Marvel’s Fear Itself – WPR Exclusive Hands On
The average comic reader that has picked a Marvel title in the last two months has heard all about the summer “event” Fear Itself, with a planned street date of April 6th. Not many people know about it however. The promotional house ads have been purposefully deceptive, giving small hints about what may or may not occur in superstar writer Matt Fraction’s biggest assignment yet.
I thought about starting this article with the usual hype and catch phrases that have become familiar by now, but decided to, instead of empty hyperbole, tell you what I know. Fear Itself is the series hardcore Marvel zombies have been waiting for. I was fortunate enough to see the first issue in an advanced form and was personally blown away by its contents.
Most readers are familiar with Fraction’s Eisner Award winning run on the Invincible Iron Man as well as his critically acclaimed arc on Thor. Take both of those stories, throw in a dash of Ed Brubaker’s Captain America (or at least someone who has become a major player in that title), and you have Fear Itself.
I’m being a little guarded with the details, but what I can tell you is the Odin that has returned in the pages of Thor may not be who you think. The Red Skull’s daughter, Sin, gets a serious upgrade in character and power. There’s more than one… um, never mind. I’m not going into that. Suffice it to say that there are a lot of things that happen just in issue #1 that will have you questioning certain parts of the Marvel Universe. Oh, and by the time it’s done, the Scarecrow and Mr. Fear themselves will be cowering in the corner.
As Fraction says, “People clamor for change in the Marvel Universe. Permanent, important change. This is where they’ll get it.” And based on #1, he’s not just blowing smoke.
Stuart Immonen’s artwork shines, even in the black and white form I saw. His line work is crisp and every character is readily identifiable. He also manages to convey a sense of menace that is almost palpable. I was literally a little uncomfortable reading it, and the art played a huge part in that. I think this is the book he was born to draw and it’s possibly the finest work of his career.
I am as excited for this title as anything I’ve seen a some time. This is the kind of event the comic book industry needs. It has ties to ongoing series, paying attention to continuity and honoring other stories and titles, yet seems as if it could be accessible to a fairly new reader as well. Sure there are one shots here and there and a companion series, Homefront, that enhances, but isn’t required reading, but Fear Itself looks to be contained in the core title. A welcome change.
There is also a social commentary expertly woven in. It doesn’t hit you over the head, nor does it force you to take a political side either way. It is simply a real world look at some of the things going on in this country and examining how they would affect the comic world if paralleled therein.
If the rest of the series looks and reads like issue #1, the only thing you’ll have to fear is the series finale at #7.