension story for someone else who decides to take them on. I’m sorry Doc Strange and that Caduceus Staff-Awesome-I wish that would have remained. The battle between Thor and the Serpent should have been after the battle of the “soldiers below” with only the two left standing and the battle at least as epic as the Hulk and the Sentry at the end of World War Hulk( at least). But even more so as the clash could have been taken in a form of transcribe legend as the on looker describes each classic and embroiled exchange in hyperbolic tones of grandeur, Where in the end Odin’s hesitance to come to resolve are a step too late as the serpent falls and Thor takes nine painful and agonizing steps to drop into his father’s arms and Sif drops her sword and turns away. Skadi having just revived stands to rush to the side of her Father/Lord only to have her hammer forcibly ripped from her grasp along with the other hammer of might. Final scene of her on her knees screaming madly. and then the epilogue. At least that is what i would have done within this framework.

  6. October 21, 2011 at 8:20 am — Reply

    None of this stuff ever sticks. Thats why its so meh.

    If nothing sticks, then all we have to hope for is a really good story and art. If we get that, then the future ramifications dont really matter. But if you dont deliver that, then we have nothing.

  7. Russ Catt
    October 21, 2011 at 8:55 am — Reply

    First off, great review. I agree with all your major points.
    I think the fault of Fear Itself lies not in the major events of the plotline, but in the pacing of the events within its 7-issue structure.

    I remember reading the first issue and thinking, “Well, that was a little slow” and now I think that slow build really hurt the payoff at the end.
    There needed to be a couple of pages devoted to the Mighty and the new abilities that they gained from their weapons. However the size of this issue was already increased so there wasn’t much else anyone could do at this point.

    This problem was created months before the first issue hit the stands. I’m sure the editorship realized the problem after about issue 3 and all they could do is watch the rest unfold like a car wreck in slow-motion.

  8. TaZ
    October 21, 2011 at 8:59 am — Reply

    I would have rather been wrong…

  9. Noobian74
    October 21, 2011 at 9:27 am — Reply

    Comic crossover where the it actually built up to a satisfactory ending?

    *Jeopardy theme song plays in the background*

    Does World War Hulk count?

    • October 21, 2011 at 11:35 am — Reply

      Does World War Hulk count?

      Survey says: Sure. Now, elaborate. :)

  10. Ced
    October 21, 2011 at 9:32 am — Reply

    The Mighty and their asgardian weapons were so downplayed, I wonder why they even bothered with them. The conflict with the Worthy was so generic it was boring. After seeing how the grey gargoyle was utterly terrifying in the pages of Ironman, it was a huge let down of a confrontation. A shame Bucky died for this.

    I way prefered & enjoyed the seven issues of Home Front with Speedball: the Speedball parts were where the real heroic stuff that matter happened. (But man, I am so tired of Iphone flashing in comic books).

  11. TaZ
    October 21, 2011 at 11:35 am — Reply

    There has to be something with the fight scene with “The Mighty” that caused it to be cut down regarding time constraints or something else. It’s almost like a wrestling match that ran long and the ref gives you the “Take it home” signal even when the finish seems rushed.

    • October 21, 2011 at 4:05 pm — Reply

      It’s almost like a wrestling match that ran long and the ref gives you the “Take it home” signal even when the finish seems rushed.

      So, you’re blaming Earl Hebner for Fear Itself?

      • ~wyntermute~
        October 21, 2011 at 5:08 pm — Reply

        THOR SCREWED THOR!!! ^_^

  12. Stephen Y.
    October 21, 2011 at 11:39 am — Reply

    on a brighter note, at least it all came out on time…

  13. October 21, 2011 at 4:09 pm — Reply

    I kinda feel like Charlie Brown trying to kick a football….

  14. esenem
    October 24, 2011 at 3:03 am — Reply

    i know im goin to regret this, but whatever happened with the Break of worlds, Hulk? dont care for spoilers

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