Avengers #17: OK, this issue is a hot mess. I honestly don't know where to start. The good? I guess the best part of this issue is that I can almost see the bright light at the end of the dark "Fear Itself" tunnel. The bad? Tough to say.
Bendis seems to totally abandon any attempt to put this particular story into the context of the larger events we're seeing happen in the main "Fear Itself" title as well as the secondary series. Let's break it down a bit:
Just like in "Avengers" #16 (see that review for more details), we see the Avengers in this issue dealing with an event (the fall of Avengers Tower) months after it initially happened ("Avengers" #14). The Tower presumably fell after "Fear Itself" #3, since it's in that issue where the Thing becomes a member of the Worthy, and he's the one who takes down the Tower. Although it makes sense that Hawkeye, Ms. Marvel, the Protector, and Spider-Woman would be behind everyone else in seeing the destruction of the Tower (since they were in Brazil fighting the Hulk in "Fear Itself" #3 and "Avengers" #15), this issue still would have had to happened before "Fear Itself" #4, since they are seen having already reconnected with the Avengers and New Avengers in New York in that issue. So, it seems, for the events of "Fear Itself" #4 to make sense, that "Avengers" #14-#17 all happened between "Fear Itself" #3 and #4. The Tower falls ("Avengers" #14), half the Avengers fight the Hulk ("Fear Itself" #3 and "Avengers" #15), Cap tries to take out Sin ("Avengers" #16), everyone regroups in New York ("Avengers" #17 and "Fear Itself" #4), and the Avengers battle the Serpent and Sin in New York ("Fear Itself" #5). Makes sense.
The problem is that it clearly doesn't. As mentioned above, Sin and the Serpent fought Captain America and the Avengers (including the Brazil crew mentioned here) in New York in "Fear Itself" #5 and then left the city to make their way to Asgard in Broxton, Oklahoma. In fact, Sin is standing next to the Serpent at the end of "Fear Itself" #6 when he arrives in Broxton. However, in this issue, Sin randomly appears to make her way to Heimdall's Observatory (formerly located in the Tower) to enter Asgard. So, how does that work? Is Bendis implying that she entered the Observatory to enter Asgard somewhere between "Fear Itself" #3 and #4, when this issue would in theory take place, only to reappear in "Fear Itself" #5 to fight Cap and the Avengers, with no mention made of her time in Asgard? That seems to be the only explanation to make sense.
However, I think it's actually Bendis showing the Serpent call all his Worthy to him as he approaches Broxton. (He does the same with the Juggernaut in "Uncanny X-Men" #543.) However, that would be placing this issue after "Fear Itself" #6. Plus, Sin is with the Serpent at the end of that issue. So, what happens? Sin leaves the Serpent, travels to New York, and enters Asgard through the Observatory? That could make sense (depending on the events of "Fear Itself" #7)...except for the fact that we've firmly established that this issue happens between "Fear Itself" #3 and #4. It wouldn't make sense for this issue to happen after "Fear Itself" #6, because it would mean the Brazil crew were both in New York to witness the devastation in this issue AND in Oklahoma with Cap in "Fear Itself" #6. (Maybe they all suddenly developed Wolverine's ability to be in two places at once.) In other words, it can't happen both between issues #3 and #4 AND between #6 and #7. So, either it happens between issues #3 and #4 and Sin's entry through the Observatory into Asgard is an error, or it happens between issues #6 and #7 and Bendis' depiction of Hawkeye, Ms. Marvel, Protector, and Spider-Woman just arriving in New York is an error. But, it's definitely one or the other.
I know it seems nit-picky, but, as I said in my review of "Avengers" #16, I find this lack of attention to detail distracting because it complicates the motivations of characters. For example, in this issue, everyone is mad about the Tower falling, whereas, in the main title, they already moved past that event months ago and are focused on new threats. It would've been nice to see this anger before "Fear Itself" #4, so that you can understand their mindset in that issue and "Fear Itself" #5. I think it's part of what has made "Fear Itself" feel so hollow, since the emotional aspects of the events have been sub-contracted to the tie-in series, which don't address them until months after they happen. These sequencing questions really make me wonder if Marvel put an overall editor in charge of "Fear Itself." My guess is no. It seems pretty clear that the authors of the tie-ins just got short snippets about the larger plot of the main title and had to more or less insert their individual stories into where they thought they'd fit into the larger arc. The problem is that you can't have a book like "Avengers" be SO poorly synced to the main title. They're THE AVENGERS. They play a pretty significant role in this series. If I, a fan, can tell the sequencing of their appearances are so poorly synced with the rest of the series, how can some editor not tell?
Moreover, if I'm getting really nit-picky, in true pet peeve #1 fashion, despite what the cover depicts, Hawkeye and Spider-Woman do not/not get busy while New York burns in this issue. Also, someone needs to tell Bendis and JR JR that Spidey lost his Spider-Sense, which seems to have magically re-appeared here.
I've said it before and I'll, unfortunately, say it again: this event needs to END.
Fear Itself: The Home Front #6: This issue is, perhaps, the worst issue of any comic book I've ever read. I'm tired of trying to give it credit for the Speedball story. Gage is actually just telling the same story he initially told. It's like I'm in "Groundhog's Day." All four stories in this issue suck, one worst than the other. I mean that literally, too. Each story just gets worse than the other. I STILL can't believe I'm buying this series.
Fear Itself: Youth in Revolt #5: I've liked this series for most of its run, but this issue is pretty grim. It's hard to be overly sympathetic to any of the characters, even though I think McKeever is, unlike all the other authors, accurately showing what it would look like when a bunch of completely exhausted superheroes are finally pushed over the edge and begin tearing each other apart. I'm hoping someone gets a redeeming moment in the final issue, and I'm intrigued what's going to happen with these characters after the series wraps up its run.
New Mutants #31: We begin this issue with Dani trapped inside one of the undead gods, something that apparently happened last issue but I don't exactly remember. At any rate, the undead god in which she finds herself engages in battle with the New Mutants, and her new crow friend helps her realize that her teammates are right...um...outside, as it were. Dani claws her way out the undead god's mouth, though I'm not exactly sure how she managed that, since she was having trouble figuring out an escape plan before she was inspired by the arrival of her teammates. At any rate, the issue was pretty fun, particularly with its somewhat shocking ending, Hela hanging on a pike. I also found the undead god's memories of Odin's confrontation with the Serpent interesting, particularly because I haven't seen anything about their confrontation before. (I'm assuming the Thor series are covering that.) The New Muties defending Hela's castle against the undead gods should be a pretty good story next issue.
Uncanny X-Men #543: It's hard to read this issue and not think that this story is exactly the type of story we all expected to read when we heard of "Fear Itself." I mean, everything falls apart here, because the "good guys" are forced into morally compromised positions to fend off the "bad guys." I loved Kitty's speech to Colossus, about how he's always ready to die for her but she needs someone who's ready to live for her. OMG, yes. I've been waiting for her to get there for YEARS. Although I was initially optimistic after the Breakworld arc that we would finally get a happy Kitty and Peter, I'm perfectly happy not to get one if it means that Kitty finally puts down her foot when it comes to Peter always sacrificing himself. Kitty and Peter being happy presumed that he'd stop throwing himself in front of the bus. If he can't do that, it's time for them to end, and I really applaud Gillen for being, like, the only X-book author ever to draw that conclusion. Moreover, I like the Scott we get here, by which I mean I don't like Scott here, but I like Gillen's portrayal of him. First, Land does an amazing job of showing Scott's confusion when he sees Colossus. It's one of the few moments where I've ever seen the modern Scott Summers actually show a moment of conflict, a moment of wondering whether he made the right choice. Second, his conversation with Sadie is disturbing. Given that this issue happens along the backdrop of "X-Men: Schism," it fits with the scary Scott we've seen lately. Gillen uses both these instances to show a Scott who isn't quite the person he thinks (or hopes) he is. Looking at this arc, I can say, with certainty, that Gillen is the only author who really took "Fear Itself" and made it his own, using its premise to further his characters while at the same time telling a story that made sense in context of the event. Well done, Kieron. Well done.