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Review: Marvel Fear Itself, Part I

I've been following some of the comments, twitter posts, and replies over Fear Itself for the last few months. It's really been quite a journey, seeing hot it was hyped and where it all started. Originally, I believed I'd avoid commenting on a review; it's not really in my interest to critique these stories, I just like to present them.

But I felt - or I still feel - I have to do this.

Not just because I love comic books and not simply due to my deep interest in the Fear Itself event. I think what's happening - in my own mind - is that I'm trying to resolve some of the uniqueness that happened in the months from March to now, involving an event which took the span of five days, destroyed quite a bit of the world, and then ended. And before I begin, I realize there are still parts of the story left to tell. They'll be revealed in the next phase Marvel is rolling out called "Shattered Heroes".

This will be a 3-part review:
Part I will detail the negative. People who loved Fear Itself will hate me. I'm releasing it today, Wednesday, October 26, 2011.
Part II will detail the positive. That's when you find out I'm pretty unbiased with comic books and show you the cool and incredible. I'll release it Friday, October 28.
Part III will be the final summary and I'll wrap it all together on Monday for Halloween.

Part I: The Negative

Ok. So it's over, Fear Itself, and here's what I can't quite grasp. My understanding, and what I thought was supposed to be the psychological backdrop of this story, was the notion of terror, desolation, hopelessness. Oh, and fear.

Naw...To be frank, I felt very little of it. Heck, maybe it was too much and it just became white noise. In the beginning of the Fear Itself event, it started strongly. We were seeing civilians, innocents, and everyday people give up and lose hope. Anger rose in the population; prejudices became inflamed. All credits go to Fear Itself: The Home Front, which seemed to focus heavily on that theme. It's also noteworthy to point out how Spidey, who always seems to feel the pulse of Manhattan, followed a psychological undertone in Fear Itself: Spider-Man.

But aside from those honorable mentions, it seemed kinda flat if you were looking for "the feel" of fear. And in that perspective, it was not easy to follow. Of the most difficult parts of the event were the numerous tie-ins; it seemed like every super-villain was cashing in on the chaos and too stupid to understand that the end of the world was here:

* In Canada, the newly-elected Unity party decided, rather than fight against the apocalyptic threat, they'd attack their own state-sponsored superheroes (Alpha Flight) and prepare them for brainwashing. (Seriously, could’ve picked a better time, fellas.)

* Did you read Fear Itself: Deadpool? Why? Sure, he's insane and funny, but it wasn't funny enough to be relevant to the main story in any way. Deadpool finds his own villain, fashions up his own hammer (which turns out to be magical) and heads to an isolated town that has a werewolf problem. Don't read this if you're focused on Fear Itself.

* In Fear Itself: Wolverine, there were similar issues. Why are villains interested in blowing a heli-carrier over New York when the world is about to be destroyed? (Ok, I get it that the villain is mentally deranged, but it really had very little to do with the actual event.)

(And while I'm on the subject, someone tell me why Wolverine had to be in the final installment? Why type of Odin-blessed weapon did Logan receive? All I saw was an Uru-needled porcupine mutant.)

Perhaps the problems, then, were the many issues comprised of Fear Itself (I've cataloged around 115 so far) and the numbers of superheroes that needed something to do. Was that what this was all about? Because even now I'm still trying to figure out why a haunted carrier attacked Pearl Harbor in Fear Itself: The Home Front #7. Or why the new Ghost Rider had to go up in a spaceship to burn sin from the world (Ghost Rider #4).

In the framework of pointing out the problems with the event, we've had a harsh pill to swallow. The story had a strong start with lots of expectations, but quickly turned into video game where Iron Man gets the Uru-Armor Upgrade and The Avengers get new weapons. I think what surprised me the most was when The Serpent shattered Captain America's shield; at that moment, I was interested and wondering. But in the last issue, the Dwarves of Svartalfheim remake it in a day. (Oh, and it's also infused with Uru, so it's stronger now.)

My friends, there was something missing from Fear Itself, and it wasn't the loss of hope and the isolation of suffering. Absolutely, it had episodes of success (and I'll address those in the Part II review Friday), but in terms of spell-binding intensity and psychological backdrop, it was lacking. When paging through the multitudes of tie-ins, many were weak and had no business being included. And finally, after wading through the sea of titles, we came to the not-so-big conclusion, where the answer is a quick-fix patch; let's give everybody an Uru-upgrade.

And so, let's hop back to the past. Do you recall the teaser posters of Cap kneeling before a shattered shield with no faith in his country? How about Hulk's fear of losing control or Spider-Man's fear of tomorrow? Ask yourself "How did they do?" Did things measure up to your expectations? The big thematic element was the audio tied to the event, FDR's First Inaugural Speech. We all know it by rote: "The only thing we have to fear, is fear itself".

Say those words to yourself at let me know.

This is a 3-part review. The next part will be released on Friday, October 28, and go over the positive elements of the Fear Itself event..

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