Fear Itself has been a very frustrating mini-series on many different levels, because although it hasn’t lived up to part of its promise, it has still been very entertaining in other ways. The problem with the series at its core is that it doesn’t feel like a giant, massive threat that really threatens the whole world. Whereas Secret Invasion felt like a giant threat, and then suddenly contracted into one big battle in Central Park, this is a series that hasn’t felt nearly as big as advertised, partly because of the threats of The Worthy not being that widespread in the world. There aren’t that many hammer-bearers, and yet most of them were in North America and stayed there, so if anything the threat is much more localized to North America than Secret Invasion was. Given how Odin fled with the Asgardians to prepare a defense, and how Earth’s heroes are scared of losing, it just doesn’t equal the actual threat as shown in these pages. The advance hype on how bad this all is just feels way too over the top.
Adding to this lack of a universe or world-spanning scope is how the characters are handled, as Captain America rallies the Avengers against Sin in New York (big surprise), Thor fights both Hulk and Thing, and Iron Man speaks with Odin. Iron Man’s exchange has also been featured in his own title, and felt overly long, considering what it needed to get done, to start the deus ex machina that will help end this storyline (likely).
The majority of the issue is the fight sequence between Hulk, Thing and Thor, and although well told, it did feel like maybe it took up too much of the issue. The only really quibble I have about the fight is the dialogue for Thor, as it felt out of place, but the actual action itself was well illustrated, and set-up the upcoming Hulk vs. Vampire tie-in. Franklin Richards also gets to factor in on what happens to Thing, and I really liked that little moment, although again it felt a bit too easy, but what can you do, it’s Franklin Richards.
Captain America’s fight with Sin and the Serpent just didn’t quite feel that organic for me, in fact it felt a bit gimmicky and redundant, considering Bucky’s recent (failed) run-in with Sin.
By far the strongest element of this series is the artwork by Stuart Immonen, which never fails to impress. The action is gorgeous, the fight with Thor, Hulk and Thing wonderfully detailed, and the portrayal of what Serpent does to Cap’s shield is definitely something, a great take on its destruction.
There’s two more issues to go, and I’m liking the entirety of this crossover, for the most part, but I do wish we’d have a better scope for the threat, something to make the entire thing feel more world-shattering and important. Overall, still an enjoyable and entertaining read, albeit with some flaws.