Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Fear Itself #1 (of 7)

Although I liked this issue more than I thought I would, I was surprised at the amount of effort writer Matt Fraction went to try and convince me how epic Marvel's latest summer event Fear Itself will be (ex: giving seemingly everyone who works at Marvel Comics credit on the title page). For a story centered around Odin and the Red Skull's daughter, you'll have to forgive me if I'm not yet ready to drink the Kool-Aid just yet.

The story begins with Sin, having adopted the persona of her late father the Red Skull, breaking into a secret Nazi base to retrieve the Hammer of Skadi. On taking possession of the hammer Sin is tranformed, still herself, but also imbued with the presence and power of the former god. Sin uses the hammer to release the "true All Father" from his prison and help him take his revenge on Odin and Asgard.

Also in this first issue we get the falling out of Odin and Thor, Tony Stark's determination to help the economy by rebuilding Asgard on Earth, and the total ineptitude of Steve Rogers to prevent a riot. Although the Sin story works well enough, I had problems with each of these pieces.

Let's start with the fracture between Odin and Thor which feels all too familiar (especially given that the Thunder God's new film will also play on this theme) and more than a little awkward given Odin's foreknowledge of the trouble ahead. Although the Stark storyline of gathering support to rebuild Asgard works better, it's completely thrown away by the end of this first issue.

And don't even get me started on the former Captain America and Sharon Carter's failure to stop a riot. I understand Marvel's idea here to play on current events, the struggling economy, and the disenfranchised populace, but the difference between our world and Marvel's is the super-heroes. And that's a pretty big difference.

Are you honestly telling me Rogers has never been put in such a situation and can't handle it better than what we're shown? Especially when he's got the Avengers and all of New York's super-heroes to call in for help? I understand the idea Fraction is trying to use here, but rather than making it seem like the world is starting to fall apart it seems like the heroes are completely overwhelmed by everyday situations and moving far too slow given their abilities and years of experience. The preachiness of it also felt more than a little forced, at least to me.

I liked this first issue more than I thought it would, especially the Sin storyline, but I'm far from convinced this isn't going to get worse before it gets better. Hit-and-Miss.

[Marvel, $3.99]

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