REVIEW: Fear Itself: The Fearless #6

REVIEW: Fear Itself: The Fearless #6Written by MATT FRACTION, CULLEN BUNN & CHRIS YOST
Art by MARK BAGLEY, PAUL PELLETIER,
DANNY MIKI & ANDY LANNING

 Colors by MATTHEW WILSON / Letters by CORY PETIT

The Fearless keeps trundling along at its own pace, with no sign of slowing down. It does seem to be a story that could go anywhere, but it is also the sort of story that could lose focus. Fortunately in the talented hands of its creative team, this issue continues to build the narrative as we enter the halfway mark.

Suffice it to say, that this issue opens with a flashback. One can only imagine that we will have to wait until the series finishes to settle the debate on whether or not these mini-prologues actually work. But this one is harmless enough. Valkyrie and Odin share a conversation, which doesn’t really enthrall, but offers more repetitive definition to Val’s character. It reinforces her heroic nature as she denies herself her desires to help humanity. It is a constant point of the series to continue to show Valkyrie this way, her faith in Odin, her love for humanity and her lack of fear. Interesting character traits they are but it is jarring that the writing team has to constantly regurgitate them. But to be fair it’s a simple and effective scene with perhaps the most interesting moment being the end as Odin has a knowing look on his face as Val declares, “What do I have to fear?” A moment that seems to foreshadow coming events.

This foreshadowing is blatantly depicted in Valkyrie’s only other scene in the book. In the ruins of Asgard, she meets with Freyja. It’s another simple scene but it’s direct. We’ve known for sometime that this mission is dangerous, but we finally get a definition. Freyja’s dialogue has an air of authority to it that is mixed with a dash of sympathy. She is an interesting character and hopefully this isn’t the last we see of her. Loki as always is cheeky in his youthful form. But Valkyrie does seem to be going through the motions as a character. Her side of the story is slight and with that comes the feeling that she just slips into the background. Especially as her scenes are juxtaposed with the action filled Sin storyline. But it may be prudent to consider her scenes as a calm before the storm as the writing team and Valkyrie gather their wits for the final push.

On a side note the series continues to impress as it delivers on it’s promise. We are getting to see every facet of the Marvel Universe and this is a strength of the book. It has been a while since a series has been this entrenched in Marvel and the cameos of other characters is always an exciting prospect. Sometimes they don’t work (The Vampires), but on the whole it adds a depth to the book even if the narrative is sometimes lacking.

The narrative this issue doesn’t really have much going on. Yes, there is a massive fight and Valkyrie is all wistful. But the actual main narrative moves at a glacial pace. The series isn’t known for it’s fast paced storytelling but as we hit another all out action issue it feels like the creative team are stalling for time.

That’s not to say the action scene is bad. It is your average “heroes versus horde of nameless foes” battle, but it has a lot of little moments that entertain. But anyone expecting a Valkyrie/Avengers team up will be disappointed, as the lovely rendered front cover lies to the reader.

But what we do get is a plan from Sin, which is aptly insane. Sin is easily the most entertaining character here, with all the best lines (“I’m going to kill Captain America. Again”). She’s mad, bad and dangerous to know and she just steals the show. Her chemistry with Crossbones is palpable and believable. Crossbones himself is in top form as he does what comes naturally to him: being a sociopath. His little hero moment at the end pretty much sums the character up. With both of these guys on firing on all cylinders, it’s hard not to be entertained.

It’s also worth a mention that the Avengers themselves are an entertaining bunch. From the awkward Spiderwoman, Hawkeye and Mockingbird moment, to Damon Hellstrom’s appreciation of Sin, the writing team just has a solid grasp of their characters. It’s quips galore as the Avengers laugh in the face of adversity. The Captain America/Sin scenes have the right tone and it is perhaps the most exciting moment of the brawl, due in no small part to Sin’s previous antics. The cliff-hanger is also well staged. It’s refreshing that it only took 6 whole issues before Wolverine showed up.

As for the art, Bagley improves on the last issue. He still deals mainly with static scenes but he adds more dynamics to the character movements. His Freyja is stoic and graceful; exactly how she should be portrayed. His handle on Loki is solid as well, as he gets the youthful expression spot on in the three panels featuring the character. His Sin is menacing, but Pelletier draws a more distinct version. Crossbones’ is a callous depiction keeping in tone with his actions near the end of the book. But his white pupils are off-putting, especially considering he has real eyes when Pelletier draws him. It’s his Valkyrie that stands out this issue but unfortunately it’s for the wrong reasons. She lacks a sense of emotion in Bagley’s depiction and even though the scene in Asgard is well constructed her lack of expression hinders the delivery.

Pelletier on the other hand continues to keep expressive characters. The beginning prologue hinges on Odin’s looks as much as it does the dialogue. Thankfully, Pelletier renders the old man well, giving him a world-weary look that suits him. His Valkyrie is also quite expressive, with a sense of naiveté that works for the character. His action scene is well rounded, even if the demons seem rigid targets. Each character is given enough time to shine, with the highlight being Sin’s gun-toting arrival. But even before that, he manages to capture the essence of each Avenger, which is evident in Mockingbird’s annoyed grimace after over hearing her ex talk to his new lady friend. Pelletier nails the tone of the fight perfectly with it’s controlled chaos and turns in the best artwork in this issue.

It may feel like a filler issue, but it’s enjoyable. With a well presented action scene, fun character interplay and a show stealing performance by Sin. Valkyrie’s mission and character may just be reinforced here, but hopefully her narrative will begin to move forward. There is a small sense of forward motion to the book and as we head for an issue filled with the obligatory Wolverine cameo, there is a feeling that the ending is in sight. With only six more issues to go there is still a lot of the Marvel Universe to explore on Sin and Valkyrie’s journey.

WRITING: 4/5
ART: 3/5
OVERALL: 3.5/5

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