Will Marvel’s Fear Itself Really Change Anything?

So it was announced back in January that Marvel would be having another huge crossover event called Fear Itself. We got told that that Marvel Universe would never be the same again. Hmmm hang on that sounds like a bit of contradiction to me and I am definitely feeling a wee bit of de ja vu.

I am dead against this for many reasons. Firstly, how many of us believe that Fear Itself will actually change the Marvel Universe forever as they boast? I maybe cynical but I doubt it. I reckon we will see Steve Rodgers reinstated as Captain America (solely because his film is coming out) and that will be about it. The reason why I’m pessimistic you ask? Well let’s look back to just five years ago or so when the Civil War occurred. Marvel told us then that the Marvel Universe would never be the same again, and I believed them. With something so big and innovative as the Superhero Registration Act, I believed things would never be the same. Cap died, everyone knew Spider-man’s identity and half the heroes were on the run. It was a huge change. But here we are in 2011, and I can’t think of any of the big changes the Civil War made that are still in notion. Cap was brought back to life (well he apparently never died, he was simply lost in time) and Spider-man was tarnished by retconning his identity and his marriage to Mary Jane. An idea that as more of Brand New Day (BND) and One Moment In Time came out, it made less and less sense. We got told at the beginning of BND that no-one including The Avengers knew his identity yet of late they have proven to. So according to Marvel five years is forever. Hmmm, I’ll have to remember that.

The other big reason I think that this is a travesty is that Marvel have lied to their readership. In the awful cross over Siege (that officially reversed everything Civil War did), and the creation of The Heroic Age, we got told that these big crossovers were a thing of the past for Marvel, that a reader could actual choose one title and they would know what was happening in it. They could actually just read one if they wanted to! Good times I thought. I can happily read one title and that will be it. Yet Fear Itself is linked back to what happened in Shadowland. Eh? Hang on, I thought you told us we did not need to read everything Mr Marvel Man? And wait a minute is this not a big cross over event again? Ahh we are meant to forget what you said as quickly as Peter Parker forgot Mary Jane. I think it is a huge slap in the face to Marvel’s fans when let’s be honest, Fear Itself is simply being done because big crossovers make lots of money and they realised that if they don’t do one at least a year, they will loose money. Crossovers make so much money because people will pick up the main crossover and then they will pick up all the other titles linked to it (or that’s the plan anyway). Think about Blackest Night. If you love Green Lantern and The Flash (like I do and let’s be honest you should be ashamed if you don’t) you would collect Blackest Night but you would probably also pick up Blackest Night: The Flash. Yet the money grabbing isn’t what I actually fear about Fear Itself. I fear what will happen to the characters. Let’s take the example of Spider-man. Peter Parker has been through enough in the past five years or so. In my opinion, Amazing Spider-man is only just getting back on it’s feet after the horrific story arc One More Day and BND. Big Time has given us fun, interesting stories with Peter Parker actually being a character you’d root for again instead of pity. So if Spidey is in Fear Itself (which he surely will be because he is one of Marvel’s big hitters) why ruin his life even more then you already have done? This is what I really do not like about cross overs when they happen with so much regularity: a character never gets the time to do anything and feel settled in it’s respected title before the next devastation occurs.

Finally I want to compare this to what DC are doing. Whereas Marvel’s Fear Itself seems to have come out of the blue, DC has happily been building up to Flashpoint and The War of the Green Lanterns. I am sure Marvel do the same, but to me it just feels that DC take more care in building up to these big events instead of just springing them on you (and the character). Flashpoint and War of the Green Lanterns feels the natural progression, it is the perfect big crescendo that these characters need till they move onto the next stage in their lives. Instead of haphazardly darting from one thing to the next.

So please do not expect the changes to happen in Fear Itself to last forever, please think about it a bit before jumping in. I hope I am wrong but I doubt it.


Luke Halsall

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One comment

  1. John Lees /

    Good article, and some valid points.

    The thing that I find funny is that, with every event, Marvel seem to say, “All the previous events have been setting the stage for this one, and THIS, THIS is the finale, the big culmination of everything!” Then the next event comes along, and its, “Actually, that big finale was just a prelude to the true climax, everything will come to a head in THIS event!”

    I can get where Marvel is coming from, why they’d want to do another big crossover event. Yes, they pledged to have less of these big crossovers. But what happened? Sales dropped. As much as people complain about them, it would seem that they’ll grumble about how much they hate them while shelling out money to read them, instead of voting with their wallets. Marvel put the ball in our court. They said, “Hey, if you want more focus on independent storytelling within individual titles, let’s give it a try.” And we bottled it. We basically said, “No, we’d rather be duped into buying a big event that will CHANGE EVERYTHING FOREVER BUT NOT REALLY, thsnk you very much.” It’s not Marvel’s fault we’re suckers.

    But this event is written by Matt Fraction, who I like. He doesn’t seem like an event guy at all, though, given how casually-paced his work on “Invincible Iron man” and “Thor” is. I kinda hope he does what Grant Morrison did with “Final Crisis”, where he had people expecting the Next Big Event, then instead just having fun telling a quintissential Grant Morrison story. Matt Fraction should do the same with “Fear Itself”, and have 90% of the event being all the heroes sitting in a cafe trading witty banter and talking about how they need to get round to fixing that Norse God of Fear problem…

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