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Page-by-page with Fear Itself #1

Boy, that doesn’t sound appealing, does it? Maybe you should skip this post, as I can’t imagine someone like me writing about a 44-page comic in brief. Can you?

Talk to the hand, man!

I’ve been wanting to write a post like this for a while, breaking down the writing and art and even other aspects of comic book creation in a single post, but I decided to wait to do it on a comic that a lot of people would buy. As I don’t buy a lot of comics that a lot of people buy, I had to wait until the big event book came along. But I want to consider what works, what doesn’t, and why certain things are in a comic book. I almost titled this “How to read a comic,” but that sounds like I know something you don’t. As is often clear with my posts, I know far less than most of you, so I wouldn’t want to give the wrong idea! But I did think it would be fun to dissect a comic, especially one that a lot of people might have read. So – SPOILERS below, although there aren’t a lot of big-time revelations in Fear Itself #1. I imagine they will come later in the series.

When we are reading comics set in a shared universe, there must be a baseline of knowledge that readers are expected to know. This is both a blessing and a curse, as it allows the writers some wiggle room with setting the stage and with characterization – they can rely on readers knowing a bit about the characters in the comic, so they can take shortcuts – but it also makes comics a bit more impenetrable to the layperson. This impenetrability isn’t a deal-breaker – everyone was a new reader at some point – but it does mean that new readers will have to work a bit harder to understand a mainstream superhero comic book. So what is our baseline with regard to Fear Itself? Matt Fraction can reasonably assume we know the major players in the Marvel Universe. We shall see that this is a Thor-centric event, so Fraction can assume we know who Thor is. Other major players in the Marvel U. are Captain America, Iron Man, Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four, and several mutants. If we are going to pick up an event book like this, we should not expect much in the way of introduction to those characters. Even more minor characters may or may not be introduced properly in this comic series, because we ought to know who they are.

What about the status quo of the Marvel Universe? This is where it gets a bit trickier. The status quo of the Marvel U., even more than the DC Universe, is rather fluid – Marvel does “illusion of change” or “dynamic statis” better than DC ever did, so that even though, looked at through a long lens, nothing much seems to change, within a certain time frame things can change dramatically. So Captain America is no longer Captain America these days, and Tony Stark has gone through some business changes, too. Meanwhile, Asgard was transplanted to Oklahoma and then crashed, which is how it stands at the beginning of this series. These are the major changes that aren’t necessarily explained within the series, because they’re fairly major plot points in the Marvel Universe these days. In issue #1, those are the things you really need to know. Perhaps others will present themselves as the series moves along.

Finally, there’s the premise of the series itself. If you’re going to pick up an event comic, you should at least know the premise. Marvel has been touting this as something to do with the Red Skull’s daughter and the population of the world getting the bejeesus scared out of them. We may need to know about “The Worthy,” but as it’s a major plot point, I think we can assume it will be explained in future issues. The baseline of knowledge is that everyone’s peeing in their pants with fear. Why? We don’t really know, do we?

So that’s that. I want to look at the writing and art separately, even though the two aspects are uniquely linked in comics. First up: THE WRITING! What does Matt Fraction do right and wrong in this comic, and how does he do it? Let’s begin!

Page 2-3 (I’m skipping page 1 but I’ll get back to it – it has no words on it, so what’s the point, amirite?): We’re in lower Manhattan, at what might be a construction site but looks much more like a parcel of dirt with a slight depression in it. On all sides are people holding signs, while inside the barrier surrounding the dirt stand police and, almost in the middle, two superheroes: Steve Rogers and Sharon Carter (okay, technically Sharon isn’t a superhero, but work with me!). Fraction’s script tells us that someone is trying to build something on the dirt, but some people don’t want them to while others think it’s no big deal. One protestor says the permits are signed and it’s legally zoned, while another says that the site is “tragic” and “sacred” and building anything there discredits the memory of those who died there, while yet a third thinks nothing should be built on the site – “not a church, not a store, not another condo” – because the place should mean something other than … but then he’s cut off. Sharon tells Steve that the people are going to kill each other in the chaos, but Steve points out that it’s not chaos, it’s “democracy.”

Page 4-7: Steve tells Sharon that the right of the people to assemble doesn’t say anything about being quiet, but Sharon says it still feels like a riot. This is, of course, prescient, as this is a comic book, and people don’t just assemble without something bad happening. In the next panel, the riot begins. This part of the story is told mostly through the art, so I’ll hold off on it until I get to that, but basically, it’s people being mean to each other. Fraction does feel the need to add a completely superfluous newscaster on the bottom of page 5 who tells us exactly what we’re seeing, but perhaps that’s for the people who need television shows to constantly update us on who characters are – you know the ones, the characters say stuff like “You mean Jim, your brother?” even though Jim was introduced as the brother 15 minutes before. The newscaster is only meant as a transition to the reporter on the street, Jamie, who on the top of page 6 also tells us things we already know. She does manage to stick her microphone into the face of Steve and ask him, as the original Captain America (giving us a nice piece of information we might not have had coming into the issue), what side of the issue he’s on. She asks him this while he’s trying to separate two fighting protestors. Steve, naturally, asks if she’s kidding, but we’re not sure if he’s asking whether she’s kidding about asking him a stupid question like that or whether she’s kidding about asking him a stupid question like that while he’s actually trying to stop the riot. Probably both. He says he’s “anti-riot” and tells her to get out of there, but then he gets bonked on the noggin by a stray brick. He gets up easily enough as Sharon returns to his side, but when she asks how they’re going to stop the riot, he’s flummoxed. Oh dear.

'In my day, we just beat up Commies, man!'

What can we learn from the riot pages? Fraction is obviously paralleling the contentious debate over the building of the mosque near the site of the World Trade Center in Manhattan, but what’s interesting is that even in the Marvel Universe, where the terrorist attack actually occurred, he references it only obliquely. The main point of this sequence is to show that people’s nerves are on edge and that any little thing will set them off. This ties into the series’ theme of fear lurking beneath the surface at all times – the two sides are afraid of each other, so they react violently. In that regard, the first sequence is successful if somewhat heavy-handed. As Fraction implies and which is baldly stated later, Steve has no idea how to stem the riot because it’s not a super-villain manipulating things. This is stretching our suspension of disbelief a bit – even if Steve slept through the 1960s (which, according to the latest Marvel timeline, he did), the idea that he grew up in the Depression and never realized that occasionally people riot is laughable. That he would be stunned into inaction by it is almost insulting. But let’s move on!

Pages 8-13: The villain of the piece is introduced. We’re in Antarctica at a giant fortress (“Fortress Null,” as we learn in the second panel on the page). In a wonderful comicbooky sentence, the villain says “The men we’re about to encounter have been trapped inside this place since 1942. They have been isolated from the world and kept alive by Nazi superscience perfected by the first Red Skull.” We’ve already seen this in the preceding pages, but “isolated,” “superscience,” and “Red Skull” are not only italicized and bold, they’re actually larger than the other words. In the second panel we learn that this is the Red Skull’s child and that the men inside – the Thule Society – are guarding something and that they are prepared to die protecting it unless Hitler himself walks through the door. So the villain tells her (we don’t know it’s a she yet, but it turns out to be) minions to kill them all. Inside, her minions kill everyone (she mocks her father for “putting librarians” between her and his greatest treasure) and she consults the Skull’s journal to find the “prize.” They find a vault and cut it open, revealing a hammer encased in ice. One of the minions exposits to the Skull’s daughter (this is the first time we find out it’s a woman) that the Red Skull tried to lift it, as did Hitler, and they couldn’t. Why can she? She says she had a dream in which she killed Captain America and was made queen of the world and everyone was afraid. According to the minion, the runes on the handle are translated as “And he who shall be worthy will wield the hammer of Skadi.” She grabs the hammer and is transformed into a Nordic warrior in the Marvel Asgardian vein – armor, some sort of glowing tunic, and long braided hair that she didn’t appear to have before. She says, “Behold. I am … resurrected.” This speech is in black balloons with white letters.

'Behold ... my penis substitute!'

As part of the baseline knowledge about the Marvel Universe, readers ought to know who the Red Skull is. It’s less certain that they should know that the Skull has a daughter named Sin. We learn her name later in the issue, however, so that’s no big deal. What is important about this sequence is that Sin is “worthy” to take up the hammer where the Skull and Hitler were not. Obviously, this has echoes not only in medieval literature and the Arthur legend, but in Marvel history as well, where Donald Blake is worthy to pick up the hammer of Thor and become the god of thunder. What exactly does the hammer of Skadi do for the holder? The implication is that it’s something to do with evil, because Sin is obviously a big meanie, but not necessarily, because if a comic book character is more evil than Hitler, that’s kind of insulting. Perhaps she can engender more fear in people? The problem is with the goddess she becomes – Skadi doesn’t appear to be a particularly nasty deity. According to Wikipedia, she’s the freaking goddess of skiing, for crying out loud. She’s associated with winter, which I guess in Scandinavia can get nasty, but there doesn’t seem to be anything particularly fearful about her. It’s a bit strange that Fraction would use her unless he couldn’t find a better god in the Norse pantheon to fit. Perhaps he should have made someone up? Anyway, much like Donald Blake, Sin is now Skadi. She retains some of her “Sin-ness,” though, which I’m not sure ever happened with Donald Blake/Thor.

Pages 14-15: We’re back in Manhattan, and the Avengers are standing on top of their tower. Steve Rogers says “That’s impossible,” but Tony Stark, Thor, and Sharon all tell him that the riot was a simple riot. Stark says there were no abnormal energy readings or tech in the area, Thor says there were no enchantments, and Sharon says the air, water, and environment were all clean. Steve is disappointed, because he wants to punch a bad guy, man! He says it was chaos and he couldn’t stop it. Stark tells him that “Captain America just doesn’t come with the same caché [sic] it once did,” pointing out that Steve isn’t even Cap anymore. Stark, always the douchebag, continues: “I’m sorry that’s hard to hear, Greatest Generation [yes, he actually calls Steve that], but it’s true. People are mad right now, and broke and they’ve been lied to and ripped off — and when people who’re already mad get scared then all hell kinda breaks loose. So how did you guys get out of it, hmmm? In your day? You built.” Stark tells them that the Asgardians need a new city and Thor has agreed to let him design and build it. Stark wants to hold a press conference and announce it, acknowledging that they can’t “punch a recession” or other abstract things, but at least they can put some people back to work.

This is a vexing scene for a few reasons. As I wrote above, the idea that Steve Rogers, who grew up in the 1930s, doesn’t believe that people can riot without external manipulation is absolutely ridiculous. So his frustration with the people feels rather forced. I know that Fraction is just making a point that fear is already present in the Marvel Universe and that Sin/Skadi will exploit it somehow, but he doesn’t make it terribly well. This is not the time nor place to get into whether people in today’s society are more or less fearful than they used to be, but here Fraction is implying the former – it’s part of the theme of the book. It seems to me that in the Marvel Universe, people would be a lot more scared of the random supervillain attack or Galactus appearance, but that’s neither here nor there. Fraction is trying to link this to “real-world” events, which is always a dicey proposition in superhero comics. Finally, of all the heroes who could provide historical perspective about fear, Steve Rogers seems like the one. The dude was alive during the Depression, for crying out loud.

Then there’s Stark’s statement that Steve is a bit of a relic. We seem to be treading familiar ground here, as Stark’s statement isn’t quite as dumb as asking Steve whether he’s know what MySpace is, but close enough. I would imagine there are plenty of people in the Marvel U. who would still respect Steve Rogers and what he stands for … but those people rarely show up in superhero comics except as comical straw men. I’m speaking of self-identifying conservatives, who always claim they’re far more patriotic than the rest of America. These people wouldn’t agree with Stark, and there are far more of them than we see in Marvel comics, where the “regular” folk are often hip, liberal youngsters or older, salt-of-the-earth people who accept everyone because they’ve learned the hard way not to judge anyone. There’s nothing wrong with that – superhero comics are far from an accurate representation of reality, after all – but if Fraction wants to address real-world concerns, he should be a bit more nuanced about it. This is only one reason why bringing real-world concerns into a bright and shiny world like superhero comics is tough to do.

Lastly, there’s Stark’s contention that Steve’s generation shook the blues by building. Well, sure, but they really got out of the Depression by declaring war on two different countries and fighting for four years. How about that, Tony? That sounds like a plan!

Pages 16-17: More “real-world” issues, as we switch to Broxton, Oklahoma, which is near where Asgard floated before it crashed to earth. A tour guide is extolling the virtues of Broxton and its association with the Norse gods as a family leaves town. Bill is going because there are no jobs, so he’s moving to Wichita where his wife’s sister can provide a temporary room for them all. His neighbor, Rick, tells him that Stark is starting a big building project and everyone will be able to get a job. As Bill drives away, he says “Tell ‘em they shoulda build me a new damn house first.”

I don’t get this. Bill’s house is still there, he just can’t pay for it. If they built him a new house, would he somehow be able to pay for it? I mean, I get that he’s angry, but that last line makes no sense. A lot of those people who get their house redone on that ABC Extreme Makeover Home Edition show don’t stay in the new places because they can’t afford the property taxes and the utilities, after all, and they often can’t sell them because the houses have no comparables in the neighborhood. It sucks that Bill lost his job, but what’s he going to do in Wichita? Oh well. This is more “real-world” stuff that doesn’t quite fit into this comic book.

Pages 18-19: The page begins with a continuation of the conversation between Rick and Bill (how this happens when the last image we see of them is Bill driving away while Rick stands there is something we just have to deal with – it’s comics!), as Bill tells Rick that he should start locking his doors because people will soon be at each other’s throats. This is just another evocation of an America that no longer exists and hasn’t existed for some time – a time when people didn’t lock their doors – and I can’t believe in the Marvel Universe, where bad stuff happens far more often than in our universe, that people still leave their doors unlocked. Maybe they do because the threats in the Marvel U. are so horrific that locks don’t stop them, so what’s the point of locking them? Anyway, it’s also another reference to the problems of the times in the U.S., which, honestly, don’t seem all that horrible when viewed in context of what other people in the world are enduring and what Americans have had to endure at certain points in the past. But that’s just me.

We see a long shot of Asgard on the ground, which is a bit confusing. Smoke is rising from a few different places. Did Asgard just fall or something? Didn’t it come down during Siege? I know Marvel time works differently than our time, but did the Siege occur less than a week ago? I can’t imagine the ruins would still be smoking after more than a week or two, but there they are. Odd. It’s been a year since that storyline in “our” time. How long does that correspond to in Marvel time?

????

Tony Stark announces the building project, basically telling everyone that his super-duper company is here to help. He mentions that a “madman” destroyed Asgard, which always kind of cracks me up – I still can’t get over the fact that someone put Norman Osborn in charge of S.H.I.E.L.D. (or H.A.M.M.E.R. or whatever we want to call it). Anyway, Steve notices that Thor doesn’t look to happy and he asks him what’s wrong. Thor says that Odin ought to be with them all. That sounds like a cue for a scene shift!

Pages 20-23: Odin appears! He’s watching the press conference from high atop the rubble, and when his ravens ask who they are, he replies, “They are the dead. They matter not anymore.” Then he spits. Charming fellow, that Odin! Then he realizes that a big bald dude is standing next to him. This is the Watcher, of course, with whom a Marvel reader would probably have some familiarity. The Watcher is an unbelievably dumb character, because he either does nothing and is therefore pointless or he intervenes and betrays his entire raison d’etre. Oh, I’m sure some Uatu-lovers out there will tell me I’m missing the point, but man! the Watcher is stupid. Odin is scornful of the Watcher – he asks if Uatu has come to witness his “greatest failure.” He knows Skadi has awakened and he fears that the final “prophesy” is at hand. The Watcher turns and walks away, which pisses Odin right off. As he yells after Uatu, Thor shows up and asks him why he’s screaming. Thor wonders why Odin is not standing with the Avengers, and Odin chooses to insult them once again. He says, “We could rebuild the city with the snap of our fingers. As we should — in Asgard-space, not on Earth amongst these children.” He asks Thor why the Asgardians need to participate in this “charade” – why they need to appear “dependent” on man. Thor tells him that the gods are as much as part of their lives as they ever were even if men no longer burn effigies in Odin’s name, which makes Odin a tad grumpy. He throws Thor to the ground and asks him if he’s a god or a man. He continues, “These … ants … can’t even take care of one another.” Thor has invited them to build Asgard when, as he once again points out, a snap of his fingers could restore it. He tells Thor to choose, and of course Thor chooses man. Odin stalks away, disappointed.

These pages introduce another major theme of the book, the conflict between Thor and Odin, which will presumably play out over the course of the series. It’s an odd scene, because it doesn’t make a lot of sense. Odin speaks of Skadi and the final prophecy, but in a world where Ragnarok has occurred at least three separate times, his fear seems a bit silly. Perhaps we will find out why Skadi is so much more of a threat than Ragnarok, but we haven’t yet. Odin’s animosity toward the humans isn’t explained in this issue, but perhaps it’s one of those things that Fraction assumes is part of our baseline knowledge about Odin. He wasn’t always a dick about humanity, I know that much. The biggest problem with this scene is that he claims he could rebuild Asgard yet he doesn’t. Why? We don’t know. It’s a pretty big plot point, so the fact that Odin doesn’t snap his fingers is somewhat annoying. We’ll explore this tension between Thor and Odin more closely later in the issue.

Pages 24-29: We check in on Skadi, who’s gone swimming in the Marianas Trench. From her white-letter-on-black-background lettering, we learn that she is both Sin and Skadi – Sin is Skadi’s “avatar” and “instrument.” Her father is in the depths, so she goes down. Before she gets there, she has to fight dragons. Yes, in the Marvel Universe, giant dragons live in the bottom of the Marianas Trench. Magic is awesome. She dispatches the dragons and finds a hatch on the ocean bottom inscribed with the three-pronged dragon sigil on the cover of the comic. She magically passed through the barrier and lands in a giant chamber, on the walls of which are etched various runes. Somebody steps from the shadows and says, “My child. You have returned to me.” He calls himself “All-Father” and looks like a worn-down version of Odin. Hmmm.

If we consult Wikipedia once more, Skadi’s father was Þjazi (the first letter is basically a “th”), who was a giant. There’s not a whole lot on Þjazi, apparently, but he was definitely killed in the Norse sagas. He’s not a “serpent” as Odin (metaphorically, I know) calls him – he could turn into birds, I guess. Why he calls Odin a “usurper” (as he will) is unclear so far.

Dragons! Fuck yeah!

Pages 30-39: Odin stands in Asgard, worried because the “serpent” is back. Once again he talks about how scared he is and that this latest “prophesy” is “most wretched.” Again, we’re not sure why. Meanwhile, in a great hall, the heroes and gods are feasting after a hard day’s work … of standing around watching Tony at a press conference? Volstagg, the voluminous Norse god, tells Steve Rogers he would be a fine addition to the Avengers, but this moment of levity is interrupted by Heimdall, the sentinel of the gods. He shouts that “he” is returning, but before Thor can ask him what he means, Odin shows up and tells the gods that they’re leaving and they should gather at the “world tree” (Yggdrasil, which currently grows from the center of Asgard) – presumably to make sure they have a moving buddy picked out. He stalks off, and of course Thor follows. He puts a hand on Odin’s shoulder, and Odin responds by smacking him so hard that he goes head over heels. While the rest marvel at Odin’s bad-assery, Thor picks himself up and clocks Odin with his hammer and then stands over him, telling Odin that he can “rant” and “pout” all he wants but they don’t need to listen to him when he barks orders. Of course, Odin still has some tricks up his sleeve, and he simply tells Mjolnir, Thor’s hammer, to drop to the ground. Odin tells Thor he will return to Asgard in chains if necessary, and when Thor leaps forward, Odin beats him down and orders the others to drag him to the tree. The Avengers don’t intervene because Fandral, another god, tells him that it’s a “family concern.” I’d bet CPS wouldn’t see it that way! Steve asks Fandral if he’s just going to leave, and Fandral says they are – Odin is the All-Father, and when he says jump, the other gods ask how high. They gather at the tree, Odin recreates the rainbow bridge to Asgard, and they all start walking. Don’t let the door hit your ass on the way, Odin!

The best moment in this comic is when Odin tells Mjolnir to drop and it does. That’s hard core. This is the last time we see the gods in this comic, and it remains a mystery why Odin didn’t just rebuild Asgard before this and take off, nor why he’s so keen on Thor coming with him. Again, perhaps we’ll have to wait for an explanation.

Screw you, Thor!

Page 40: Skadi and her father are walking on water as a dragon trails along next to them like a pet. The old dude says that Odin knows that he has woken up, because he used old and powerful magic to bind him, so undoing it would not go unnoticed. He also speaks of a “prophesy,” but we still don’t know what it is. He calls himself the “true All-Father” and says he will call on the “usurper” in due time, but before that, they will make him and the rest of the world fear them. She asks how, and he says he will summon “the Worthy.” Ooooo, scary!

Pages 41-43: Seven “bogeys” from deep space are tracked by the North American Aerospace Defense Command in Colorado. (This is NORAD, although how on Earth they got NORAD from that is beyond me. Where’s the extra “A”? Shouldn’t it be NORAAD? Or, better yet, NAAD? I guess the government doesn’t have much of a sense of humor. I know, shocking.) Anyway, the supervisor wants to contact Steve Rogers before the president, which seems odd as the president is, after all, Rogers’ boss. Whatever. The “bogeys” land in various places on Earth – in the Pacific, in Brazil, in China, and in Manhattan (God forbid there’s another American city where something happens). One also lands in Broxton, where Rick is putting his son to bed. Portentously, he locks the door.

Page 44: Spider-Man asks Steve what just happened. Steve tells him the gods left, and they’re on their own. Um, wasn’t Peter standing there? Didn’t he see what was going on? Isn’t he some kind of photographer who has at least broken a few major news stories? Good eye there, Peter! Also, who the hell cares if the gods left? The heroes of the Marvel Universe have fought off plenty of threats without the help of the gods, and they’re not really gods anyway, right? This is kind of a false dramatic ending, because it really doesn’t mean anything.

So that’s the words on the page. Let’s consider the art and design of the book!

Cover: Boy, that really is a terrible cover. I thought the Civil War ones were bad because half the page was taken up by that white nothingness, but at least the upper halves were complete drawings. This one has the logo across the center, which means the two images on the top and bottom are truncated even worse than the ones on Civil War. McNiven might not be for everyone, but he does epic fairly well, and the fact that his bland top drawing on Steve Rogers, Spider-Man, Iron Man, and Wolverine (Spider-Man has two lines in this issue and doesn’t do anything, while Wolverine appears in four panels and doesn’t speak or do anything) is compacted is somewhat annoying. Meanwhile, the defeat of Thor at the bottom appears to be an Immonen drawing (it’s not McNiven, I know that much), and it also lacks much drama because we don’t see enough of it. Thor is bloody, but he also looks like he’s sleeping. As this is a pretentious comic (not that there’s anything wrong with that, as I’ve stated before), it’s labeled “book one.” Wade von Grawbadger’s name appears on the cover.

Page 1: This is an absolutely pointless page. Four panels show a zoom in on Manhattan, beginning with the world floating in space, then focusing on the United States, then high above Manhattan (the only place of consequence in the Marvel Universe) and finally lower Manhattan. This is a complete waste, because this device is almost always used to show something approaching Earth in a (usually) menacing fashion. Nothing is approaching Earth on this page – it’s just a way to get us to lower Manhattan, where something far less cosmic is going on. As I wrote in my brief review of this comic, this is 44 pages long but several pages are wasted. This is one of them. Wade von Grawbadger’s name is not listed in the credits. I’m sure he did ink the pages, so his omission is annoying. Chris Eliopoulos is listed as letterer, and while lettering is a fairly important part of the comic, isn’t inking a bit more important? Beats me. Lauren Sankovitch and Tom Brevoort are the associate and main editors. As we’ve seen from Brevoort’s comments in my weekly post, he’s responsible for any spelling mistakes. My apologies to Ms. Sankovitch for assuming it was her.

Sorry, not seeing a reason for this page

Pages 2-7: Stuart Immonen is a very good artist who doesn’t get to cut loose too much in this comic. Presumably that will come later. What he does get to do is design scenes that spread across two pages, giving them a bit more room to breathe and to feel a bit more epic even though the scenes themselves might be a bit banal. The riot in lower Manhattan begins with pages 2-3, which feature panels that stretch across the staples in order to convey a sense of bigness. Immonen isolates Sharon and Steve in the center of the empty lot, while the protestors surround the scene at a fairly big distance. The riot scenes themselves are confined to one page and smaller panels, so this opening shot of the area is intended to give us a sense of place for later, when we can imagine that entire area filled with angry people. It allows us to imagine the riot as bigger than the smaller panels show us it is. Immonen is careful to show both sides of the protest as multicultural – this isn’t a racial thing, in other words. It may be a Muslim/Christian thing (as Fraction clearly wants to imply), but it’s not a race thing! The protestors’ signs, meanwhile, are not lettered by Immonen as part of the “artwork.” They’re computer-generated fonts by Eliopoulos and therefore look slightly inorganic. They certainly don’t look like the protestors wrote them with magic marker.

On page 4, Sharon looks very odd at the top of the page. Her eyes are slits and her mouth hangs open almost as if she’s been drugged. This is when she’s telling Steve that it looks like a riot to her, and I assume Immonen is trying to show her as she’s looking back over her shoulder after facing front, catching her as she surveys the gathering storm, but it’s a really freakish drawing. We don’t actually see what starts the riot. In the third panel of page 4, some protestors fall against the barrier and into a cop, but they have their backs to the cop and are obviously not being aggressive. In the next panel the cops are trying to pick a guy off the ground and another dude throws a water bottle at them. From then on, it’s on! As the theme of the book is that fear infects everyone, it’s very unclear which side starts the riot. It appears from the panel that shows the water bottle hitting a police car that both sides are mingled together, which seems unlikely. On page 7, we see that Sharon’s outfit is unzipped enough to show some cleavage. It’s not terribly egregious, but it seems a bit odd that she would unzip her outfit when she knew going in that she’s on riot control.

What was in your coffee this morning, Sharon?

Pages 8-13: This is a very nicely illustrated fight scene. Immonen does action very well, and Martin uses good primary colors to contrast the chill of Antarctica with the inside of the fortress, where everything is red (presumably because of the alarms going off) and finally, we return to blue inside the vault holding the hammer. Immonen (deliberately, perhaps) keeps Sin’s gender mysterious for a few pages – when she takes her hood off outside, it’s impossible to tell if she’s a man or a woman. In the prologue to this series, Scot Eaton made Sin’s face distinctly feminine, so this has to be a choice by Immonen. Skadi’s hammer is placed in the foreground of the panel on page 11, with its handle breaking the panel border above it, befitting its importance to Sin and to the story in general. When Sin reaches for the hammer, Eliopoulos fades her words out – she says “It’s time,” but only the top half of “time” is seen, and her word balloon when she grasps the hammer is empty. This is a fairly clichéd trick but it’s effective – one of those neat things that can only be done in comics. It happens in movies all the time, of course, but for some reason, the empty word balloon is more effective than an actor moving his or her mouth and no sound coming out. Immonen blurs Sin’s outline as she grasps the hammer, implying a great force escaping from the hammer and overwhelming her. In a nice touch, when she stands “resurrected” as Skadi, the two minions behind her look a tiny bit scared. Good work by Immonen.

'Holy shit, what have we done?'

Pages 14-15: The Avengers standing on top of the tower are, from left to right, Spider-Woman, Spider-Man, Wolverine, Red Hulk, Iron Man, Steve Rogers, Thor, Sharon Carter, Hawkeye, and … some dude. Beats me, I don’t read Avengers books. Who the hell is that? Anyway, as usual with superheroes, they’re standing on top of a very high skyscraper and there doesn’t seem to be any wind at all. Panel four is a good shot of Steve reacting to Tony’s dickishness – he’s just kind of indulging the douchebaggery of it all. In the fifth panel, we also get a good shot of Tony as he’s going deeper into the dickishness – this is the panel where he calls Steve “Greatest Generation” and Immonen gives him a nice douchey look.

Pages 16-17: There are a lot of nice facial expressions on these two pages, as they’re the “human interest” part of the book. What’s interesting about it is the coloring. Martin doesn’t exactly color it like sunset (not enough reds and oranges) but it’s still not as bright as early afternoon, which is when the scene occurs (based on the shadows). The scene is infused with yellow, and the sky isn’t blue, but yellow, as if there’s no sun but simply a bank of lighting overhead. I’m not sure what the sky looks like in Oklahoma, but what Martin’s coloring does is turn this into a nostalgic kind of scene, an evocation of a simpler America that no longer exists (and never did exist except in the imagination). It’s also interesting that with no discernible bright light source or large source of shade, Bill – the man who’s moving to Wichita – is in deep shadow when he closes the hatchback on his car – at that point, he says “What’s left for us here?” As he sits in the driver’s seat preparing to leave, he’s also in deep shadow. This is tone-setting coloring work and not meant as “realistic” – Martin is not trying to show a scene as it would be lit, but how coloring affects the mood of the scene and our reaction to it. We’re meant to feel nostalgic and sad, and the coloring steers us that way. It’s fairly subtle, too – Martin is a fine colorist, so she knows what she’s doing.

Pages 18-19: This is another double-page layout, mainly so that Immonen can show the grandeur of Asgard brought low and so we can get a panoramic view of the various heroes who assemble at Tony’s press conference. In the top panel, the tilted stop sign pocked with three bullet holes is a nice touch – it speaks to a decrepitude and lack of respect for law and order without being too obvious. We get a bunch of heroes again: From left to right, we see some bald dude (Jarvis?) a short-haired woman who is probably Maria Hill, Jessica Jones and baby, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, Wolverine, Thing, Spider-Man, Sharon Carter, Spider-Woman, Carol Danvers, Iron Man, Thor, Steve, Red Hulk, a woman with red streaks in her hair whose name is on the tip of my goddamned tongue, a blonde woman who’s probably an Avenger, Hawkeye, some dude who could be Reed Richards except he has a moustache (and it can’t be J. Jonah Jameson, because why the hell would he be there?), and that dude from before with the red disc on his chest and a red belt buckle and a blue-and-white costume. Man, I was doing so well there until we got to the end! Oh well – if they’re important someone will identify them in later issues!

Pages 20-23: Much like Skadi’s hammer, the Watcher also breaks through his panel into the one above it – it’s for a different reason, as Uatu cannot be contained in the normal world! Immonen still draws his head too big, but it’s a tiny bit more proportionate with his body than you sometimes see it. As I pointed out before, smoke rises from Asgard, which is odd. On page 22, we get the nice touch of Odin being unable to contain his saliva as he yells at Uatu. The lettering, unfortunately, almost obscures Odin poking his index finger in Thor’s chest, which makes Thor holding Odin’s hand high in the next panel a bit confusing. On page 23, Thor shows an interesting mix of fear and anger on his face when Odin throws him to the ground. Martin’s coloring is still suffused with yellow, but instead of suggesting nostalgia for a lost Americana, this suggests a lost Golden Age of the gods.

Beware the godly spittle!

Pages 24-29: More double-page spreads, although the layout of the top panel is a bit odd. On the left side, Skadi dives into the Pacific, while on the right side, Immonen gives us a much larger picture of her, apparently already in the water (she’s surrounded by bubbles) but not really part of any panel. Is this to just show how far she’s traveling, as mere panels can’t contain her journey? Dunno. I like how the hammer lights up to guide her way – does Thor’s do that? I also wonder about the fish that she passes – they look awfully big for the types of fish they are, as the deeper one goes, the smaller the fish become. The luminescent one she passes is much larger than she is, which is odd. I know the dragons are magic, but are the fish as well? Again, Immonen gets to draw action, which he’s quite good at, so her battle with the dragons is done well. Martin does a good job making sure the scene is lit well even though she gives a nod to the fact that it would be pitch-black down that deep. Obviously it couldn’t be that dark, but she suggests it nicely. On page 28, Skadi points the hammer like a gun. I wonder how she will use it in future issues.

Pages 30-39: Yggdrasil is computer-generated in some way – I don’t know if Immonen sketched it and then Martin colored it differently than she colored the rest of the book, because I don’t know process as well as I’d like. It appears to exist in a different dimension than Earth, which is a nice touch. There’s also a hint of the Sefirot in the arrangement of the tree – I wonder if that’s a coincidence or if it’s deliberate.

Immonen draws Heimdall with no face, just a night sky pricked with stars. I don’t know if that’s his innovation of if that’s how Heimdall has been drawn recently, but it’s pretty cool. I enjoy the fact that Wolverine is sitting all alone, slumped over a bit, clutching a chicken/turkey/falcon leg. It’s as if no one wants to hang out with him because he might start having acid flashbacks to his time in the Weapon X program. You know he’s ruined more than one X-Men/Avengers Thanksgiving dinner that way! I also like that Tony Stark is sitting at the table, presumably eating dinner, yet his mask is still on. How does he get food through that thing? (Spider-Man has his mask on, too, but he can easily lift it up to eat.) Martin does a nice job contrasting the deep red of the banquet hall with the deep blues of the night outside. Odin striking Thor is interesting – the arc of his hand describes a circle of blood, but why would there be blood in the air before he strikes Thor? Dramatic license, I guess. As usual with superpowered beings, Odin is able to lift Thor off his feet and flip him over with a backhanded slap. He’s hella strong!

'Man, I wish they had Old Milwaukee here!'

Pages 34 and 35 form another double-page spread, a nicely-designed one at that. This is the climax of the issue, really, because it’s when Odin deprives Thor of his hammer. Scattered around the central panels are boxes showing the faces and reactions of various participants. On the left side is Thor, beginning the swing of his hammer. Even though it’s at a different point in time, he’s balanced on the page by Odin on the extreme right side of the spread. Thor faces the reader, Odin has his back to the reader. It’s a nice way to visually express their relationship to each other and to us – Thor is generally open and guileless, while Odin is closed off and wily. I’m not sure what it means that the two women watching the scene – Sharon and some Norse tart – look horrified and saddened, while the men looking on betray no emotion whatsoever. The Kirby Krackle in the background of the entire scene is a nice touch by Immonen and Martin.

Pages 36 and 37 are yet another double-page spread, and Immonen (with Fraction’s instruction?) does something clever here. The top row of panels flows into the middle row from the right side straight down to right side of the middle row instead of back to the left side, as we would normally read it. Immonen does this by having Odin’s ravens direct our eyes from the right side of the top row directly down instead of back across. Here, it’s easier just to show it … with red arrows!

Look at my mad skillz!

As the middle row doesn’t show any significant exposition on the left side of the page, we don’t mind being directed like this. It’s a neat trick, and one I’d like to see more artists use – directing the eye the way you want it to go on the page. In odd layouts, artists will occasionally try to force the eye places it normally wouldn’t want to go, but many of them are not successful. Immonen doesn’t do anything too radical here, which is why it works. Meanwhile, Odin is in deep shadow when he stalks off the page at the bottom right. Of course he would have to be.

Finally, on page 39, Odin recreates the rainbow bridge. I assume Immonen simply drew an outline and then Martin came in with electric crayons and scribbled ROY G. BIV all over the place. In this comic, the computer effects are reserved for the gods, so they look out of place by design. Meanwhile, Eliopoulos chooses a not-great font to show Odin shouting “To Asgard!”, as on first glance, it looks like “Ascard.” I mean, we know what he means, but it’s still a tiny blip there. Comic book letters are, unfortunately, not as much fun as they used to be, because of the proliferation of computer fonts (I blame Richard Starkings!!!!), but I’m glad Eliopoulos at least had some fun with those words.

Page 40: There’s not a lot to say about Skadi and the All-Father walking along the water, except I first thought they were standing on the snout of the dragon instead of walking on the surface. That would have been much awesomer.

Pages 41-44: Not much chance for Immonen to show off in this sequence when the “bogeys” land on Earth. I hope the people he shows standing on the Great Wall of China alerted the authorities, because they had to have seen the landing, right? The “bogey” reflected in Rick’s doorknob as he locks the door is a nice touch.

So that’s Fear Itself. I’ve already gotten in trouble for calling out the poor editing, but it really does annoy me. There’s honest misses and then there’s just sloppiness, and too often it seems like comics fall into the latter category. Oh well. Other than that, this is a strange animal. It’s far too padded and slow-moving to feel like the epic first issue of an epic mini-series, which is somewhat odd. Fraction has not given us a clear idea, simply from this issue, what the series is all about. We infer from the title that it’s about fear, and the riot in the beginning implies it’s about mass hysteria infecting everyone, but it’s kind of vague. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it’s still kind of unusual. My main objection to the issue remains the same – Odin acts like a dick and we don’t know why (as I briefly noted above). When I posted my first pass at the comic, some commenters had some ideas. Ryan Vaughn Morris opined:

Odin is being a dick because that is his way of protecting his people. He’s afraid of what the Red Skull’s daughter unleashed, and he wants to get them as far away from earth as he can. It’s all pretty clear in the book.

SmoManCometh wrote:

Regarding odin: He’s an omni level creature that rules gods, he can’t express fear like someone who has felt it. He doesn’t understand it and the only way he can deal with it is by throwing around his weight and taking it out on his people and stripping his mighty son of his … well … mightyness.

He doesn’t rebuild asgard cause he loves and respects his son and knows it is what’s best for the humans.

Meanwhile, Ed (A Different One) had this to say:

Yeah, it came across to me that Odin was being a dick because he knew this “dire prophecy” was coming true with “possessed Sin” resurrecting “decrepit as hell Odin-looking dude”, and because of this, “Real Odin” was eager to get his Asgardians back to Asgard proper but his stupid son was hanging around with mortals and wasting time with them while the “time of the Wolf” was bearing down on them. I also thought that this was the purpose of the scene with the Watcher early on – the Watcher only shows up when some heavy shit is getting ready to go down, and that was one of the clues as to why Odin was so agitated. I also like the observation that smomancommeth made that Odin, as a badass All-Father type god dude isn’t used to fear, doesn’t carry it gracefully and can only show it in this completely dickish and ungraceful way.

These are interesting points. I don’t know enough about Thor comics to say Odin has never felt fear, but it’s not a bad explanation. I know he was trying to get the gods out of there because of the threat, but he goes about it a weird way. I don’t think I can agree that he doesn’t rebuild Asgard because he knows it’s best for the humans – if he cared so much about humans, why doesn’t he warn them that bad things are a-comin’? And I still don’t understand why he didn’t tell the gods why they were leaving. Again, I haven’t read enough Thor comics to know, but while Odin often seems aloof in those, he doesn’t seem like an out-and-out douchebag, like he does here. I can wait to see if Fraction explains it, and I hope he does.

As for the art – Immonen is marvelous, but he doesn’t have a lot to do. There’s really not much more to say.

I gave this issue 6½ stars out of 10, and I think that’s pretty fair. It lurches in places, and I don’t think Fraction takes advantage of the fact that it’s 44 pages (on the other hand, how refreshing is it to get a “double-sized issue” that is actually double-sized?), but it’s not bad. It’s not as crisp as some Fraction comics have been, unfortunately. I haven’t read an event comic in so long that I don’t know how it compares to the Bendis ones, but it’s definitely slower-paced than Final Crisis, the last big-time event book I read. I won’t break down the rest of the issues as much as this one (unless there’s a great clamor for it, which I can’t believe will happen), but I found it interesting that even in a fairly corporate comic like this, both the writer and the artists do some neat things that you can’t find in any other medium. Comics do, in fact, rule.

57 Comments

For clarity’s sake:

-The guy who might be Reed Richards is Stephen Strange, no longer the Sorcerer Supreme and now just a really supremely powerful sorcerer. He started wearing a super-cool, 90′s inspired trench coat and street clothes in New Avengers.

-The lady with the red streaks in her hair is Norman Osborn’s former Girl Friday, Victoria Hand.

-The blonde woman is Mockingbird in a costume I really loath when some artists draw it.

Helping! :)

Ryan: Duh. I should have known that was Dr. Strange. I’m an idiot.

I probably recognized Victoria Hand from some random Marvel comic over the past couple of years, but I don’t think I knew her name. I wonder who I was thinking of.

That’s Mockingbird? Huh.

Greg, the guy you can’t identify that has a white costume with red circles is Protector, formerly Captain Marvel, formerly Morrison’s “Marvel Boy” Noh-Varr.

I do appreciate the look at this comic from a similar perspective that you offer when do your back-issue bin column. Is it accessible to new readers? What does it tell me that I need to know? Where does it leave me guessing? How is the art? Do I want more?

You even went a bit further by talking about the continuity this comic slots into. You got the references to Cap’s history, to events like Siege (Osborn, Asgard on fire), and developments in Thor (return of Odin, inclusion of Yggdrasil). But you missed something, I think.

You complain about Odin’s speech and lack of action. “I could snap my fingers and restore Asgard now!” …and then not doing so. And rightfully, you should complain, as that is a glaring problem with the issue. However, I think what’s doubly annoying is the Thor/Odin interaction. Thor actually attacks Odin. I don’t recall him ever doing that before. And, on top of that, he simply gives up when Odin takes away his hammer’s power. Thor started a fight and then, when his hammer is removed, he gives up? That’s not Thor-like.

Basically, Thor is depicted as foolhardy (in the eyes of Odin, at least), temporarily brash, and temporarily hot-headed. He goes from warrior mode to humble servant in a blip, really. It’s all very un-Thorlike, I think.

Which brings up a side point. If this is an event centered around Steve and Thor (as it seems it will), why make them useless and allow them to be defeated within the first issue? Certainly doesn’t inspire me with a lot of confidence in them doing well.

I personally don’t see Odin as integral to the book. In fact, I think it might have been cooler if he was NOT present, and we had this evil archetype version of him as the main antagonist which would really scare the piss out of Thor and the other Asgardians. A twisted, evil version of Odin is much scarier if the real Odin isn’t all muster and bluster in the preceding pages, IMHO. I know that we’re supposed to see the big bad as really super-duper-scary-you-guys because, hell even Odin the Allfather is afraid of him . . . But it just wasn’t effective for me.

I dunno how long after Seige this takes place, but I know that some fires in the rubble at the WTC burned for at least 3 months after they collapsed.

funkygreenjerusalem

April 11, 2011 at 8:15 pm

Lastly, there’s Stark’s contention that Steve’s generation shook the blues by building. Well, sure, but they really got out of the Depression by declaring war on two different countries and fighting for four years. How about that, Tony? That sounds like a plan!

I actually found it quite odd for a different reason – Stark is right, you get out of a recession by giving people jobs or money (our government gave most Australians $900 to keep us spending when the global recession hit – we barely felt the recession, and our dollar is now stronger than the US one, so the theory holds true), but the thing is, it’s governments who fix a recession by creating jobs for the sake of jobs, not industry.

It ‘loses’ you a lot of money in the short term, which is regained by taxation in the long term.
It’s not something a business can really do – they can pay more to their workers, provide better benefits etc – but that can’t just create jobs for the sake of jobs, or they’ll go bankrupt in no time, and even if they survived the short term, they’d have no means of recuperating the money.

I’m reading Iron Man in collections, so maybe I missed an Iron Man tie-in/prologue which involved him going to congress and applying for subsidies and government contracts, with the condition that he hires unemployed skilled laborers, or provides training to unskilled workers – because rebuilding Asgard isn’t going to bring in any money for anyone, so unless it’s a government funded project – which even in MU USA I think would be a stretch – it just couldn’t happen.
(Is Stark Resilient a corporation? If so, how the heck did he get all the shareholders to agree?)

Boy, that really is a terrible cover. I thought the Civil War ones were bad because half the page was taken up by that white nothingness, but at least the upper halves were complete drawings.

They sure stood out though – you couldn’t mistake them as not tying in.

funkygreenjerusalem

April 11, 2011 at 8:22 pm

Lauren Sankovitch and Tom Brevoort are the associate and main editors. As we’ve seen from Brevoort’s comments in my weekly post, he’s responsible for any spelling mistakes. My apologies to Ms. Sankovitch for assuming it was her.

Wow, I wish I’d seen that in the comments at the time – that was a pretty hilarious response.
I love when people in entertainment industries make statements about their workloads being enough to ‘break you’, were you to try it.
Heck, I love it when it comes from any industry, to be honest – the lack of perspective we all get that makes us think our job is clearly harder than any other.
It’s a load of shit we tell each other at work to big ourselves up to get through it, but it cracks me up anytime someone says it to someone in a different job/industry.

And being told off for being cheap and sensationalist by Tom B?
That’s hilarious.

Regardless of any in-story justifications anyone might want to hand-wave up for his behaviour, “dickish, capriciously dictatorial Odin” is a tired old Thor-comic trope that I haven’t missed at all in the character’s absence.
I would have been fine with leaving him dead. And with leaving Asgard in Oklahoma for a while (even though JMS’s Thor run didn’t exactly blow me away).
I also could have really done without another damn status-quo-resetting Big Ass Crossover, even from a writer or writers I normally prefer over the authors of the previous few.

Odin should listen to Matthew. Um, I mean Muninn.

You said it, FGJ. Everybody gets stressed in their work, but it’s important to keep perspective. Someone I know was complaining about all the juggling and hustling he has to do to make a living as a freelance photographer and I had to stop him and remind him that his job was fucking cushy, no matter how much organizational hoopla he had to deal with to make it happen. He can always work retail if he wants less responsibility.

I think the main point in Greg’s statement (and Greg can feel free to correct me if I’m wrong) was that spelling mistakes are the basic level of what an editor should be doing. And even if that editor has an enormous load of other stuff to do, if they’re not hitting those basic notes, they’re not doing a very good job. It’s like an accountant finding all kinds of loopholes to exploit for your tax return and then forgetting to file before the deadline.

R.: Thanks for the Noh-Varr ID. I’ve only seen the redesigned costume once or twice, so it hasn’t stuck with me.

FGJ: That’s a good point, but come on – it’s a big-time superhero comic! What Tony is doing is about as nuanced as the economic aspects of it can get!

Dan: Exactly. An “editor” ought to be editing, it seems to me. I only apologized to Ms. Sankovitch because Brevoort pointed out that it’s not her job to catch spelling mistakes. It ought to be someone’s, though!

I agree with the comments on Steve’s apparent ignorance of US history. He would have been old enough to understand what happened when the troops were sent to run the “Bonus army” out of DC.

Most of the commentary on the real-life issues that are out of place in the Marvel universe are about as out of place as the stuff being commented on.

BTW, there are still plenty of areas in the rural US where people don’t lock their doors most of the time. Typically, it’s where (as have occurred for more than 100 years) families end up with multiple generations living in proximity (often even sharing the same private drive for the multiple houses).

Typically, they only lock the doors before they go to bed – and still sleep with open windows for ground floor bedrooms. Since it’s rare that more than more than one or two houses are totally empty, and strangers would be obvious in the daytime, fear of theft by strangers is not an issue (and theft by family, while not uncommon, isn’t going to be stopped simply by locking doors, as they probably know the weak points of each home’s security, from growing up there).

(of course, the fact that 95% of the households in these areas own guns make strangers as home intruders highly unlikely, as well).

Note:
“Well, sure, but they really got out of the Depression by declaring war on two different countries and fighting for four years.”

Uh, EXCUSE ME? It was NAZI GERMANY that got itself out of a depression by declaring war on countries (PLUS A LARGE PART OF ITS OWN POPULATION, starting 6 years prior to the start of the war in 39, NOT 41) – NOT the US – and its war ended up devastating itself and all its neighbors.
The US ended their Depression by BUILDING STUFF FOR THE NATIONS ATTACKED BY THE NAZIS TO DEFEND THEMSELVES for two years BEFORE getting dragged into the European side of the war by Hitler’s stupid of declaration of war on the US after the Japanese initiated US direct involvement in the war (at which time, the US figured it would be easier logistically to help fight the Germans initially, then get those they helped to help take on Japan – especially since so much stuff to fight the Japanese would have had to run a gauntlet of German U-Boats from the East Coast ports and Mississippi to the Panama Canal).

The irony of your comment, in reviewing a comic where the villain is the daughter of a personification OF the Nazis in that setting, makes my head hurt.

The Watcher’s head has always been enormous in relation to his body…that is just the way he is. Also, his appearance is to signify that something of major importance is about to happen, as he only witnesses events in person if they are “important”. It is a way of telling the reader that this is something big…that they spent their money on something so important, the Watcher had to come down from the moon to see it with his own two eyes. It hasn’t been used much in the past little while, but the “architects” have started tossing him into their books now and then recently…see the last issue of Avengers when fat Watcher came to see the Infinity Gem fight.

Basara: CAPS LOCK makes my head hurt, if you must know.

We’re just going to have to agree to disagree, I guess. Pretty much every history book I’ve ever read is very clear that the only way the U.S. got out of the Depression was the war. You infer from my statement that the Americans were the aggressors, but that’s not what I meant. Even in 1940, before the U.S. got involved, they were still struggling with the effects of the Depression. I agree that Germany got itself out of their economic problems by going to war, but that’s because most economic historians would argue that a way for a country to inprove economically – in the short run, at least – is by going to war. Why would it work for Germany and not for the United States? The fact is, we declared war on two countries (yes, Germany declared war first, but we still declared war on them) and fought for four years. Prior to that, we had made a bit of recovery thanks to stuff like the Lend-Lease Act (which only began in 1941), but the fact remains that the vast war machine we kicked into high gear in December 1941 dragged us out of the Depression. I don’t quite get why you’re so angry. I wasn’t even talking about the Nazis, and neither was Tony Stark.

As for the locked door thing – it’s always been a way to evoke an innocent America, with no basis in reality. Everybody who refers to it uses anecdotal evidence – “Why, my next-door neighbor always leaves his door unlocked!” You do the same thing. That’s fine and all, but just claiming a lot of people in rural areas don’t lock their doors doesn’t make it true and doesn’t change the fact that it’s a specific way to be nostalgic. Even you claim that these rural Americans lock their door at night, and Fraction implies in this comic that Rick has never locked his door, even at night. Which is idiotic no matter how wonderful small-town America is.

"O" the Humanatee!

April 12, 2011 at 10:03 am

One thing that stood out to me is that both the reporter and the NORAD official refer to Steve Rogers as, well, Steve Rogers – the former even addressing him as such. Doesn’t Steve have a title? Haven’t I heard him referred to as Commander Rogers or something like that? Especially if you’re going to give him prominence over the President, I’d expect you to use a respectful form of reference.

I hadn’t noticed that the bottom half of the cover was by another artist (possibly because the cover’s such an eyesore that I didn’t want to look at it for long). It looks like Jim Cheung to me.

Greg: first, thanks for the analysis. I thought I wasn’t going to enjoy it, but I did. I did breeze through the art section as I don’t care for that as much as the story, but overall a good work.

The incident that Cap- I mean Steve- was involved in was obviously meant to be the 911/Mosque thing. But Marvel probably chickened out of mentioning it by name (remember all the furor over the perceived slight against the Tea Party in Cap’s own book?) Besides the way time moves in Marvel, the event would be topical in a few years anyway. (Btw, this isn’t something I know officially but following other Marvel examples, I’d say it’s been three-four months since Asgard fell.)

I was a Thor fan for a long time -I only stopped reading around the time Odin ‘died’ and Thor became king- and one thing has always bothered me: is the story that establishes that the current Asgardians are only the latest version of the ‘real’ ones (killed and recreated by Ragnarok) still canon? That was obviously written to explain the differences between the actual Myths and Marvel’s versions but (I believe) Walt Simonson retconned that away (by simply suggesting that The Eye Of Odin -which told Thor that story- had simply lied- pretty lazy excuse there). But then the Ragnarok-cycle thing was later used again (and finally ended) in the previous Thor series. So, if Skadi and her father came after the first recreation, then the writer is free to make whatever he wants out of them; but if he insists that they’ve been imprisoned for more than two thousand years, then he cannot. I wonder if Fraction is even aware of this fact?

As for Uatu- yeah, he’s being misused *again*. It isn’t that he can only watch- he cannot interfere in ANY way, and being present (thus alerting others that something bad is going to happen) is a violation of his oath. Especially when his powers can easily make him invisible. Writers just like using him to show “how BIG their story is going to be!!” … even if it turns out not to be that significant in the long run.

Oh, and Thor and Odin have fought before, at least once that I know- Hey, they’re vikings, it must be how they deal with everything. Funny how he never used the ‘switch the hammer off’ trick then.

And yeah, EVERYBODY seems to be out of character this issue. We could attribute it to the ‘fear effect’ spreading over the world… but I suspect fraction, like Millar during Civil War, is just writing the characters the way he sees them, continuity be damned.

Overall, I like the premise of the series but not the way it’s been handled.

funkygreenjerusalem

April 12, 2011 at 6:42 pm

That’s a good point, but come on – it’s a big-time superhero comic! What Tony is doing is about as nuanced as the economic aspects of it can get!

Well, if you’re going to try and work in elements from Joe Casey’s Wildcats, at least put in some effort towards it making sense – the Marlowe Corporation was out to save the world, but they sure were planning on making a profit whilst they were at it!

And y’know, surely it would be the child of the depression, not the child of the 80′s, who would think spending your way out of debt is the way to go.
Sure, ‘it’s a big time super-hero comic’, but if the writers made the choice to include ‘realistic’ elements, they should think it through, not just go fantastical with them.
No one demanded he add reality – I’d have been happy it was just superheroes, with no everyman involved.

Exactly. An “editor” ought to be editing, it seems to me. I only apologized to Ms. Sankovitch because Brevoort pointed out that it’s not her job to catch spelling mistakes. It ought to be someone’s, though!

Actually, he just said it rests on his head – whether it’s her job or not, he was being a good boss and protecting his team from ‘character assassination’.
He never actually specified whose job it was to check spelling, nor whose job it is to hound artists to get working – because at the end of the day, he’s the one who oversaw it all.

Sin really looks like she belongs in a Green Lantern comic there, although I can’t decide if the father she’d be resurrecting would be Abin Sur or one of the Controllers.

I have to take issue with one aspect of your FEAR ITSELF review, Brian. Lauren is an Associate Editor, but more to the point, she is without question one of the most diligent and hard-working people in this industry. You have no idea what “she fucking does” because part of the editor’s job is to remain invisible, even though that would entail not letting spelling, grammar, and word usage errors to appear in our Big Event book of the year. But I would bet you all the money in my bank account that, were you to come into my office for a week and try to fill her shoes, the workload would break you. Hell, we hired her because I can’t do that job. God forbid we either hire someone else to take off some of her load, or stop publishing so damn many books. If you’ve got an issue with any book I edited, then that issue is with me, as it’s editor, so please direct your ire in the proper direction, Brian. Cheap, sensationalistic shots like that one are beneath you.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to get back on Twitter and mock some of the competition’s books for being badly edited, without me having the balls to say what the book are. Oh, and to blast their shitty royalties program, even though it’s just like ours.

Travis P

Ah, cut and paste is a wonderful tool.

There were some things I edited, obviously, but the best part is what I left untouched at the start, when he called you Brian. “Direct your ire in the proper direction”, indeed.

As I said to you, the prophecy/prophesy bit is more of a word usage error than a spelling error, y’know? Like “Which witch is which”, or the difference between two to and too.

This was an interesting breakdown of Fear Itself, and shows me that I don’t need to get into it at all. Fear spreading around — like in Final Crisis. The semi-magical tools of one character getting dispensed out to a bunch of others — like Blackest Night.

House of Ideas forever, baby!

Obviously, page 1 is needed as a placeholder so that the double page spreads lay out at the right spots. And for the credits.

Steve Rogers not knowing that people riot all the time without supervillains getting involved? WTF? What about the Iranian riots (irl) last year, let alone all the protests this year? And I know the far left loons get their agendas into the schools :) , so why doesn’t everyone involved know all about labor strikes in the ’30s and prior (you know, ones that led to Labor Day, among other things?). Jeez. That IS dumb.

I loved that Wolverine/acid flashbacks to Weapon X bit.

Funky, I’d say a child of the 80s would think spending your way out of debt is the way to go. I’ve just been reading Doonesbury stuff, and it’s a reminder that the inflation of the 70s seems (in part) to have been turned around by the massive defense spending et al in the Reagan budgets. Which led (in part) to the 90s tech boom. So Tony probably would think that spending is the way out of recession.

Sijo, is Uatu really being misused? Hasn’t he ALWAYS interfered? Isn’t that his thing — to show up, say, I shouldn’t be interfering, BUT — and then interfere. Someone needs to stage an intervention. “Listen, Uatu, we love that you’re trying to help us, but you’re the WATCHER. Stop interfering so damn much!”

And I disagree that people all lock their doors, like you seem to think, Greg. I’ve seen people on the local TV news say things like “you don’t think something like this would happen here. Now I’ve got to lock my doors…” And I always think, NOW? And within the last 30 years, my own grandparents didn’t lock their doors. Even while on vacation. And came home to find the place robbed. And I wonder how much a vasectomy would hurt, so I don’t pass on these genes…

Hey Greg,

Loved the article, still reading it but wanted to point out that Asgard is probably still smoldering from the clash with the World Eaters in the most recent Thor arc (written by Fraction) and not Siege.

Not slower paced than Final Crisis at all. Read that first issue of FC again, Greg!

@Travis Pelkie: It’s true that at first The Watcher interfered a lot- hey, the Fantastic Four wouldn’t have defeated Galactus without him!- but what many people forget is that Uatu was put in trial by his people for these transgressions -in an issue of the 70′s Captain Marvel- and swore “never to do it again”. And he has kept his vow since then, except helping in his own underhand ways, of course. It’s the blatant “I’ll have The Watcher show up just to let people know how bad things are, and then not show up in the story anymore” bit that annoys me. Seriously, was his appearance in Civil War of any help to the heroes? Is his appearance here going to make ANY difference? How about using the character only when the universe is truly in danger? (The Watchers get an exception to their vow then.)

funkygreenjerusalem

April 13, 2011 at 6:14 pm

Doesn’t Steve have a title? Haven’t I heard him referred to as Commander Rogers or something like that?.

Steve Rogers has the same rank as James Bond?

Funky, I’d say a child of the 80s would think spending your way out of debt is the way to go. I’ve just been reading Doonesbury stuff, and it’s a reminder that the inflation of the 70s seems (in part) to have been turned around by the massive defense spending et al in the Reagan budgets. Which led (in part) to the 90s tech boom. So Tony probably would think that spending is the way out of recession.

Reagan did nothing like what Stark is suggesting – he saved money by cutting money going to the lower classes, and cut taxes to the rich, saying the lower classes would benefit from the spending of the rich.
It’s almost the exact opposite idea of what Stark is suggesting – creating projects with no purpose to them other than creating jobs.
Reagan had the cold war going to justify defense spending – same as using WW2 to get you out of debt, just without the benefit of creating a lot of jobs because you’ve just sent a lot of the workforce overseas.

Being a young heir to a company in the 80′s – and probably in uni at the time – Stark would have most likely have been inundated with the free market ‘unfettered capitalism is the solution’, which is the exact opposite of what he’s suggesting.

But that’s not my problem with him saying it – it’s that he’s suggesting his company pay people to rebuild Asgard.
That’s just not feasible or realistic at all – even if Stark really wanted it to work, it would fall apart in next to no time.
Government’s can fund projects with no financial gain – they seem loathe to these days, but they can – as a government’s responsibility is to the people, including the unemployed.
There’s also the knock on that if you’re employing people, you aren’t paying them welfare, and they have money to spend at other businesses keeping them afloat.
Which is a great idea, and it works – it’s just it doesn’t get initiated by businesses, as that’s not what they do.

Um, yeah.

Like I said, I was getting my info from Doonesbury.

But you are right, and I’m sure you’re right about what Tony’s doing in this issue (which I haven’t actually read).

That’s certainly something I’ve thought about with the recent economic stuff — the government wants to cut spending and all, but businesses aren’t hiring out of the goodness of their hearts, they want to make money. Government can and has created jobs to put people to work (even “busy work”, see some of the New Deal projects), but that doesn’t seem to be an option for some reason.

Meanwhile, the roads are shit, and my tires take a beating with the potholes. Hire a bunch of people to fill in potholes, dammit!

I feel like an old old man just typing that.

The Watcher is a stupid concept unless he is invisible, intangible and essentially non-existent, as a process can be changed just by observing it.

It still puzzles me that Thor would let Tony anywhere near Asguard. Tony is probably sneaking away some Asguard tech or DNA for future use.

I agree it was WW2 that got the US all the way out of the depression but the recovery was there, without WW2 it might have taken well over another decade though.

Sin in a way seems like the Hood with the Infinity Gems. Grab a low level character, beef them up with power and suddenly you have a major threat that no one has ever heard of. It might work for the story though.

Hi,
Really enjoyed the review and breakdown of pages. Hell, write as long a breakdown as you’re allowed!

Pete McDermott

Carlton Donaghe

April 16, 2011 at 9:22 am

I suppose if I had been Greg Burgas and had never really read comics before, I might have thought differently about it. But while the art was good, the writing was just god-awful.

Marvel is making less and less comics that I want to read.

You know, I really wish Bendis would have written this. It wouldn’t have gone anywhere, it wouldn’t have been the Marvel I grew up with, but I wouldn’t have hated reading it.

I’m teaching the Literature of the Graphic Word and I would be thrilled if someone, somewhere, would tell me how to get in touch with Marvel about desk copies. I put together book lists for my students but I often have to leave out Marvel titles because I can’t get any response, or fine an email address for the PR folks, from Marve. How in the world do you folks get anything from them?

“Fear Itself” looks to be an interesting trip through the re-re-revised Canon of Marvel. It still fascinates me that when I discuss comic continuity and Canon I cannot engage my students with the core Canon because, well, there isn’t one any more. It seems to be entirely based on what the market will allow and not the storyline or historicity.

Thanks for your attention.
Tony O’seland

oseland@nsuok.edu
cedarwolf@yahoo.com

abraham lincoln

April 16, 2011 at 10:22 am

wonderful article, but in contrary of you I will just jump onto every FINAL CRISIS issues I’ll find…
FEAR ITSELF is exactly what I actually feared it would be : Much Ado About Nothing, as you wonderfully pointed how characterizing work was sacrified to the plot or for so-called ” anthological moments”..

In these moments I remember M.Fraction and T.Brevoort’ interviews about the “right scheduling/plotting” stuff and other gems about the creative process and the emulating during while, and I feel…I don’t know, ..fucked.

Johnny Neurotic

April 16, 2011 at 11:33 am

Careful, Greg. It’s articles like this one that got Newsarama blacklisted by Marvel for 3 years.

This is proof that Steve Rogers shouldn’t be Director of SHIELD, because his response was in-character. Being a hero who can stop bad guys is not the same as being a political leader who can manage civil unrest. And the SHIELD job requires enough moral ambiguity to make the tough decisions affecting thousands, if not millions, of constituents.

And as for Thor acting immature against Odin– who here honestly maintains their full composure when arguing with their parents :)

um what the hec are u talking about
wev known…. AWAYS that the new redskull was a woman and the daughter of the original
we saw her face get burned off in captain america reborn and before that she was a SEXY redhead
i mean have u not read ANY of the captain america comics latley?

Greg, this was outstanding. My wife is mailing me these comics out here in Afghannyland and I’m grateful to see something like this while I wait. I’m looking forward to Fraction’s story, although I agree that Steve should have handled a riot differently (sometimes a speech just doesn’t fix things).

That Old Milwaukee quote with Logan was fucking hysterical. I hate Wolverine’s over-exposure–he’s my favorite character but I hate when he’s used just as background–and I hope Fraction gives him a moment admist all these characters. Millar isn’t the strongest writer out there, but the first book of Civil War with everyone’s feedback was very human, easy to relate to, something I hope this book has plenty of. Steve, Tony and Thor all have their own books. Give me some more supporting characters worth a damn.

Steve was never a “real” captain from what I understand, can’t see why he still has that title other than symbolism. “National Security Advisor,” Secretary of Defense” or even a stretch with “General” seem more appropriate for what he’s doing now. Sure it won’t last as he’s about to get back into costume, but I’ll nag. :)

@greg: nice long article. you do make some good points that i do agree with. but you also have some tones of persuasion in there that might not belong. i’m not saying this to belittle or bash you. just stating this to be helpful for your later reviews that i will be interested in reading :-)
1. learn a LITTLE about the characters you’re writing about. i can understand that you might not know who the protector or mockingbird is, i’m just saying to ask someone. as you see in the responses, a lot of people know and we’re more than happy to give any info you may need. to me it just seems that you are making the characters seem like they’re unknown to all because they havent been in a marvel movie……..yet.

2. yes, thor does retain donald blake when he transforms. its been shown in a lot of recent issues of thor since the relaunch.

3. dont rush the story. we’re not supposed to find out ALL of the whys and hows in the first book. nor have all the characters fleshed out totally.

@mark: “Sin in a way seems like the Hood with the Infinity Gems. Grab a low level character, beef them up with power and suddenly you have a major threat that no one has ever heard of. It might work for the story though.”

such has been the way for many driving stories over the past decade. take a minor char, either beef them up or have them do something of big importance that sparks a huge event. DC had identity crisis. started by sue dibney, or if you look at it another way, dr. light. sadly that one event has been the driving force behind 90% of dc stories ever since, but i digress from that. marvel civil war was started by speedball’s crew doing something stupid. DC had hush from batman. orchestrated by the riddler. 52 showcased booster gold! with exception to 52, all of these stories were good to me, so i think it works to sometimes have a baddie from left field come out and terrorize. better than seeing magneto/doom/luthor/joker ALWAYS being the major villian.

The only part of your review i didn’t like its that you couldn’t take the time to find out each characters name. its not that hard, and it is sorta part of your job.

I don’t get why there was a riot in New York over what it was suggested to be about. There were no riots in New York over that. Oh, in Syria there’s some riots. It’s a bit like Decimation, I could never figure out why people were rioting just because jsut about all the mutants were gone (not dead even) in a way that basiclly lazy writing of ‘it’s magic’.

It’s nice to have a Thor centric story, even though the costume they gave him is still boring to me. It doesn’t stand out at all.

I don’t get why there was a riot in New York over what it was suggested to be about. There were no riots in New York over that.

That might very well be the point of the story, that people are acting oddly.

captainthundercats

April 16, 2011 at 6:34 pm

if you “don’t buy a lot of comics that a lot of people buy,” then maybe it would be better to just write a review like this for a book that a lot of people don’t buy that you really like and promote something that more people should read. Marvel has plenty of promotion. If you are worried about people reading it just put the word “WOLVERINE” in the title and we will come a runnin’.

I never knew how much of an asshole you are for writing reviews in your own style, Greg. Thank god all these other commenters are here to help me see the light. ;)

A pretty awful nitpicky review that stretches to find things to complain about.

I didn’t buy this book. And now I don’t have too. Feel free to dissect the remaining six issues in a similar fashion!

Thanks Buddy!!

Awesome review. Please do issue #2.

Inconsistencies, Notices, and Observations:

At first the riot was confusing, unexplained, and I felt as though Steve and Sharon being there, being concerned, was inexplicable–I need a piece of dialogue here, explaining what they *were* doing and why former Captain America, current top cop and his-girl-friday are in the middle of some angry, vague shouting match–the only thing I liked about it was the aftermath, Steve questioning the cause, because I thought that his confusion about it was meant to echo my own, that it was an explanation for the whole thing: Steve suspects a subconscious mind-control, a villain puppetmaster, because he’s just as confused as the reader is
I think Tony is characteristically foolhardy, I liked that exchange, and Steve’s unease carries through
I took the name of the book into account in this case, and assumed that fear was somehow infecting people–this may be unfounded, but it’s all I’ve got
I think the riot, and Bill in Oklahoma, are meant to show not only a world very much like ours and people dealing with things that we do, but also the collective psychic unease moving toward Sin’s ‘resurrection’ and the jailbreak of our big meanie, the hipster All-Father-of-Fear

The biggest oddity was definitely Odin–his behavior told me that he was nervous, truly, for the first time maybe ever (or at least in awhile), and when powerful people lose control they lash out–he’s scared, he’s uncertain, and it’s making him into a bigger douchebag than ever
As an aside, Matt Fraction writes the gods as often turse, solemn, moody beings–his Asgardians in THOR aren’t the fun-loving warriors under Stan, or even JMS–Fraction likes a fickle god, more negative, easy to upset, and grim

But that isn’t the part that *really* confused me

It wasn’t even the idea that Stark’s money (which is basically gone) and Earthmen labourers could build an adequate home for the Asgardians

No, what really confused me was brought up several times in the article, and comes as a complete plot-ender, to me:

if it’s true that Odin could snap his fingers and rebuild Asgard across the Bifrost bridge, then WHY DOESN’T HE DO IT

I mean, maybe that’s what the ending is about–next issue, Odin will have resurrected Asgard–but it begs questioning, because Odin has been back from the dead for months of stories by now

If he could rebuild Asgard with his power, as ruler, then Balder could have done the same–yet that isn’t the case

I can’t reason it away, I can’t make assumptions–it doesn’t make sense to me

I really appreciate this first issue as a start to something that might be pretty great–I’m sure regardless of execution the effort put in on all fronts will be monumental and worthy of applause

I’m very excited, and hopeful, for explanations

A few points …

1. While the ground depression in NYC was definitely to envoke NYC, I wondered whether that sopt was supposed to tie into a Marvel incident that might have happened at that location. World War Hulk attack? Final Iron Man vs. Captain America fight from Civil War?
2. Tony Stark is a douchebag. I mean between his involvement in the Superhero Registration Act and Secret Invasion, he might want to tone down his preachiness.
3. There is no point in locking the doors in the Marvel Universe. 9 out of 10 times the villians just come crashing through a wall anyway.
4. Obviously Asgard has large piles of smoldering rubber tires scattered throughout the Golden City resulting in the smoke weeks later.
5. Got to love those “final prophecies.” Between Surtur, the Dark Gods and all the other final prophecies Odin has been griping about over the years, I would take his doom-and-gloom with a pinch of salt.

Damn typos … I meant …

1. While the ground depression in NYC was definitely to envoke 9-11, I wondered whether that depression was supposed to tie into a Marvel-specific incident that might have happened at that location. World War Hulk attack? Final Iron Man vs. Captain America fight from Civil War?

Can’t wait until Cap and Bucky series comes out. The REAL Red Skull finally shows up even if its a flashback. Isn’t that what everyone wants anyway?

Odin just came back, he can’t

The first page does have a purpose, it foreshadows the clashing of cosmic events with matters on Earth. That’s why we start the story in outer space.

Mark J. Hayman

April 17, 2011 at 9:50 am

Let’s start with the abstract before getting to the really abstract. First, what are you, twelve? “Where’s the extra “A”? Shouldn’t it be NORAAD? Or, better yet, NAAD?” Seriously? You’re questioning the awesome acronymical skills of an organisation that’s kept us safe from the saucer people AND the pesky commies for half a century? Feh.

The whole bit with Skadi and her kin is a bit of a stretch in terms of meta-historical “accuracy” (viz. the Eddas, Sagas, etc.) but with so many variables, Fraction has the opportunity to tell a brand new story, which is nice. While this doesn’t contradict your point that “Odin speaks of Skadi and the final prophecy, but in a world where Ragnarok has occurred at least three separate times, his fear seems a bit silly.”, it does suggest that there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of, and so on. The really silly business is having already done the Ragnarok story at all let alone repeatedly, though there are sometimes hints that it (they) wasn’t (weren’t) the “true” Ragnarok, what with the principal gods not having been killed off, at least not permanently. Which gives us the possibility of a “true” Ragnarok no doubt set to coincide with Marvel and whatever corporate entity or trust to which their waggon is then hitched filing for Chapter 11 and, finally and irrevocably, being subtracted from our culture, possibly coinciding with the eve of true Armageddon in whatever form one believes it will take (biblical, astronomical, man-made, etc.). Sort of an “we’re going out of business and taking you with us” approach. This notwithstanding, or perhaps wholly withstanding, there appears to be infinite latitude for any number of “final” prophecies. Fraction picked/created one and here we are.

While acknowledging the considerable antipathy between father and son you do gloss over, which is to say “fail to mention”, a central bone of contention between Odin and Thor. To wit: Thor restoring Odin to life against his express wishes. One might assume that Odin was eternally happy fighting desperate odds eternally, only to have his whiniest offspring break not merely the rules but The Rule, delivered by the All-Father himself, which was, to paraphrase, “do Not come looking for me.” Of course that’s what sons do when they’re not busy committing patricide, so Odin probably wasn’t surprised, merely annoyed. Given all of this, he was certainly the bigger man to even offer Thor a place back in the heavens.

“The heroes of the Marvel Universe have fought off plenty of threats without the help of the gods, and they’re not really gods anyway, right? This is kind of a false dramatic ending, because it really doesn’t mean anything.” I agree that the ending was at once weak and peculiar, but this doesn’t seem to be the right argument. Whenever the Marvel heroes have to contend with something “cosmic”, they have equally cosmic back-up, even when it comes unlooked for (such as Rick Jones’ strange manifestations at the climax of the Kree-Skrull War). Some deus ex machina always manages to save their tasty, tasty bacon. Taking the Asgardians out of an equation of which they’re definitively a part serves to (dramatically) unbalance it. I’ll leave it to you to tell Odin to his bushy face that he’s not “really” a god ;-)

I won’t bother debating the “art and design” for two reasons. The first is that all of these Events are committee based and planned to death, rather the antithesis of creativity, let alone “art”, save in the Madison Avenue sense. They have to be, of course, if only to allow the various editorial departments to stay on message. Whatever one’s position on the merits or failings of Bendis, Millar, etc., and now Fraction, the end product is always going to have a similar structure and “flavour”, and it will be a distinctly Marvel one, at least until a new recipe is formulated.

The second concerns Stuart Immonen. Others will disagree to their dying breath but I don’t believe that this is at all his sort of book. Oh, he can do the Big Cosmic Stuff with the best of them, and the crowded group books and, perhaps especially, the more introspective character studies, but it all comes down to context. Whether or not it’s true of all illustrators, it’s certainly true that Immonen requires a tight, focussed script, no matter how far “out there” the material, and that’s not something that he can hope for in this case, no matter who’s writing it. He gets a personalized editorial dump and has to wrangle it into a coherent visual narrative. Perez can (or could) do it because he can make a mess appear beautiful and have us believe that’s what was intended. Even McNiven can pull it off to an extent due to his slick, near-plastic style. Immonen is too much of an impressionist to hope to make a story-by-committee seem personal and down to earth. On the other hand, it’s a reward. He’ll get a greater page rate while not being discouraged from employing hyper close-ups and splash after splash to fill them, and a per-centage from a series that will no doubt be at or near the top of the sales list right through the TPB phase, so good on ‘im.

Mediocre comic, mediocre review; sorry, Greg. vark!

Two things:

One – Am I the only one who thought the lettering in this issue was poorly done? The balloons are too large and shaped oddly for the amount of words in them, which strikes me as using template balloons rather than custom.

Two – If I recall correctly, NORAD stands for NORth American air Defense.

Hi! Just one observation – I want to basically back up funkygreenjerusalem on his/her comments.

It is absolutely true that the US came out of the Depression because of WWII. WWII acted as a massive stimulus package on the US economy. However, it was never necessary for there to be a war for that solution to work – the government could have implemented a massive stimulus package at any time, but it was not able to do so for political reasons. The stimuli it did provide was never enough or was undermined by things like cutting back on spending before the economic upturns that the spending created could really take.

As Funky points out, the private sector can’t do stimulus packages. Only government has the resources and the long-term timelines necessary for this strategy to work. Right now, the US economy continues to shudder and moan and crawl along because the government has never tried to implement a stimulus package big enough to actually work. By comparison, China put out a package right after the economic crisis hit that not only kept its economy purring along but also pulled all of Asia out of the recession. The current economiccrisis is really only being felt today in the Western world. not in Asia, Latin America, or elsewhere.

Second comment: I really like the Watcher and always have. I think that he was terribly “jobbed” a few years ago when he was punched by the Red Hulk. The Watcher is a being of god-like (i.e., nearly Galactus-level) power – or, at least, that is how he was treated in the past. I hope that he returns to his glory days, even if he doesn’t really do much with his power.

Cool review.

I was thinking that your comment on Sin being more evil than hitler and thats why she was chosen for skadi to be a little off. i kind of thought it was because she had a quality that red skull and hitler didn’t that put her on the same wavelength as skadi and that why she was chosen. So basically the recpitenents of the worthy are people who have personality traits in common with the spirits themselves regardless of morality.

you , sir, are rather annoying. you seem to purposely avoid looking at the subtleties of the story if it allows you a easy shot at someone.

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