Comic Book Review: Fear Itself #1

Story by
Matt Fraction

Art by
Stuart Immonen

Colors by
Laura Martin

Letters by
Chris Eliopoulos

Cover by
Stuart Immonen, Steve McNiven, Paolo Rivera

Marvel Comics

“Iron Breaks. Soldiers Fall. Gods Die.”

Not since Civil War have the stakes been so high. Marvel’s next massive, world-changing event kicked off this week and the first issue doesn’t pull any punches. In a world mad with fear, Earth’s Mightiest Heroes face off against a threat unlike any they’ve ever imagined.

The book cleanly handles real-world themes and the part I found most interesting is how the heroes are at a loss on how to deal with those themes. The struggles of an American recession have tarnished the shine on superheroes. They no longer command respect the way they once did and have lost the ability to inspire. The person who seems to take this the toughest is Super Soldier, Steve Rogers. After watching a peaceful protest devolve into chaos, Steve is convinced that there is some mystical-bad-guy mojo behind it. When he discovers there isn’t, his sense of  bewilderment is one of the most emotionally successful moments of the entire book. The nation is afraid, and nothing the former Captain America says matters.

But of course, there IS a big bad out there, and it’s unleashed by the new Red Skull, Sin. At the bottom of the ocean lies a prison as old as time, with a prisoner so terrible that his beginnings have been buried and forgotten by everyone, save the All-Father, Odin.

Sharing the spotlight with Super Soldier  in this story is Thor, and the conflict between the thunder god and his father is absolutely amazing to witness. Torn between his duties as an Asgardian and his desire to aid man-kind in our time of need, Thor finds himself at odds with his bitter, angry dad which results in a violent conflict that ends with Thor bleeding on the floor, with Odin’s boot in his neck. Which I have to say was awesomely rendered by Stuart Immonen’s artistic abilities.

Matt Fraction’s storytelling in this issue is really well done, from it’s pacing and themes to his handling of the discouraged heroes. The dialogue between Thor and Odin was some of the best I’ve read in a while.

While I brag on the pacing of the story not a whole lot is revealed in the first issue. This wouldn’t be a problem if the series were longer, but it’s only got 6 issues to go. For some reason, 7 is a magic number for Marvel and its world shattering events, but I always find their stories a bit rushed and lacking. They are paced quite well until that last issue where they try and shoe-horn everything in at the end. Why not just make it last a whole year and do 12 issues? I’m not saying Fear Itself can’t surprise me, but so far it seems on the same path as Civil War, which saw the actual conflict and resolution happen in a single issue.

Fear Itself #1 does a lot really well, but it seems to be on a lackadaisical course to its conclusion. If it were a 12 issue story I’d be okay with it but with just  6 issues to go, I’m worried about how it will all end.

I give Fear Itself #1 3 (of 5) stars.

Brandon Johnston
Written by Brandon Johnston

Brandon is a Reporter, Critic, Tornado Alley Correspondent, Technomancer, and Book Department Editor for SciFi Mafia®. When he's not writing for SciFi Mafia®, he's busy being a dad, a novelist, and a man with more hobbies and interests than is healthy for any one person to have.