The Marvel summer event, Fear Itself, has been offering plenty of surprises as it proceeds through its seven-issue run. With characters such as Titania, Hulk and even now Ben Grimm picking up one the seven hammers that will allow them to spread fear throughout the world, the intensity and destruction is heating up. Writer Matt Fraction spoke at this year’s HeroesCon to talk about his work on the series in a panel discussion with plenty of eager fans in attendance.
In discussing the background of Fear Itself Fraction said, "It began very simply with Tom (Brevoort) calling Ed (Brubaker) and I and saying we have a movie in May and then a Cap movie later. Do you want to find a fun Thor/Cap mini-series to do? Ed and I talked and came up with the core of the idea. A sort of anti-Odin came about. Hitler was obsessed with Norse mythology and we never got to see Cap fight a World War in our lifetime. We kept getting hung up on how do you launch a story about Thor with a movie out?" The solution to Fraction and Captain America writer Ed Brubaker's problem came from Joe Quesada himself:
"This sounds like an event." Quesada said.
Fraction continued, "We thought let's do a big thing. The Siege was over and the Heroic Age was fading, and we knew it was time to test the Heroic Age, which became Fear Itself, and then Ed fell away because he was so busy he backed out but wrote The Book of the Skull preview. That's how we got there with Fear Itself."
The audience posed several key questions and thought-provoking comments to the writer, with one asking why and how they arrived at the decision to *SPOILER ALERT* kill Bucky, the current Captain America, in issue three of Fear Itself. Fraction responded, "It was time for what was going to happen to Bucky. That's why Bucky died. I said to Ed early on, "The Red Skull has to kill Bucky again". It has to happen that way to bring it back to Steve being Cap again. Ed was back and forth on the issue. I kept saying "The Red Skull has to do it". We've never seen Cap deal with a World War on American soil, so this seemed like the place for it to happen. She's blowing up all these American icons, and it makes sense for the story to end here. Ed gave me the end of his Bucky piece to do in Fear Itself. Big events should always change the status quo. Not to kill characters, but to change things up. It ques up what's to happen later in future events."
Many fans in the audience were surprised and curious about the decision to have the ever lovin' blue-eyed Thing Ben Grimm pick up a hammer. Fraction had this to say about that choice. "The hammer landing on Yancey Street magnified what the series was about for me, with Ben dealing with everything that happened recently in Fantastic Four. It felt right. Ben came up in discussion because of the self-loathing and the anger that he's always had to deal with. And think about it, there's nothing more terrifying than both Ben and Hulk becoming these terrifying things right now."
While many were surprised at who was on the list, such as Titania, who Fraction added because he wanted a bit of a "Bonnie and Clyde" feel to the team of The Worthy, those who didn't make the list were also discussed. "When putting The Worthy list together, I had an idea as to who would be on it, but it made no sense" Fraction first thought about characters such as Dr. Doom, Magneto, Loki, Galactus, and other heavyweights, but "I had to tell my eight-year old self that it wouldn't work."
Fraction went on to say that they had considered giving the hammers to all monsters, such as Dracula, Frankenstein, and Werewolf by Night, but that plan didn't seem to work either. "Then we thought", Fraction added, "who are the people you want to destroy the planet? That's where our list came from."
Talk then shifted to Odin, and just what role he would play in this seven-issue event. Fraction was a bit coy in responding, "As the story goes on, we're going to see that Odin knows more than he's telling. What if Odin isn't necessarily all that we think he is?" Fraction admitted to liking what one fan described as a "cranky Odin", saying, "Odin used to be a Zeus-like character, a tempestuous guy who varies in moods and such. He's always been that way. There's a reason that Odin was happy to be dead and why he's angry that he's back. All that will be revealed as to why he's disappointed to be alive again. It all fits."
One Norse god that naturally came up in discussion was Loki and what part he will play. Fraction revealed that Loki's role in Journey into Mystery is a big thing. "Kid Loki's role in Journey Into Mystery touches on some of the ideas with the story itself and focuses on the Asgardian aspects of the tale." Fraction hinted that Loki will be making an appearance on Earth in the Fear Itself issues very soon.
With Fear Itself, being a company event, several tie-ins to the series have been published. Fraction wanted to make sure that they were relevant also, "I wanted to keep some of the action in the tie-ins as well. That's why you don't see all of the worthy getting their hammers in Fear Itself. The tie-ins are given moments of weight as well. I want them to offer more to the readers and the writers of those series as well."
Fraction also took the time to address any confusion that might be happening for readers of the Thor series who are also reading Fear Itself. "The Mighty Thor story right now is before Fear Itself. The end of this current Thor arc will tie-in to the end of Fear Itself. They'll be released the same month. For fans of Asgardian stories, Journey Into Mystery is the book for it." Fraction promised that fans of both would see the intersection of the tales.
Keep reading Fear Itself! Hopefully this brings you up to speed or encourages you to go out and read THE Marvel event of the summer!