Fear Itself #5

Background

The Serpent has finally risen to his full power and things are starting to look bleak. Thor returned to Earth, only to be shunned by the humans he fought to protect. Steve Rogers is once again wielding the shield and is ready for action. He sends Iron Man to find a way to counter the hammers that empower the Worthy, while he sends Thor to face the Serpent. However, there is a prophecy that Thor will fall after destroying him! When the Serpent is unable to convince Thor to join him, he teleports him away, throwing him into a battle with the transformed Thing and Hulk!

Story 'Fear Itself: Brawl'

  Fear Itself #5
Summary: Spider-Man Appears
Executive Producer: Alan Fine
Publisher: Dan Buckley
Chief Creative Officer: Joe Quesada
Editor In Chief: Axel Alonso
Senior Editor: Tom Brevoort
Editor: Lauren Sankovitch
Writer: Matt Fraction
Artist: Stuart Immonen, Wade von Grawbadger
Lettering: Chris Eliopoulos
Colorist: Laura Martin

Thor begins the epic battle between Nul and Angrir, but is quickly struck back. In another part of the city, Sin taunts the newly returned Captain America with this knowledge. Cap isn’t willing to back down and shows no fear, despite her having killed Bucky just recently.

Back in Broxton, Odin confronts Tony Stark. The inebriated Avenger continues to mock the All-Father and rant against his unwillingness to help the humans defend themselves. While Odin is unimpressed, stating that all men turn to their respective gods in a crisis, Stark brushes him off by stating he only wants weapons. And to make them, he wants to use Odin’s workshop! Sort of an odd request to make after berating him and saying he doesn’t even believe in him, but hey, who am I to judge?

Nul and Angrir continue their assault on Thor. He (extremely) briefly attempts to reason with the Thing, but when that does not work, he calls Mjolnir to him, flying right through the transformed hero! He then turns his attention to Nul. Since he never liked the Hulk to begin with, killing him won’t bother him as much. Or rather, he claims that the Hulk has always been a pain in his…”butt”…, which to me seems like some rather un-Thor like talk. Isn’t he supposed to be more formal? Anyways, he throws Nul out of a building and to the street below (and a Spidey cameo). Franklin and Valeria Richards arrive to find Ben Grimm breaking hold of Angrir’s control. He feels that after all he has done, he deserves to die.

Meanwhile, Cap and Sin have started their battle as well. Their brawl is quickly interrupted when the Serpent appears, now with his floating castle! While he takes time for the usual villain gloating, a group of Avengers (including Spidey) appear. While Cap is impressed by their courage, the Serpent quickly dispatches of them. Cap tries one of his signature shield throws, but the Serpent only catches it. With seemingly no effort, he destroys Cap’s shield! With a final blow, Cap is knocked out. When he comes to, Spidey has a request for him: He needs to go and check on his family. When Steve tries to convince him to stay, Spider-Man argues that it’s time for them to retreat.

Back with the Thing, Franklin tells his own Uncle Ben that he promised his parents he would never use his own nearly infinite power. Of course, this being a special exception he breaks it, restoring the Thing to his former self. If only they had done this sooner, they could have really avoided this whole mess!

Thor is still fighting Nul, claiming he cannot now, nor ever, beat the Hulk. When Nul charges, claiming to be aware of this, Thor counters with his own attack, apparently only bluffing. The Hulk is knocked into space briefly, before falling back to Earth. Thor, exhausted from the fight, passes out. The rest of the gathered Avengers watch as Spider-Man departs. When Hawkeye questions this move, Cap informs him he gave the web-head permission. Why? Because he feels that they are going to lose!

General Comments

Again, I was rather surprised by this issue. Especially going back and giving this a re-read, I did not dislike this issue nearly as much as I had previously thought. It still could use some improvements, but I feel like there is that progression that was lacking in the first few bits of the story.

I did find the idea and development of Tony Stark bargaining with Odin to be interesting, but I do think Odin’s reaction to Stark’s tantrum was a bit…lenient. I mean, he struck down his own son for doing basically the same thing! Granted, he did say that he let some of it go because he is Thor’s “war-brother”, but if I had a lesser being throwing drunken insults at me (and my basic existence) I would be somewhat less inclined to help.

I am also intrigued by the breaking of Cap’s shield. I know this isn’t necessarily a new story line, but I feel like when it does happen, it’s a big deal. This is supposed to be the most empowering symbol our heroes have. I know for the large oversea crowd that sounds a little ignorant or what have you, but it is something that Marvel writers really seem to emphasize. This issue did not have a lot of room to explore this topic, but I would like to see the impact this one gesture has during this dark time.

As for downsides, I did find the fight between Thor, Nul, and Angrir to be underwhelming. I know this somewhat contradicts my prediction from my review of issue 4, but really not much happened. With two good blows, Thor was able to best both. I suppose this demonstrates his strength and helps the issue to move along, but it also makes the impact of the fight overall somewhat shallow. Again, I think if all these issues were double-sized since this is a mini-series (and the price is the same anyways), more time could be given to fights AND story.

My other major complaint was the use of Franklin Richards’s power to just basically magic away Angrir. I mean, this was supposed to be a dramatic event! This should have repercussions and some kind of impact on the character. And in the blink of an eye he’s just back to normal. It really kind of plays down the whole threat level of this event. I know they don’t let him use that power much because it instantly kills any sense of conflict, but even in just small doses it does the same thing. Why even bother having him pick up the hammer? For one fight scene and some tie-ins? And this isn’t even going into the fact that he also brought him back from the dead! It was just too neat a clean-up for such a dramatic transformation of a beloved character. The whole thing feels rushed, sloppy, and particularly selfish of Franklin.

Overall Rating

I will stick with a 3 web rating. While I do feel like this is a stronger issue, the resolution to the Thing’s transformation really hurts the story, in my opinion. If the last two issues can keep this pace going, it will at least balance out this story’s weak start.