REVIEW: Fear Itself: The Fearless #8

Written 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

So with only four issues to go we finally move onto another aspect of the Marvel Universe, the X-Men. Whilst Valkyrie’s visit isn’t the majority of the issue it is perhaps the only moment that really stands out and that’s due to the cliffhanger.

But before we get there we have another one of those pesky flashbacks. This time though it deals with Sin, which some would consider a welcome change, and her escape after the events of Fear Itself. Although devastation at her failure is interesting, the rest of the segment is so utterly forgettable it pulls the character work down. It is fair to say that detailing her escape from the authorities would be something the readers might want to see, but it is lacking imagination. In a way, it is in keeping with the flashbacks for the whole series. So at least the creative team has managed to keep the flashback quality consistent, no matter the subject matter.

Moving away from the flashback, Sin also gets a hefty scene comprised mainly of exposition. Damion Hellstrom takes the place of the reader as Sin literally spoon-feeds a giant chunk of history and magical mumbo jumbo. Granted it maybe needed to fully understand Sin and the D.O.A’s (Hydra’s Department of Occult Armaments) motivations, but the scene is a lead balloon. Faltering more often than succeeding. But The Son of Satan’s charms still shine through and Crossbones manages to make an impact with only a handful of dialogue. So small glimmers of interest but nothing truly enthralling from Sin’s camp.

Valkyrie fares better, but mostly due to the guest starring X-Men. The scene between her and Tolor yet again reminds us of Valkyrie’s sacrificing nature, mentioning yet again the apples and how she is weaker. Valkyrie also infers that she might not be coming back as she talks about how her home might not exist once she collects all the hammers. Much like the Sin/Hellstrom scene it doesn’t capture the imagination. There is mention that her sword is chipped, which will obviously be important later as it is dwelled upon heavily. The scene isn’t sloppy just heavy handed.

As for the only real memorable moment of the book the whole Utopia scene is an interesting one. Not because it is fantastic, but due to a small number of things some bad some good. Moonstar’s appearance is a welcome one due to her connection to Asgard. Her being there to help Val makes sense and the dialogue and emotions involved all compliment the choices the character has made. However being dressed in full on Valkyrie mode makes little sense, surely her deal with Hela was a one time thing during the X-Men/Dark Avengers Utopia storyline. But if you overlook this then the moment between the characters work. Emma Frost’s appearance almost succeeds, but falters at the end. Her stance of understanding is an interesting one, even more so that she decides to play the hypocrite for Steve Rogers. But the whole “get out of my mind” moment was a bit cheesy, even if it does pay off a flashback from many issues ago. But it is the final page that is really striking as Frost reveals she’s not alone. To be fair it is Valkyrie’s “You wouldn’t be the first “goddess” I’ve ever battled, Storm. Try me” line that gets the fanboy juices flowing and the excitement for the next issue high. It’s a puerile sort of excitement, but in such a lackluster issue this moment does stand out.

Even though the script isn’t anything to shout about both Mark Bagley and Paul Pelletier try their hardest to make this issue work on a visual level. Bagley gets to play with Sin and although there are a few subpar panels (the flash back of The Worthy) he does manage to bring some compelling character work. It’s mainly in the flashback as Sin crying whilst wearing a Hannibal Lecter mask is eerie, but at the same time sells what the script demands. Bagley also knows how to draw Hellstrom as his arrogant smugness jumps off the page. But he doesn’t get much to do really, the magical demon horde at the end of his work doesn’t really do anything to sell the threat and the slight action of Sin’s escape is overtly familiar (even the tongue to the face). Pelletier doesn’t do much better, although his character work is more expressive than Bagley’s. He manages to make the Val/Tolor scene visually engaging and he really sells Dani Moonstar’s emotional connection to Valkyrie. His Emma Frost however is inconsistent, going from attractive to slightly ill proportioned within a few panels. Ironically, the Storm reveal is perhaps his worst work on this issue. It may work narratively, but Pelletier’s Storm seems off in her uncomfortable looking pose. The usual grace and regal manner of Storm has been replaced by a bizarre posture and figure. This is the first issue where neither artist out does the other and the readers preference is down mainly to personal taste rather than the skills of the artist.

So with issue eight the X-Men get involved and that is the only real draw here. It isn’t a bad comic in the slightest just very average. The art, the narrative and the script blend together to produce an unmemorable installment to the mini series. However the promise of a “goddess” versus Valkyrie smack down does at least ensure the readers return. But at the end of the day The Fearless is starting to slow down.

WRITING: 3/5
ART: 3/5
OVERALL: 3/5

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