Fear Itself #1
Let's hope it drops so much of the "relevance" hoo-ha. I still don't see how this is a story for the whole Marvel Universe and not just a Thor storyline, but at least we now know that, yes, Fraction's first Thor storyline was padded because it had to kill time on its way to setting up this. Not terrible, but we'll see if people care in half a year.
The series to date has been uniformly awful, there is no doubt. But I will admit to being slightly impressed with how well they pulled everything together here: turns out the series did have a plot after all, and seeing how all the pieces fit together was actually quite neat: I honestly was surprised by how things came together at the end. If only the previous #22 issues hadn't been so dire.
Perhaps because it's a done-in-one issue, but Kieron Gillen's maiden solo flight on the flagship mutant title reads really well. It's kind of funny and kind of sad how badly Fraction's run on Uncanny was a non-starter - something about the book just never gelled. EIther he didn't "get" the characters or had trouble with the Utopia status quo or whatever, his stories were distractingly superficial, barrels of misshapen plot filled with a cast of rotating ciphers. Just in this one issue Gillen shows more insight into Magneto's character than Fraction did in two and a half years. Maybe I'm reading too much into one issuer, but frankly, it's easy to see in hindsight that Fraction just didn't work on this book. Gillen is off to a hopeful start.
This is a Very Good Book, especially for old-school Avengers fans. There's a vocal minority of Avengers fans who have been unhappy ever since Disassembled with the franchise's sharp turn away from its historical roots. The problem is that since New Avengers dropped a lot of the historical trappings of The Avengers, the book has been the centerpiece of the number one franchise in comics, so there wasn't really a lot of room for complaint on any grounds other than personal preference. But oddly enough, Allan Heinberg appears to be very much of the Old School, and despite the fact that his main cast of "Young" Avengers is composed of entirely new characters, they are all plugged into established Avengers continuity in such a way that this feels like far more of a direct continuation of the good old Thomas / Englehart / Stern days than anything else since Busiek. It doesn't hurt that he seems to be inching towards selectively rewriting parts of Disassembled, an awful story whose awfulness has not diminished with time. Personally, I'm hoping the explanation for Wanda's behavior these past seven (!) years is revealed to be Chthon - demonic possession essentially let Hal Jordan off the hook for murdering thousands of people and destroying the universe (it got better!), so that's be a nice way out.
Who Is John Steele? No one cares, I'm sure. Brubaker seems like a nice guy who is capable of writing good comics when he feels like it, but his heart was so not in this book that it's not even funny. Considering how many people were genuinely excited by the eclectic cast of characters when this book was first announced, the fact that Brubaker has shown a methodical disinterest in actually doing anything with most of them is just perverse. Perhaps that's not the book he wanted to write, but that is without question the book the fans wanted to read. This, however, is the living definition of Weak Sauce.
I'm probably going to die a peaceful death of natural causes long before they get around to "killing" Ultimate Spider-Man, right?
Now cracks a noble heart.—Good night, sweet prince,
And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest!