Fear Itself: Spider-Man has done what no other books in the whole sprawling slam-bang event have managed to do. It actually makes us feel the terror that's supposed to be pervading the God of Fear's assault on the world. The main book is an explode-o-ganza of mayhem, The New Avengers is just a documentary for some reason, and Black Panther: Man Without Fear treats it almost like a humdrum par-for-the-course experience in the lives of New Yorkers. But throughout this three issue miniseries, Peter Parker and the citizens of New York have been scared half to death, and it shows.
Chris Yost has put together a constantly intense tightrope walk for the wall-crawler, as he navigates himself through a New York City pastiche of people in various dire situations as a result of the Giant Hammer Guys. Spidey would normally quip his way around an event like this, but here, all we see is our relatively low-powered hero constantly struggling to talk himself out of his fear – which has only been exacerbated by waking up from a beating last issue to discover he was being eaten by rats, the kind of chilling experience you don't get over easy.
Now in #3, he's scrambling to save the life of a pregnant woman and her soon-to-be-born child, and that forces him to defend the hospital from Angir: The Breaker of Souls, who was once his friend and teammate Benjamin J. Grimm, aka The Ever-Lovin' Blue Eyed Thing, and despite Peter calling him "one of the best people I know," the big rocky beast isn't responding to talk. He isn't even thinking about clobberin' – he's only thinking about murder. The resulting fight is all desperation, since Spidey's not even close to this guy's power level. It's a mad scramble that requires some help from ordinary folks to keep Angir distracted while doctors frantically try to keep the webhead alive long enough to get through this painful beating and get this big hammer bastard the hell out of this place.
Fear Itself: Spider-Man, for my money, is hands down the best entrant into Marvel's summer blockbuster event. The main series is clunky, Thunderbolts has been good with illustrating the chaos, but nothing captures the sheer pulse-pounding intensity that should be permeating the whole thing like this one. Mike McKone's art gives us the sense of just how tight the quarters in this fight really are, and just how ravaged Peter is in the midst of this fight for his life and everybody in his hospital struggling not to die.
This is how engrossing and emotionally engaging an event book should feel. Too bad it's relegated to a tie-in, but as long as it's here in some capacity, we can't dismiss Fear Itself entirely.
CRAVE ONLINE RATING: 9/10