Suppose they gave war, and no one comes?
That TSOL lyric stuck in my mind as I read Avengers #15, the big Fear Itself issue. If I had to pinpoint one problem with the entire Fear Itself run, it’s that nobody is really there and when they are, it’s ineffectual. With so much horror going on due to the God Of Fear, the heroes have spent a long time talking.
Take Avengers #15, where the iconic superhero team takes on the Fear-possessed Hulk. This should be not only an exciting action throw down; it should be the ultimate in what Fear Itself is about. The Incredible Hulk, possessed by a fear demon and wielding a savage Thor-like hammer? This has fear and action written all over it, right?
Instead, Brian Michael Bendis spends two-thirds of the story locked in this documentary style interview with the Avengers that’s dragged on through the last few issues. Normally, I might be okay with this because it is interesting. Listening to Spider-Woman sort through her past and work out her inner demons is powerful stuff; the kind of thing Bendis excels at. The problem is that this is the Fear Itself tie in where the Avengers battle the Hulk. Bring on the twenty-two pages of fisticuffs and kick outs; show me the Avengers locked in the heat of battle with the Hulk. Show me the fear of the world as the green goliath lays waste to everything in his path. That’s what Avengers #15 should be doing, not cramming twelve panels on nearly every page with images of Avengers talking about their feelings. It’s like watching Terminator if it had been written by Paula Deen and directed by Martha Stewart. Feelings? In the middle of Hulked-out Fear Itself?
Don’t get me wrong; the stuff involving the Hulk is awesome. When Bendis lets loose, there is some great action to be had, it just isn’t enough. My best guess here is Bendis understands that Matt Fraction’s writing has left Fear Itself without any Fear. There’s absolutely no sense of terror or urgency in either the series or the tie ins. So Bendis takes this documentary thing and tries to inject fear through the story of Spider-Woman. It’s a valiant effort that just doesn’t pay off. This is the story where we see the fear the Hulk has brought and how the Avengers overcome their fear to fight him. Let Fraction worry about bringing high art into his series, this needed to go down old school comic book style.
Chris Bachalo’s art doesn’t do much to save the situation. The documentary film stuff looks way too much like Bachalo attempting to do John Romita Jr. (the earlier Avengers artist) and the battle work with the Hulk is way too muddled to be effective. I was confused why Bachalo’s Hulk looked, for lack of a better term, goofy. The Hulk looked like a bad cross between the Maxx and Evil Ernie, which just didn’t work at all. Avengers #15 isn’t a bad issue, it just isn’t what should be. Something that’s plagued the entire Fear Itself story arc thus far.
CRAVEONLINE RATING 6/10