Monday, January 21, 2013
Review: Fear Itself: Spider-Man
The latter fits in with pretty much any of the Fear Itself trades (though perhaps the collection of Fear Itself proper would have been the ideal place for it…?), the former seems particularly out of place here instead of, say a Fear Itself: Fantastic Four collection, which I don't actually think exists, but could probably be cobbled together out of series and one-shots prominently featuring FF characters).
The title series in the collection was written by Chris Yost and featured art by Mike McKone. It was set in the earlier parts of Fear Itself mega-plot, so the most significant moment of Spider-Man’s involvement in the storyline—the part where he is so overcome with hopelessness he gives up and swings home to Aunt May, hoping to spend the last moments before the apocalypse with her—isn’t covered.
Instead, the series focuses on Spidey being gripped by the unnatural fear—here referred to as “The Fear”, as in captions reading “Hour Six of The Fear”—and trying for several sleepless days to keep New York City from tearing itself apart with riots and craziness brought on by the fear.
It’s not until the third issue that he encounters a solid opponent directly related to the villains in Fear Itself—the hammer-possessed Ben Grimm, an encounter that involved impressively high odds, as I had previously seen the now-evil Thing take out the Red Hulk repeatedly in other comics.
There’s not a whole lot to the story that I haven’t seen done many, many times before—in fact, I think every event of similar size contains a story or two about a frantic hero struggle against the limits of endurances to persevere on the fringes of the event, don’t they?—but Yost and McKone do a perfectly decent job of it.
J. Jonah Jameson and some other supporting characters appear briefly, Spidey villain Vermin appears, there’s a kinda of squirmy scene where Spidey is being eaten alive by a swarm of rodents and Yost does a decent job of introducing random civilian characters to throw into various melodramatic wringers, to illustrate how “The Fear” is tearing average people apart.
Naturally, the fight is rather artificially resolved—this simply being a tie-in, Ben can’t actually be defeated—but there’s nothing at all wrong with the comic, really.
It’s followed by Fear Itself: FF, which also follows Ben Grimm wrecking shit with his hammer, and therefore, I guess, has a bit of continuity with the Spider-Man arc.
It’s written by Cullen Bunn, and drawn by Tom Grummet, whose artwork I’ve always liked, although I’ve liked it a lot more the last few times I’ve seen it. (Colorist Rain Beredo doesn’t make the orange bits of Ben as glow-y here though, so he just looks like a black rock guy with yellow stripes, rather than a black rock guy with volcanic lava under his black rocks, waiting to blow him apart).
Thing fights Reed and Sue, then he fights Dragon Man, then he throws Alicia into a street lamp. Then he walks off. And that’s the whole comic, really.
I like the way Grummet draws Thing’s hammer, like a big-ass meat tenderizer.
And that just leaves The Worthy, the cover of which features the tagline “The Secret Origins of the Hammer-Wielders Revealed…” (Can Marvel say “Secret Origins”…? DC doesn’t own that phrase…?)
These are all four-page stories from different creative teams, generally showing the origins of the characters and only sometimes involving the hammers; a pin-up opens each chapter, also showing the Worthy’s real/normal names and their new Worthy names, most of which I’ve forgotten.
That last one may be the very best one. Pulido’s art is pretty sensational, as always, and here quite heavily Kirby-influenced in design and staging—the flashback portions to the FF origin sequence look like cover songs of Kirby panels—while the modern day sequences are told in a more straight, Kirby-free style that contrasts quite nicely with the flashbacks.
This is definitely one of the stronger—and hell, it may be the strongest—of the collections of FI tie-ins I’ve read. But its seemingly random make-up, the lack of mention of the back-ups in the title also make it one of the weirder ones.
In retrospect, I wonder if Marvel wouldn’t have been better off numbering all of their Fear Itself tie-ins, so that the impression would be of one, big, interconnected epic storyline, and the titles wouldn’t come freighted with certain expectations beyond the fact that they have something to do with Fear Itself (which, as we’ve seen in the Hulk and Dracula volumes, wasn’t even really the case).
PLEASE NOTE: 2011's Fear Itself: Spider-Man is not to be confused with 1992's Spider-Man: Fear Itself