REVIEW: Fear Itself: The Fearless #4

Fear Itself: The Fearless #4Written by MATT FRACTION, CULLEN BUNN & CHRIS YOST

 Colors by MATTHEW WILSON / Letters by CORY PETIT

Now that the vampires are behind us we can get down to business. We get a shift in focus as Sin and Crossbones become the major players in this issue and it’s all good setup but it seems to be missing something.

Our writing trio throw in the expected Valkyrie flashback. It isn’t a strong revelation and it doesn’t do anything to strengthen Valkyrie as a character. Once this is out of the way, the plot gets going. We find out where Valkyrie has been keeping the hammers she’s been collecting and meet her dwarven friend who is raining her to break into the Baxter Building. It’s a nice touch to know what Valkyrie has been doing with those hammers and the exchange with the dwarf is solid but it doesn’t enthrall. Even when he drops hints on her next location (“the most fantastic of fortresses”) it doesn’t make you excited for her journey.

The series has floundered since it’s strong opening issue and it’s easy to lay the blame on the uninspired vampire interlude, but perhaps there are other factors. Perhaps Valkyrie can’t sustain her own story. As she gears up and heads off to the Baxter Building and the predictable final page, the fun has left her side of the story.

Thank heavens, Sin and Crossbones are here to entertain us. Their underwater adventure is a just fun and stands out a mile from the Valkyrie segments. A giant shark, Namor and world-eating worms are thrown into the issue and somehow it works. The giant shark (used as a hammer safe, no less) and it’s grizzly fate is in excellent keeping with Crossbones penchant for murder.

The sequence moves the villains’ plot on and drops some exposition that doesn’t hinder the pace of their segment. The guest appearance of Namoris amusing. He’s just the way we like him, pompous and filled with ridiculous vengeance. He actually works well next to Sin and her solution for dealing with him is over the top but great. The giant world-eating worms are fantastic and help reinforce how important the hammers are to Sin.

Both Bagley and Pelletier do great work here. Bagley gets his first flashback and ironically nothing really happens. It looks nice but there’s not much for Bagley to do. It’s a shame really as his character work is as strong as always, but he is a dynamic action artist. In fact he feels a little wasted the time around. However, he does draw a mean looking Valkyrie in full armor.

Pelletier gets the Sin and Crossbones section and he nails it. From the giant shark to the giant worms, he has such an eye for detail that his work is a joy to look at. When dealing with the shark, he homages Jaws with a fun panel. Namor looks exactly as he should do, powerful and ferocious. Sin and Crossbones attire evoke a sense of Bond, especially with their manta ray like equipment. The whole underwater segment is a highlight visually.

Hopefully the Valkyrie moments will improve in the issues to come as they initially showed great promise. But perhaps her character isn’t as compelling as we once thought. With Sin and Crossbones steal the show and balance out the quality of the issue, giving the readership something to come back to. As it stands, this issue is a bit of a mixed bag: solid artwork mixed with interesting antagonists but a bit of a letdown in the hero department. It doesn’t all work but it shouldn’t be written off just yet.

WRITING: 3 / ART: 4 / OVERALL: 3.5

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