Marvel’s summer event, Fear Itself, seems to be succeeding by sheer force of will… but succeeding it undeniably is. Where Flashpoint is continually tripping over itself trying to decide what it wants to be, Fear Itself has thus far proven to be a solid example of the apocalyptic action genre, and in this, it’s best issue to date, it continues that theme. This is no stumbling block for Fraction and Co., but instead the issue that really puts Steve Rogers, Thor and Tony Stark against the grindstone.
Stuart Immonen and his art team (Wade Von Grawbadger and Laura Martin) continue to turn in rock-solid work. The underwater massacre in Canada, for example, is chillingly illustrated, a three page sequence that is more effective at establishing Attuma’s horrors than a dozen pages (+spin-off) have been able to do for Aquaman. Similarly, the final two-page scene is heroic, hopeful and dynamic, a perfect example of just how valuable the right art team can be to a big event book.
Matt Fraction has somehow managed to make the event comic exciting again, in part by having a clear, character-based focus to the adventure. Fraction clearly understands Stark, Rogers and Thor, and his challenges get to the heart of what makes them tick – Rogers, reeling again from the death of Bucky, has to take up a burden he thought behind him; Thor, forced to choose between his people and Earth, chooses Earth and is rewarded by being forced to fight two friends; and Stark gives up the only thing he has that means anything in an effort to help any way he can. It takes more than big moments to make an event work, and Fraction, vitally, gets the small moments just as right. It makes a world of difference, and makes Fear Itself an event worth looking at.
- Cal Cleary