Personal Fear #3 – Losing Somebody Close to Me. This is a fear I imagine most people would have. Our favorite wall-crawler is most certainly a victim of this fear after losing so many friends and family members around him. This fear is a bit more serious compared to my fear of the Ocean or People, but I just recently had to cope with this fear face-to-face, so I figured I’d share it here now. Certain characters will also need to confront this fear head on due to the outcome of this issue. So, this should go without saying, but spoilers, ho!
Fear Itself 3: The Hammer that Fell on Yancy Street
Writer: Matt Fraction
Art: Stuart Immonen
Inks: Wade Von Grawbadger
Colors: Laura Martin with Larry Molinar
Letters: Chris Eliopoulos
Cover Art: Steve McNiven
Plot: Washington, DC is burning. The Capital building is in ruin and Skadi leads her Nazi-branded war-machines through the streets and air of the razed city. The heroes on site engage their foe, and Skadi is pleased to see that Captain America is leading the charge. Skadi lunges at the Captain and brings her hammer crashing down against the hero’s star-spangled shield.
Away from the destruction happening on Earth, Loki visits the special prison designed to hold his captive brother, Thor. The guards outside the cell refuse to allow Loki to deliver food to Thor. Loki instead offers the food to them. The guards accept the meal, but it turns out to be a trick by the God of Mischief, and they are rendered unconscious. Loki frees his brother and tells him that Midgard is burning.
Loki leads Thor into a secret meeting where Sif and the Warriors Three are waiting for him. Thor’s loyal friends tell him that they have arranged for him to return to Earth but they are unable to accompany him. Before Thor is able to leave, his father, Odin, appears and demands that Thor accept his place among the Asgardians or face another thrashing. Thor defies his father once again and challenges the All-Father to let him stand for Midgard even if Odin refuses to help him. Odin is disappointed in his son but chooses to send him back to Earth to face the destruction and slaughter brought on by the Serpent.
Kuurth, Breaker of Stone (Juggernaut) and Greithoth, Breaker of Wills (Absorbing Man) are shown wreaking havoc in Missouri and Dubai, respectively. In Brazil, Red She-Hulk is shown fleeing from an enraged Nul, Breaker of Worlds (Hulk). She saves two children before Nul grabs her and throws her to the ground. Nul raises his hammer to smash his opponent when Red She-Hulk transforms back into Betty Ross to try and reason with the possessed Hulk. He momentarily pauses but Nul takes control once more. The Avengers Ms. Marvel, Spider-Woman and Noh-Varr, arrive and blast Nul with all their fire power allowing Betty to get away.
Members of the Future Foundation are on Yancy Street analyzing the hammer that landed in the road. The Thing is being heckled by a New Yorker who tells the heroes that he doesn’t think the world can be saved this time. Reed Richards calls Thing away from the onlooker and asks Thing to try and lift the hammer. The Thing is drawn into the hammer’s powers, grabs for it and is transformed into Angrir, Breaker of Souls. The transformed Thing smashes the ground and brings the buildings of Yancy Street crashing down around him.
Steve Rogers is observing the action around the globe from a Quincarrier destined for Washington, DC. He expresses his frustration with being on the sidelines to Sharon Carter and Maria Hill. He tells Hill that she will take control and he drops out of the aircraft to join the battle taking place in the streets below.
Bucky-Captain America comes to after his initial conflict with Skadi. The Falcon and Black Widow urge him to regroup and retreat, but Bucky refuses, saying they must hold the line. Bucky charges at Skadi knocking her back with his shield. The two clash once more but Skadi uppercuts Captain America with her hammer. She attacks the downed Bucky, rips off his cybernetic arm and clobbers the solider with his severed limb. Skadi pounces once more, slams the butt of her hammer through Captain America’s body and walks away proclaiming that the Serpent is coming. Bucky lies dying with a gaping hole in his chest, parroting Skadi’s warning, “the Serpent is coming.”
What to Cheer: The story and action are really starting to pick up. This issue picks up right where the last issue ended, in the streets of the nation’s capital, and the dire situation and panic is prevalent throughout the whole issue. All the altercations were serious challenges for the heroes and it helped give the action a real sense of danger and urgency. That is what I expect of the battles for an event of this scale. Oftentimes, such a heavy emphasis on action can comes at the expense of some focus on the characters, but not this comic. There are great action scenes as well as some good character moments.
Despite Bucky’s checkered past, he proves in this issue that he was the appropriate choice to carry on the Captain America mantle. He refuses to retreat or lose any ground to Skadi and he chooses to face the danger head-on like the brave solider he is. The former Captain America, Steve Rogers, proves that he is still a solider first and foremost by leaving the command center to join the fray. Loki’s deceit and manipulation in freeing Thor was nice, as was Thor’s still defiant attitude towards his father. Betty’s attempt at reasoning with the Hulk showed her bravery, although it could have been a potentially tragic gamble if the Avengers had not intervened.
The grand action was helped out by the wonderful art team on this title. When heroes and villains of this magnitude collide you expect it to be explosive and earth-shattering. Every battle was set against a backdrop of great destruction. The artists really conveyed all the bone-shattering hits and collisions, with explosions leveling cities and energy blasts lighting up whole panels.
The pages were also very structured and made it really easy to follow the action. The rectangular panels have a very simple and classic feel and it helped frame the scenes. They didn’t overuse the effect of the character breaking free from the walls, but the couple of times they did it was really effective in letting the character stand out on the page.
One of the most detailed action scenes was when the Thing comes into possession of his hammer. The full page spread of the destruction of Yancy Street was a really nice display of the power of Angrir. With just a mighty yell and powerful stomp on the ground he was able to bring a whole city block and all its buildings crashing down.
What to Fear: I don’t like Thing being the next character to take up a hammer for the Serpent since it’s just another strong-guy, but I understand why he was chosen. For the most part, the Worthy all seem to be appropriate choices for their titles: Hulk being the Breaker of Worlds, Titania being the Breaker of Men and now Thing being the Breaker of Souls. The Thing has struggled with his own personal issues ever since turning into the Fantastic Four’s orange, rocky-hided tough guy. It makes sense that he would be the one to break the souls of other people. I like the look of the possessed Thing, but I don’t understand what the worm-like creatures with fanged mouths are around his body.
I’m also not sure what the point of the pedestrian heckling the Thing was. The heckler blaming the Thing for the Human Torch’s death was probably just another way to have the Thing feel defeated before taking up the hammer. That bit of writing, along with some other minimalist dialogue by Fraction, held the writing back. I don’t expect a lot of speech to take place during fights, so I don’t have a problem with the minimalist approach, but what was said seemed a little too simple at times.
The main issue I had with the writing was all the sounds of the screaming or yelling the characters made. The “ggraaaaahhh,” “ggkkaaa” “ggwwruff” speech balloons tripped me up just because I kept trying to pronounce how it should have sounded.
Sticking with the previous two issues and their knack of reflecting real world events, I must wonder why the choice was made to set some of the destruction in the state of Missouri. It wasn’t a tornado in the middle of a city, but it still seemed an odd choice given the recent destruction Missouri has recently seen.
The Big Picture: This may have been a well broadcasted plot point, but the death of Bucky is the main thing to take away from this issue. Buck’s demise was foreshadowed in the very first issue of Fear Itself and his own speeches about not retreating when Skadi had taken the heroes down, pretty much sealed his fate. I was never big on anybody other than Steve Rogers as Captain America, but this seemed like an appropriate ending for Bucky.
I’m glad the reformed villain was given the chance to call out the “Avengers Assemble” rallying cry and lead other heroes in his last stand as the Sentinel of Liberty. Of course his death will allow Steve Rogers to pick the shield back up, and that, with Thor’s return to Earth, should see the heroes begin to turn the tide against the Serpent.
Rating: Great, action. Good, art, character development and story; Meh, writing. 5/5 Frightened Marvelites.