Something significant is happening in this week's Fear Itself #3, according to no less of a source than the writer of the comic, Matt Fraction. Back in February, Fraction told Newsarama this about the issue:
"Each issue has some kind of [gasps] moment, and it’s just crazy that I get to write it. I finished #3, and it ends with one of those scenes, and it’s like, 'I can’t believe I just wrote this.' And then I sent it. It’s not like fanfic. This is happening, I just wrote this huge thing that’s happening."
Then, earlier this month, Fraction elaborated a bit more with us on the nature of those shocking developments, including the possibility that whatever's happening may generate mainstream media attention:
"Two of those moments happen in #3. It's a big one. It's a doozy. Hopefully this will get a buzz, and will be spoken about out and about in the world beyond the comics Internet, and people will come to shops looking for it."
Fan speculation on what may be going down in Fear Itself #3 has centered around one thing: the potential death of James Buchanan "Bucky" Barnes, Marvel's Captain America since 2008.
There's some reasonably sound evidence in the "for" category. Steve Rogers is back as Captain America as of July's Captain America #1, the cover of Fear Itself #4 depicts an empty Captain America mask, and the solicitation text for #3 reads, "And everywhere, the Serpent's presence is felt...never moreso than when a major Marvel hero falls at his hands." Steve's return to the Cap costume has been building in Captain America for months, ever since Bucky's trial and subsequent imprisonment at a Russian gulag, but a death would seemingly be motivation to push him into the decision. And though it's hard to imagine anyone else other than Ed Brubaker — who orchestrated Bucky's return in Captain America — writing the character's death, if it was to be anyone, his former Immortal Iron Fist and Uncanny X-Men co-writer seems to be the logical choice (don't forget that Brubaker has been involved with Fear Itself since the beginning, penning the Fear Itself: Book of the Skull prologue).OK, that all seems fairly solid, other than when something in a solicitation is worded as vaguely as "a major Marvel hero falls," a savvy fan should know that doesn't necessarily mean "dies." And as far as mainstream publicity goes, "Captain America dies" makes for a good headline (as we learned in 2007), but "Former sidekick-turned-replacement Captain America dies, to be succeeded by original Captain America, which was already announced a couple of months ago" may not be quite as appealing to the New York Daily News. Plus, a new series titled Captain America and Bucky takes up Cap's old numbering as of July, and though the first arc appears to be set in the past, it would be a little weird to kill a character and then launch a title with his name in it the next month, right?
Then last week, the No. 1 piece of evidence for the "Buck's gon' die!" camp was dismissed by Ed Brubaker during a Marvel conference call on Captain America #1. Preview pages for that issue showed a funeral — and no Bucky in sight! — leading some fans to believe, despite how transparently card-showing that would be, that it was indeed the former Winter Soldier in the casket.
Turns out, nope: It's actually Peggy Carter's funeral, though Brubaker was understandably evasive about Bucky's fate during the call, specifically saying that a lot of it would be dealt with another comic. That could mean anything (technically, the remaining pre-renumbering issue of Captain America is another comic, right?), but even if Bucky isn't dying in Fear Itself #3, it sure seems like Marvel wants fans to suspect that he might.
What's the opposite of a nail in a coffin? The final (and potentially most conclusive) key to Bucky's possible survival is in a comic from the halcyon days of January 21010: Captain America: Reborn #6, where he's seen alive as of that issue's flashforward. And following our interview in April with Fraction and Marvel senior vice president of publishing Tom Brevoort, we know that sequence is post-Fear Itself:
Nrama: And warmachine15 closes the Twitter questions this month, with, “Is Fear Itself the disaster Steve Rogers saw in Captain America: Reborn?”
Brevoort: No.Fraction: And like I said, we’ve got a big road map ahead of us. Brevoort: The disaster he saw in Cap Reborn, he was Captain America at that point, and he’s not Captain America now, so right there, that tells you something. Further down the line. So, if Bucky dying isn't one of the two gasp-worthy moments in Fear Itself #3, what are they? More wanton destruction unleashed by The Serpent and Sin's Blitzkrieg U.S.A. seems like a safe bet for the issue — Fear Itself #2 saw the destruction of the U.S. Capitol building; back in January, Fraction told us that by the end of Fear itself Sin will have "done things that her dad tried to do time and time again and failed." Something major involving the (Green) Hulk could be likely — he was transformed into one of The Worthy last issue, and his ongoing series is ending in August. And all signs point to The Thing becoming the final member of The Worthy in #3 — the issue is titled "The Hammer That Fell On Yancy Street" — and since he would be the only purely heroic member of that crew, perhaps he does something notably villainous under The Serpent's spell. And yeah, given all of the context clues, it does seem that something major will occur involving Bucky, death or not.
Will any of that happen? And if so, will any of that be deemed worthy of coverage by the mainstream media? Well, we don't know for sure, but the good news is that we'll find out in just a few hours.Visit Newsarama on FACEBOOK and TWITTER and tell us what you think!