The Avengers returned Thor to Asgard, where Cap and Odin got into a shouting match. After returning them to Earth, Odin brings Thor to his private chambers to prepare him for what is to come. He gives Thor his own armor and sword that he used when he himself fought the Serpent long ago. Meanwhile, the Serpent continues to grow in power, preparing for his own final assault on the World Tree. Spider-Man’s own confidence and will to fight is restored after a quick chat with Aunt May. Tony Stark implements his plan, creating an armory of enchanted weapons for his fellow Avengers before jumping into a vat of molten Uru himself. Cap readies a front line of civilians against the Serpent, who is appearing on the horizon…
The final battle has begun and Cap is on the front line, shooting at…the Serpent, I guess? Seems to me he’s just shooting, but he’s in the fight! At the site of the Fallen Asgard, the rest of the Avengers have gathered as Iron Man arrives with Thor as well as the completed weapons. Of course, he made no weapon for Cap because his iconic shield is enough. Hawkeye fills him in onto the details of his mistake.
The Serpent makes a grandiose speech regarding his seemingly inevitable victory. While he gains a final surge in power, the Avengers show up, transformed because of their Uru-infused weapons. For the most part, this means looking like the “Tron” cover variants released last winter, but the effect still seems sort of cool in theory.
Meanwhile, the man who deserted the front line last issue (or “Rick”, from now on) decides he is tired of running and being scared, and decides to return to the battle. Thor begins his own battle, trading idle banter with the Serpent (now a literal, giant serpent) as he begins to hack away at him with Odin’s sword. He throws his hammer, but the weapon is knocked away and directly into the battle the other Avengers are fighting. The force of the blast knocks Cap back, but Rick shows up, providing a nice morale boost for the heroes. As more civilians appear, Cap claims they are all Avengers and proceeds to lift Thor’s hammer!
For the first time this issue we actually see the forces our heroes are fighting against.. The Worthy make some final appearances as our heroes finally have the means to fight against them. We thankfully also see the last of those ridiculous Nazi-bots. Throughout the scenes of our heroes finding victory, more “news” segments are cut in which show the state of the world itself becoming more hopeful, providing a nice contrast to earlier in the series.
In Asgard-Space, Odin calls him army to war, claiming that the armies of man have fallen. Based on previous issues, I assume this means he is ready to raze the Earth, but based on the previous few pages, the heroes have just begun to turn the war around. Either way, Odin prepares to join the fight!
Thor, however, has other plans. With a final one-liner, Thor drives his sword straight into the Serpent’s head! As the Serpent and Thor fall to the Earth, clips from the news show just how the world has turned back from the brink of fear and destruction. The Asgardians look on, fearing the worst now that the prophecy has begun to come true. As the Serpent falls, the Worthy are stripped of their power. Seems his claims from last issue that Skadi will inherit the world after his passing were less than true, as she is reduced to her former self. Odin commands the hammers to fall as they return from where they came.
Thor emerges from the wreckage, but sadly, the latter part of the prophecy has also come true. I cannot say for sure why, seeing as how he did not seem to suffer any damage from his fight, but, alas, the hero passes away in his father’s arms.
The following day, the heroes build a funeral pyre for Thor at Fallen Asgard. Odin laments his failure, as he has spent thousands of years attempting to prevent his son’s death at the hands of the Serpent. Odin returns to Asgard-Space with his brother’s body (apparently his name was Cul), vowing to watch guard over him for all eternity. He then seals Asgard and casts the remaining Asgardians out, leaving them on Earth.
As the days pass, the heroes tend to the rest of their business: Bucky is given a proper hero’s funeral, the weapons Iron Man made are melted back down, and Cap’s shield is fixed with more Uru. However, it still bares a scar, but Cap does not mind- it apparently gives it “character”. As a nice parallel to the first issue we close on two scenes for the main story: The first is the heroes vowing to help rebuild the world, just as they did Asgard; the second scene takes place with Rick welcoming his new neighbor, telling him “We all gotta take care of each other, right?” With that, we close on the main story of Fear Itself!
Epilogue 1: The first of our many epilogues opens with Sin strapped to a table in a dirty and obviously shady “medical” room. There are masked people all around her trying to calm her as she struggles against them. Apparently they have broken her out of whatever jail she was in (which we never saw, which makes this a little confusing), so they could heal her. She can feels the loss of her power, but this shadowy group is here to help her shape the plans she remembers from when she was Skadi. End scene.
Epilogue 2: The Hulk is jumping through an unspecified desert. An internal discourse between Banner and the Hulk reveals that Banner is quite upset (obviously) at how they were used during Fear Itself and his last chance at reconciling with Betty. The Hulk wants to hear none of it and grabs Banner by the neck. When the scene cuts back to the real world, Banner is a separated from the Hulk (and somehow, Banner has clothes AND an IV drip). The Hulk departs while Banner is left in the desert, wondering how this happened.
Epilogue 3: In some secret facility, a sickly old man in a wheel chair and some…agent (?) I guess. They discuss the events of how some valuable information was retrieved for them by a spy, who was then killed, as well as a Sergeant Johnson’s mother. Admittedly, I have no idea who these people are, so I apologize. The old man tells his agent to prepare the team (which consists of Taskmaster, Deadpool, and Paladin) and begin the hunt for Marcus Johnson, the most wanted man alive.
Epilogue 4: At St. Sebastian, the being known as Nul (the being Hulk became during Fear Itself) takes form. The Hulk can hear the screams, mentally I suppose. According to him, he crushed his hammer and set Nul’s spirit free. He proceeds to make his way back to New York, doing the one thing that is hardest for him: Ask for help. And who can help with strange, other-worldly menaces? None other than Dr. Strange!
And so Fear Itself is over. Overall, I suppose the experience was rather underwhelming. But I should really focus on this issue, right?
For one, this is sort of a let down for a “double sized” issue. In that regard, I suppose it’s no different than Civil War or Secret Invasion- the final issue only has it’s last page or two reveal, the rest of it is just an extended fight scene. Granted, I suppose that’s what we are here for, but I still feel like this one did not really deliver on that very well either.
Let’s look at what happened briefly. Most of the fight scenes are snippets or “one-sided”: There are quite a few scenes where the heroes are just charging and posing, but we don’t see WHAT or WHO they are fighting. The first few pages with Captain America shooting at things off-panel is just odd. And the fight against the Worthy really comes down to a handful of panels in which a hero hits them once and the fight is done.
Also, just like with his shield earlier, there is not much made of the fact that Cap just picked up Thor’s hammer. Isn’t that supposed to be some great sign about his character? He kind of just seemed to pick it up like it’s no big deal and start swinging. And what about that army of civilians that came to help? Did they just join in on the battle between god-powered super beings? And they all made it through?
The battle between the Serpent and Thor was also rather underwhelming. Thor threw his hammer, that failed, so we then just get a few panels of him slicing and dicing and then boom: Serpent is killed, Thor dies for some reason and that’s that. The battle really just comes down to a few panels of Thor shouting, and then the final blow. And now Thor is going to be gone again. They kept him out of the game for awhile there: How long until they go back on it again?
Again, the Worthy are there mostly to pad the issue. I am not entirely sure what their function was, besides to perhaps sell the tie-ins? But was there really anything worth discussing in those? As far as I can tell, the only significant change is with the Hulk, and I think even that story has been done before.
The powered-up heroes thing sort of went nowhere, but I guess it did eliminate the threat of the overly powered Worthy. Again, not that the fights did much. A few lines of “witty” banter and then we were just basically told everything was fine.
As for the “epilogues”, I personally feel like they took up entirely too much of the book. Especially since these were the first few pages in comic series being released shortly after this issue! They did not advance the story or serve to tie-up any lingering plot lines. We were basically just charged for material that’s going to end up on the Marvel website when they release the “preview” pages of those series (and that is exactly what happened). I feel cheated here. They could really just do this in any title and it would be just as effective and make just as much sense (that is, none): Call it an epilogue and just put in 2-3 pages from the next issue!
I know I have a tendency to say this, but I had briefly considered rating this higher. But then I realized that there’s no point in doing so, since this issue really was NOT that great. Was it awful? No, I suppose not. But I feel giving it a 2.5 or 3 is sort of lazy and does not really flow with the review I gave above. The story ends very suddenly, given how many issues Fraction has had to write this. The action scenes are rather underwhelming, the deaths hardly feel significant anymore, and too much of the comic is taken up with previews for new series. Fraction should have given this story a better ending. And he also should have given a better story, in my opinion, but that might be a bit harsh.
The series as a whole I think deserves a 2.5, perhaps. I don’t feel like the story was especially well told. There were certain issues that really moved things along and really brought in the fear or hopelessness that was promised, but overall, things sort of fell flat I feel.
Granted, we were given shocking moments (Bucky died! Ben Grimm became a villain! Thor died!), but very little was made of any of those moments: Steve Rogers is Cap after 5 second of mourning, Franklin Richards magic-ed away the evil, and Thor’s going to be back soon, let’s admit it.
Now I know we can’t have one of Marvel’s greatest heroes becoming a full blown villain and then killed so shortly after the Human Torch died, but the resolution to the Thing’s story still just irks me to no end. The writing there was just lazy and really removes any sort of emotional impact, as well sort of destroys any future conflict: Any matter can easily be resolved by Franklin Richards just saying, “Nope, that didn’t happen.” It’s exactly what Fraction did here and it feels like the biggest cheat in the whole series.
As I mentioned several times throughout, I feel like too much was done or explained in the side stories, leaving only anti-climatic fight scenes for the main book. Unless you decided to read those books, you will have no idea what the Worthy are doing, how about half of them found their hammers, how the heroes are responding to those threats, who some of the Worthy are, and perhaps most important, exactly who the Serpent was and what was his past with Odin. You can’t build up a mini-series like this and then not address major plot points in the main book! And Fraction even said at the start that all you “need” to “get” the story was the main book. That is true, unless you wanted to “get” any sort of detail, plot, or understanding of why these events matter.
With that said, I will not miss this series. If anything, it is just another reason for me to want to avoid these big cross-over events in the future. Truth be told, I was going to pass on it initially, but decided that I should give it a chance, because these events do usually have some impact. It seems I was correct initially: This was one that could be missed and you would not be out of the loop.
Farewell, Fear Itself. Any bets on what the next event will be?