REVIEW: Fear Itself: The Fearless #9

Fear Itself: The Fearless #9Written by MATT FRACTION, CULLEN BUNN & CHRIS YOST
Colors by MATTHEW WILSON / Letters by CORY PETIT

After eight issues of anticipation, we finally find out what Valkyrie intends to do with the hammers. However, it isn’t a revelation that her death has to be part of the plan. That’s been foreshadowed from the beginning. Nevertheless, it still stands revealed as both Sin and Valkyrie enter into their respective endgames.

Now that we know that she is going to kill herself to banish the hammers for good it seems redundant to have any more flashbacks concerning the idea of sacrifice. So the writing team change direction and decide to go for an angst-ridden scene set in the pouring rain. To say that it doesn’t have any relation to the overall narrative would be too harsh, but it really doesn’t matter at this point. These flashbacks will be here to the end. This one paints in broad strokes the idea that Valkyrie fights for the gods and that she is an instrument of Odin’s will. Now this would be interesting if it wasn’t already common knowledge at this point due to her actions in the previous eight issues. Also the fact that later on in the book she just comes out and tells Captain America and Dr. Strange just adds to the pointlessness of the rain drenched scene.

Probably the only interesting fact about Valkyrie being a weapon for Odin is that Sin is in the same boat. She acts for the Serpent and together both characters share a common thread, which is interesting, but to give it any more weight than that isn’t necessary. Just the mere comparison is enough.

Anyway moving back to the book. Valkyrie’s moments are more entertaining again and this is in no small part to her confrontation with Storm. It is an anti-climax, but Storm delivers some great sass and even a distinct vicious streak from the dialogue. Valkyrie’s plan to endanger civilians is a nice touch; she’s ever the determined warrior. Her later scene with Cap and Strange is okay, but it again flounders into an angst-ridden mode of dialogue rather than an emotive and sympathetic scene. Probably due to the fact that we all knew this was going to happen from around issue 2 (maybe not the details but the outcome), so having some sort of impassioned revelation doesn’t work.

As for Sin, she is yet again bound by exposition. You’d think with the last issue’s information dump and now this issue’s “revelation” the writing team might have only just decided how to end this series. But for all the dialogue, Sin’s personality gets lost behind all the exposition and the ever-charming Son of Satan. He makes for a more interesting character here, but it’s not hard when you look at what Sin is saying. To round off the whole Sin/Crossbones part of this issue it was nice to see Crossbones back in action; his moment with Valkyrie’s Pegasus brought a little humor. The ending does set the stage for an interesting conflict in the heart of Valkyrie’s soul no less.

Mark Bagley and Paul Pelletier deliver mixed result this issue. Mainly due to Pelletier as his work seems a little inconsistent. The Valkyrie/Cap/Strange scene is well constructed, each character showing a full range of expression and the body postures are perfect. However the Storm/Valkyrie fight is completely different. Both characters face’s at the bottom of page four seem warped, almost if they had surgery done. Apart from the ending hammer impact, the whole fight doesn’t have any weight to it and Storm looks different in each panel. Bagley improves the issue slightly as he knows how to draw a good Sin and Hellstrom and their exchange has the right visual emotions to sell the dialogue a little. Bagley’s Sin is unstable going from calm to fierce to shocked in a turn of a page and his Hellstrom sneers like the preening asshole he is. On a side note, both artists can draw a Pegasus, as Valkyrie’s steed always looks good no matter who’s drawing him. The only real problem with Bagley is his insistence that Crossbones has no real eyes, just white balls. It doesn’t cross over with Pelletier’s renderings and it is a constant annoyance.

Again it is another average issue and this close to the end you’d think this type of exposition heavy story telling would have been dealt with. The cliffhanger promises a good confrontation, but then so did the last one. Now that everything has been explained away we can hopefully sit back and watch these last few issues play out without clunky dialogue. This series still has the potential to deliver a great climax, as it has delivered great issues before. But with this book it would seem like the whole narrative is slowing down. With the biggest disappointment this time around being the fact that nothing stands out at all.

WRITING: 2.5/5
ART: 2.5/5
OVERALL: 2.5/5

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