While this is a Fear Itself tie-in, Fearsome Four fares a little better than most. Primarily it’s a group of Defenders battling the Psycho-Man. Man-Thing has also altered reality and pulled in the temporary Fantastic Four: Wolverine, Spider-Man, Hulk and Ghost Rider.
A few scenes must be noted. The Frankenstein monster knocks off the Ghost Rider’s head. Amusingly, it doesn’t stop him for long. Wolverine gets dumped, literally, and by a C-Lister. Primarily though, the star of the book is without a doubt She-Hulk. Montclare economically crafts a character arc for her within a single issue. She faces self-doubt, amplified by the Psycho-Man. She’s beaten. She reaffirms her heroism, and then she returns to kick ass.
These misfit heroes originally banded together to prevent Man-Thing from incinerating innocent people. Man-Thing is a being that despises fear so much that he must burn it out of existence, “For whatever knows fear, burns at the Man-Thing’s touch!”
The whole Fear Itself bugaboo is driving Man-Thing to a frenzy, and that’s where Fearsome Four is a little “eh.” Man-Thing’s appearances in Fearsome Four conflict with his Thunderbolts status. I know he teleports using the cosmic nexus. So, technically Man-Thing could seem to be in two places at once, but his behavior here and in Thunderbolts differs.
In Thunderbolts Man-Thing doesn’t seem to be maddened by the fear miasma affecting the world, and that’s perhaps due to Satana’s enchantments. It’s a sore thumb really. Because of events in this week’s Thunderbolts, recommended for Man-Thing and Satana fans, I know that Fearsome Four could not have occurred after. It had to occur before the events in Thunderbolts. So, the Psycho-Man is really the cause of Man-Thing’s temporary insanity. If so, his influence should go away with his vanquishing, but Man-Thing ends up still being nutty, and the drama of Howard the Duck’s decision feels false. I’d be more supportive of the title had Man-Thing suddenly regained his senses. That would have jibed with Thunderbolts. In other words, this should have been the last issue of Fearsome Four, but it continues for one more.
Ray Tate’s first online work appeared in 1994 for Knotted. He has had a short story, “Spider Without a Web,” published in 1995 for the magazine evernight and earned a degree in biology from the University of Pittsburgh. Since 1995, Ray self-published The Pick of the Brown Bag on various usenet groups. In the POBB, as it was affectionately known, Ray reviewed comic books, Doctor Who novels, movies and occasionally music. Circa 2000, he contributed his reviews to Silver Bullet Comic Books (later Comics Bulletin) and became its senior reviewer. Ray Tate would like to think that he’s young at heart. Of course, we all know better.