'Fear Itself' Friday: The Somebody's Totally Gonna Die Edition

I know last week I promised a few hundred words about why Man-Thing should totally be one of The Worthy in this summer’s Fear Itself event, but honestly, I got kind of distracted talking about the Hulk, death in big summer events, and Norse gods doing hard time. Enjoy!

Fear Itself Updates

We’ll have to go the recent Marvel solicitations for June for the latest FI updates, since this week the publisher was pretty light on releases about the event in advance of WonderCon next week. Here are a couple of things that stood out the most.

Fear Itself #3

Written by MATT FRACTION

Penciled by STUART IMMONEN

Cover by STEVE McNIVEN

Variant Cover by STUART IMMONEN

Variant Cover by GIUSEPPE CAMUNCOLI

The blockbuster Marvel event of the year continues!

Sin leads the most audacious attack on American soil the world has ever seen as global panic sets in and we fall sway to the power of fear itself. On Asgard, Loki hatches the scheme to end all schemes. And everywhere, the Serpent's presence is felt...never moreso than when a major Marvel hero falls at his hands. The shock ending to end all shock endings...as the cycle of evil stretching millennia is at last completed.

32 PGS./Rated T+ ...$3.99

I’m mostly interested in the variant cover by Camuncoli above—not just because it’s the more visually interesting of the two, but because it hints pretty strongly that the Hulk will be a player in the event in a major way. Of course, it could be a feint, but I don’t think so. Pak and Van Lente have done a lot of work in the past couple of years building up a “Hulk Family” and normalizing the life of Bruce Banner in a way that it hasn’t been since well before Planet Hulk. Fear Itself might be a chance to uproot Banner a bit and exploit the monstrous side of his alter ego.

It seems like a more tragic riff on the classic “Days of Rage” story from Incredible Hulk v.1 #300 by Bill Mantlo and Steve Buscema. In that issue, an out-of-control Hulk pretty much pummels his way through the assembled might of New York’s finest superheroes—and Eros—in one of the most notable rampages by the character in his lengthy publication history. What I like about the Camuncoli image is how it inverts the emotion of the same kind of “Bad Hulk” scenario, showing the aftermath and not just the kick-ass action.

While the Fear Itself #2 cover makes it clear that there will be a Hulk joining the Serpent as one of The Worthy, best guesses from the shoulder armor that it’ll be Skaar, Hulk/Banner’s son. Still, that might leave room for a shake-up between the second and third issues—unlikely, but I’m allowed to make extremely terrible guesses. I can see why Skaar is the choice (at least for issue 2—one sentence later and I’m still holding out stupid hope its Hulk): Skaar is the Hulk with something to prove.

Since his debut in World War Hulk #5, Skaar has had a real grudge-on against the Hulk, who he thinks abandoned him on Sakaar, leaving the boy to fend for himself on the wrecked planet of Sakaar. Really just a boy at this point, Skaar blames Hulk for both the destruction of Sakaar and the death of his mother, and has mostly been hanging around Banner, waiting for the chance to kill the Hulk when he finally manifests himself. In the aftermath of World War Hulks the two characters have reached a kind of détente after Banner finally reverted to the Hulk and the duo had their long-awaited dustup.

Still, this goes back to my earlier point about how normalized Banner’s life has become and how it’ll take something like Fear Itself to break the bonds he’s established, simply by letting the Hulk and/or Skaar be themselves and do what they’re naturally inclined to do.

The solicitation also promises the death of a major character, which is, eh, I don’t really care, I guess? I dig these events most often because there’s usually an interesting threat or challenge for the characters, but it’s been a long time since I’ve felt like the stakes were ramped up somehow by offing a major character. Implicit in this is always the sense that, “hey, you didn’t think our bad guy/threat was serious, but he/she/it SO is.” Again, whatever, I’m interested in the book already, there’s no need to try to convince me to come onboard with a character death (best guess: it’s Bucky).

Seriously, we’re somewhere on a spectrum where my interest in an event is actually actively decreasing when I read that a major character will die. It feels like a cheap and easy and increasingly futile attempt to drum up interest. And the thing is, if you are dead set on offing a character, wouldn’t it be a smarter narrative and business move to not telegraph their death and subsequently watch the internet explode when they sit down to read issue #3 and totally see Bucky get killed?*

Anyway.

Fear Itself: Youth in Revolt #2 (of 6)

Written by SEAN McKEEVER

Pencils by MIKE NORTON

Cover by GIUSEPPE CAMUNCOLI

FEAR ITSELF TIE-IN

WE NEED YOU FOR THE INITIATIVE! with the Initiative draft in full swing, young heroes are joining the effort to stem the Serpent’s fearful tide...whether they want to or not! With Thor-Girl wrongfully imprisoned, her fellow Initiative recruits face a rising wave of paranoia and distrust from the very citizens they are meant to protect. And does Prodigy, reformed alcoholic and now deputized Initiative head, have what it takes to lead...or will he, too, fall prey to the coming darkness?

32 PGS./Rated T+ ...$2.99

No major comments here. I think the idea of a space alien faux Asgardian having to do hard time for a crime she didn’t commit is kind of weird enough to be interesting. Plus, I typically dig books about characters in and around The Initiative.

SECRET AVENGERS #14

Written by NICK SPENCER

Penciled by SCOT EATON

Cover by ADI GRANOV

I AM CAPTAIN AMERICA Variant by MIKE PERKINS

FEAR ITSELF TIE-IN!

She is Brunhilde of Asgard, The Valkyrie--once charged by Odin himself with carrying mankind's bravest souls to their resting place in Valhalla. But when the Norse Gods take up arms against humanity, she must choose which side to fight for--and with war raging all around her, the fate of Midgard may be hers to decide!

32 PGS./Rated T+ ...$3.99

There was one point that caught my eye in the solicitation, the “when the Norse Gods take up arms against humanity” bit. So will The Serpent be controlling the other Asgardians or something? That Asgardians-turning-on-humans angle is something I don’t recall reading anywhere else, but it seems like kind of a major plot point that’s been buried under the announcements about the event.

Although in the recent Fear Itself conference call with Matt Fraction, the writer was at pains to say that this wasn’t an event particularly reactive to previous Marvel summer throwdowns, it is at least thematically appropriate that given the vicious pummelings the gods of the Marvel U have taken through the last few events that they might decide to turn on humans.

Come back next week for another installment of Fear Itself Fridays when I predict that The Serpent will actually be taken down in the final issue by The Mongoose.

*I love what Brubaker has done with Bucky, but I suspect that with the movie coming out someone, somewhere is thinking that it might be time to whittle down the number of characters carrying the shield.

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