Did you hear that? That was the sound of this Marvel's big mega event coming to a close for the year. But was that an explosion of awesomeness? Or a thud of disappointment? There's only one way to find out...
Not Afraid Anymore:
Writer: Matt Fraction
Artist: Stuart Immonen
The short version: That sound was most definitely a thud. The longer version: Well, it's complicated.
I really wanted to like Fear Itself. With a great setup, big ideas, a fun writer, and a fantastic artist, I felt like this crossover was going to be an instant classic. Unfortunately, it ended up a half baked story that never quite lived up to that potential.
As a whole, the series felt a bit hollow for me, very superficial. It was a story where nazi robots backed by crazed Norse Gods attacked New York, yet I never felt the panic. A story where Bucky Barnes met his demise, only to get a cursory nod of 'yup, he's dead.' Deep down, it was a story about people overcoming fear to find the true hero inside, but I never felt the struggle of their decision. It was a series in which things happened, but nothing mattered regardless of its impact on continuity.
While I'm on the subject of things that didn't work, let me just toss out there the decision to have the villains speak in nothing but foreign tongues was one of the worst decisions ever. Similar to what happened in Secret Invasion, I found myself not caring about the villains at all. I get that they were trying to make the 'Breakers' seem otherworldly, but it only succeeded in distancing me from the story. Want to make me really feel afraid of an enemy? Have him say something threatening that I can understand.
But I digress...
This final issue picked up the threads of the previous chunk of books (tie-ins and all) to showcase the big final battle between our heroes and the aforementioned 'Breakers'. The heroes got some sweet new hardware to use, but, as is the norm with this series, those effects were glossed over to get to the next pinup shot. In the end, one hero (and I'm pretty sure you can guess who if you really try) sacrifices himself to defeat the big bad in a moment that ought to be the big emotional climax of the series, but instead just feels like a thing... happening. Sigh.
To the issue's credit though, there is one moment mid way through where one of our heroes arms himself in a big way. For whatever reason, probably the implicit gravitas of what was happening, really 'hit' in a big way and is one of the best moments of the entire series. Not that there was much competition.
On the art side, Stuart Immonen was kicking ass with every issue. Regardless of what was written, Immonen delivered every moment big or small with perfection. I can't wait to see what he moves onto next.
In the scheme of things, Fear Itself wasn't the worst Marvel event in years, but it certainly wasn't one of the best either. For the emotional problems of the series, it did do a great job of moving the story forward issue to issue. I'm interested to see where things go from here and I'm holding out hope that the next event is the explosion of awesomeness I've been desperately waiting for.