The only thing we have to fear is Fear Itself.
I’m not quoting Roosevelt, I’m stating a very real fact about the completely ridiculous and over the top nonsense that is Fear Itself issue #2. I’ve never been a huge supporter of the event series, mainly due to the never-ending slew of them we have to endure year in and year out. However this, this is a brand new door of silly that should have Marvel holding their heads in shame. I don’t care that this is only issue #2, I’m declaring Fear Itself as the pinnacle of how bad this whole event thing can get. From set up, to plot, to writing, everything here is just wrong.
There are quite a few problems that have gathered to make Fear Itself the mess. The main one is our tired old Uncle Too Much, who always seems to ruin an event series BBQ. Marvel has taken the stakes of Fear Itself and raised them to preposterous levels even by comic book standards. These are odds that no group of heroes could win against; these are losses that would affect the world for decades. That won’t happen though, instead the series will end and everything will return to normal until the world is blown to hell by the next event series.
Fear Itself is only 2 issues in and already Juggernaut and Hulk are agents of evil, complete with their own bad guy hammers. The entire world is being decimated by the evil All Father and his gaggle of Nazi Killer Robots, who have managed to destroy the White House and pretty much begun setting fire to the Earth. Meanwhile, Odin has chained Thor up, ignored the pleas of his men, and started building weapons to battle a war that will be fueled by the dead of Earth. Really? What happens next? Does Galactus pull down his purple pants and defecate the Power Cosmic all over the world?
Besides the “too much” angle, there’s also writer Matt Fraction's decision to have Odin act in a way that is diametrically opposed to everything we’ve ever read about him. Apparently, Odin is not only okay with chaining Thor up to prevent him from helping Earth, but he’s also okay with allowing Earth to burn and describing that turmoil in great detail. Fraction has been writing Odin this way since his return. It’s as if he brought Odin back just to have him fight with Thor and act like a dick.
Odin’s continuity is not the only one that Fraction has decided to ignore. Apparently everything going on between Bruce Banner and Betty Ross in the pages of Incredible Hulk doesn’t concern him either. When the Hulk turns to Evil Hulk, Fraction starts the scene with a tender moment between Banner and Betty on a camping trip, one where she is supportive and nurturing. This scene flies in the face of everything Greg Pak is doing and there’s no reason for it. The scene between Banner and Betty has no impact on Hulk picking up the evil hammer.
The only saving grace is the art from Stuart Immonen. After giving up entirely on the story, I found myself still turning the pages just to see what Immonen would do next. He has a great sense of style and dynamics; he also does some interesting things with panel placement. I liked Immonen’s design of the heroes and villains once the evil hammers have turned them save for the Tron aspect that seemed a little dodgy.
Outside of the art, Fear Itself is a sad statement on how over-the-top comics must go in order to perpetuate the never-ending event series. Fear Itself issue #2 pushes everything so far that it becomes almost a parody of itself, as if Mad Magazine decided to get into the event series game. With five issues left, I shudder to think just how ridiculous the story arc will become.