***Readers beware! Huge, massive spoilers for Fear Itself #7 follow in the review below!*** Fear Itself #7
Written by Matt Fraction
Art by Stuart Immonen, Wade Von Grawbadger, Dexter Vines, Justin Ponsor, Matt Milla, and Laura Martin
Letters by Chris Eliopoulos
Published by Marvel Comics
Review by George Marston
'Rama Rating: 7 out of 10
Well, that was something.
At the end of its seven issue run, I'm still not quite certain how Fear Itself will be perceived in the long term. It was certainly full of breathtaking moments, rendered with power and grace by the incomparable Stuart Immonen, but in between those moments, there were more than a few pages of dragging nonsense. It was particularly evident in the previous two issues that Matt Fraction started with a strong story, but may have found himself at a loss as to how to stretch things out for seven issues. This final issue delivers in the sense that much of the promised ending is present, along with a few big moments that many may not have seen coming, but there are also scenes that are downplayed when they could, and should, take center stage.
The bulk of Fear Itself #7 is spent on the final conflict between The Worthy, and The Mighty, as the heroes and villains square off in the Serpent's castle, framing a final, bloodthirsty battle between Thor and the Serpent himself. All the requisite match-ups are present; Cap vs. Sin/Skadi, Wolverine vs. Juggernaut, etc., and still, it seems like a rushed ending. If this battle had taken place over two issues, with more time spent establishing The Mighty and more time given to the aftermath, it might have meant a little more, or at least had a bit more resonance. As it stands, it felt like a group of action figure variants crashing into each other, simply for the sake of showing off Marvel's toys. There's little ceremony given to establishing what Tony's Odin-powered weapons are capable of, and even less actually establishing who received these gifts. The only moment that really stands out is one that could have happened without the added accessories, where Captain America, his shield now broken, picks up Thor's hammer, and delivers a colossal beat down on Skadi and her troops.
And that's really the issue with Fear Itself. Many of the big moments — the death of Bucky, the subjugation of Ben Grimm, the breaking of Cap's shield, Cap wielding Thor's hammer, and yes, Thor's "death," haven't seemed to resonate the way they once might have. Who do we blame for that? Marvel Comics for returning to the well so often in the last few years that the water has become lukewarm and placid, or the readers, for jading themselves to the potential of moments like the one where Captain America holds Mjolnir aloft, and screams, "Avengers Assemble!"?
Certainly there's some blame to be placed on the issue of pacing in this series. The first few issues were rife with theme, and careened along at a breakneck pace, but when the time came to follow through, very little blowback was given to moments that could've really been affecting, and powerful. Perhaps some of those issues will be dealt with in the post-game, but I can't help but feel that perhaps some of the epilogue pages should've dealt with things like Cap's mourning at Bucky's death, Ben's weary and solemn return to the Baxter Building, or simply the loss of Marvel's most powerful Avenger. Instead we get a preview of some of the series spinning out of Fear Itself. It's fine, and some of those lingering questions are definitely dealt with even through that lens, but not the ones that many readers would probably have responded to.
In the end, my biggest real complaint about Fear Itself #7 is that it tries to do too much. Too many of the things that should've happened in the last issue happen here, and as a result, don't receive the build up they probably needed. In itself, it's a fairly well written, certainly well drawn issue that delivers everything but the catharsis that seems almost necessary after a story of this nature. To its credit, while there are certainly plenty of books and stories spinning out of this tale, it's the first Marvel "event" in a long time that doesn't leave me feeling like it was only set up for the next story. I understand the mentality that goes into these events; that they move the entire universe along together, that encompass what is, basically, the story at large, but I think because it's beginning to seem like they are the only place where major story beats occur, where major twists happen, that they've lost their tension. When the Mighty Thor dies, and the fan reaction is, at best, nonplussed, it might be a good time to step back and let your line speak for itself. Let us wonder for a while at the stakes inherent in the conflict. Telling us that, "Nothing is safe! Everything will be different after this!" isn't enough; you've got to show us, to prove it by letting the world be changed, letting it be different and, if necessary, dangerous. Despite its best efforts, I don't think Fear Itself did that. We all know what's coming next, and in that, what do we have to fear?Got a comment? There's lots of conversation on Newsarama's FACEBOOK and TWITTER!