Fear Itself

by Ed Brubaker & Matt Fraction

(Art by Scott Eaton, Mark Morales, Stuart Immonen and Wade von Grawbadger)

When Sin, daughter of the Red Skull, unearths an ancient hammer she releases the Serpent, the Asgardian god of fear and brother of Odin.  The Serpent unleashes the Worthy, heroes and villains possessed by malevolent entities and wielding Asgardian hammers, with the task of seeding fear across the face of the Earth.  When Odin and the Asgardians abandon Earth, only the Avengers stand in the Serpent's path.

Big event storylines are all too common in comics nowadays, more or less coming around every year, and this is one of the less well-regarded Marvel ones.  I had been intrigued by it before reading because I have a life-long love of Norse mythology and thought that maybe this would explore some more of that.  Sadly, it doesn't and instead opts for a fairly generic new super-powerful entity about to destroy the world.  Similarly, I was intrigued by the idea of the Worthy and was excited to see how being possessed by Asgardian hammers plays with powerhouse characters like the Juggernaut, the Hulk and the Thing.  Unfortunately, it seems like much of the stuff featuring the Worthy has been reserved for the inevitable spin-off comics instead, with them being fairly minor players in this, the main storyline.

What I did like was how the, admittedly cliched, last stand plays out.  There's a moment when the Avengers pretty clearly realised they're outmatched and can't win but, led by Captain America, take their stand nonetheless.  On the subject of Cap, one of my two favourite moments in the entire book was seeing him righteously giving a piece of his mind to Odin, who ends up genuinely flustered to be getting a dressing-down from a mortal.  The other favourite moment is a very similar scene between Iron Man and Odin, but where Tony Stark's characteristic irreverence is in play instead.

This isn't a dreadful book, but it is definitely lesser than the sum of its parts.

3 out of 5