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“‘Fear Itself’? More like ‘Fuck Yourself’!” (wokka-wokka-wokka)

Brian Hibbs

Hey, look, reviews!

 

STAR TREK/LSH #1: Awwwwww…. I really really wanted to like this more than I actually did. The idea of a “Mirror/Mirror”-ed LSH 31st century is a cute one, but at the end of issue #1, the two groups aren’t even together yet! I’d have preferred that the cause of things was much clearer than it was — like an episode of the show. Ah well, I still have incredibly high hopes for the next one. EH.

 

WALKING DEAD: THE RISE OF THE GOVERNOR HC: Sadly, as a piece of prose, I thought this kind of stank — it’s told in an odd voice (my English classes are decades behind me, is “They do this, they do that”…. third person, present, is it? Awful awful choice in any case), and it relies way way too much on a last-minute twist that really doesn’t make a lot of sense for what we see in the comic. It spends far too much of its length in stuff I really didn’t care about (maybe the last 30 pages are in Woodsbury, making this kinda more “the road to the rise of the Governor”, and, again, that “twist”, ugh, cheaty-mccheaterpants.

As a marketing exercise, I understand this even less, as it is a tie-in to the COMIC BOOK (The TV show can’t have the Governor until at least season 3, if that), yet the cover design just screams “TV show” in aesthetic. Yet anyone watching the show would likely be baffled by this novel, since there’s not a single character they know in it. At the least, you’d expect that maybe there’d be a page of “now read the comics for more” or something. But, there’s not — Ugh!

Also: I couldn’t really hear Kirkman’s voice anywhere here. I rather get the feeling that he just plotted it, or something.

Sorry to say, this was pretty AWFUL.

 

FEAR ITSELF #7: Um, wow. this has not exactly been a stellar comic all the way along, but I think this issue is a special kind of low. Virtually nothing made sense to me (like WHY is Thor dead? I don’t get it?), and it suffers greatly from the Lord of the Rings movie problem, where there’s just epilogue after epilogue after epilogue, all designed to funnel you into other comic books. It also doesn’t help there also was a brand new 12-issue (!) mini (the Fearless) spinning out the same day, nor that there also seems to be a new branding trade dress (“Shattered Heroes”), or, that they seemingly forgot about a few characters along the way (please see Graeme’s AMAZING missing scene from the issue), or that they have the temerity to extend the mini by three more “issues” (7.1, 7.2, and 7.3? OY!), or that we’re already ramping up for the next set of events and crossovers (“point one” ships in like 3 weeks), and it’s all just too much.

It’s a big giant “fuck you” to all of Marvel’s readers.

The biggest sin, of course, is that it is just plain dull — but the calculatedness on top of that? Fuck Marvel here, is what I say — this was AWFUL.

 

WOLVERINE #17: I thought the “Schism” stuff was all kind of mediocre, generally, but at least it had a point and a purpose.

I go kind of crazy sometimes, when I read comics set in San Francisco, that gets basic stuff about The City 100% completely wrong. Like look at this cover:

There’s no possible place in San Francisco this should could be from (remember, SF is surrounded on three sides by water — the only place it isn’t is SOUTH, so, no, you can’t “walk off into the sunset”), and even putting that aside, well, I can find 8 different “no, not in SF things” here — seriously, gang, I’m available cheap as a San Francisco fact checker!

This story here is fairly throw away, but I have to give it one big ups — it has my new favorite line of dialogue of 2011.

So there’s like a bunch of reporters standing around a crime scene, shouting questions at the harried detectives, just like what you’ve seen in a hundred movies, but has never happened in real life, and one shouts out something very close to:

“Captain, Captain, can you confirm that this murder puts kung-fu related deaths up by 200%?”

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

The only rational response to a question like that would probably be “Yes, they’re now at 200% of ZERO, dumbass”, but this is comics, so that actually rules, and I’m going to give it a capricious-ass GOOD just for that line that made me giggle like a little school girl.

 

And, with that, I bid you anon, until next week…

 

As always, what did YOU think?

 

-B

 

85 Responses to “ “‘Fear Itself’? More like ‘Fuck Yourself’!” (wokka-wokka-wokka) ”

  1. I can read Fear Itself as just another big old Marvel event with some favorite characters, big battles, nice moments and some developments. It’s not necessarily any better/worse than, perhaps, Infinity Gauntlet or Secret Wars or Maximum Security or House of M or other major events involving The Mighty Avengers. Thor dies. He’ll eventually be back. Cap got to use the hammer. Iron Man got to make some nifty Asguardian weapons for his fellow Avengers to wield.
    But yeah, I kind of agree with you that this last issue really requires a lot of good will on the part of the fan. Some “huh?” moments, some “that scene was not as exciting as the creators clearly wanted it to be” moments, some “yawn, another MAJOR death that will be reversed in a few months/years” moments.
    I mean, so really we get to see The Avengers preparing for Thor’s funeral, but we don’t get that scene in the book?
    And rather than getting me excited about Fraction’s upcoming Defenders – and as a huge Defenders fan I was really excited about this new series and the creative team -now I’m kind of wondering if it’ll be worth my time/money.
    I’ve heard a lot of good things about him, but Fear Itself was my first exposure to his writing and, like I said above, it had its moments, but I didn’t put issue 7 down and think, “Wow, this was fantastic. Can’t wait to see what he does with The Defenders!!!”

  2. This issue indeed was a giant Fuck You to retailers and fans.

    At $25 to read this piece of excrement and to finish with the $5 finale was akin to sticking a broomstick up the arse of everyone who paid for and read this.

    The advertisements at the end leading you to other “essential” reads following this says more that I can express in words about Marvel’s respect for their customers.

    Brian, are you sure you’re not holding back?

  3. The other problems with the Wolverine cover? Why is Wolverine walking into San Fransisco? Isn’t he supposed to be leaving San Fransisco? Also, in Schism, didn’t he actually leave San Fransisco in a Blackbird?

    As to Fear Itself, that was one tedious book. Would someone care to explain what happened on the last page, with the fancy light effects over the Earth? Was that supposed to be the cloud of fear evaporating? Why after reading that last issue did I feel like Marvel kicked me right in the nut sack?

  4. The fact that Fear Itself has largely gotten drowned out by all the DC news and releases also speaks volumes of how insignificant it’s been to readers.

  5. Robert G —

    The World Tree (outside of Broxton) is what was creating those crazy lights on the last page. It took me a minute before I realised what that was supposed to be as well.

  6. Virtually nothing made sense to me (like WHY is Thor dead? I don’t get it?). . .

    That was because in Norse mythology, Thor and the Midgard Serpent kill each other in a battle during Ragnarok. Of course, if someone knows that, he also might know that the Serpent was a child of Loki and Angroba, not Odin’s brother — and written as such in Marvel comics before.

    There are several explanations, I suppose, for why Fraction and colleagues decided to disguise the Serpent as a fear god and proceed with the event, instead of coming up with another idea, but none of them is pleasant. No. 1 on my list would be Fraction reasoning that since it was fiction, he could do whatever the hell he wanted.

    SRS

  7. On the plus side: FEAR ITSELF shipped on time.
    (Ticker-tape parade! Crowd goes wild! Fireworks!)

  8. Steven-
    If I’m not mistaken, Thor has fought the midgard serpent before ( yep: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Midgard_Serpent_(Marvel_Comics) ) and also has “died” before, none of which really is a defense of FI. Just sayin’ : “The Serpent” was not supposed to be “the Midgard Serpent,” as far as I could tell.

  9. “The Serpent” was not supposed to be “the Midgard Serpent,” as far as I could tell.

    How many Serpents can there be in Norse mythology? The similarities, including the Serpent coming out of the ocean and the conflict with Thor being prophesied, are too obvious. The deaths aren’t relevant.

    If sticking with the mythological Serpent was too inconvenient, they should have thought of something else. Are the people at Marvel that short on ideas?

    SRS

  10. “How many Serpents can there be in Norse mythology?”

    I would imagine a lot– didn’t Vikings sail a lot? I’d imagine dudes who are really into boats would make up more than one serpent, the way guys who are into vans make up more than one sex-mermaid or whatever to put on their van. But yeah– Thor’s totally fought the Midgard Serpent before.

    (Also: Is Thor with a sword exciting for people?)

    Plus: Let me ask you folks a question– my recollection in stories before is that superheros would have to out-think bad guys instead of just punching them. Or they’d have to solve a mystery or– something, anything would have to happen for the bad guys to lose. That hasn’t really been what happened with the last three Marvel crossovers, all of which have ended with “Then there’s a fight which the good guys win, thanks to violence.” There’s no… There’s nothing to these endings, and it’s just “Here’s some cool moment of Captain America ripping off Wolverine’s claw-hands and holding it to his crotch and yelling I AM THE AMERICAN DREAM!, thus fulfilling the world’s most boring prophecy, and also holding thereby holding the line because there’s a line which needs to be held and caressed, and– and I guess lines are super-important…” instead. Which is fine, and has an audience, too, I guess. I guess.

    But … am I just remembering the past through rose colored glasses, and comics have always just gone from point a to point b– “oh hey, there’s a bad guy, and then the good guys get together and murder the bad guy”– there you go, there’s three marvel crossovers I’ve just plotted out for you and you didn’t even have to fly me out to New York, the comic is over, go home? Am I just being overly … I don’t know what the word is, blind to the similar shittiness of the past? Or… didn’t there used to be endings where heroes solved something? I just remember Secret Wars had the bit where Doctor Doom stole the Beyonder’s power and all that going on. Uhm, Fall of the Mutants ended with the Siege Perilous and Angel is Archangel and … well, I guess Bird Boy died so you know… it wasn’t perfect, but. I don’t know. Is it me? Maybe it’s me.

  11. I mean, I guess the good guys went and got themselves fancy weapons because they had read the end of Blackest Night, too. I mean, I guess that happened. I mean, maybe that was fun for people, even after they’d promoted it six months ahead of time or whatever. Was that the fun part for people? What was the fun part for people? I’m not a fun guy…

  12. My only hope is that the general suckitude of FI will lead to fewer “event” books — or at least event books that are self-contained. (Really, try reading this FI *without* reading any of the tie-in issues — it’s completely unreadable that way as almost anything of true interest happened in other books…)

    But I’m not holding my breath that anything will change.

  13. I thought that the book must have been at it’s worst point when I found out online that Bucky died, having missed it whilst reading the issue, but apparently that was the book finding it’s groove.

    Abhay – I thought the bare minimum I would get from this series was well drawn action scenes of the heroes and villains in their suped up armour. There wasn’t even that – I read more words about getting that armour than I saw pictures of it – and there were two different times different groups of people got new armour, be it hammer based or drunken Tony Stark in the forges of Asgard based. That’s a lot of armour to read about and not focus on.
    Blackest Night at least showed it to you.

    Steve – I did only read the main mini. Fraction and Tom B said that’s all I’d need. As people who read the tie-ins are confused as well, it seems they were right.

  14. Even though I don’t read superhero comics, I can usually figure out what’s going on in both Marvel and DC by reading the various blogs and stuff. But I have *no* idea what happened in Fear Itself other than some people got hammers. But wow, there’s not a single person out there even a little excited by Marvel right now.

    Ok, Iie… I’m reading that new Waid Daredevil, Wonder Woman, Animal Man, and Swamp Thing. Oh, and that Frankenstein comic, too. But I’m not reading anything that’s really all that superheroey.

  15. Umm.. yeah, thumbs up what everybody said above. Fraction kinda blew out all the good will he’s got from me due to Casanova.

  16. I bought and read all seven issues of Fear Itself, and I thought it was fairly bad. But, once again (because you people ALWAYS say things like this), I struggle to understand how it is a “fuck you” to anyone.

    I made the decision to buy the thing. I kept buying it after the first couple issues signaled its crumminess, but again, that was a choice I made.

    When it wrapped up last week I said, “Gee, this was a dumb story I spent money on!” And I was disappointed, sure. But I wasn’t and am not MAD at them. They didn’t intend for the thing to stink. It just got away from them a bit. Calling it a “fuck you” implies that they’re deliberately giving you shitty material because they think you’re a rube and hate you.

    And calling it a “fuck you” because at the end there are enticements to buy other comics suggests to me that you have never read a comic book before — in which case I’m sorry your first one wasn’t more enjoyable, but don’t give up! Some of them are very good!

    Anyway, to be clear: Fear Itself was not a good story. I agree with most of the above remarks regarding its nongoodness. But it’s not good because the writer was bad at writing while he was writing it (this happens, to even good writers), and not because the corporation that put it out wants to say “Fuck You” to you.

    Unless somebody could explain otherwise. I’m dying to know!

  17. At least the Thor of issue #7 didn’t yell “Dude, I am taking you down SO HARD” at the serpent like the Thor of issue 3 would have.

    I like Fraction; Casanova is fun, most of Iron Man has been solid, but to keep up the Fozzie Bear reference, Fear Itself was like the “fart shoes!” clip in the new Muppet movie trailer. The tone of the book felt forced, the villains, plot and even interesting-looking action were absent from the page, the supposedly awesome Fuck Yeah moments were recycled from previous, better comics, and the global destruction was so mindlessly huge with no real consequence that it lost all meaning, even in comic book terms. When Captain America juts out his jaw and proclaims that humanity will rebuild because that’s what we do, I was fairly convinced that Fraction was pulling a very dark, sarcastic, I-hate-what-I’m-writing-as-much-as-you-hate-reading-it joke–given that in the real world, our institutions seem to be paralyzed in the face of imminent collapse. The same week Fear Itself 7 came out, senate Republicans blocked a half penny on the dollar tax on income over a million dollars to pay for teachers and first responders. They’re about to block desperately needed infrastructure money. So no, rebuilding isn’t what we do, not anymore.

    The only way this series redeems itself is if the next two years of Marvel Comics are about unreadably grim survivor’s trauma, deprivation and suffering in the wake of a collapsed world economy and loss of culture. Marvel just leveled Paris, France. Compared to that, how could anyone be expected to give a fuck about whatever sinister plan the Taskmaster is hatching?

  18. But I have *no* idea what happened in Fear Itself other than some people got hammers.

    What happened: Sin, the Red Skull’s daughter, found a hammer that transformed her into a superhuman calling herself Skad. Skad descended into the Pacific Ocean and woke the Serpent from millennia of sleep. The Serpent, supposedly Odin’s brother and a god of fear, caused seven more hammers to descend from the heavens. Those hammers, through fortunate coincidences, all possessed paranormals. The possessed (the Worthy), along with a neo-Nazi army led by Skad, proceeded to terrorize humans around the globe because the Serpent fed on their fear. There were no objectives or strategy, aside from frightening people.

    Skip ahead to the end — the heroes overcame despair and other unheroic feelings and fought the Worthy. Thor fought and killed the (Midgard) Serpent at the cost of his own life. The Serpent’s death ended the battle, although eight or so hammers are still supposedly capable of causing mass destruction — although the text page in FI: THE FEARLESS #1 stated that the hammers were powerless, and an epilogue in FI #7 showed Nul, one of the captive (?) spirits that apparently powered the hammers, running free.

    One can conclude from the editorial confusion about the hammers that the people involved don’t really know what they’re doing at this point. Whether the Serpent was the Midgard Serpent in disguise or not, the prophecy about the battle between it and Thor is the only apparent reason for Thor’s death. What’s worse: Copying a prophecy from one being to a sorta duplicate as an explanation for the hero’s death, or thinking that the people at Marvel are such blithering idiots that they didn’t realize that the hero’s death was unexplained?

    In any case, buying FEAR ITSELF would be a complete waste of your money. Considering the details also demonstrates that not tending to them can destroy a storyline.

    SRS

  19. >>>I struggle to understand how it is a “fuck you” to anyone.<<<

    Hint? "(Wokka-Wokka-Wokka)"

    -B

  20. Sorry, B., I should clarify: I get the “Fuck Yourself” pun and appreciate it (HUGE Fozzie fan). I’m thinking more along the lines of remarks like this:

    “This issue indeed was a giant Fuck You to retailers and fans.”

    and of course:

    “…the $5 finale was akin to sticking a broomstick up the arse of everyone who paid for and read this.”

    !!! A broomstick!

    Also, why “retailers” should feel “fuck you’d” because a thing cost a buck more and a buncha people bought it is also a little confusing.

  21. RF: maybe the retailers got shafted because when Marvel or DC has a BIG SHINY EVENT miniseries like this and the writer utterly fails to stick the landing, the ill will from the reader can result in fewer purchases in the future. It’s a safe bet that I will think twice before trying a new Fraction book after this crapfest.

  22. The bit in this week’s Journey into Mystery about Thor walking nine steps is a reference to the mythological version of his battle with the Midgard Serpent at Ragnarok, so yes, apparently the Serpent WAS meant to be the Midgard Serpent, even though (a) we’ve seen the MU version of the Midgard Serpent before, and (b) in neither the comics nor the original myth is the Midgard Serpent supposed to be Odin’s brother. Oh, and (c) the Midgard Serpent myth isn’t about fear.

    It says a lot about Fear Itself that these are the least of its problems. It really is a badly constructed mess.

  23. So Bucky and Thor both die under circumstances that readers are unable to follow, understand, or even have a reasonable context for? Wow.

  24. …that they’re deliberately giving you shitty material because they think you’re a rube and hate you.

    I thought that was Marvel’s official business model. I’m pretty sure it’s at the bottom of all those text recap pages, but I never make it all the way through ‘em so I can’t be sure.

  25. Okay, so maybe “Fear Itself” (the event and the finale) and the follow-up books introduced in “Fear Itself” #7 (the “epilogues”, which are really just promotional materials for some new series falling under the banner of “Shattered Heroes”, previously known as “Battle Scars”) aren’t all a big “fuck yourself” connived by the editors at Marvel.

    Maybe it’s just a cynical marketing scheme designed to sell more books. That could be it. To quote Tom Brevoort:

    “It [i.e., "Battle Scars"] will be a fairly broad marketing initiative that will touch all corners of the Marvel universe.” http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=article&id=33998

    So maybe it’s not all a big “fuck you.” But it is a transparent, cynical, corporate backed, fairly broad marketing attempt that will touch all corners of the Marvel universe that may or may not entertain you.

  26. I wouldn’t call it a “fuck you”– it’d probably be a LOT cooler if it was. People who write fuck you’s actually have to care about something to muster up that kind of energy. Joe Hallenbeck to his wife at the end of Last Boy Scout. Fear Itself was Joe Hallenbeck talking to his wife at the beginning of Last Boy Scout instead. Mechanical.

  27. When Thor comes back it’d be nice if he turned into Bucky as his secret identity. That guy got a bum deal.

  28. People who actually paid money to read Fear Itself and are now complaining that it was a “fuck you” to them from Marvel? Sorry, but you got what you deserved.

  29. So, I didn’t consider it a “fuck you” like some others. I knew what this was going into it — a cash grab to feature two characters that had movies out (or coming out.)

    And, lord knows, I’ve bought a lot of comics that I know I’ll *never* read again.

    I bought it primarily because I was interested in seeing what somebody other than Bendis would do writing what was (tangentially) an Avengers mini-series and — based on that — it was awful.

    Oh, and don’t get me started on the whole Franklin Richards-saves-the-Thing scene. That scene *alone* could change the dynamic of the *entire Marvel Universe* at this point (almost along the lines of what they did with the Molecule Man decades earlier). Franklin is now a character who can apparently raise people from the dead now.

    But I’m sure it’ll be completely ignored.

    And yes, I got what I deserved: A series ass-kicking to my wallet and my poor feelings about Marvel in general. If comics are going to become more and more expensive, they need to deliver the goods.

    And I’ll apparently never learn this lesson (unfortunately…)

  30. “One can conclude from the editorial confusion about the hammers that the people involved don’t really know what they’re doing at this point.”

    I would say that’s the sort of stuff that creates the “fuck you” reaction. It’s one thing for a creative team to produce a bad story. That happens to the best. It’s another thing when you read a big event book and it’s clear the people making it really didn’t put that much thought into what they doing. It’s sort of like the difference between the first and second TRANSFORMERS flicks. The first one was bad, but not unusually so. The second was so awesomely terrible it was like Bay was slapping the audience in the face with his dick and daring them to complain.

    Mike

  31. It says a lot about Fear Itself that these are the least of its problems.

    That’s interesting, since I consider it the worst problem, from an editorial standpoint, because of the logical inferences. If a writer gets such details wrong, he’s likely to get other details wrong as well, and to be so sloppy that the story he produces will be unreadable.

    If the mistakes with the details appear in an ad or are publicized, they will kill interest that readers who appreciate attention to details might have had.

    Compare the mistake with the Serpent to a factual mistake in an op-ed piece. One mistake that affects the writer’s argument suffices to discredit the entire argument, since a reader can’t be sure that the other statements are correct.

    FEAR ITSELF had other fundamental problems, such as the trite theme and the absence of concrete objectives for the heroes to oppose — but what if the Serpent had been rejected as a villain? The entire storyline would have changed, perhaps.

    SRS

  32. I just look back at the Marvel’s series (Busiek and Ross) and how the everyday man reacted to the superheroes and events. Taken to the logical conclusion, the average citizen of Marvel Earth today must cower in bunkers waiting for super-heroes to punch out the current cosmic baddy. I can’t think of a more hopeless place for an average person–they have no bearing on anything that happens in their world. Not even the rulers of countries can do much.

    Geek mode off…

    What it means to me as a buyer is that I’m paring down my Marvel purchases. Any goodwill I had to keep buying many series is gone. No Avengers, no X…just a handful of titles. Now that this is done, I’ll be buying literally less than a quarter of what I bought before-and mainly on the fringe, out of the spotlight books.

    But I know that even those will get pared down since they don’t belong to the mega crossovers or help set up the totality of the Marvel Universe for the next six months. It’s sad that at a time where Marvel could really benefit from their movies (the Avengers tying together all of their recent smashes), that it looks like it’s going to be wasted.

  33. “People who actually paid money to read Fear Itself and are now complaining that it was a “fuck you” to them from Marvel? Sorry, but you got what you deserved.”

    Could you expand on why you think this? I’m sure a lot of people read it in the store, if it was $5, but even putting that aside, the thing I have the hardest time understanding is this sort of idea that anyone deserves to have bad comics inflicted on them? I have a harder time with that than I do with “Fear Itself: Fuck You or Non-Premeditated Terrible?”

    Of course, the discontinuity for me might be that I reject the “fans vote with their dollars and they wouldn’t make crossovers if no one bought them” idea though, which I think is where a lot of people and I disagree– I think that’s a just propaganda to let comic creators feel better about empty work, and to let them scapegoat the audience for their own lack of original ideas on other ways to create an event in comics or to make a well told story into an event. I just think to believe that you have to believe there’s no such thing as marketing or that marketing doesn’t work or that fans aren’t going to operate the way we all know that FANS do, that they’re going to operate as … like, robots or something instead. Or that the mere market justification for crossovers generally excuses any of a host of things that are otherwise problematic about them (e.g. if it’s a rule they have to exist, that doesn’t mean there’s also a rule they have to be terrible)…

    Other reasonable people apparently think that holds more water than I do, though, so who knows.

    Is that where you’re coming from or is it something else?

  34. The book had Spider-Man give up and go home, and yet people are wondering what he was going for with the serpent?
    I’m in the ‘the book may as well have been a fuck you’ camp… it may have been unintentional, but it still felt like one.
    This came from a writers retreat, with all their top writers, and as it’s line wide, presumably had most of the eyes in the company on it – and this is all they managed? No one had the guts to point out that the story wasn’t working?
    The heat may have died off since Cap came back due to his film, but Bucky was kind of a big thing not too long ago – I brought a lot of his story, thinking Brubaker was going somewhere with it… and it all ends in a confusing scene with no emotional impact? That really sucks.
    That breaks the promise not just of this series, but of the ten or so Cap trades I have building his story.

  35. Abhay,

    I agree with you. The “vote with your wallet” theory implies to me people know the quality of the book before they buy it. The further implies people aren’t responding to the marketing (a point you make).

  36. “…they will kill interest that readers who appreciate attention to details might have had.”

    Steven, you should know better than most that Marvel stopped caring about those readers a long time ago.

  37. “Could you expand on why you think this?”

    Everything about the promotion for the event, the interviews, the vagueness, the forced impression, gave every impression the result would be crap. The first issue was crap. The second issue was crap. If you sat through the whole thing to see if it would turn out not to be crap, and then were surprised that it was crap, that’s your own goddamned fault.

  38. Sadly, I agree with Pete. I knew it was likely to be crap going into it and — at some level — I wasn’t surprised.

    But I think it’s the question of *How deep is the pile of shit?* — that people are (still) talking about.

    If this was the best that a writer’s retreat could come up with, *that’s* the larger problem.

  39. “If this was the best that a writer’s retreat could come up with”

    One of the basic problems with big Marvel events is that they’re being concocted at writer’s retreats. There’s nothing wrong with that if you’re doing something like Acts of Vengeance, which is really just a fun exercise in this guy punching that guy with a few dramatic subplots thrown in. But it’s fairly clear that the Marvel “architects” think they’re mostly above such melodrama and are SERIOUS WRITERS. So, they try and come up with SERIOUS DRAMA but because none of them really has the chops for such writing and because no one wants to step on anyone else’s toes, we get half-assed group crap like FEAR ITSELF.

    Mike

  40. “The first issue was crap. The second issue was crap. If you sat through the whole thing to see if it would turn out not to be crap that’s your own goddamned fault.”

    Ha– okay, that’s a really good argument, thanks. I’m definitely part of a “two full minutes underwater” self-cutting audience– or a “I want to better appreciate Graeme and Jeff’s non-waffle talk” audience, and I guess i probably agree that any non-ghouls who share my sense of story would probably have bailed way before being offended by issue 7. Though I don’t think I agree with you that negates people talking about the series’ failures given how… how these particular series are given significance beyond their 4 corners…? (It’s been a long day so sorry if none of this makes sense). But thanks! I’m glad I understood what you meant.

  41. Hi, I pretty much feel the same way that everybody who hated F.I. does. BUT, frankly, I don’t think anybody’s really been MEAN enough yet. Which is why I wrote about it, because now I’m a comix blogger… Am I being gauche here? I dunno, I just think Brian and Abhay and the rest of you lot really deserve a well-thought-out EVISCERATION, with plenty o’pictures and lotsa swears. So, gentlemen, please follow the link with the modest post title.
    http://www.chicagocomicvault.com/2011/10/our-underwear-10-fear-itself-the-only-post-you-will-ever-need-to-read/

  42. “I don’t think I agree with you that negates people talking about the series’ failures.”

    Oh, they definitely can – and SHOULD – talk about those failures. But the moment they close the last page and whine about Marvel flipping them the bird, seriously, what did you expect after the first couple issues? I can’t take those people seriously. No one should.

  43. I don’t understand, Pete. On the one hand you state that we SHOULD talk about the series’ failures, but on the other hand, you can’t or won’t take us seriously. Which is it?

    It sounds as though you are suggesting that those of us who bought the entire seven issue series are somehow flawed and/or of questionable intelligence and consequently our opinions mean nothing and should be disregarded as lacking merit.

  44. Robert, I think he just means that by a couple of issues in, we should have known what were getting, and what we were bound to get. There’s a difference between A) criticizing something and B) coming to the conclusion only after finishing the last page of Book 7 that Marvel is laughing at us for the shit sandwich they just tricked us into buying and eating every last bite of.

  45. “B) coming to the conclusion only after finishing the last page of Book 7 that Marvel is laughing at us for the shit sandwich they just tricked us into buying and eating every last bite of.”

    Neither Marvel nor DC would still exist if it weren’t for grown men who’ve kept buying comics for reasons that have nothing to do with enjoying them. Nostalgia, habit, fad, a cheap substitute for real literature, etc. The fact that people have a weakness does not make it perfectly okay for others to prey on and exploit that weakness. When you know you have an audience that is going to buy almost anything you produce, that does not absolve you from a responsiblity to give them a good product.

    Mike

  46. “The fact that people have a weakness does not make it perfectly okay for others to prey on and exploit that weakness.”

    I’m sorry, but buying comics is not a mental disorder or a weakness or a genetic flaw or whatever other lame excuse you’d like to use to defend the idiotic practice of buying everything without the use of any form of discretion.

    Stupid people deserve to be taken advantage of. That’s why they exist.

  47. “Stupid people deserve to be taken advantage of. That’s why they exist.”

    By that logic, weak people deserve to get taken advantage of. So when that stronger guy beats you half to death and takes your wallet, keep your spirits up in the hospital by telling yourself “This is why I exist”.

    Mike

  48. I doubt very much that anyone invovled in Fear Itself set out to create a bad book, and implying that Marvel is diabolically tricking people into buying things they know are crap is pretty silly. That said, art designed by committee, with a cynical business purpose (this summer’s can’t miss crossover to stave off inevitable doom), and made on a very limited timescale is almost always going to be bad regardless of the creator’s intent. People who read every mainstream comic on the shelf yet are still surprised or outraged by this probably aren’t paying attention. I can’t really go so far as to say people who buy books they hate deserve to be suckered, but I can’t muster up that much pity, either. If the mainstream crossovers are so toxic, and it seems a pretty heavy consensus that they are, why do people still read them? Wouldn’t they be happier reading different comics, or, god forbid, books?

  49. I think you’re all losing track of what’s really important here, which is my attempt in post #41 to hijack this conversation for my own ends.

    BUT, I will say with absolute sincerity that saying that some of the statements here, like the one suggesting that comics are “a cheap substitute for real literature,” reek of elitist condescension, as well as being factually inaccurate as regards cost. Comics are no lesser an art medium than pictureless prose, nor is the entire medium of television lesser than that of film, nor rock and roll the inferior of baroque music. Comics lovers have nothing to apologize for, and it’s galling to see such apologetic cowardice in the comments section of a frickin’ comics blog.

    You lot make me want to compare something to Hitler or Nazis.

  50. “By that logic, weak people deserve to get taken advantage of. So when that stronger guy beats you half to death and takes your wallet, keep your spirits up in the hospital by telling yourself “This is why I exist”.”

    Nope, it’s about stupid and smart. If you’re a weak guy, you get smart and don’t put yourself in a situation where you get taken advantage of.

    And if you’re not smart, you just keep buying comics that you know are bad and then complain about them anyway. That’s life, bunky.

  51. Axel: I say we give them the bad version of Fear Itself rather than the good one.

    Tom: But Axel, you know comic readers are weak and overly sensitive, and we should really be considerate to only give them good stories. Come on, since we can pick and choose the quality of Fear Itself, let’s go with the good version.

    Axel: No, this time I intend to give a big “fuck you” to all the readers who buy our comics, just because.

  52. I’ll be honest, I stayed in there to see how bad it got.
    It exceeded my expectations, but yeah, I knew what I was in for.
    Is it really wrong of me to have fun complaining about how bad it was? People paid their money, let them have a whine! Isn’t making fun of bad movies half the point of watching them in the first place?
    Besides, it’s always funnier if you’ve read the books Jeff and Graeme make fun of on the podcast. I can’t wait for their discussion on this one!

  53. Ben, it’s perfectly fine to criticism the book for its flaws.

    But the difference is you have the reasonable attitude of “I knew what I was in for.” That’s a lot different than the people who act as if Marvel betrayed them and murdered their cat.

  54. *criticize

  55. “like the one suggesting that comics are “a cheap substitute for real literature,” reek of elitist condescension”

    You’re right about the condescension but wrong about the target. It’s a shot at comic readers who are too lazy and either intellectually or emotionally immature to leave behind juvenile power fantasies featuring costumed people who call each other ridiculous names while punching other costumed, ridiculously named people in the mouth when those fantasies no longer satisfy them. Instead, they demand that concepts and characters and continuities intended and designed for juvenile adventure tales be tortured and twisted to support more adult drama.

    One of the things that most limits the appeal of today’s super-hero comics is how they arbitrarily smush together elements of juvenile fantasy with adult reality without regard for any internal or external logic.

    Mike

  56. “Nope, it’s about stupid and smart.”

    1. I hate to break this to you, but you’re not nearly as smart as you think you are.

    2. You still haven’t explained why it’s wrong for the strong to abuse the weak.

    Mike

  57. “Axel: No, this time I intend to give a big “fuck you” to all the readers who buy our comics, just because.”

    I recall when that Spider-crossover “The Other” came out, I and others complained about how the story said that Peter Parker was dying from something but didn’t explain or define what that something was. We were told by no less than Peter David to get over it because the specific reason why Peter was dying didn’t matter. I would submit that why a character is dying and what they’re dying of is fairly important to the dramatic integrity of the story. How many times have you ever read or heard or seen another book, play, movie or TV show where someone was terminally ill and the nature of the illness wasn’t even referenced? And what would it take to explain why Peter was dying? A few panels and a half dozen lines of dialog? Yet that was apparently too much to expect from the fine folks creating “The Other”.

    So, while I seriously doubt anyone at Marvel ever asks out loud “How can we fuck the fans today?”, I look at the slew of disappointing and outright disasterous comic events they’ve churned out in the past several years and I am fairly confident they’re not entirely focused on giving their audience the best stories they possible can.

    Mike

  58. Another example of why details matter:

    In a Newsarama interview — http://www.newsarama.com/comics/facing-fear-fear-itself-7-111025.html — Fraction talks about Thor’s successor, Tanarus. The name was derived from Taranis, who, Fraction said, he found while researching Norse myths. But Taranis is the Celtic god of thunder, Google informed me. Etymologically, Thor and Taranis are both derived from a word meaning “thunder.” Perhaps Fraction took the references to etymology to mean that Taranis was related to Thor?

    Anyway, creatively, Tanarus is dead before he’s even been shown alive.

    SRS

  59. “1. I hate to break this to you, but you’re not nearly as smart as you think you are.”

    I’ll take that as a compliment, since I never made that claim.

    “2. You still haven’t explained why it’s wrong for the strong to abuse the weak.”

    And I’ll ignore that, since I never made a claim for or against that.

    “I look at the slew of disappointing and outright disasterous comic events they’ve churned out in the past several years and I am fairly confident they’re not entirely focused on giving their audience the best stories they possible can.”

    Which suggests you would have gone into Fear Itself expecting that it would turn out to be crap, which is a reasonable attitude, rather than the shock and horror that Marvel would dare release a crap ending to a crap series.

  60. I’m starting to think that the worst part of books like this being so bad are all the fawning, softball interviews at places like Newsarama. “Matt, some people seem to dislike Fear Itself for no discernible reason. Does that make you sad?” “Hey, if they’re talking about it, you’ve done your job.” The straw men that are raised up and torched never have anything to do with any of the actual criticisms leveled at the books. The interviews on Fear Itself haven’t reached Identity Crisis levels of avoidance-to-maintain-access, but they’ve been pretty embarrassing.

  61. Was there ever a time Newsarama was a pillar of journalistic integrity?

  62. Talking for a sec ONLY about the subject of superhero comics as juvenile power fantasies:
    1) Comyx (I have coined this spelling, I’m pretty sure, and it is the MOST politically correct variatiion possible. It’s pronounced ‘ka-DAH-fee’) w/superheroes themselves need not be juvenile, nor power fantasies. They DO require suspension of disbelief, but that’s entertainment for ya.
    2) Any artwork can take you by surprise. It was NOT unreasonable to hope that Matt Fraction, who has made some VERY good works in his recent years, could redeem the whole series in #7 with something unexpected and new and amazing.
    The odds were LOW, yes, but why deride people for irrational exuberance?
    3) I deduce that Matt Fraction is FULLY aware – and is crushed and remorseful – that F.I, is out-and-out REVILED. For proof, you’d have to follow the link to that article I wrote (comment #41, represent!) and read the comments section THERE.
    4)It is AWESOME when the strong abuse the weak, but only in the streets where a city’s heart beats, and only in October when it’s Bert beating Grover.

  63. Also, I totally ditched line one’s premise by number 2. I lack discipline!

  64. Wow, John Pontoon, those two entire comments on your blog post are really rocking the comics world.

  65. Hey Pete, it’s not like I called it “the enormous comments section” or something. I’m just too lazy to go there, copy my “here’s why I think Fraction is sad” spiel, and paste it here. (Yeah, BTW, one of the two comments is BY ME; why must I rub it in? Stupid! Stupid!)

    OTOH, I am 99.9% certain that the comment I RESPONDED to there is NOT by a bot, which is a first for me. Little wonder I would be proud!

    Now stop trying to derail the conversation happening here by placing attention upon me, Pete – IF THAT IS YOUR NAME!

  66. “And I’ll ignore that, since I never made a claim for or against that.”

    If you think it’s okay to abuse the stupid, the logical extension of that morally bankrupt logic is that it is also okay to abuse the weak. Not understanding that is sort of what I meant by you’re not as smart as you think you are.

    “rather than the shock and horror that Marvel would dare release a crap ending to a crap series.”

    But that gets back to the idea that Marvel and its characters have a built-in audience that’s emotionally invested in them, something which is not unique to comics. I personally know some LOST fans who thought the later years of the show sucked but kept watching because they felt invested in seeing how it turned out. I’d suggest that Marvel has been repeatedly guilty of taking their invested reader for granted and just doing whatever the fuck the “Marvel architects” wanted.

    Over on Jim Shooter’s blog, he gave a negative review of the new ULITMATE SPIDER-MAN #1. A commentor (not me!) chimed in with this, which I think is applicable to the whole “house style” at Marvel.

    “Tight writing requires a fast set-up, establishing characters, plot, and premise ASAP to hook the reader and keep them compelled to read to the last page. Moreover a good writer knows that storytelling is about endings and beginnings and to end on just enough of a cliffhanger to hook the reader into buying the next issue.
    But today’s comic writers don’t get that. They pad a story with expository sequences trying to apply literary devices to the comic book medium in attempt to look smart. Unfortunately all they do is turn off the new reader who has dozens of cheaper entertainment options at their fingertips that are easier to access.

    Instead of following that simple three-act paradigm which has worked for close to 60 years, today we have writers trying to be novelists and trying to turn comic books into high literature. They fail miserably because their approach to storytelling is all wrong.”

    Mike

  67. “Marvel has been repeatedly guilty of taking their invested reader for granted”

    Golly gosh, let me cry over those poor fanboys who don’t have enough willpower to stop reading things they know they don’t like.

    You make me laugh, bungee.

  68. hhahah. losers.

  69. hey, Pete, seriously?

    Go fuck yourself.

  70. Seriously, Dan?

  71. I turn my head for a few minutes, and we’ve descended to this? Really, people?

    -B

  72. Embrace your audience, Hibbs. Embrace us!!

    Mike

  73. Golly gosh, let me cry over those poor fanboys who don’t have enough willpower to stop reading things they know they don’t like.

    A nice example of attacking a critic instead of responding to the criticism. What’s a poor critic to do? If he stops reading a book partway through because of storytelling problems, he’s told he can’t criticize what he hasn’t read. If he finishes the book and then criticizes the story, he’s labeled a fool for reading something he didn’t like. He should have stopped reading — and if he ever buys another book from the same author or publisher and finds it unsatisfactory, then he should have known better.

    Criticism that goes into detail addresses identifiable problems that could have and should have been avoided. If a customer spends money on a product, he expects it to be of professional quality and worth the price paid. If a company’s products are so shoddy that a sensible person should avoid them, the company has obvious problems.

    Attacking the critic is much more common than engaging the criticism and always raises the same suspicion: The attacker can’t deal with the criticism on its merits.

    SRS

  74. Steven, if you haven’t been following the discussion (and I don’t blame you if you haven’t), my problem isn’t with criticism, or continuing to read something that the reader knows is bad, but rather continuing to read something the reader knows is bad and then being offended at the end that they had read something bad, as if the publisher was taking advantage of them or flipping them off. That’s just pathetic.

    I’ve also criticized the idea that comic readers are overly sensitive, weak, and helpless to stop buying books they know they don’t like, and that publishers should be more considerate not to exploit them. That’s just silly.

  75. “rather continuing to read something the reader knows is bad and then being offended at the end that they had read something bad, as if the publisher was taking advantage of them or flipping them off. That’s just pathetic.”

    Let’s try this another way. If you’re a fan of Sports Team X and that team goes through a stretch where it finishes last in its division for 4 straight years, should you simply stop being a fan of that team until it starts winning again? Should you just switch your affection to whatever team happens to be winning at the moment? Does that sound like a worthwhile or meaningful fan experience?

    Or how about this. You’ve had a friend your whole life. That friend suddenly gets into trouble with drugs or alcohol or gambling or a toxic relationship and starts to be less fun to be around. Do you instantaneously cut that person out of your life like a cancerous tumor without a second thought or a pang of regret?

    Is the Pete approach to life to not care about anything deeply enough that you’ll be bothered if that thing starts to suck? I doubt it. There’s probably at least one thing in your life that your care about as much as some people care about Marvel and would be just as frustrated and pissed off if it went to shit. So this is really just Pete being a jagoff and mocking people who care about something Pete doesn’t care about.

    Mike

  76. “If you’re a fan of Sports Team X and that team goes through a stretch where it finishes last in its division for 4 straight years, should you simply stop being a fan of that team until it starts winning again? Should you just switch your affection to whatever team happens to be winning at the moment? Does that sound like a worthwhile or meaningful fan experience?”

    Goddamn, my team’s been losing all season, but I can’t believe they lost again. They must have lost on purpose as a FUCK YOU to their fans!

    “You’ve had a friend your whole life. That friend suddenly gets into trouble with drugs or alcohol or gambling or a toxic relationship and starts to be less fun to be around. Do you instantaneously cut that person out of your life like a cancerous tumor without a second thought or a pang of regret?”

    My friend’s been a druggie all his life, but now he’s shooting up again, I can’t believe it! He must be doing it on purpose as a FUCK YOU to me for being his friend!

    Sorry bungee, your analogies are shit.

  77. Look at it from the perspective of a comics reader who wants, say, good Combat Man stories to read. The current stories are terrible, filled with obvious storytelling errors and filler. He’s read as many old Combat Man issues as he cares to.

    Buying Combat Man issues and pointing out the errors does more, on an individual basis, to improve the product than not buying it and remaining silent will. If the errors are obvious and easily preventable, then it’s possible, at least in theory, to shame the publisher and its creators into producing a better product by publicizing the shoddiness of the product.

    If the errors he sees aren’t real, then that should be explained to him; he shouldn’t be attacked simply for criticizing the product. Unfortunately, in most (?) cases, the defenders of the series can’t refute the critic’s complaints, so they try to silence him.

    The worst thing that can happen, from the critic’s perspective, is to have the series’ editor dismiss the complaints as not “liking” the product. Brevoort does that so routinely that it appears to be a programmed response. If he’s not capable of dealing with a detailed complaint, why is he an editor?

    SRS

  78. Interpreting how terrible FI was as a personal affront has to assume the peddlers of FI knew that they were working toward such terrible results. It attributes such mastery of craft that they can choose between serving quality or dreck. That is all. It is, in some fashion, a compliment that belies a naivete and simple trust in a company/writer/producer’s ability to deliver the goods…but just didn’t want to this time.

    In lieu of this highly subjective assessment, one must simply understand that FI was, at least, a horrible misstep or, at most, somebody’s idea of a top notch product. It does happen quite often, no?

    Of course, the winners write history so the point may be moot.

    As someone who hasn’t bought a comic in years, it’s disheartening to see the level of compromise and subsequent frustration by the audience that marks what I assume was a blockbuster storyline of the contemporary superhero genre. All I can add, in all sincerity, is good luck with that. :)

  79. “Sorry bungee, your analogies are shit.”

    The only excrement is between your ears. I mean, I know you’re invested in your self-image of being smarter than those other guys, but if you’re going to willfully mischaracterize my arguments, you’ve obviously given up on even trying to appear rational.

    Ask any sports fan whose team has been struggling and he or she will talk your ears off with how the team owner cares more about making money than winning, how the coach cares more about proving he’s right about something than winning, how the star player cares about about endorsement deals or dating a celebrity than winning. And the suggestion that a drug addict doesn’t treat his friends like shit and those friends don’t get angry about it is…well, I don’t even know how to respond to something that stupid.

    Mike

  80. “Brevoort does that so routinely that it appears to be a programmed response. If he’s not capable of dealing with a detailed complaint, why is he an editor?”

    It’s pretty clear that at Marvel, “editor” has really come to mean “talent facilitator”.

    Mike

  81. Comic fans continue to be funny!

    Newsflash: comic books are created to make money. (Especially those from big companies with high overhead) No-one sets out to make crap, it just ends up as crap sometimes. Luckily for Marvel (and DC and Image and and and) they have a built-in audience that (at times) will blindly buy anything they call “important” or “collectible”.

    Keep up the good work super-fans – keep it real and personal!!!!

  82. Bungee, you’re equating investment in comic books to investment in real people. That’s either really sad or really sick, and I don’t want to find out which one applies to you.

    Get well soon.

  83. “Bungee, you’re equating investment in comic books to investment in real people.”

    I’m also equating it to investment in sports teams. Seriously, Pete, we’ve now reached the point where even YOU know you’ve lost the argument. Stop flailing around and just let it go.

    Mike

  84. Last I checked, sports teams are composed of real people.

    Get a life, sicko.

  85. [...] Two words: Stuart Immonen. Immonen is coming off the recent event book Fear Itself. That book was much maligned in some quarters (I generally just found it boring and baffling in its story decisions) but even [...]

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