Fear Itself, The $4.99 Comic And Blitz Spirit

First thing I think when opening the book to be confronted with “Thor’s Day” is… no it’s not. It’s Wednesday. Anyway.

Fear Itself #7 is a big comic. 54 pages of story for $4.99, that’s a better deal than you’ll get most places. There is, naturally a snag.

You know that bit at the end of the movie version of Return of The King, when it just goes on and on and on and on giving lots of unnecessary endings to everyone? Well, that’s what you get here from other creators. This looks like it’s breaking you in softly for the Point One experience.

So we get 38 pages of the main lead, Matt Fraction and Stuart Immonen. Then 4 pages of original lead ins to The Fearless by Bunn and Bagley. Four pages of Hulk by Jason Aaron and Brendan Choi. Four of Battlescars by Chris Host and Eaten. And 4 of the Defenders by Fraction and the Dodsons. Just so yo know what you’re getting here.

Okay, enough of knowing the price of something and the value of nothing. How is the comic, the finale to Marvel’s big 2011 event that will set it on its path to the future…

The biggest problem I’ve had with Fear Itself is that it feels like a jigsaw puzzle. All these pieces slotted together, creating a pattern, and moving from piece to piece. It’s well thought through, balanced, like a game of chess.

And so that’s what we find here. Captain America holding the line against all the odds as the cavalry arrive. A classic American myth. The Mighty can now fight The Worthy, leaving Thor with his new weapon to go up again the Serpent. Captain America steps up to prove his worth, mirroring a previous scene in the book where he was unable to. And the world starts to move in the opposite way that we had seen it previously, with generosity and, well, Blitz spirit for want of a better phrase, coming to the fore. Beat for beat for beat.

And it’s boring. There are cool scenes, there have been throughout the series, with a logical progression from one to another, but the emotional resonance is gone. This is common criticism of Steven Moffat’s Doctor Who of late, compared to the less complex, less well thought through Russell Davies run that instead throbbed with human emotion. Compared to the messy, stupid, silly Civil War which broke against character type, messed up everyone and diverged into nonsense and was, well, far more fun as a result.

This week’s Avengers touches on that as well, looking at one SHIELD operative cleaning up after Civil War, Secret Invasion and Fear Itself, and it’s dealing with the body of Goliath that sticks in the mind far more.

This is a wide generalisation of course, and Fear Itself did have its Nazi robots, Stark’s sacrifice and Thor’s descent into destiny. But its mostly been King’s Pawn to King’s Pawn 4.

And the interminable endings manage to knock out whatever impact the finale had – and it certainly had that – with a selection of what are basically previews for other comics, drip draining it all away, leaving you with an “oh, is that it” on the last page. No final wisdom, no clever bon mot, to heart wrenching speech, just the Hulk knocking on a door. He doesn’t even bash it in…

Fear Itself #7 is published by Marvel Comics today, $4.99 for 54 comic book pages. Comics courtesy of Orbital Comics, London, who are hosting Big Questions graphic novelist Anders Nilsen talking to Guardian cartoonist Tom Gauld tonight at 7pm. And was read sitting on an Omni chair. More on that later.


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