Last issue, Sin (the daughter of the original Red Skull) used a journal left behind by her father to locate a mystic hammer, transforming her into the avatar for Skadi (apparently “The Herald of the Serpent”, but this is never fully explained). Using her new Asgardian power and following the guidance of the spirit now inhabiting her, she frees he Serpent, an old Asgardian god claiming to be the true All-Father. Meanwhile, Iron Man and the rest of the Avengers have promised to rebuild Asgard to give the people hope for the future. However, with the return of the Serpent, Odin (who never wanted help from the humans to begin with) recalls the other Asgardian gods to the Asgard-Space. When Thor protests, Odin takes away his ability to wield Mjolnir and then drags him back with him! The gods have abandoned the heroes and the Serpent has summoned forth the Worthy…
This chapter opens with the Asgardians returning to Asgard-Space, with the home of the gods rebuilding itself around them. While they do not have their city, Odin calls upon them to fight, claiming they are a people at war. Volstagg and Hogun are uncomfortable with this plan though, as they have left Earth to fend for itself. Thor again attempts to talk (or is he goading?) Odin into fighting back, but Odin will not hear of it and creates a prison to hold the Avenger. As he is carried away, Thor bemoans the loss of bravery and honor in his people. Odin tells the Asgardians that Earth will fall and its inhabitants will be slaughtered and the reason he knows is because it’s happened before (that seems like something that would have come up at some point). He calls upon them to fight and to do so he wants to raze the Earth!
Meanwhile, at the Raft, Juggernaut is finishing up a quick work-out. His session is interrupted when one of the Serpent’s hammers comes crashing to Earth! He is drawn to it by an unheard sound. Upon touching it, he is transformed into Kuurth, the Breaker of Stone! He proceeds to live up to his name by destroying a section of the Raft. Reports from over the world tell of similar impacts around the world. While we are shown one dropping in Paris, we do not get any more detail about in the pages of this series.
Steve Rogers sends the Avengers out to keep the peace, knowing the people will be panicked. He wants to separate the “incident zones” and send teams out accordingly. Before they can set out, a call comes in from Reed Richards. He traced one of the objects from space, which just so happens to be the hammer that lands in Yancy Street (is it really a surprise who that hammer is meant for?). He sends his initial readings over, telling them to warn Ben where it fell.
The scene switches to Brazil, where Bruce Banner and Betty Rose are camping out. The pair are discussing their marriage and Betty being turned into the Red She-Hulk. While Banner sees the whole thing as a curse, Betty is happy to finally get away from being treated like a little girl. As the two talk, another streak in the sky is observed, breaking up any further plot or character development with these two. The pair Hulk-out and go to the crash site. While Betty tries to warn him about approaching, the Hulk is drawn to the hammer by the same unheard sound as the Juggernaut was. After lifting it, the Hulk becomes Nul, the Breaker of Worlds. Unlike the Juggernaut, though, the Hulk manages to fight the influence of the hammer long enough to tell Betty to run.
The scene jumps again, bringing us to South Africa. Apparently Titania and “Crusher” Creel, the Absorbing Man, are there…running some kind of diamond mine? Well of course, in the middle of it is yet another hammer! Matt Fraction isn’t wasting any time here! The Absorbing Man attempts to lift the hammer, but to no avail. He also isn’t able to “absorb” its essence and become the same matter as the hammer either. After a classy “That’s what she said joke” (again, that really happens), Titania gives it a try, claiming to hear the sound of “music and babies crying”. Maybe that’s a little over-dramatic, but it really does add that little element of malice and fear. After lifting the hammer, she is transformed into Skirn, Breaker of Men. Like the Hulk, she retains some of her former self. She tells her partner that they will find him hammer to the north.
While Creel. tries to comprehend what happened, the Serpent calls out to his worthy from an underground bunker in an undisclosed location. Sin-Skadi gives orders to the human troops, telling to them destroy everything and kill everyone. The Serpent orders his worthy to go out and spread fear, warning them that the Asgardians will fight back soon. For some reason, even villains who are not part of the Serpent’s “Worthy” join in on this destruction. Also, we see a scene where Nerkkod, the Breaker of Oceans (who is a transformed Attuma), is destroying an undersea oil line.
Steve Rogers, Sharon Carter, and Maria Hill watch on-screen deployments of the other Avengers while more chaos spreads. The Serpent concludes his speech, ordering his army to “Go forth in war and slaughter” and Sin leads that charge, with an army of Nazi war-mechs. A splash page attack on Washinton, D.C. declares this attack as “Blitzkrieg U.S.A.”. As fear and destruction continues to erupt across the globe, Rogers sends out a desperate call to arms to the Avengers, but receives no response…
Where to start here? This issue is certainly flashy, and not just because we have 3 separate characters exploding with light as they transform. This issue is really the opposite of the first issue: There, we were given a lot of set-up and story, here we are given a lot of explosions and just sort of rapid fire…things. We are only given snippets of the whole event and no real detail into any of it.
I think my problem here is that Matt Fraction stated in early interviews that you only needed to pick up the main series to get the story, the side pieces only went into how other characters were handling it. Well, the problem is the main story isn’t much to see. I would like to see the ramifications of these hammers possessing the wielders addressed in this series as well. I mean, we aren’t even actually SHOWN some of these Worthy and they are supposed to be the agents of the main antagonist! I know the point is to get us as the readers to buy the tie-ins, go for the series we normally wouldn’t, but past experience has taught me that this is not often a worthwhile venture. Much like Civil War or Secret Invasion, most of the tie-ins and outside arcs only talk about the main event, but don’t really expand upon it or have any lasting effect because of it. I wish more of the answers and intrigue were in the core title itself, not in some random side issue I may miss. In that regard, I feel like Siege did a good job of keeping the majority of its explanation and development in the main title itself. In this story, not so much.
I do feel this issue had some nice touches though. A few of the pages contain snippets of what are supposed to be news segments, each one addressing some concern or fear related to the event or based on real-life situations. I wish this series focused more on that, similar to how Fear Itself: Spider-Man showed the public reaction. Given that this series was billed as being about fear and such, I really wish more time was spent focusing on that concept, and less time was spent focusing on explosions and destruction, much like how Secret Invasion did not really address the paranoia and mistrust, but really focused on heroes fighting copies of themselves.
Again, I do wish more detail was given to the villain and to his history with Odin. We get a brief synopsis from both sides (apparently they fought, to summarize), but nothing substantial. I know part of this is because it’s only issue 2, but I still don’t see it working by dragging it out to 7 issues. This issue is really just there to put some action into the story and set up for the numerous tie-ins and side stories that will be running along side it.
I was thinking about rating this a 3 web issue, but…well, I would say not enough happens, but it’s really the opposite. Too much TRIES to happen, so no one event is given full detail. I think that during these events, more issues than the first and last should be double sized, especially since the price is the same. That would cut down on unnecessary issues, or at least give each event more time in the spot light. Still, seeing as how this was mainly set-up for stories we won’t get the full detail on, I have to give this issue a 2.5.