The Serpent continues to spread fear and destruction and the heroes are struggling to keep up. The Worthy attack various points around the Earth, while Sin attacks America’s capital. Loki breaks Thor out of his prison, but his friends are not willing to disobey Odin’s orders. Odin, finally giving into Thor’s demands, sends his son back to Earth to help in the fight. Meanwhile, Sin has a major victory when she manages to finally kill Bucky!
Thor crashes back to Earth, landing near former home of the gods, Broxton, Oklahoma. However, the residents don’t want anything to do with him, greeting him with guns and telling him to leave. Thor complies.
A 2 page spread contrasts the motives and actions of the Serpent and Odin. While the Serpent encourages his agents to kill and spread fear, Odin rallies his followers to build more weapons and prepare to destroy the Earth out of mercy. Things have certainly gotten quite grim here!
Meanwhile, Black Widow mourns the loss of Bucky, demanding answers from Iron Man and Nick Fury as to who the Serpent is. Thor arrives (good timing!) to deliver the news of Odin’s plans. Fury encourages Iron Man and Thor to keep fighting and to bring in “him”. Who is that, exactly? Why it’s Steve Rogers, fully suited and ready to go as Captain America! He quickly orders Iron Man to make weapons to counter those of the Worthy. Thor also decides that now is the time to tell everyone that a prophecy states he will slaughter a serpent and then take nine steps before falling dead. While he is ready to accept his fate, Cap thinks that Thor can use that information to make the Serpent fear HIM.
The scene jumps to Canada, where a large number of dead Atlanteans are appearing. Below the surface, we see that Attuma/Nerkkod is responsible for the carnage. The Serpent uses this last bit of fear (that from a boy witnessing the destruction) to fully awaken, raising his castle and his own followers from the earth, and becoming younger and (presumably) much more powerful in the process.
Aware of the change, Cap initiates his plan. Thor flies off to Antarctica (where the Serpent is), Iron Man flies off to Oklahoma, and Cap drops off in Manhattan, where Sin’s army is currently creating another path of destruction. While Cap and Thor begin to fight back at their respective locations, Iron Man goes to the fallen Asgard and begins berating Odin. He angrily offers him a “sacrifice”: That of his own dignity and integrity, and begins to down an entire bottle of wine (for those who are unfamiliar, Tony Stark is a recovering alcoholic). Odin appears…
Meanwhile, Thor continues to strike down the followers of the Serpent, until the man himself appears. He tries to intimidate the Serpent by stating the prophecy, but to no affect. The Serpent still claims to be the rightful All-Father, stating that his brother Odin betrayed him. He tries to then convert Thor to his side, claiming that Odin has kept much from him and together, they can strike him down. Thor is uninterested, saying there is no price that can be paid for a lifetime of lies. He prepares to attack, but the Serpent teleports him away (much like Odin did at this issue’s start). Thor lands back in New York, only to confronted by “the Serpent’s two greatest fear-mongers”, Nul (Hulk) and Angrir (Thing)!
For a mid-series issues, I found this one to actually be pretty enjoyable! And especially given what the past few issues have been like, this one (to me) seemed pretty satisfying. Did it still have its flaws? Yes, very, very few comics do not. But it was a much more enjoyable read and possibly the most interesting to review thus far.
While I do feel this series goes against the whole concept of “The Heroic Age” and bringing back the hope the heroes represent, I do like the serious tone. The contrast between Odin and the Serpent was extremely interesting, and the more the Serpent talks about it, the more I would like some story into the events of what occurred when he first attacked. This issue to me feels like what the earlier issues should have done: Expand the main story and move that forward. I feel like the main conflict was finally addressed, though there were still some teasers to side events without any further clarification given to those.
It was also great to see Steve Rogers back as Captain America, taking charge and getting back into the fight. I do feel as though Bucky was quickly shuffled off the scene, but I am sure there will be an epilogue that mourns his passing. I will also give Marvel credit for keeping Bucky with the shield as long as they did. But I am also sure he will return sometime soon as well, so I am really feeling a bit conflicted overall about this development.
I do wish Thor and the Serpent had more of an exchange before Thor was thrown away to engage in more fighting, but I suppose future issues will address that. I am not particularly excited for this fight though only because I know that issue 5 will be filled with a battle that does not really progress the main story.
As for complaints…well, I know this is nit-picky, but how did the Hulk go from tearing up Central America to New York suddenly? Also, is there no mention at all of Spidey’s battle with the Thing/Angrir that occurred in Fear Itself: Spider-Man?
Another issue I had was the inking at the end of the issue. Similar to my complaint for Fear Itself #1, the inking becomes somewhat inconsistent and rushed feeling on the last few pages. On certain details (especially when Thor is directly confronting the Serpent), it seems as though the colors are especially flat or washed out. However, Immonen continues to do a fantastic job overall, so that’s always nice!
I will give this one a 3.5. It’s not the best ranking, but I still feel like a “4” would be a bit ambitious. This issue finally addressed the main conflict and consisted of more than just flashy explosions and snippets of other stories. The Serpent finally becomes a presence in a story ABOUT him, so that’s (sadly) a positive for this issue that was absent from the previous two. In my opinion, this was the most interesting issue of the series thus far. Let’s see how the rest of this series plays out though.