Thursday, November 3, 2011

DAMN Good Comics -- FEAR ITSELF #7.1

With Marvel's 2011 Big Event series Fear Itself ending last month as little more than preview advertisements for upcoming spinoff and non-spinoff titles, it falls upon three one-shot epilogues to provide some semblance of closure for readers.  The Marvel marketing gurus decided to tack them onto the main Fear Itself mini-series, hoping that no one would mind that their 7-issue investment was now 10 issues and cost them another 12 bucks.

The first of these epilogues, spotlighting the characters found in Captain America, actually turns out to be a prologue for another upcoming series, but one Cap fans like myself are definitely going to want.  Ed Brubaker, longtime Captain America writer and writer of the upcoming series, reveals what happened after James Buchanan Barnes, a.k.a. Bucky, a.k.a. The Winter Soldier, a.k.a. Captain America, was apparently killed by the Red Skull's daughter Sin during the events of Fear Itself.

Without going into too spoilery specifics here, Brubaker shows the emotional toll Bucky's death has on his lover Black Widow, and stages a long-overdue brawl between Steve Rogers and Nick Fury.  Ultimately, a new secret pact emerges, one that sets up the upcoming ongoing series and also the potential for confrontations with Steve's fellow Avengers at some point down the road.  If Fear Itself #7.1 is essentially the comic book equivalent of a TV pilot episode, at least Brubaker makes it a pilot worth watching...errrrr, reading.

Working with Brubaker is artist Butch Guice, who not-so-coincidentally is also the artist on the upcoming ongoing series.  Guice typically has that typical Brubaker-era style similar to Steve Epting and Mike Perkins, but here he uses a variety of styles, most notably nods to former Captain America and Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. artist Jack Kirby.  You would think the effect might be jarring to look at, but it feels more like Guice was trying to capture certain moods for certain scenes and for the most part, it works.

Bottom line, if you enjoy Brubaker and Guice's work on Captain America, you definitely want to pick this one up.  It feels like this story should've been released as the first issue of the upcoming ongoing series instead of just teasing it, but by releasing it as Fear Itself #7.1, it actually provides more of an ending than #7 gave us.  Here's hoping #7.2 and #7.3 do the same.

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