Welcome to the latest installment of “Fear Itself Fridays,” where he look at Marvel’s other big summer event. This week is almost something of a leap week for the book, with only one tie-in, Journey Into Mystery #622 which actually does a lot more to clear up some unfinished Siege business rather than pushing forward Fear Itself to any noticeable degree.
This isn’t exactly a proper Fear Itself tie-in, contrary to the prominent branding on the cover. In fairness, the final pages repeat the Asgardians’ march across the Rainbow Bridge from Fear Itself #1, but really it’s a Loki story as Thor gets a title reversion change to Journey Into Mystery. Still, it has to be said that writer Kieron Gillen—aided by artist Dougie Braithwaithe—pretty much kills it with a Loki-focused story that will likely have some repercussions on the big event down the road.
****Verily, there may be spoilers.****
The issue actually hinges on a piece of info that I missed in the aftermath of Siege, namely that Loki has been reincarnated in the body of a teenage boy and, under Thor’s protection, has joined the other Asgardians in Broxton. The whole reincarnation bit is a result of Loki’s reluctant self-sacrifice at the end of Siege after being the one who set the events in action which lead the Sentry’s full-on case of the crazies and the subsequent annihilation of the Norse gods’ homestead. And his own death.
Gillen focuses this issue of the re-renamed Thor (we’ll be getting The Mighty Thor later this month) on the what I’ll assume is the good faith assumption that this new Loki is really just a kid who’s not necessarily pegged to his chaotic evil spot on the old alignment chart. Odin and the other Asgardians seem rather doubtful—and quite a few are outright hostile towards the little guy—but Thor is in the kid’s corner, defending him from the other gods and generally trying to rehabilitate new God of Mischief.
Lacking memory of his past self, Loki is pretty confused about all the bother, and in kind of a neat bit of parallel with Rick Remender’s work on Uncanny X-Force*, Loki here, like tiny Apocalypse there, doesn’t seem at all interested in sowing doom, chaos, and all that noise. And, digging into the spoiler territory here, that’s kind of the point behind Loki 1.0’s suicide-by-superhero: he didn’t want to become irrelevant through repetition.
Personally, I really dig this new version of the character: instead of being ruthless and mischievous, he’s just incredibly clever. There’s a neat underlying threat here for lil Loki given that should any of the other gods find out that his previous incarnation orchestrated his death and rebirth, he’ll probably get killed right away. In the character’s voice, Gillen captures a kid always one step of the adults, but without any sort of real set agenda—other than attempting to avoid the agendas of his former self.
Honestly, I think this reconfiguration of Loki means we won’t see too much of him in Fear Itself, particularly given how saturated he was throughout Siege and more broadly because that’s not really what the character is about anymore. Loki figuring out who he is seems to be a more interesting track to follow rather than pulling him into the main event where he’ll probably be overwhelmed by Thor and Cap’s plots.
Again, there’s not a whole lot of Fear Itself in the book, but that doesn’t make it any less of a must read this week.
*There's also hints of Joker's turn as Oberon Sexton over in Morrison's Batman and Robin, but in that case, it was more about the character making his own end-run at the new sociopaths in town than a character trying to circumvent his own nature.
It’s Not An Event Unless X-Force Is Icing Dudes
Let me beat this particular drum again: it was a slow week for Fear Itself, particularly with regards to announcements (at least in contrast to the raft of tie-ins and one-offs linked to the event). Still, slow doesn’t mean stalled: Uncanny X-Force gets a three-issue stint in the main event this July, Marvel also released one of their blanked out covers for July’s issue of New Avengers, with a hole where one of the Worthy is supposed to be.
I’ll allow the folks at Marvel to solicit the hell out of X-Force for you:
This July, red hot writer Rob Williams and superstar artist Simone Bianchi dispatch Marvel’s breakout mutant black-ops team right into the heart of the year’s biggest comics event in Fear Itself: Uncanny X-Force #1 (of 3)! The end is nigh and a group of hate-mongering extremists know just who to blame – super humans! But as fear rains down upon the Marvel Universe, Uncanny X-Force will be the only thing that stands between this band of frenzied zealots and mass murder on a global scale.
"What exactly is a mutant super hero kill crew afraid of? That's the question we had to ask,” said Williams. “A rogue cult of Purifiers believe that the actions of Fear Itself are the early stages of Armageddon and that they must kill many people as possible so their souls can ascend ‘before the devil knows they're dead.’ You can't question X-Force for wanting these crazies dead. But was it the actions of 'heroes' like X-Force that actually brought about the potential Armageddon of Fear Itself?”
Can X-Force cut down the Purifiers before they touch off a worldwide genocide? Or, with the God of Fear ascendant, will the team’s own trail of slaughter prove to be a self-fulfilling prophecy? In their darkest hour, Wolverine, Deadpool, Psylocke and the rest of Marvel’s most cutthroat strike force will discover that nightmares really can come true, only in Fear Itself: Uncanny X-Force #1 (of 3) – on sale this July!
Not a whole lot to add here beyond: the Purifiers? Really? Of all the weird xenophobic/gene-phobic villains in the Marvel U, I’ve always had a hard time buying them as an especially big threat, particularly when pitted against men and women who could either turn their minds inside out or blast them to oblivion with eye beams. It’s kind of like dropping automatic laser rifles in the hands of the Waco set and insisting that they’re really, really motivated will somehow make them a threat.
We’ll see how writer Rob Williams uses them come July.