Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Fear Itself #1 (of 7) - A Review

Fear Itself #1 (of 7)

Writer Matt Fraction

Art Stuart Immonen

Colors Laura Martin

I figured I better get in my two cents early because I have a gut feeling Greg will be doing a post about this book and I also would guess that he will be singing the praises of this book. Full disclosure going in, I’m not a Matt Fraction fan, he has yet to consistently write a book that I enjoy each and every issue. Also over the years I have become more of a DC fan regarding capes and cowls then the Marvel stuff.

The book was a very good read, great art and a good start to what could be an excellent event. Most events crash and burn and the ending is always where the petal meets the metal, but I got a big kick out of the start of this series. Matt starts out with the heighten sense of fear that has been drilled into Americans ever since we started the war on terror. He focuses on the mosque being built near “ground zero” in New York City. It is never mentioned by name, but that is what it is about. Matt has Steve Rogers and Agent 13 working crowd control (and being the most un-secret Avengers ever) and a riot breaks out. Afterwards the Avengers are meeting on a rooftop and discover it was just a riot and no villain or other thing caused it. (One side note there is some character to Hawkeye’s left who I don’t even recognize, which tells me I really don’t follow Marvel that closely.) This leads into a discussion about the current political state, the economy, the lingering resentment against Wall Street and other things. Stark suggest making an announcement with the Avengers by his side about a new project that will employ 5,000 people.

What I like about this is how much Matt brings the Marvel Universe squarely in line with what is happening in the US today. Marvel has always been more grounded in the “real” world then DC which brings pluses and minuses, but it plays well into the whole Fear Itself idea. The major media and our government feed off our fears with the War on Terror, War on Drugs, what the latest food scare is, what is bad for you, what you don’t know about the germs on the shopping cart and on and on.

Matt then takes that idea and is now building a super hero story around the fear idea. Sin (Red Skull) finds a hammer and becomes an Avatar with god like powers for another All-Father. Odin feels that All Father escape and is obviously distraught (when did Odin come back?). Odin takes the Asgardians back to Asgard and leaves Earth. A general sense of disquiet has been built as the new All Father has summoned things (we know they are other hammers) to Earth to find the “worthy” who will raise fear in the world as he readies for a war with Odin. Earth loses the Asgardians and Thor with them. This is the biggest power the Avengers have and they have just lost it and have no clue of what is coming.

Stuart Immonen does a great job. Stuart can sometimes go too light with his lines and trend towards an almost cartoon style. Here he maintains a stronger line and a more realistic style, but his page design and layouts are perfect. The book flows from page to page without a hitch.
There are some flaws, in that Sin being so subservient to this All Father is out of character. The set-up is quick and somewhat contrived. The idea of seven other hammers makes the whole Thor thing a little less unique and I have worries about where this story will go and how self contained it will be. Those are all minor quibbles and more about what is to come as opposed to what happened in this issue.

Bottom Line, Fraction delivers a great start to Marvel’s latest event and reigns in his quirks (no captions – thank you Matt) and Immonen is given a showcase to maybe make the whole industry finally take notice of his immense talent. I’ll go with a B +.

Side note: Marvel also is brilliant in how they advertised within this book. They come up with a promotion to continue to push their major writers calling them the Architects. It is corny, it is silly and it works. They advertise the new Moon Knight series, push the next X-Men Event, the next Avengers story arc and throw in a Red Hulk preview for its next story line. It is just great execution all the way around and DC needs to take notes.

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