Who knew a comic about President Franklin Delano Roosevelt would be this good? Wait...You say it's not about that "fear itself"? Oh, okay.
Marvel Comics launched the first issue of the Fear Itself event series this week (not counting the Book of the Skull prologue) and so far, this one is showing a considerable amount of promise. Writer Matt Fraction has finally been given a major Marvel Universe event to play with and as readers of his Invincible Iron Man series already know, he's always at his best with an epic, big-budget movie style storyline.
Working with the real-world notion of increased societal tensions, Fraction shows Sharon Carter and the former and soon-to-be-again Captain America Steve Rogers caught in the middle of protests against a deliberately unidentified building to be constructed at a "sacred site" in Lower Manhattan. (HInt: It begins with "m" and ends in "osque") The protests predictably turn into a full-blown riot, foreshadowing the growing fear and tension throughout the Marvel Universe.
We then cut to Sin, the daughter of the villainous Red Skull, leading an expedition to Fortress Null (Zero) in Antarctica, where a mysterious hammer is being guarded by a group of men isolated from the world since 1942 and kept alive by Nazi superscience. (See? Big-budget movie, like I said.) And just like another familiar hammer by the name of Mjolnir, this hammer grants the one who is worthy to use it the power of a god.
And based on this first issue, it seems the word worthy is a central theme to this entire storyline. Thor's hammer Mjolnir has the inscription "Whosoever holds this hammer, if he be worthy, shall possess the power of Thor." The hammer Sin finds has another inscription, "And he who shall be worthy will wield the hammer of Skadi." For some as yet unexplained reason, Thor's father Odin gets extremely pissy at Uatu, the Watcher, telling him "Who are you to judge the All-Father?" and "I shall not be watched and I shall not be judged!" And most importantly, Skadi's father Thiazzi, the apparent Big Bad in all of this, summons a group of beings called The Worthy in order to make everyone on Earth fear him as he prepares to throw down with Odin.
Sounds sufficiently eventful for an event series, doesn't it? It also doesn't hurt that Stuart Immonen is handling the artistic duties along with Laura Martin on colors, giving every page the amount of flash and style it deserves. This first issue covers so much in terms of scope and Immonen makes it all looks so effortless, no matter if the scene has gods fighting with one another or a father and his little boy watching a falling celestial object at night.
At long last, the various Marvel heroes are done with civil wars, secret invasions and sieges. The gods have left them on their own and everything is about to hit the fan. So what happens next?
I can't wait to find out.