Sunday, June 5, 2011
Fear Itself #3 - Unamerican Awesome
Before I begin this review, let me start by saying I'm still a high after the announcement by DC Comics. There's just something wonderful about news that some of your favorite comics are being relaunched and given day-and-date digital release. It's almost as effective as a line of blow mixed with ecstasy. The prospect of a new era in DC almost overshadows what Marvel is doing using the old publishing methods that the interweb is putting out of business. But whether it's on paper or my new iphone, awesome comics are awesome comics and Fear Itself has been pretty awesome so far.
Marvel will have to put it's fingers in it's ears and sing Lady Gaga songs if they want to stay focused on this story. It is still billed as the biggest event of the year for Marvel and so far it has delivered. In just two issues, the story is doing some far-reaching damage. It's almost like when Tiger Woods admits he's banging a new porn star, but with more explosions. The Serpent, who Odin was kind enough to bury at the bottom of a fucking ocean, is back and he's pissed. In the last issue he triggered a new wave of hammers similar to Thor's to fall from the sky. From there, others such as the Hulk, Juggernaut, and Absorbing man picked them up and became hos while Serpent became their pimp. If that weren't enough, the Red Skull's daughter, Sin, unleashed a full on attack on Washington DC using killer Nazi robots. It's as awesome as it sounds, no more no less.
The last issue was great in that it set the stage for a much bigger battle and then fired the first shots of that battle in the last few pages. Now this issue picks up from that battle, showing Captain America (the non-Steve Rogers version) leading the Avengers into battle. You might call it a bit cliched. Captain America fighting Nazi killer robots and the daughter of his greatest enemy sounds like a story that's been done before. It doesn't make the battle any less intense. There's plenty of room for terrified civilians to run around shitting their pants. That whole fear concept doesn't really seem to play out any different than it would if this story was just called Giant Nazi Robots and Pissed Off Gods. It's just what you want it to be and that's it.
The fight takes on a more personal touch with Cap (again, the non-Steve Rogers version) and Sin. They're basically legacies trying to finish what their predecessor's couldn't. Bucky has the advantage of the courage, training, and shield of Steve Rogers. However, Sin has the full power of the Serpent behind her. That's like bringing the Death Star to a knife fight. When they clash, it's not too surprising who hits harder. Bucky still fights admirably, but he might as well be fighting with a fly swatter.
While the world is getting fucked ten ways past the red light district in Amsterdam, Thor is in the slammer after he dared to question the firmness of his father's balls. The god of thunder is now the god of time-out. But he's not the only one who thinks Odin's balls have gotten too jagged for the cheap underwear he buys. Loki of all people uses one of this classic steaks-laced-with-sedative trick to knock the guards out. I used that same trick to get out of a few college exams with my professors. So I like Loki's tastes, although as the god of mischief I expect more from him. For some reason he has a problem with Odin taking a flamethrower to Earth. He probably doesn't want to lose all the people he loves to fuck with so much so he tells Thor that something has to be done and for once bullshitting him (or so it seems).
If family issues bore you more than a 7:00 am Economics class, a battle between Hulks tends to keep you awake. In the last issue, Bruce and Betty were working on their marriage and their anger issues that caused them to become raging monsters (not unlike me and my ex-girlfriend). Then Bruce became one of the Serpent's mindless minions, which is a little oxymoronic because Hulk was pretty mindless to begin with. So Red She-Hulk has to play hero for once and save people from her hubby's rampage. This is quite a change for anyone who has read her in the ongoing Hulks book where her sole desire is to have fun, look hot doing it, and force men to find creative ways to hide their boners. I've yet to discover one myself, but then I stopped hiding boners when I realized it kept me from pissing myself when I'm drunk.
Instead of channeling her inner Tanya Harding, Betty summons Tina Turner and tries to get through to Bruce. For a moment it looks like she's successful. It's a powerful moment because this is the first time someone seems to have resisted the Serpent's control. The hoes are trying to beat back the pimp. It's short lived though because the Avengers arrive and start attacking him. It's not shown how effective it is, but it shows that the Avengers can also have some piss poor timing.
This battle offers a nice variation from the beat-em-up that's been unfolding for most of the book. Betty and Bruce's relationship has been pretty rocky in the Hulk books. It's not clear when in the timeline this takes place, but then again the timeline in all comic continuity is so fucked that there are more holes than dicks to stick in them. So whenever it happens, it still offers a nice insight into Bruce and Betty's relationship. Their roles are reversed in that Betty now has to try and tame Hulk instead of obsessing over how hot she looks.
While some are trying to fight the Serpents growing army of superpowered hos, others are trying to study it. In New York City, Reed Richards and his FF (not the Fantastic Four anymore since Johnny bit the big one) are analyzing one of the unclaimed hammers. Now it's worth remembering that this guy is supposed to be one of the smartest men in the Marvel universe. He probably knows that everyone who picked up one of these hammers became a rampaging asshole. So when he suggests that Thing try and move it, it ranks right up there with the spiked dildo as the worst idea ever. The moment Thing grabs it, he joins Serpent's army. When he starts laying waste to New York City, it's hard to be surprised. I'm not saying Reed should be smarter than this, but seriously. George W. Bush would have given that plan more thought.
Thing's predicament sucks, now the victim of Reed's stupidity. Just as Thor's predicament sucks, having been a victim of Odin's douche-baggery. Having been sprung from his time out, he joins with Sif and his Asgardian buddies to figure out their next move. They all seem to agree that Odin is being a holy caliber dick. They also seem to agree that they're shit out of ideas. Before they can even brainstorm anything, Odin shows up. If they actually thought they could keep Thor's escape from the All-Father, then they might as well have shot themselves in the ass to begin with. It would have been just as productive.
Odin tries to make excuses. He uses the same tricks that child abusers, wife beaters, and OJ Simpson use. He claims that he's protecting Asgard and his children from a prophecy. He doesn't go into details, but at least he's making an effort to not be a massive tool. The Serpent genuinely scares the shit out of him and his son doesn't seem to understand that. Odin must be smart enough to realize that rationalizing with punk kids is like trying to take a shit upside down. It's bound to get messy. So when Thor refuses to stand by while Earth suffers, Odin essentially throws his hands up and casts Thor back to Earth with his hammer. It's not sure if he's just teaching him a lesson or giving up. Either way, it's putting Thor back into play.
It's another break from the action in that it highlights the family drama between Odin and Thor. In a way, Odin is in a no-win situation. He knows he can't convince Thor to see things his way. He doesn't understand and maybe he can't. So rather than fight him or punish him, he throws him back into the destruction on Earth. It could be a lesson or it could be a shitty parenting move. Either way, it's divine mix of family conflict that has helped give Fear Itself a personal touch.
Thor's return is probably necessary because pretty much everyone is getting their asses handed to them on an Asgardian platter. In Washington DC where Sin is parading around like an Asgardian hooker, she bloodied Bucky to a point where he looks like a kid who just suffered an atomic wedgie. Black Widow and Falcon try to be the voice of reason, saying that maybe evacuating and regrouping would be a good idea. That doesn't fly with Bucky. Unlike Steve Rogers, he's more balls than tactician. As far as he's concerned, retreating from Washington DC is like admitting your dick is too short. He's too proud for that.
He puts up his best fight. Against the daughter of the Red Skull armed with Asgardian mojo, he might as well be trying perform open heart surgery with a spoon. Sin is too pissed to let that old American spirit from Captain America bring her down. The constitution is no match for an Asgardian hammer. She lays into him with a light show that even Chris Angel may admire if he could stop banging Las Vegas hookers for more than ten minutes. Sin doesn't just bloody Bucky. She rips one of his fucking arms off. I'll repeat that. She rips a fucking arm off! Granted, it's a mechanical arm. It's still pretty bloody. It would be even more powerful if he put up more of a fight, but it's one of the few scenes in this issue that leaves a decent impact.
Now having your arm ripped off will definitely fuck up your day. Bucky is in bad shape. The American spirit can do a lot, but it can't heal you when you get your arm ripped off. All the democracy in the world won't take the place of a skilled ER surgeon. The only positive here is that now Bucky knows who they're dealing with. It seems like a lot of discomfort to endure just to find out who's fucking the world over. He end scene implies that he's dying. That's not too surprising given the beating he took. But then again, this isn't Steve Rogers. This is Bucky. He's been dead before and dead quite extensively. The image of him dying really doesn't hold much weight. Nor does simply knowing who they're up against. The readers already know that. It seems like there's not much point to this scene other than to show Bucky looking like someone who forgot to pay his cocaine dealer. It makes the situation a lot more dire. It's presented in an awesome way, but it's not going to blow your mind. Even snorting the ink fumes only goes so far.
It's a pretty dramatic ending. It doesn't feel quite as dramatic as it should though. Not long ago, Bucky Barnes was in the same league as Spider-Man's Uncle Ben as dead characters who would not be brought back. He was part of the anti-Jean Grey crowd. Well when he came back, it was quite a spectacle. That's part of what made it awesome. So when he gets his ass kicked and it looks like he's going to die, it doesn't hit with the same impact as one would expect. So Bucky is bloodied and battered. If he dies, well then he was dead for a long time anyways. If he doesn't, well that's okay too because he beat the odds. I'm not saying that it's a bad idea, but it does feel a little underhanded.
The other major battles don't do much in that they basically just showcase Serpents destruction. It makes for some great battle scenes, but not much progression in the story. The battle against Hulk had a nice personal touch with Betty. And having Thing become a new ho for Seprent's army of superpowered hos added yet another battle to the conflict, which is always a plus. Odin was still a dick to Thor and pretty much everyone else in Asgard. Not sure if that's a plus, but at least he's getting Thor back into the action hammer and all. Between all the hammers showing up in this story it feels like a big advertisement for MC Hammers comeback tour.
This issue had plenty of action. However, it lacked the impact of the previous issue. At the end of the last issue we saw this cloud of fear engulfing the entire world. In this issue that cloud didn't seem to do damn near anything. It looked as though the battle would have unfolded in pretty much the same way. What happened in the previous book didn't seem to affect this book all that much. Even if the fight scenes were nicely developed, their impact was limited. It's the first time in this Fear Itself story that I finished a book feeling underwhelmed. It's not bad, but I'm not grinding it up and snorting it with meth.
Fear Itself #3 continued the story, but not a whole lot. It set the stage for some interesting conflicts. It definitely makes the next issue worth picking up, but you may find yourself less excited than before. In that sense it does fall a bit short and I can't start making comparisons to boobs like I do when I'm high on a series. So for Fear Itself #3, I give it a 4 out of 5. You'll get everything you want, but nothing more. There's no bonus here. There's just a solid story that moves things along. It could be worse, but it could be a lot better as well. For an event like this the standards are a lot higher. There are still plenty of issues for Fear Itself to spray brain matter on the walls of every comic shop before DC's deal starts closing them. So for that it's still worth getting excited about. To pass the time, there's always DC's ongoing Flashpoint event. Nuff said!