I haven’t done an update of “Frankly, It’s Comical” in a while. I’m sorry, it was an accident, and I was having too much fun. So anyhow I’m back with fresh reviews of this week’s comics a and a rundown of the books that dropped while I was asleep at the switch. It’s almost summer so that means it’s time for Marvel’s next disaster to devastate the folks of the 616.[i] Since I’ve got some catch-up to play, I’ll do my best.
Fear Itself # 1
Like I said above, being a superhero in the Marvel Universe can be described as a series of nut shots followed by three weeks of rainy days, which is thusly followed by some raving mad man or government official trying to step on your Skittles. Some superheroes have it worse than others but one rule remains: No one is safe from cape induced strife. (Not even Squirrel Girl.)
After reading the first issue of Marvel’s new company-wide crossover, Fear Itself, I’ve come to the conclusion that thing will be worse than normal for the good guys. With a storyline filled with parables of the real world’s actually problems, Fear Itself address what happens when the worst nightmares of good and goodish people come true. Environmental disasters, left versus right politics, the recession, and many other events of the late 2000’s are being examined in what looks like a really good crossover.[ii]
The book opens with Steve Rogers and his boo, Sharon Carter stuck in the middle of a riot in Lower Manhattan. The riot appears to be about the erection of a “building” near Zero. Sharon Carter states “These people are going to kill each other. Steve this is chaos.”
Rogers who has seen it all and done it all only replies “No Sharon, it’s democracy. The right of the people to peaceably assemble doesn’t say anything about doing it quietly.”
Things go sideways and a full on donnybrook breaks out with Rogers getting hit by a brick while fielding a stupid question from a reporter.[iii] Then we see a bird’s eye view of the riot with Rogers and Carters standing in a cloud of dust, looking at the surrounding chaos in shock.
At the heart of the story we find the Red Skull’s daughter, Sin arriving a castle in Antarctica to retrieve an ancient hammer placed there by her father and Adolf Hitler. The hammer belongs to Skadi who is an ancient Norse goddess. The hammer works similar to that of Mjolnir because only a chosen, worthy person can pick it up. Sin is found worthy and she is transformed into the aforementioned goddess, Skadi, and sets off to resurrect her pa.
After getting treated like Reginald Denny, Steve Rogers heads to Broxton, Oklahoma with the Avengers to announce a project to rebuild Asgard and put the people of Broxton back to work after the events of the Siege. Thor gets all weepy because his Pa, Odin isn’t there standing with the Avengers and Asgardians. Odin is aware of what’s going on because he is watching from afar while talking smack to Uatu, the Watcher, who only chooses to ignore him.[iv]
Thor has words with his dad who is aware of Skadi/Sin’s actions. Odin begins to slap his son around in front of his friends as if he is a child. Referring to mankind as “Ants” Odin literally steals his boy’s thunder by uttering the words “Mjolnir drop.”
After this Odin orders every Asgardian to leave Earth and places Thor in Chains while the Avengers watch slack-jawed. As the gods of the Vikings leave mysterious fireballs land in Broxton, OK, Brazil, the Pacific, China, and Manhattan.
This is really gonna f**k fictional Obama’s approval rating up!
Since the end of World War Hulk Hercules has been one of Marvel’s best handled characters. Whether he’s fighting Skrull gods, having random hook-ups, or binge drinking, Herc’s books have been entertaining as hell. After the events of Chaos War Herc finds himself just a man. No god like powers, immortality, or any of the other perks that come along with being the son of Zeus. All Herc has now is a few thousand years worth of experience in the a** kicking business. (Being nearly seven feet tall and 300lbs helps when it comes to beating people’s a**es, god like powers or not.)
Hercules now wanders New York protecting those who need it. He starts out by preventing a rape a subway by a gang called the Warhawks. One of whom tells his would be victim “Relax girl-girl. We’re not gonna get rough. You’re our spoils of war.”
Herc, who was sleeping on the Subway, then asks “Spoils of …? And what do you war against?”
Then my favorite part of the book when a reference to Brando’s famous scene from the Wild One happens when the rapey gang member responds “What you got?”
Long story short, Herc uses some of that thousand’s of years worth of a**-kicking experience that I mention to end the situation. Using a bag of tricks containing the Sword of Peleus, the Shield of Perseus, and the Helm of Hades Herc shows that he can take care of himself. Although he gets shot in the process he prevails just fine.
With a warning of an great “Fear” and the revelation that George Michael is Greek, Herc carries on his life while finding work as a bartender, hooking up with a coworker, and learning that he has run afoul of the Kingpin via the Hobgoblin.
Overall, I thought this initial issue was good and I’ll keep an eye out to see if the series proceeds well.
If forced to use one adjective to describe this issue of The ASM I would use the word “touching”. Death follows Peter Parker around like he owes it money and it doesn’t seem very willing to forgive the loan. The Wall Crawler is no stranger to loss but it seems to have been intensified in the last few years. Word to Kermit and Ray Charles, It’s not easy being green and it sure is hell not easy being Peter Parker.[v] A look at Peter’s life would make Matt Saracen’s seem like a breeze.
A stand alone issue, #657 sees Peter going to visit the Fantastic Four, first group of super heroes that embraced him after his run in with that radioactive spider back in high school. The book opens with a series of e-mails between Spidey and the Fantastic Four discussing his regrets for being there for the FF in days following the death of Johnny Storm, the second Human Torch. After the e-mail chain we see Spidey entering the Baxter Building with an homage to first encounter with the FF.
The rest of the book runs down how close Peter Parker and Johnny Storm were through the years via flashbacks by each member of the FF and Spidey. Stories of fighting space monsters, camping trips, and Sue Richards catching a case fill this issue of Amazing Spider-Man. The Thing has the best line of the book when comforting Spider-Man “The Torch finally had someone his own mental size ta pick on. And Vice-voisa.”
He continues later “There I wuz, worried about losin’ one bratty kid brother and I wound up with two!… You don’t have to be related to be part a this family.”
All of this ushered in Spidey’s membership in the FF (again.) while opening the door for future stories of the new quartet.
Again, sorry about the lateness of the post and the excessive use of hyperlinks. (I just find it easier to have Wikipedia explain things sometimes.) Any way stay tuned for part 2.1 where I discuss Wolverine’s kids and X-Men # 9
Vaya con Dios.
[ii] I’m sure there is some fan boy who spends all of his time bitching on message boards who will dispute me on this being a good read.
[iii] Seriously, the dude punched Hitler. Not only should that mean that he never buys his own beer again, it should also prevent him from getting hit by bricks.
[iv] For those of you who aren’t familiar with Uatu, he is Marvel Comic’s resident peeping Tom. I can only remember one time when he shows up and something bad didn’t happen. That was at the wedding of Storm and the Black Panther.
[v] It’s not easy being Spider-Man either but his alter ego’s life is a little more dicey than that of NY’s favorite arachnid.