Review: Fear Itself #5

Marvel's big event trucks on with more destruction, and more of Tony Stark mouthing off to Odin.

Iann Robinsonby Iann Robinson

Fear Itself #5

As opposed to just a straight rip, I’ve decided to do a section-by-section breakdown of why Fear Itself #5 fails and how that corresponds to the failure of the other books. The opening pages show Thor battling the possessed Hulk and Thing, both armed with god hammers like the God of Thunder. Simultaneously, Captain America (Steve Rogers) has decided to take a run at Sin, the daughter of the Red Skull who is currently possessed by the god of fear’s daughter. While the action here is nice, it’s too little too late.

Readers have been dragged through four issues of the Avengers and other hero teams standing around talking about how bad this all is but not doing anything about it. Now, in what seems like an attempt to make good, writer Matt Fraction delivers us Thor taking on two icons. What’s happening here is overkill, way too much going on because way too little has happened so far.

Cap’s run at Sin is a footnote, a way for Sin to make yet another speech. Even with all this supposed, “fear” going on, Steve Rogers makes a smart remark and goes right in after her. That’s what the world’s greatest soldier would do? Run at this evil demi-god alone? Again, it’s Fraction attempting to stuff action where it doesn’t belong because there was none where it did. The next section shows Tony Stark in an audience before Odin. This is perhaps the worst case of what-do-we-do-with-him that I’ve ever seen.

Thus far, Fraction has written Odin to be a dick, a complete and total role reversal from who he once was. Now Fraction has Odin building weapons to use against the people of Earth, so that their slaughter will prevent the God Of Fear from becoming more powerful, and that is so far from how Odin has always been presented it smacks of just giving Odin something to do.

The same holds true for Tony Stark. Stark had to start drinking again for Odin to give him an audience? Why? That little tidbit is never explained. In this audience, Stark asks to be allowed into Odin’s workshop so he can build weapons to fight the God of Fear and his little army. I see what Fraction is going for here but it doesn’t gel, it doesn’t work at all. It feels like something shoe horned in to give Iron Man a stance in the story.

Back to the big fight action, which is nicely drawn by Stuart Immonen, but the story absolutely falls apart here. First tip, don’t spend four issues presenting possessed Hulk and Thing as unstoppable, laying waste to other heroes, then have Thing easily put down by Thor. Thor calls his hammer, it blasts through Thing and then he’s down. Another tip, Mr. Fraction – Thor doesn’t say “pain in the ass” no matter how angry he is. From here, it really starts to become unglued as the FF show up and Franklin Richards uses his powers to save Thing.

Meanwhile, Sin knocks Cap down and then the God Of Fear approaches, looking a lot like Tony Iommi and Doctor Strange had a kid. We get another speech – boy does Fear Itself love it some speeches – before the God Of Fear starts kicking the crap out of heroes. At one point Captain America, the greatest battle tactician ever, throws his shield at the God Of Fear who promptly shatters it. Captain America tosses his only weapon at a God on the same level as Odin? Does that sound right to you?

The rest of the issue rushes to tie up loose ends. Thor suddenly sends Hulk into space and Captain America announces to The Avengers that they are going to lose. Again nothing actually happens but characters spend a great deal of time talking. Captain America’s announcement is a bad attempt to try and show fear in these heroes. Problem is, it’s too late. After 4 issues of nobody being afraid, this all comes off more as cowardice. Fraction is good at writing pieces and parts of comics, but he has yet to be able to connect them correctly. In four issues, nothing happened, so in this recent issue too much goes down and none of it matters.

So is Iron Man drinking again?   If he is, how can he build weapons?  Captain America thinks we’ll lose so he packs it in? Why? If Thor can take Hulk and Thing out, wouldn’t he be a formidable foe to the God Of Fear? Fraction seems so in love with his scenes that he doesn’t care about telling a story. Fear Itself is an empty shell of a tale told in a shock and awe style that wouldn’t entertain a five year old.