Fear Itself #2 – Review


Personal Fear #2 – People. See also, groups of people, strangers, anyone older than I am, etc. For instance, sitting in the front of a movie theater watching the new Thor movie (pretty good, by the way) with dozens of people whispering and plotting behind my back. And look what happened in the last issue of Fear Itself when the mob formed…a riot broke out. The movie The Happening by M. Night Shyamalan may not have been the best film, but its message was clear: even plants fear large groups of people.

Fear Itself 2: The Worthy

Writer: Matt Fraction

Art: Stuart Immonen
Inks: Wade Von Grawbadger
Colors: Laura Martin
Letters: Chris Eliopoulos
Cover Art: Steve McNiven

Plot: The Asgardians appear in space led by their All-Father, Odin. Odin begins to rebuild the world of Asgard around them as the gods follow. Volstagg and Hogun drag Thor between them and express their concerns over the Asgardians’ retreat from Earth. Thor stands up and declares the gods will stand for Earth and guard them from this new threat. Odin dismisses his son and criticizes Thor’s rule when he had led the Asgardians himself. The All-Father shackles Thor in specially made chains and tells the Asgardians it is time to prepare for war against the Serpent – a war that will result in the complete purging of Earth.

Back on Earth, the projectiles summoned by the Serpent begin to land, crashing around the globe. One such satellite lands at the Raft, the super-criminal holding facility. Juggernaut, a member of the Thunderbolts, is working out at the time of impact and seeks out the object that fell from the sky. Juggernaut comes across the hammer, which is calling out to him, and when he picks it up, he is transformed into Kuurth, the Breaker of Stone. The possessed Juggernaut turns on the guards around him and destroys the Raft.

Steve Rogers is monitoring news reports from all around the world. He speaks to the gathered Avengers on how to combat the chaos. Rogers deploys squads around the globe to keep the peace. Reed Richards, leader of the Future Foundation, contacts Rogers and reports that he is on the scene of the impact of one of the other hammers. Richards lets Rogers know he is sending his initial analysis to him for review, and that he should let the Thing know that it landed close to Yancy Street, his personal stomping ground.

The next hammer rockets through the sky in Brazil. Bruce Banner and Betty Ross are camping in the wilderness and discussing their failed marriage as well as Betty’s new ability to transform into the Red She-Hulk. When they spot the falling object, the couple transform into their alter-egos and give chase. The Hulks come across the hammer lying in a crater, and it calls out to Hulk. Betty warns Hulk not to touch it, but he does anyway and is transformed into Nul, Breaker of Worlds. Bruce fights the possession just long enough to tell Betty to run, and she does.

In a diamond mine in South Africa, Absorbing Man is struggling with lifting another hammer that fell from space. Absorbing Man can’t budge the object, but his wife, Titania, hears the hammer calling to her and is able to lift it. She is transformed into Skirn, the Breaker of Men. Titania remains present in the possessed body and informs Absorbing Man that they are to head North, where he will find his own hammer. She is interrupted when the Serpent reaches out to all his children and speaks to them.

The Serpent, in his Nazi-hideout with Skadi, tells his minions to go forth and bring terror to the world. He tells them to “punish and terrify every single living thing.” Skadi speaks to soldiers in the base while her father sends out his message of hate and fear. Another chosen one, Nerkkod the Breaker of Oceans, is seen destroying an underwater oil pipeline, polluting the waters. Skadi enters into a large war machine with the Nazi symbol on its chest, and leads the soldiers into war according to her All-Father’s bidding.

The war is brought to the heart of America’s government when the Nazi battle suits are used to destroy the United States Capitol building. Newscasters report the destruction taking place and ask aloud who will save them now. Commander Rogers calls out over the radio for the Avengers to assemble, but gets no response. A view of Earth from space shows a green mist spreading over the planet as Rogers wonders where his teammates are.

*

What to Cheer: The creative team behind the art continues to create some of the best work I have seen in comics recently. The coloring is rich, the characters are all exactly how I picture them in my mind and the thick black outline continues to accent the panels and helps make the art pop off the page. The inking is really well done as evidenced by the outlines, as well as when it’s used to add depth and shading, or to add extra details to the scenes such as the wrinkles in Odin’s face or the armor worn by Thor and his father.

The Asgardian storyline is still the main focus as it becomes apparent that the gods will be the key to stopping the threat of the Serpent. The growing conflict between Thor and Odin continues as Thor expresses his distaste for retreating and using Earth as a shield to protect them. I have an understanding of the basic Thor trivia, but reading this makes me want to pick up more of his back stories. Thor’s heroic rants and bold assertions make him an interesting character to me and I’m looking forward to reading how Thor breaks free from his new prison in order to aid Earth in its time of peril.

Another character that I have only basic knowledge of is Hulk. He seems to be set for a big push in this story since he has been chosen as one of the Worthy. The Marvel Universe had a hard enough time dealing with just the Hulk during World War Hulk, how will they handle a Hulk that is now possessed with the power of Nul, the World Breaker? I really liked how Bruce was able to fight off the possession long enough to warn Betty to run. Bruce has plenty of experience fighting his inner demons, and this looks like it will be another challenge for him.

*

What to Fear: As interesting as it is to see who is deemed Worthy, I’m not the biggest fan of the few we have seen. I like Juggernaut and Hulk, but why are all the Worthy just big, powerhouse characters? Just to make them that more unstoppable? Obviously the Serpent would choose the most powerful characters as his Worthy, but I think it would be cool to see some smaller individuals possess these hammers.

Why do all the weapons have to be hammers anyway? Is it just because Thor has a hammer? It doesn’t bother me that much, but I’d like to see a little more variety in the chosen characters. Hopefully the hammer falling on Yancy Street doesn’t mean the Thing will be next to take up a weapon. As far as their transformations go, why do all the Norse markings make the characters look like they belong in the movie Tron? When Thor came into possession of Mjolnir he didn’t resemble a bright neon sign.

I didn’t have any real problems with Fraction’s writing, except for the conversation that took place between Absorbing Man and Titania. There was a crude exchange between the two that seemed pretty unnecessary. I didn’t notice it in my first reading but upon the second review it just seemed like a cheap, low-brow joke. But hey, maybe that’s just how those characters are. There was one instance between the Asgardians where the order of the dialogue tripped me up but I’m not sure if that’s Fraction’s fault or the way Immomen laid out the panels.

The only other time that I was thrown off was when the newscasters’ reports were used. Often times the narrative boxes seemed to get in the way of some of the side stories. When used at the beginning of a new section, it wasn’t that bad, but when it was thrown in the middle of a scene, as it was during the Hulk and Future Foundation parts, it could be a bit distracting.

The real world parallels are still present, but they are not as obnoxious as the last issue. I wanted to make a joke in the last review about how I wouldn’t be surprised if they made a reference to oil spills and sure enough here it is in this issue. Blowing up the Capitol building was a cool splash page, but the impact of it was kind of ruined with the promotional teaser images. I’m also not sure if this is the most appropriate image to put out there with the current events in real life, especially when every other event seems to be based on real-world happenings.

*

The Big Picture: The Asgardians look to be gone for good. The scene of Odin rebuilding their home world out of nothing was really cool, but it does not bode well for Earth. What will the Asgardians’ departure mean for Midgard? Will Thor overthrow his All-Father and lead the other gods back to save us from the Serpent? Does the Nazi swastika and regime have some deeper connection to the Serpent, or is it just convenient that he had all these Nazi weapons of mass destruction on hand?

I’m glad Fraction is pulling more characters back into the Marvel fold with this event. I feel that the Hulk has been pretty disconnected from the Marvel Universe ever since his exile into space by the Illumanti. I did not follow any of the Planet Hulk, World War Hulk or Fall of the Hulks stories so I had to spend some time on Wikipedia to get caught up on his current state. It’s good to see him back, and I’d like to see him continue to fight this possession and maybe turn the tide for the good guys.

*

Rating: Good, art; Meh, character development, story and writing; Poor, action. 3/5 Frightened Marvelites.

“Remember that one time during the fight when it looked like you might actually win? No? Me neither.” – Marvel vs. Capcom 3
“Did I mention I beat up Firelord once? No, seriously. Firelord.” – Ultimate Alliance 2
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