Fear Itself #5 review

Grrahhh ...

Wwullhhf ...



Yup, it's another sparkling issue of Fear Itself, the comic that is to snappy dialogue what Rob Liefeld is to ankles.

The examples above are pearls from the lips of the Mighty Thor as he battles a Ben Grimm transformed by long-lost Asgardian bad egg The Serpent. But it's not just the Son of Odin who's at it - in Asgard, Tony Stark interrupts a chat with Odin himself to emit a Rrahhh!! as he drops his alcopop. Neither party comments on the gutteral snarl, it's just another moment in a game of superhero Tourettes.

I remember Matt Fraction when he wasn't afraid of dialogue, but given some of the actual English lines we get in here, I see the attraction of the unintelligible. Thor's gems, for example, include him telling a transformed Hulk: 'You were always a giant pain in the ass' and 'To be continued ... Banner.' Still, Thor's only appeared in a few thousand Marvel comics, how could any terribly well-paid writer be expected to know how he speaks? Just write any old nonsense in Asgardian font and the kids won't notice.

Maybe I'm going on a bit (makes a change ...) but all the grunting from the heroes and ancient god hieroglyphics from the villains is seriously distracting. It's hard not to think this is simply Fraction's way of getting around the fact that we're seeing the same thing again and again across the Fear Itself crossover, and there's nothing much to be said.

Lucky old Captain America does get some dialogue, allowing us to infer that he's more upset about the Serpent knackering his shield than he is about the death of Bucky. And when he's not making odd noises, Stark's encounter with Odin is a cracker, as he explains that he doesn't want a miracle from the All-Father. What he desires is access to the Asgardian forge to make weapons capable of matching the Serpent's hammers. More surprise moments like this would be excellent, and fewer rubbish beats such as Spider-Man persuading Cap that they're going to lose and may as well pack up and go home. Is Spidey infected with Asgardian Fear, or poor plotting?

There is another enjoyably sensible scene as Franklin Richards uses his massive powers to transform his Uncle Benjamin from What back to Thing. Presumably the Future Foundation's most powerful member will have to be taken off the board next issue, otherwise we'll be wondering why he doesn't simply zap the Serpent and his snakelets to high heaven.

The artwork by Stuart Immonen and Wade Von Grawbadger continues to be the best reason to stick with this frustrating event series. Whatever Fraction asks them to draw, they draw beautifully. The Hulk/Thor bout is literally smashing, while Odin looks suitably godly standing above Stark. And it's all superbly coloured by Laura Martin and her assistants, and lettered by Chris Eliopoulos (though I fear he misspelled GGRRRAAAAHHH!).

Two more issues to go. It'll feel like more.


  1. "...what Rob Liefeld is to ankles."

    I'm going to have to remember that in the future, when I need to give a good and proper insult. Well done!

  2. I'm very upset with Marvel. I thought now that it is part of the Disney Conglomerate, it's stories would be up a notch or two. It's gone from bad to worse: terrible mischaracterization, lots of sagas encompassing lots of issues to no avail (when the saga ends, everything goes back to it's original order) and, top of all, EVIL COMING ON TOP most of the time...
    Really sad days to be a Marvel fan...


  3. One of the real problems with Fear Itself (aside from nothing much really happening in the main series itself--and that Tony Stark scene was just a verbatim repeat of the same scene from last issue of iron Man!), is that there are no compelling villains.

    It's 5/7 done...can anyone tell me one character trait of The Serpent (besides "he's evil")? He's bland and generic, his "children" are bland, nothing interesting is being done with the possessions...

    And the saddest part is, that means a good chunk of #6 or 7 is going to have to be stuffed with exposition that we should have gotten in #2 or 3, explaining exactly who the Serpent is and his back story and...

    Terrible disappointment from Fraction.

  4. Complete agreement. I, too, sneered at the uncharacteristic dialog, and before Snell revealed that "original" scene was a repeat from this month's Invincible Iron Man, I was going to do the same.

    I don't know what happened here, but as usual, I smell editorial manipulation. Spreading the story too thin across too many titles, and leaving the main series as a montage of repeated bits from other series, much like Secret Invasion.

    I remember Marvel touting that you could read the mini-series with or without the tie-ins. Given the amount of actual new material in the mini, I'd say it isn't necessary UNLESS you're NOT reading the tie-ins.

  5. Knightsky, cheers muchly!

    OPN!, it's hard to argue, the Marvel heroes seldom seem to get a clean win these days.

    That's interesting, Snell, I don't read Iron Man so hadn't realised that the decent scene was a repeat. Tut. Did you see Matt Fraction's 'explanation' as to why Spidey wasn't giving up this issue? Oh dear.

    Siskoid, you called it.


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