Catching Up on Reviews, Part 8 — Fear Itself

Fear Itself #1 (Marvel) – For the record, I am a big fan of the thematic art that ties Fear Itself together. I think I like just about every single cover of the series and tie-ins. I also like the story better than any of the recent Marvel events, maybe going back to Secret Invasion. Issue one is exactly what the launch of a big event should be like. Matt Fraction’s writing really pulls us right into the story and sets up the importance of the conflict. Suart Immonen’s art is near-flawless, it takes chances and it captures the grandness of the epic. Some of the keys here are the supposed helplessness of Steve Rogers, the fall of Thor and the cryptic rise of the Serpent.

Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10

Fear Itself #2 (Marvel) – I’ll say that the hammer concept used here is just great and the idea that the Worthy are drawn from across the spectrum of good and evil is great as well. The level of the threat established here from the very beginning is awe-inspiring. How can anyone stand up to eight of the most powerful characters in the Marvel universe who have all been given significant power boosts. Plus the Serpent, the one who gave them all the power boosts. Plus Odin and all of Asgard. Fraction continues to tell a great story and Immonen’s art impresses as well, particularly the new appearance of Juggernaut, which I think is one of the coolest-looking characters I’ve ever seen, and the opening shot of Blitzkreig U.S.A., which is breathtaking.

Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10

Fear Itself #3 (Marvel) – It would seem difficult for Immonen to improve his art, but in this issue, he does it. Some of the most epic battle and apocalyptic artwork to ever appear in Marvel is in this issue. Fraction also ups the ante on the story with a shocking death that you wouldn’t have expected.

Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10

Fear Itself #4 (Marvel) – While it would seem likely that four issues into a series like this, it would be prime time for a letdown and, to be fair, this issue is the weakest so far, but that’s not a knock on this issue, which is better than most things on the market, it’s just not quite as good as the previous issues, which were all superb. There is still some amazing art — Immonen’s Thor looks amazing — and a couple of great plot points towards the end, involving Tony Stark-Odin and Thor-Hulk-Thing. Issue #5 will have to be a barn-burner with a set-up like this.

Story: 9.75 Art: 9.75 Overall: 9.75

Fear Itself – Book of the Skull (Marvel) – Another example of the over-used Marvel device of extensive retcons that add backstory to current events. This one isn’t a bad one, and it helps set up Fear Itself, but I think I’ve already forgotten the point of the story, and I just put it down.

Story: 6 Art: 7 Overall: 6.5

Fear Itself – Deadpool #1 (Marvel) – Cartoonish art and a cartoonish story — and I don’t mean that in a good way — make for another bad comic in the extensive overuse and killing off of the quality of the Deadpool character.

Story: 5 Art: 5 Overall: 5

Fear Itself – Deadpool #2 (Marvel) – When the best thing about an issue is the picture on the cover of Deadpool in MC Hammer pants, you know that reading a comic would be a waste of your time.

Story: 4 Art: 5 Overall: 4.5

Fear Itself – Fearsome Four #1 (Marvel) – The art in this series is my least favorite in the past few months, but even the art is better than the story, which inexplicably teams up Howard the Duck, Frankenstein’s Monster, She-Hulk and Nighthawk and calls them “Fearsome” because they are interacting with the Man-Thing. It isn’t as coherent as it sounds.

Story: 3 Art: 4 Overall: 3.5

Fear Itself – Fearsome Four #2 (Marvel) – The art here is a little worse, almost unprofessional, but the story is a little more coherent. It’s still a bad comic and a terrible series. Has to be a very strong contender for Worst Limited Series of 2011.

Story: 4 Art: 3 Overall: 3.5

Fear Itself – FF #1 (Marvel) – Much better premise for a Fear Itself spin-off, how do the Thing’s friends deal with his conversion to a monster? The issue has great tension and a compelling story, something missing from most of the Fear Itself tie-ins. Kudos to writer Cullen Bunn.

Story: 9 Art: 7 Overall: 8

Fear Itself – Sins Past (Marvel) – I’m not a fan of these reprint issues from Marvel. While it does have a little bit of new material, it doesn’t reprint stories that are important enough or compelling enough that they should’ve wasted an issue on it.

Story: 7 Art: 7 Overall: 7

Fear Itself – Spider-Man #1 (Marvel) – It’s pretty clear that, to date, The Spider-Man Fear Itself spin-off is the best of the mini-series. Chris Yost does an amazing job here of framing the Fear Itself story in terms of the regular people who face it and not just the super-heroes. Sure, Spidey is the lead here, but he’s really just another small figure going through this big event and not sure he’s going to be able to cope with it. Mike McKone’s art is stylish and unique and adds to the story.

Story: 10 Art: 9.5 Overall: 9.75

Fear Itself – Spider-Man #2 (Marvel) – Yost’s story continues to impress, but the key in this issue is McKone’s art, which takes chances and more often than not succeeds. This issue has a lot of stunning art and a strong story to go with it.

Story: 9.25 Art: 9.75 Overall: 9.5

Fear Itself – Spider-Man #3 (Marvel) – The art isn’t quite as good in this issue, although it has its moments. The story is an interesting twist on past Spidey-FF crossovers, this time with Spidey clashing with the Thing instead of the Human Torch, who isn’t around anymore.

Story: 9.5 Art: 8.5 Overall: 9

Fear Itself – The Deep #1 (Marvel) – I’m not really that big a fan of Namor and stories that focus on him frequently leave me bored, but this one has enough guest stars (Including Dr. Strange, who I like a lot) and good enough art to make it worth a read.

Story: 7 Art: 8 Overall: 7.5

Fear Itself – The Homefront #1 (Marvel) – I’m not a big fan of the Marvel anthology mini-series, either, as most of the time, the individual stories aren’t that good. That is only partially true here. The first story, starring Speedball is awfully compelling and has amazing, almost photo-realistic art. The team of Christos Gage, Mike Mayhew and Rain Beredo does a great job. The Agents of Atlas story, though, is much like the rest of the Atlas stories, in that it doesn’t really grab my attention and I forget about it right after reading it since the characters and the story don’t do much to excite me. It isn’t poorly executed, just nothing special. The final story, about the residents of Broxton, Oklahoma, after the departure of the Asgardians, is interesting if not essential.

Story: 7.5 Art: 8 Overall: 7.75

Fear Itself – The Homefront #2 (Marvel) – The first two stories in this issue are amazingly consistent with the first issue. The Speedball story is just as good and the Atlas story is just as mediocre. The third story, which is about Liz Allan and Tigershark, I think, aims high, but doesn’t quite deliver.

Story: 7 Art: 7.5 Overall: 7.25

Fear Itself – The Homefront #3 (Marvel) – The Speedball story, if anything, gets better in this issue. The story in the Atlas tale is growing on me a little bit, but the art is losing me. A third tale, starring Cardiac, has a compelling tale to tell about revenge and redemption, but the art is too cartoonish for the weight of the story.

Story: 7.75 Art: 7 Overall: 7.5

Fear Itself – The Homefront #4 (Marvel) – My thought is that the Speedball story here should’ve been expanded and given its own series or one-shot and that the Atlas story, which ends here, should’ve been eliminated altogether. Some of the art in the Speedball story is amongst the best in the entire Fear Itself storyline. The third tale here, starring someone apparently known as the Blue Marvel, is puzzling. If I’m supposed to know who he is, I don’t. If I’m supposed to get something big from the story, I don’t. I’m left with nothing but question marks, mostly the one after the question “Who is Blue Marvel and why am I reading about him”?

Story: 7 Art: 8 Overall: 7.5

Fear Itself – Uncanny X-Force #1 (Marvel) – While Simone Bianchi’s art takes a lot of chances, and some of them succeed, I don’t like a lot of the detail of the characters’ faces. The story itself is only vaguely related to Fear Itself, but it is a pretty good and interesting.

Story: 9 Art: 7 Overall: 8

Fear Itself – Wolverine #1 (Marvel) – I don’t really find much about this comic compelling, not the premise, not the story and not the art. I think that Marvel (and probably DC, too), should cut back on the number of extra series that are related to their events and make sure that every series really has a good premise and a point to its creation. This one doesn’t seem to meet that.

Story: 6 Art: 6 Overall: 6

Fear Itself – Youth In Revolt #1 (Marvel) – I like the idea of bringing back the Initiative, it wasn’t a bad idea when it was done before and done right now, it could be a good thing. I’m not sure the characters they chose to focus on in this series are the best ones, though.

Story: 7 Art: 7 Overall: 7

Fear Itself – Youth In Revolt #2 (Marvel) – So after the first issue, which doesn’t really have great, compelling characters, the way to expand that is to bring in Frog Man? Really?

Story: 6 Art: 7 Overall: 6.5

Fear Itself – Youth In Revolt #3 (Marvel) – Much better, bring in Juggernaut, improve the art and end it with a shocking finale that makes you actually care what happens in the series.

Story: 8 Art: 7.5 Overall: 7.75

Fear Itself – The Worthy #1 (Marvel) – Okay, so we know a little bit more about Sin’s background and it’s obvious why she is Worthy, but this isn’t something that is particularly memorable.

Story: 6 Art: 7 Overall: 6.5

Fear Itself – The Worthy #2 (Marvel) – To date, I think that Juggernaut is the coolest of the Worthy, but this issue doesn’t do anything to explain why and is a bit of a weak link in the Juggernaut portion of Fear Itself.

Story: 5 Art: 5 Overall: 5

Fear Itself – The Worthy #3 (Marvel) – This issue seems to give a little bit of insight as to why Titania is Worthy, but I can’t escape the feeling that she gets in because she’s dating the Absorbing Man and he’s Worthy.

Story: 6 Art: 6 Overall: 6

Fear Itself – The Worthy #4 (Marvel) – If anything, this story makes it seem like the Grey Gargoyle is unworthy. He’s a bit of a whiny loser, how does that make him a prime candidate for serving the serpent?

Story: 5 Art: 5 Overall: 5

Fear Itself – The Worthy #5 (Marvel) – Solid, if not spectacular, tale of why the Hulk is Worthy. Doesn’t tell us anything we don’t know, but could be valuable to newer readers.

Story: 7 Art: 8 Overall: 7.5

Fear Itself – The Worthy #6 (Marvel) – I’m not sure I get the point of this backstory of why Attuma is Worthy. It tells a little bit more about his background than we previously knew, but we already knew he was an evil bastard, what does this add to that?

Story: 7 Art: 6 Overall: 6.5

Fear Itself – The Worthy #7 (Marvel) – A brief bio of Absorbing Man that doesn’t tell us anything we don’t know, doesn’t explain why he’s worthy and doesn’t help the story.

Story: 6 Art: 4 Overall: 5

Fear Itself – The Worthy #8 (Marvel) – This one focuses on the last of the Worthy, the Thing, and moreso than any of the other issues, it makes it clear why the Thing becomes one of the Serpent’s servants. The only issue of this series that really adds something to the story. Too bad the art is so weak.

Story: 9 Art: 5 Overall: 7