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Review: Marvel Fear Itself, Part III

Overall Summary

After all of the astoundingly good and horribly bad, your next questions should be easy: what's the verdict with Marvel's Fear Itself? How would you rate it on a 5 star system?

Glad you asked; when giving out a critique, it's not hard to get animated and manipulated. You see, there are two different traps. The first one is the most popular; if someone is paying you for a good review, you ignore lots of the important drawbacks and it's clear you’re not being honest. The second occurs when you've got an axe to grind, and that's harder to detect. When you're armchair-quarterbacking like that, it's natural to flow into a complaint session of negativity.

Well, here's my status: no one is paying me and I don't have an axe to grind. So prepare for my honest assessment.

Characters (4 and 1/2 Stars): The character development of Fear Itself was overall exceptional. I've already noted how Speedball and Loki surpassed expectations, but I'm here to tell you that this event is intrinsically and successfully focused on moving many of the important personalities forward for later plots. We saw:

* Thor gets killed and Asgard forever changes. This isn't some minor situation; at last check, Odin just stranded a bunch of Asgardians on Midgard.

* Steve Rogers is reassuming his place as Captain America, which is how it should always have been.

*In the backdrop, other faces and groups showed up. Alpha Flight took off again; there's a new superhero around called The Monkey King; Amadeus Cho brought a team together; members of Avenger's Academy begin to recognize their place in the heroic societies.

Plot and Storyline (3 Stars): The backbone plot of Fear Itself was very robust, until the end. It started with the Red Skull in the 1940's; that's when Schmidt located an Asgardian Hammer he couldn't wield. Later, his daughter, Sin, locates her father's secret hideout and claims the weapon, becoming Skadi, The Serpent's Herald.

Throughout Fear Itself, once unleashed on the world, The Serpent's Worthy took most of the spotlight. These were immensely powerful beings, scattering across the globe, tearing everything up; this also created strong and well-reasoned tales. We were spellbound as The Thing a.k.a Angrir destroyed Avengers Tower, Mokk turned Paris to rubble and Skadi razed Washington D.C.

But it fell apart at the end. After all of these terrible moments, and in the middle of some dramatic battles, The Serpent called them to Dark Asgard for the final battle at Broxton, Oklahoma, against Fallen Asgard.

That's fine; alright, so their whole purpose was just to cause fear, power up their leader, and get into a big fight. But when the big fight occurred, it was relatively quick and contained in the few pages of Fear Itself #7. Let's ponder this a moment; Tony Stark creates a bunch of Uru weapons, passes them out to Avengers, and then they beat The Worthy like nothing. It was, even with Thor's passing...anti-climactic.

What also fell apart was the resolution of those conflicts. Once The Serpent had fallen, the Worthy were instantly de-powered. I guess the entire goal should have been to ignore everyone else except the evil all-father.

Presentation and Implementation (3 and 1/2 Stars): As happens with many crossovers and events, the comics are released out of chronology. This is how they do it now; secret knowledge governs what will come out, so the information from one series doesn't spoil another. Unfortunately, that doesn't always jive with us because we like continuity.

In most cases, Fear Itself was a normal, possible better than average, 100+ comic event. The enormity of the project guaranteed that it would be a difficult follow, but the event transpired relatively well. (It was also helpful that the event was 5 days long.)

Writing and Artwork (3 Stars): I was impressed by the direction Fraction and the hosts of Marvel portrayed Fear Itself, and generally, I liked how they gave us momentous points from different perspectives. It was cool to see the Avengers Tower fall from the eyes of different heroes; it showed us how significant and symbolic those changes were.

On its surface, Marvel brought together a well-honed machine of storytellers; Stuart Immonen won me over with his depictions; Mike Mayhew captured facial expressions perfectly. What I didn't appreciate was The Avengers (#13-17) series, which encapsulated the story, being told as a story, in an interview. It might have been a clever concept to deliver psychology and emotional flavor, but it didn't deliver for me.

Now that we've dissected some of greats and no-so-greats of Fear Itself, it's time to give them a grading mark. In my opinion, out of 5 stars, I'd give Fear Itself 3 and 1/2 stars. Even if you don't like big crossover events, you can dive into your favorite characters and find something to enjoy. But that may also be part of it's weakness...that there was just a heck of a lot to follow.

Overall, I'd say Marvel did a great job, and this might appear like it contradicts my final verdict, where I'm grading just above average. But I look at it another way: with the grand scale of Fear Itself...the tie-ins, characters, sub-plots, there were sure to be some aberrations. And ultimately, they went all out with a resounding story that can never be forgotten. 

This is a 3-part review. and wraps up my summary of Fear Itself. To read Part I: click here. To read Part II: click here.

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