Fear Itself is not very exciting to write about. I don’t think I’m supposed to say that, as a critic. But where the wildly uneven Flashpoint provides something fascinating and bizarre each month, even if they aren’t often good things, the workman like Fear Itself is hard to get excited about. Call it event fatigue. I feel bad punishing Fraction for telling what has thus far been a surprisingly well-paced, largely exciting action book, but I’d rather read the daring, inconsistent Final Crisis or the legitimately epic, occasionally dull and draggy Annihilation than yet another story, even a pretty good one, where the Avengers have to beat up a god.
Stuart Immonen, Wade von Grawbadger and Laura Martin continue to do fantastic work on art. Though Cap’s brief fight with Sin – the Sin sections in general – weren’t terribly exciting from an action standpoint, Thor’s conflict with the Thing and the Hulk was much more suitably thrilling. In many ways, it’s the art team that makes the story, that sells it – Fear Itself may not be a terribly exciting, innovative book, but Immonen, von Grawbadger and Martin are all knocking it out of the park each month.
From a storytelling standpoint, Fear Itself is undeniably well-produced. The art team is excellent, the atmosphere is consistent, busy and suitably apocalyptic. The character beats are interesting, and it’s mining some neat ideas from the Norse background – notably, in this issue, setting genius weaponsmith Tony Stark loose in Asgard’s workshops. It’s exciting, well-crafted, instantly forgettable entertainment, the sort of thing summer films used to specialize in. In an industry where these events were a rarity, it might be legitimately thrilling. But with Marvel alone offering five or six different events this year, each of which comes pre-loaded with a handful of spin-offs and tie-ins, it’s not just hard to care: it’s impossible.
– Cal Cleary