Fan Expo '11: MARVEL: FEAR ITSELF w/ Fraction and Immonen

As Fear Itself draws to a close, the biggest minds behind Marvel’s latest event spoke at Fan Expo 2011, including what lies ahead for all the heroes affected. The Fear Itsef creative team of writer Matt Fraction and artist Stuart Immonen led a panel that also featured Marvel editor-in-chief Axel Alonso and creator liaison C.B. Cebulski. (For a brand-new unlettered preview of Fear Itself #6, click here.)

As previously announced, a three-issue epilogue will launch after Fear Itself #7. Fear Itself #7.1, by Ed Brubaker and Butch Guice, deals with Captain America. Matt Fraction will write Thor’s chapter in #7.2, and Iron Man’s in #7.3. Fraction explained why he felt these epilogue chapters were needed after the proper event ended.

"It always feels like the end [of a major event] means half an issue of people talking about stuff," Fraction said. "It’s alright, but we wanted Fear Itself to end quickly and decisively; the epilogue will have more of the ‘the day after’ part and giving characters the space they need. We couldn't handle what it all meant to Cap, Tony, what it meant. This will be the beginning of the 'reconstruction.'

"Bucky's funeral will be Brubaker's, which would be wildly inappropriate for me to do. You don't get to time-out a war for a funeral."

Fear Itself #7.2 will deal with what happens to Asgard next, and is poised to set up what happens in Thor’s titles "for the next little while," says Fraction.

In Fear Itself #7.3, Tony Stark must deal with his return to the bottle, but according to Fraction we won’t see him as a drunken fool in the slums any time soon.

"I'm more interested in the story about the recovery, not the fall," Fraction said. "He's done now, and it's how he gets back. Like, how would you feel if you had an 8-billion dollar war-suit, and you went on a rampage, and you were drunk while it happened? What would happen if people found that out?"

Alpha Flight’s Fred Van Lente appeared as well, to great applause from the Toronto audience, and said that the team will next have to deal with being a group of renegades of sorts. He also mentioned their involvement in the Commonwealth of Heroes — it seems Canada isn’t the only non-American team that Marvel wants to talk about. Expect Captain Britain, Taskmaster, and Wolverine to appear in the book's pages soon.

One member of the audience, amusingly dressed as The Joker, asked the panel whether it’s fun to kill important characters, specifically mentioning Steve Rogers, Bucky and Ultimate Peter Parker as recent examples. "No, it’s heavy," Fraction said. "I was talking with the guys about killing Nightcrawler, and it sucked. We were all fans of these guys, but there’s a writer-you and a fan-you, and they both don’t get to sit in the chair at the same time."

Such major decisions are also the result of an organic decision process that involves back-and-forth between writers and editors, rather than being a top-down edict. Says Fraction: "It's never presented as 'Alright, I know! I'm gonna kill Bucky! Take it, Ed!' It's about what happens, how it works, what does it mean. If it's a cheap trick, it will lose steam fast."

The panel also discussed the selection process of who was chosen to hold the hammers of Asgard. There were several lists of potential holders, including the "Jeph Loeb/Mark Millar list," which included names like Magneto and Doctor Doom, and a "monster list," that included characters like Dracula.

"We ended up with the ‘world breaker’ list," Fraction said. "If there were eight people you would want to go to war with, who would they be?"

The panel ended with some promotion and real anticipation among the crowd for what happens after Fear Itself: "Shattered Heroes." Alonso mentioned that it isn’t a coincidence that X-Men’s Schism ends at around the same time as Fear Itself, and that the upcoming events over the next year will somehow tie in everything that’s been happening in the Marvel Universe for roughly the last decade.

"Even 'One More Day'?" asked an audience member.

"Everything except that," replied Alonso.

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