Here we are at the home stretch and there is a little change up for the tenth installment of Fear Itself: The Fearless. However, as Valkyrie unleashes her fury, Sin yet again waffles on about mystical MacGuffins. It’s a bit of a mixed bag for this all-out action issue.
The most surprising thing about the whole issue is that there is no prologue flashback. We are straight into the action. It is a curiosity that the writing team decided to change tack ten issues in. It’s almost like an admission of how worthless they were in the first place that we are thankfully denied one here. However the series wouldn’t be the same with some visual flashback and we do get one on the Sin side of the narrative. She is yet again given some exposition to get the reader up to speed on what the Serpent’s Destroyer is and how her father failed to recreate it because he didn’t have everything she has. It isn’t as clunky as previous exposition dumps, but the information is familiar and feels repetitive.
It is Sin’s side that suffers this issue in light of Valkyrie’s actions. It isn’t horrendous or unreadable it is just clunky and heavy handed in its delivery. Sin does little more than explain things yet again, which leads to her losing more presence in the company of the charming Son of Satan and entertaining Crossbones. As for both of those characters they get given some attention but it seems a little off. Daimon Hellstrom reveals his motivation for joining Sin and it is quite underwhelming. An understandable motivation, but not nearly as interesting as it was built up to be. Crossbones is also given a conscience out of the blue, which doesn’t fit the previous nine issues worth of character building. It’s hard to believe that Crossbones actually rejects Sin’s plan. Altogether, the villains have lost a lot of their attraction.
Unlike Valkyrie, who dominates the book both visually and narratively. It is always fun to watch her cut loose and she doesn’t disappoint here. She cuts a bloody swath through the D.O.A and in fact it is surprisingly violent. A fierce and determined force of nature, Valkyrie’s fight scene is the highlight of the book. Even after she has failed her emotional state is perfectly captured, despair at failure, which leads to fury. Her interrogation technique is as brutal as her swordplay (“Do you think death can protect you from me?). She is infused with such emotion it leaps off the page. But this perhaps due to Paul Pelletier’s art than the script. Though her moment with Crossbones before she lays siege to Sin’s stronghold is a solid confrontation. And despite the arrival of the Avengers seeming a bit strained, it is still a rousing heroic moment. This all allows Valkyrie to steal the show this time.
As for the art Pelletier dominates the book. His depiction of Valkyrie’s fight gives the character grace, but also truly shows a god’s wrath personified. Brutal and efficient, Valkyrie is just wondrous character to watch in this fight. With the stand out image being on the bottom of page four as Valkyrie stands ready for conflict with Captain America’s shield and her sword in hand. Even when the battle is done Pelletier continues to excel as he really hammers home Valkyrie’s feelings of failure as his expressive pencils sell the emotional beats. Even showing a grotesque member of the D.O.A in fear at Valkyrie’s words is a great visual.
However, this isn’t to say Mark Bagley doesn’t come across well. He’s just over shadowed by Pelletier. His depictions of both Sin and Hellstrom continue to give more menace than the script does. The “Avengers Assemble” moment is a great splash image, but team images often are. The sleeper is a great visual entity, but the multi-hammer mace like weapon is a bit silly. The main problem is that his characters just aren’t very expressive. They fight, move and in the case of Hellstrom, smirk well, but they sometimes seem devoid of emotion. This is the main reason he has often played second fiddle to Pelletier.
So it is inconsistent in tone but when its focused on Valkyrie it really rises to the occasion. A great fight with an emotional conclusion outshines the rest of the book. Pelletier does a fantastic job, but this leaves Bagley’s work with the sense that it is lacking something. Sin continues to vanish as a character, which is ironic considering her fate at the end of this issue. But for all it’s negative moments, this issue still has enough good in it to be a solid read.