Thursday, 14 April 2011

The Mane Event - Fear Itself #1

In advance of this moment, a few weeks ago I reviewed the prelude to Fear Itself written by Ed Brubaker. Now for the main event Matt Fraction has taken over and opens with the first book – The Serpent. Some people may wonder why the change in writer (and I am one of them) but both Fraction and Brubaker are considered “Architects” for Marvel at the moment so it’s all in safe hands.

The first thing I noticed about this is the feel. It’s weighty and has a definite presence when you hold it in your hands. What is more impressive is that when you look through it (with the exception of the five pages dedicated to advertising Planet Red Hulk), there are only a couple of adverts. The adverts themselves are also for Marvel titles, which means that there is a lot of space dedicated to the story and nothing given to paid space. Marvel have certainly invested themselves and have given the reader a bounty to muse over, without interruption.

Fraction opens with a tense situation and for once it is not super related. In what is a nice change current events have been brought into the issue referencing (indirectly) firstly the plans to build a mosque in New York and later on the housing crisis. In the ensuing riot common sense does not prevail and once quelled the heroes (fronted by Steve Rogers) almost feel at a loss to explain what made normal people do this. There are no powers, no villains, no chemicals or even radiation to blame or attribute. It almost seems surreal for them.

In a parallel storyline we have Fraction very quickly establishing the main baddie in Sin, or as she then refers to herself, Skadi. There are a good few questions that could be asked at this point such as: How did Sin lift the hammer? Was she considered worthy? Where has it really come from? To be honest, my Marvel-Norse mythology is not that good. For those interested Skadi is actually linked with skiing and hunting with her father being Thiaz, who was well known as an eagle. It is clear that Marvel have taken the normal creative line with histories so there are no sneak peeks ahead simply by knowing your histories, myths and fables.

Splitting once again, Fraction takes us to the gods and how the impact is being felt by them too. The writing for Odin alone is fantastic. You can really feel the emotion in and all that he says and does. It’s a fantastic little piece and something that on a second read can be seen all the way through. The only thing left to consider is that once you have at least one god-level adversary introduced to the playing field what do you do when the other gods leave?

From an artwork point of view, Immonen has produced a well drawn issue. However, although it is well crafted I found it a little inconsistent. Shifting from panels which are full of detail to others which are lacking definition I’m glad that the story kept my attention so much. Immonen strikes me as someone who can draw a great group shot, adding attention where needed, or can draw a superb individual, but going outside of these he lost me.

The colouring supports and helps the artwork though and adds a lot of depth. Much like in the Green Lantern review there are frames where we see almost a pop art style presented to us. Then in the closing pages after Odin’s decree, it stands out for another reason with a fantastic use of colour and expression.

Overall the issue has left me wondering and pondering in very good ways. I am really liking Matt Fraction’s writing and am looking forward to the next six issues. I’ve been told that it will work as a stand alone title too even though the crossovers are already present (Iron Man’s rebuilding of Asgard is no surprise for one) and it has been widely publicised across many titles but I’m yet to see that actually happen.

This is the Marvel event of the year. The implications are going to be felt, especially the shake up this is going to cause to the Avengers roster, so lets see where the rabbit hole goes...

Matt Puddy rebuilt a shed once, but not a whole city.

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