Event Fatigue: Fear Itself and Spider-Island
Comic book events are big business. They’re a way for publishers to feature all of their major characters, while also guaranteeing a sure seller, as fans will HAVE to pick up the book in order to know what is happening in their favorite titles. It’s no surprise that Marvel comics, who has just wrapped up two major event storylines, has been majorly guilty of this, and in this first installment of “Event Fatigue” we’re going to judge both “Spider-Island” and Fear Itself.
|The Marvel heroes mimic their fans as the latest issue comes out!|
Let’s get the disappointment out of the way first. Fear Itself was, by nearly all accounts, an extreme failure of an event. When the hype began, we were promised something that would not only cause the civilians of the Marvel universe to be frightened, but the heroes as well. Well, this was never really touched on at all in the story. In fact, Fear Itself fell into a lot of the usual tropes of the event miniseries: a new, “all-powerful” big bad shows up, defeats the heroes (possibly killing one), then the heroes return with new powers and defeat the enemy (with probably another hero sacrifice). FI followed this blueprint exactly, and all of the emotional moments fell extremely flat.
|This awesome image? Never mentioned.|
It’s really unfortunate for Fear Itself ‘s writer Matt Fraction, because up until this point he was pretty much unstoppable as the writer behind the phenomenal Invincible Iron Man. I tend to think that a lot of the series’ faults is because of Marvel editorial forcing Fraction to include certain things, even at the cost of rushing the story. This theory also explains the additional .1, .2, and .3 issues that add some much needed character development to the story (and allow Marvel to pimp the series out one more time). At least Stuart Immonen’s art was consistent throughout.
On the flip side of the Marvel events is “Spider-Island”, the Spider-man centric summer event. Taking place in the confines of Amazing Spider-man, Venom, and a few other tie-ins, this event saw the entirety of New York City gain spider-powers, leaving your friendly neighborhood Spidey to solve the mystery before they escape the city. It sounds completely dumb, and I’ll admit to groaning out loud when I first heard of the idea for the event, but I have to say, as a life-long Spidey fan I really ended up enjoying the storyline much more than I thought I would. Sure, I wasn’t a fan of some of the events that transpired (the ending seemed little rushed, and I’m not too keen on the return of the Scarlet Spider), but when compared to some of the other Marvel events that were happening at the same time, “Spider-Island” was surprisingly good, even if I’m not entirely sure how The Jackal came back to life.
A big plus for “Spider-island” was its accessibility. For the first time in a while I was able to read an event without any of the major tie-ins and still understand what was going on. In fact, the only tie-ins I read were in Venom, which was a book I was already reading prior to the event. Dan Slott was able to take an idea that sounded like it was from a Marvel Adventures kid’s comic and make it pretty awesome, and artist Humberto Ramos ended up doing some the best work of his career. There are multiple covers of his from the run that I would love to have as posters, especially the cover to the final installment of the story. “Spider-Island” was able to not only tell an entertaining Spider-man story, but it also moved the character forward and offer some new developments in his life. I think a lot of people looked at the series and dismissed it, but I have to say, if you are looking for a fun story, you won’t regret picking it up.
So, after looking at these two events, what’s the VERDICT:
Fear Itself: C