Fear Itself #5: I fucking hate Matt Fraction. I know that’s harsh, but, as I detail in the first post of this blog, the reason why I stopped reading comics several years ago was because “celebrity” authors like Fraction were allowed to just do whatever they wanted to characters with long-standing histories. These authors replaced careful storytelling with shocking twists and big reveals. This issue is a great example of that. To make matters worse, the plot itself makes no sense whatsoever. It is all so unbelievably bad I almost don’t know where to start.
Let’s start with the plot, I guess. I’ve tried to write this paragraph for the last five minutes and I just can’t find a way to try to make sense of it. Instead, I’ll just list my complaints and questions:
1) Odin abandoned Earth because it had no hope of surviving the Serpent and because he had to spend all his time preparing Asgard for the Serpent, but he has time to chat with Iron Man? Also, if Iron Man really could forge weapons that could defeat the Serpent, don’t you think Odin would have known that and been able to commit Asgard’s forces to hold back the Serpent and given Stark time to do just that? What’s the point of being all-seeing if, um, you’re not?
2) As the Avengers attack the Serpent, Cap tells them not to let the hammer hit…something. Except, um, no one threw a hammer. Even if someone had thrown a hammer (which no one did), it’s still unclear what the hammer wasn’t supposed to hit and, when it did hit said something, why it caused a huge explosion. I’m not just being nitpicky here, since it’s this explosion that knocks out the Avengers and results in the Serpent winning the battle.
3) We’re supposed to be all, “OMG, no WAY!” when the Serpent breaks Cap’s shield and declares, “I am God,” while seemingly unleashing a nuclear-level explosion. But, then, everyone is, um, you know, totally OK. As Spidey says, “Nobody’s too terribly incapacitated.” Um, why not exactly? I mean, if I were the Serpent facing Earth’s mightiest heroes and I had the chance to kill them, I, you know, would.
4) If Franklin Richards can keep the Thing from dying, can he bring back Bucky? (That being said, if this whole series ends with Franklin just undoing everything, I am going to be fit to be tied, just to warn you.)
5) Thor tells the Hulk he can’t beat him. The Hulk responds that he knows. Thor, for some reason, is infuriated by the Hulk, um, agreeing with him, so he proceeds to beat him, despite the whole fight starting because he allegedly couldn't. Um, yeah.
I almost don’t have the energy to keep ranting, but here we go. The characterization:
1) Fraction has possibly the worst ear for voices I’ve ever seen in an issue here. Tony Stark is just unrecognizable in his bizarre conversation with Odin ("My word?" Did he become Aunt May?), Thor is portrayed like he’s Clint Eastwood, (“You were always a pain in the ass.”) and I don’t even know where to start with Cap. (“Reckon you can’t, either.” WTF? Cap’s from Brooklyn, not Arkansas.)
2) We had a whole mini-series about how Spider-Man tirelessly defended the city in the face of the onslaught from the Serpent’s forces. But, he just up and quits? Um, no. I know Fraction tries to make Cap and Spidey losing hope the big emotional moment where our heroes face their greatest challenge so that their victory will be all the sweeter in issue #7 when they inevitably beat the Serpent. But, Fraction does NOTHING to sell that. He just maladroitly uses the characters as set pieces. Giving Spidey one quip does not characterization make. What caused Spidey to lose hope? I actually think they did pretty well, considering that no one died in their first skirmish with the Serpent. I mean, what were they expecting, exactly? The Avengers engaged him for one brief moment (seriously, it was three panels) before he unleashed an explosion and disappeared. Spidey is going to quit simply because they didn’t beat him in less than a minute? Fraction chose Cap and Spidey to lose hope because he thought they’d have more impact, since they’re the definition of hope when all hope is lost. But, if you don’t spend any time showing us the reasons why they should feel hopeless, then I’m not going to believe it. Fraction is essentially just relying on Immonen’s amazing art to tell the story. Although the art is, in fact, amazing, the story is actually his job, and he’s not doing it.
I could keep ranting about this issue, but I’ll stop here. Suffice it say, I can’t wait for this series to end. And, I’m never buying a comic from Fraction afterwards again.