Why Fear Itself Has Failed

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It’s been a huge summer for the comic book industry. DC have been busy with their super event Flashpoint, which paved way for an all new reboot for the DC universe, while Marvel have returned to their mega crossover events with Fear Itself, written by Matt Fraction. Whilst DC’s Flashpoint sent the old DC universe out with a bang, Marvel’s summer event has been met with universal criticism.

The problem with Marvel’s events recently, is that they are always promised to be status- quo changing events, which are usually met with pointless character deaths. Sadly this is the case with Fear Itself. One of Marvel’s most popular characters, Bucky Barnes, was killed just to add some gravitas to the story and get Steve Rogers back as Captain America in time for his new movie. When every reader knows that Steve’s going to become Captain America again upon witnessing Bucky Barnes’s death, it really takes way any emotion from the book. When a storyline contains one of the most hated comic book clichés it’s bound to struggle.

What’s also confused me is that Matt Fraction was quoted, way before the first issue of Fear Itself was released as declaring he hates comic book events that come with hundreds of tie-in books. While Fraction promised a story that can be read in seven issues, what we’ve actually received is a story that still feels like it hasn’t taken off, even though the event is coming to a close next month. If you want to see how Steve Rogers reacts to the death of his partner Bucky Barnes, you’ll have to wait for a post Fear Itself tie-in. Did you want to see how Avengers such as Hawkeye, Spider-Man and Spider-Woman reacted to what was going on? Better go back and read the Avengers and Spider-Man tie-ins. If you only read Fear Itself’s six issues, you would probably be left feeling underwhelmed. In other words, you need plenty of cash to get the complete story.

Regular reader of DC comics would have noticed huge similarities between DC’s Blackest Night event and Marvel’s Fear Itself. Problem is, DC did it better. Where Blackest Night flourished with a dramatic story and fantastic tie-in books, Fear Itself suffers from a bland story and an overkill of tie-ins. Blackest Night resurrected several fallen characters at the end of its story, who’s to say Marvel won’t do the same. After all, Bucky’s got to come back somehow.

Another factor contributing to the failure of Fear Itself, is Marvel’s decision to release all their post summer 2011 plans way before Fear Itself has concluded. It kills any momentum for the event, as we now know who survives and where the Marvel universe is heading all the way into 2012. Where’s the need to read Fear Itself if you now that the heroes are going to win, and move on to the next pointless cross over event straight away? It’s a really flawed marketing technique. Teaser posters are great, but anything beyond that is overkill.

To conclude, despite being drastically over-hyped, Fear Itself has failed because it’s insignificant. We already know how the Marvel universe ends up when the event concludes, and what storylines are heading our way in the near future. It almost feels like Fraction deliberately killed Bucky just to give the event some more significance. Lets hope Marvel’s next storyline ‘Shattered Heroes’ gives Fear Itself the significance it so desperately needs.

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