I’ve been liking these interview-style tie-ins to ‘Fear Itself’, and the idea of Steve Rogers storming a mystical castle with three female superspies (or, well, two superspies and a former SHIELD accountant) is right up my alley. This issue doesn’t quite click, though. The introductory discussion of how Steve Rogers embodies the spirit of the country comes across as silly and forced. (“Deep in the space between his molecules. . .he is America,” says Clint Barton. CLINT BARTON?) The issue is oddly paced, and John Romita, Jr.’s art, with its assortment of indistinguishable faces, isn’t well-served by a bunch of talking heads. There are a couple of great, almost wordless, pages where Steve and Sharon Carter storm a castle by surfing on his shield, and some good emotional notes about Steve’s grief for Bucky. Overall, though, this is one of the weaker Avengers tie-ins to this event, though that’s still a pretty high standard.
For the most part the best parts of Fear Itself have been the tie-in books that have danced at the edges of the real action. In particular Bendis’ twin Avengers titles seem to have been assigned the task of trying to bring some actual character development to the proceedings. Here Victoria Hand, Maria Hill and Sharon Carter join the still pre-Captain America Steve Rogers on a mission to Sweden that will help them defeat Sin. Or at least that’s the plan, but of course Fear Itself’s big bad isn’t about to be beaten down in a side book. All in all it’s an interesting detour from the main event.
I’m so confused by this story. When is this supposed to be happening? In the main Fear Itself story, it seems like a very short gap between Bucky getting killed and Steve wearing the costume again and fighting with Sin, so… when did Steve find time to go to Sweden? Also, I like reading about the Avengers team and I dropped Secret Avengers a couple of issues in, so this issue also doesn’t click with me for basically being a SA story stuck under an Avengers cover. (Also, while I’m being snippy, I don’t just don’t get how Cap’s shield is supposed to work. It absorbs impacts, but it also ricochets AND lets him just … bounce? Wha?)