This series, I just don’t know. Let’s just run down my problems with this issue alone: 1. Captain America & Spider-Man, in the middle of a fight, give up. Just give up. Captain America. Spider-Man. 2. Franklin Richard uses his reality warping powers to save The Thing from a mortal wound. While doing nothing while the whole rest of the world goes to hell and not to mention his Uncle who just died a few months back and little dude didn’t do &%$@. 3. We’re 5 issues into a 7 issue series and we’re still setting up the conflict and the villain is still an enigma. Stuart Immonen’s art is, as usual, stellar. But other than that, this book is pretty awful.
There are some great moments in this issue. Tony and Odin. Cap and Spidey. Franklin and Ben. And, of course, Thor and the Hulk. But a lot of things around those moments leave me with questions and a big concern. My two questions are: Why doesn’t Franklin just stop all of it? And: What, exactly, is Tony, a genius man of science, going to do with a magic workshop? (Or, near enough to magic for him as to make no difference, anyway.) I assume we’ll see some kind of answer to the latter in the next issue, but I think the answer to the former lies somewhere in the depths of Fantastic Four continuity and just won’t come up in this series — and I kind of wish it would. Now, my concern is: I know that this is 5 of 7, and it’s probably supposed to be very “darkest before the dawn”, but I kind of hate that it ends with Cap being so pessimistic. Not something I think we should see from him — let someone else say that line.
I’ve been a fan of Matt Fraction’s Marvel work, and I like me a summer crossover. The trouble is after a run of successful ones stretching back to 2005’s House of M, Fear Itself is dropping the ball. Nothing seems to be happening that wasn’t happening back in the first issue. Well except for the fact that Spider-Man and Captain America have decided to throw in the towel and surrender. After facing the end of the world countless times in the past they give up here. It’s a mess, which is too bad because Stuart Immonen’s art deserves a better story.
The bulk of this event has been about the global scale of the threat, but this issue follows up on the Iron Man scene at the end of issue #4 and really is about the personal cost the Serpent is taking out of the Avengers Trinity – Tony’s sobriety, Steve’s shield and Thor’s composure and restraint – all defining elements of who these characters are. Immonen’s art is solid as always, and I enjoy the big, dumb fighty parts of this issue even more because of it. FI isn’t perfect – it tries to do to much – but it’s still a fun read.