Fear Itself # 1
Written by Matt Fraction
Art by Stuart Immonen & Laura Martin
Published by Marvel Comics
When Fear Itself Book One was handed to me, I got a little nervous. In the past, I read the first issue (as well as some other issues) of the "Big Event Comic" of the year (or summer or millennium or what have you), and found those comics confusing and schizophrenic in how they jumped around. So, yeah, I was not psyched for this one. Take a look at this cover:
Here's a letter I wrote about that cover.
Dear Super-Hero Event Comic Books:
You have the ugliest covers.
You know what I'm saying? It looks like the box art for a cheap video game featuring expensive characters.
But! I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised by the content of Fear Itself. I'm still not a huge fan of this sort of thing, actually, but I was able to keep up with this one, and did not feel in the least bit overstimulated by all the, er, stimuli. It was the proper amount of stimuli! I was not made to feel old! Success!
Hats off, first, to the artist. That was the first thing to grab me and keep me. Even though there is a lot going on within those first few pages, the storyline from panel to panel is clear. As a matter of fact, in nearly every panel of this whole comic book, the action is clear. In a story of this breadth, it really needs to be. I'm a particular fan of the format of one large frame spanning the top half of two pages, with smaller frames of what's happening being drawn below. That's got an easy flow, and my eye knows where to go and it kept me from getting confused - which is what usually happens when I read these epic-ish comics that feature this many characters.
As for the story? Well, of course, its a lot to digest, especially if you've only really read one or two of these comics in the last five years. Knowing nothing about the Red Skull (or Skulls, since there seem to be many of them), I had a hilarious time catching onto this one. As far as I could tell (and maybe this is due to the art, or maybe just my lack of knowledge), the Red Skull who said, " ...I saw it in a dream. I was the Queen of the World. I killed Captain America with a hammer and they made me Queen Of The World" was a man. Seriously. Looked like a dude to me. And I thought, "Hmm..way to go guy. You had a dream that you were Queen of the world and this did not deter you, but inspired you to action? Wow." And then to watch "him" get "his" hands on that hammer and then, turn into, this Queen of something was like, "WHOA! Your dream was right! You totally turned female and into some serious bad-ass She-Thing!" But I came to find out that she was a girl all along. I mean, I came to find out a day later, when I asked about her/him. Now that I've heard the actual story, I can confirm: it would be so much better my way.
OH! There was also this whole thing with the two All-Fathers. I had to flip back and forth between pages before I was like, "Oh, I get it. This is the conflict." But again, I think that's just because of my lack of knowledge about all of this.
Here's what I still don't get though.
Why does Thor (and others?) want to have God and mankind co-exist? I feel like they are trying to have them live together in peace like equals. Let me tell you something though. They are not equal. And that's okay, right? They are Gods, superheroes are superheroes and people are people. Those aren't the same kinds of beings, there's distinct differences between them. Why the push to have the Gods live among us? I mean, they are so condescending anyway. Listening to some old man with magic snapping fingers powers tell you that you do things slowly would get so boring. Right? It's so silly...like, look at this story. Iron Man keeps talking about jobs, and the economy, and the whole time the Gods can just skip all that nonsense and make things happen with magic, which is exactly what we want them to do. What's the point of Thor's dad waiting all those months for a bunch of human contractors to build him a castle? Why is Iron Man such a boring person, why does he think such boring things? Jobs, Iron Man? They aren't PEOPLE. They don't pay taxes or worry about food...this is just a silly thing to care about.
I suppose that, once again, I'm missing something.
But you know what? That's all right. I don't really need to know. I don't think I'm going to keep up with this or anything (unless Mister Nina makes me), so I don't necessarily care to understand it all. On the whole, I actually found this one chapter to be interesting and fun to read. And you know, an event superhero comic book that I like?
That's kinda neat.
-Nina Stone, 2011