REVIEW: Fear Itself #7 (of 7)

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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?