As you’ve doubtless heard by now, Marvel followed up the Fear Itself event mini-series with issues 7.1, 7.2 and 7.3. Let’s be kind and say the reception to these issues was mixed, at best. If you’re like me, those “point” issues put some titles on probation. Let’s see what happened with the set up. Spoilers ahead.
7.1 was the Captain America issue. It was a cheap “Bucky isn’t dead, after all” revival set up to springboard to the Winter Soldier series. I’m very curious whether this was planned all along or this is a retcon. Either way, it doesn’t effect the Captain America series.
7.2 was the Thor issue. Thor died in Fear Itself. You might be saying to yourself, “if a major hero like Thor died, why wasn’t this a bigger deal and why wasn’t I reading about it in the mainstream media?” Either the mainstream media has gotten a clue about how short-lived superhero deaths tend to be or something’s up. Suddenly, there’s a new thunder god to replace Thor in the pantheon. And magically, everyone remembers this new thundergod as having done all of Thor’s adventures. The magical power of stories and all that jazz. Or, the worst elements of the Sentry and One More Day, should you be less charitable.
Over in Thor #8, things pick up right where 7.2 left off. Odin has taken his dead brother’s body back to Asgard and locked everyone out of the 9 worlds, so you’ve got a few trolls and such wandering around on Earth. Interestingly, there _is_ one person that realizes the new thunder god is not the original. And that person is Loki, who goes about trying to figure out what happened. Towards the end of the issue, we have appearances by a couple Lee/Kirby era Thor characters and find out that the new thundergod is not what he seems. We also find out that dead for a god is probably not the same thing as dead for a mortal. There’s at least one layer of red herring from 7.2, possibly more. Basically, Fraction is going somewhere with this and had all this come out in a double-sized , there might have been less rolling of eyes. I’m not issuing a free pass on the story arc just yet, but I was very close to dropping Thor based on Fear Itself 7.2. I’m not dropping it yet.
7.3 was the Iron Man issue and another one where the first words that come to mind are “One More Day.” In a nutshell, Odin undoes the death and destruction in Paris and Tony Stark ruminates on whether or not he should kill the Grey Gargoyle for killing everyone in Paris when he was possessed and part of “The Chosen.” I can see where Fraction was trying to go with this, interspersing some cleaning up of the scope of destruction with some moralizing and soul searching. The conundrum was supposed to be that they couldn’t charge the Gargoyle with mass murder/genocide if everyone came back to life. The problem with the execution of this is you can’t wonder whether you should hold him responsible when you’re saying nobody blames The Thing for being possessed. Massive internal logic flaw. This whole thing felt like somebody decided the scope of the Fear Itself collateral damage was too great and it needed to be put under the carpet, with this issue being the metaphorical broom. It wasn’t as bad as some of the complaints, but it was a very disappointing read that just didn’t work as it was intended to.
You go to the new issue of Iron Man (#510) and, guess what, no references to anything that happened in Fear Itself 7.3. Things pick up from the aftermath of Fear Itself proper and from the Iron Man issues dealing with that. (Again, just like One More Day — Iron Man isn’t dealing with the 7.3 events just yet.) Tony Stark does indeed take in an alcoholic dwarf from Odin’s blacksmith department. Better, he takes the dwarf to an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. We’ll see if Fraction goes there, but Charlie Sheen was technically correct about AA having a religious component. An Asgardian dwarf might take a strange view of the Christian-specific parts of AA. We also see the return of a couple old foes who are plotting a scheme that directly involves Starks activities during Fear Itself. Same old, same old. I’m chosing to pretend 7.3 never existed.
That is to say, things with Thor and Iron Man are not in as dire a state as it looked like a couple weeks ago, when I asked a comics merchant if 7.2 and 7.3 were bad enough that I was going to be trimming some titles from my list and the facial expression in response was an “I can’t tell him to not buy something, but I sure can’t recommend this” look of conflict.