The Avengers assemble to hit evil Asgardians and giant dragons until they die. Lots of big sounds, lots of sound effects, the triumph of the human spirit as played out on a superhero battlefield. Did I mention the big dragon? Shawn Hill:Jamil Scalese:
Shawn Hill: The strengths of this series were consistent throughout. Good job, Immonen/von Grawbadger/Vines/Martin. This thing looked awesome, page by page. Only Neal Adams comes close to how good Ms. Marvel looks in this series. And Deodato. Okay, actually, that costume never looks bad, no matter who draws it. But Red She-Hulk looks pretty great, too! The weaknesses were also consistent. Sorry Matt, while everyone sounds right, the beats of the story were just too telegraphed. It was big. It was epic. It was devastating. But I was more entertained by Skirn and Greithoth torturing the students in Avengers Academy than I was by the simple martial battle steps in the main story. There was some quirky deviltry afoot in that part of the crossover, and seeing how the heroes coped in New Avengers and some of the other affected titles led to some strong character showcases. Though even there it got to the point that I was pretty tired of seeing the trade dress on yet another title by the end of the summer.
Here the Asgardians remain as remote emotionally as they are literally. Odin is inscrutable one second, maudlin and sentimental the next. Thor is stubborn and heroic, but never interesting. And the Robert Downey, Jr. schtick for Iron Man has gotten old; we get it, he’s hubristic and maybe a little vain. There was a lot of yelling at the gods in this series, but nothing very godlike about the heroic behavior. All of that was saved for this issue’s divine reveal, I guess, when the heroes finally get to armor up with Asgardian weaponry, thanks to Tony. It makes for interesting Tron-like costume amalgams. I especially like how Tony’s armor mimics that of the Destroyer, Thor’s old foe. I’m not sure the looks do much for the Widow or Wolverine, though, and really they’re only so much window dressing. It’s just time to turn the tide and they justify that goal. The Avengers actually all look better once the magic wears off.
There’s another way to look at this, I suppose. Maybe Sin is Bachmann (or some other Tea Party candidate), Odin is Obama and the Serpent is Romney, growing in strength as the world weakens. The Worthy are the economy, endangering the world. Thor and Captain America are two versions of those Average Joes the politicians are always talking about. Plus we have an actual Average Rick, resident of Broxton, who finally develops the courage to fight his own battles (a call back to the first issue). Not very subtle, but another sign of a job professionally done. I have no regrets about buying this series. It was good comics, from beginning to end. But it’s telling that I forgot completely about the penultimate issue during the DC Relaunch. This one didn’t exactly rewrite the history books, or even come close to cracking the internet in half.
Shawn Hill knows two things: comics and art history. Find his art at Cornekopia.net.
Jamil Scalese: We comic fans would be nothing without our cycles and refrains. That’s what the point of this was, right? To prove that history repeats itself. In the last chapter of the major event originally concocted to promote the Thor and Captain America movies, Matt Fraction and the heads at Marvel managed to kill off both of the characters carrying the mantle of those characters when Fear Itself#1 hit stores. Yet, we’ve seen Thor and Bucky die before. We’ve seen Stark take a drink and we’ve seen Spider-Man worry about Aunt May. We’ve seen Cap’s shield break and we’ve seen him pick up Thor’s hammer. I was shocked that the final installment offered no true shockers. Where are the memorable moments? Our favorite heroes get the promised enchanted weapons, they fight the disappointingly flat Worthy, and Thor scores a last minute save as he slays a giant dragon. He’s done that before, too. But that’s the point. Right?
Fraction inserts the human element back in this issue, but it feels forced. Fraction’s script has touched on the people of the world, their fear and suffering, but around the middle of the series we lost that completely. Even though I enjoyed the bit time fights between Hulk, Thing and Thor maybe it would have served the themes a little more to touch on the Broxton, New York and Paris citizens who were slaughtered and turned to rock. The reason Fear Itselfworked on any level is due to Immonen and the color team knocking this sucker out of the part on every pitch. They have turned a script without an abundance of flair into fireworks show of everything spectacular about superheroes. Immonon’s clean and tight pencils portray the action of the closing battle and the poignancy of the funeral scenes just equally well. This issue had several splash and spread pages, which actually probably made it more readable than one with sanctimonious dialogue. A personal favorite moment is on a page near the end where Red Hulk and Red She Hulk stare at each other in the background of an Avengers line-up shot. If there is any reason to go back and read this series or pick up the trade it’s for the pure, vibrant comics that hit hard and look cool.
Other than featuring two of it’s main characters, Marvel used the war against the Serpent as a mechanism to knock our favorite protagonists down a peg much in the way Civil War and Secret Invasion did. In fact it almost feels like the VIPs sat down and said: “OK, at the end of this we need the heroes to be… SHATTERED. What should we do? ” “Oh, let’s kill Bucky… and THOR! And let’s have another powerful hammer… AND EIGHT MORE.” “How about an evil Odin?” “Yeah! And Hulk, Red Skull, Juggernaut–” “Guys, guys… Two words: EVIL. THING.” “Great ideas. And as usual we’ll completely ignore Carol Danvers.”
And so on. The next step is apparently a big deal because Marvel stuck four previews of followups The Fearless, Incredible Hulk, Battle Scars and The Defenders. While these series look really incredible, and I am eager to start reading the last two, I could have easily sneaked a peak at these online. I feel like I bought these pages for nothing, but if it helps buy Marvel employees access to another bathroom I guess it’s a creditable cause.
Jamil Scalese is just like you — an avid comics fan and lover of sequential art. Residing in Pittsburgh, PA, he is an unapologetic Deadpool fan, lover of the Food Network and proud member of Steelers Nation.