The Fear Itself comic event that spewed across Marvel Comics in 2011 was more or less a disaster. The helmsman, Matt Fraction, made a mess of things for a miserable, confused event that grew even bigger than the sweeping events of World War Hulk and Civil War. The tragedy of this event caused me to avoid Marvel Comics titles for a long time. Finally, well past the event itself, I decided to just muscle my way through everything. I whipped through one issue after another. The Tony Stark storyline was interesting. The rest? Ugh.
That Marvel/Fraction began dragging out the Fear Itself abomination even further with this 12-issue expansion called Fear Itself: The Fearless caused many fans to just drop all Marvel titles from their pull lists. Many critics complained that Marvel was milking it, but I suppose that presumes there was anything to milk in the first place. Fear Itself was poor. Of that event, I bought the seven core issues. I bought subseries with Namor, Wolverine, and Deadpool. And I bought #7.1 and #7.3. Frankly, the .1 and the .3 issues were probably a lot better than anything Fear Itself contained. I am still harboring a bit of animosity toward Fraction’s writing.
Anyway, The Fearless is a twelve issue limited series that I bought just for semi-completist-sake. (paradox) I liked the concept of the story being contained in twelve issues. Also, since I suffered through Fear Itself, I wanted to see if this epilogue story could salvage anything for the event…and Fraction. This past week I picked up issue #11 of The Fearless. Today, I finally read issue #1. Yes, that is how dreadful Fear Itself was – it actually made me very much avoid Marvel titles, which, I suspect, is the antithesis of what Marvel wants their events to accomplish.
Fear Itself encompassed many, many issues. But on the opening splash page of The Fearless #1, there are three short paragraphs that introduce the background to the reader. Frankly, they actually, in three short paragraphs, sum up the entirety of Fear Itself. Eight mystical hammers smashed into earth. They were wielded by eight warriors called The Worthy. The Worthy were avatars of the Norse god of Terror: the Serpent. Odin, father-god of Asgard, planned to destroy the earth in order to stop The Worthy (and therefore, the Serpent). Iron Man and Captain America and some other heroes save earth. The hammers were scattered around the world. There, you now know what happened in Fear Itself – don’t bother reading it, unless you are truly comics obsessed.
Now, I admit the bar was set quite low for this series. Nevertheless, despite Fraction’s name on the cover, I opened the issue. And I kept on turning pages and enjoying the artwork and the story right until I reached the back cover. I was, obviously, pleasantly surprised. If Fraction can write so well for the Invincible Iron Man title and can assist with the writing for The Fearless, what on earth was he doing with Fear Itself? Needless to say, I was so surprised, I read the issue again. Okay, to be honest, it’s not the greatest issue ever published, but altogether a vast improvement over the event itself.
The issue opens with the introduction of Brunnhilde in the year 1945. It’s a nicely drawn and colored introduction for the warrior – and her fight scene against the snow wyrm is clear and concise. Simple warrior action story on those pages. Then, the comic jumps ahead in time to present day Washington, D.C. where the Avengers are cleaning up after the massive destruction [sic!] wrought by Fear Itself. Brunnhilde is arguing with Captain America over the property rights of the hammers. The dialogue on these pages is well-written and the artwork complements the discussion. The artwork is framed really well, with snippets of other heroes (superheroes and regular humans) working in the area. In the end Captain America tells Brunnhilde to forget it because he is determined to keep the hammers in mankind’s possession and hidden.
Next few pages detail the villain Crossbones using a criminal network to obtain the location of the hammers. He provides this to Sin (the daughter of the Red Skull and formerly, one of The Worthy). Sin, is drawn and written very nicely in her appearance here: she’s caustic, arrogant, and sinister – which is how we like our Sin! The last few pages detail Brunnhilde standing before one of the hammers in custody. War Machine, who I have not seen in awhile, finds her there and attempts to dialogue with her. Unfortunately, Brunnhilde does not feel the need to converse and takes matters into her own hands and steals the hammer!
So here is an issue with interesting dialogue, good fight scenes, exciting characters, and good artwork. Everything a comic ought to have and everything Fear Itself did not have. I have higher hopes for issue #2, but I still have not forgiven Fraction.
** Also, as a warning do not look at Sin on the cover too much…. or you’ll see the oddest thing.