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Marvel revives the line-wide mega-event era with ‘Fear Itself’

Cue the Welcome Back, Kotter theme music: At a live press conference from NYC’s Midtown Comics today, Marvel unveiled “Fear Itself,” a line-wide event beginning in March. Featuring a prologue one-shot by Ed Brubaker and Scot Eaton, tie-ins, spin-off stand-alone miniseries, and an April-launching seven-issue core limited series by Matt Fraction and Stuart Immonen, it’s very much in the vein of past mega-events like “Civil War,” a comparison company personnel made repeatedly at the presser. If anything, it sounds even bigger than “Civil War,” as the two core Marvel franchises who’ve traditionally been kept at arms’ length from the big events of late, the Hulk and the X-Men, look to be playing an integral role right along with the Avengers, Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four and so on.

As such, it’s a marked departure from the post-“Dark Reign”/”Siege” direction of the Marvel Universe, which has seen the era of big line-spanning events give way to franchise/family-specific crossovers and mini-events like “Shadowland,” “Second Coming,” “World War Hulks” and “The Gauntlet,” under the loose “Heroic Age” banner.

The past year, during which smaller events were the norm at the company, has seen a marked decline in sales, and editors like Tom Brevoort have noted that fans appear to be confused and overwhelmed by the proliferation of smaller events, even though the thinking behind them (along with avoiding creator and reader burnout on the bigger crossovers) was that they’d be less demanding of consumers’ energy and cash than the mega-events. Now, correlation does not imply causality, and there are any number of explanations for slack sales besides the relative merits of different event-comic business models, from the overall economy to price hikes on individual titles to readers simply being less interested in the stories on hand.

Keep in mind that DC’s sales have suffered, too, the success of “Blackest Night” and “Brightest Day” and even the franchise-specific “Return of Bruce Wayne” (not to mention future plans for “Flashpoint” and “War of the Green Lanterns”) notwithstanding. But by returning to the mega-event model, Marvel appears to be saying that in their eyes, at least, a change was needed, and the way to move forward was to go back to what worked in the past.

As a pundit, I find this stuff pretty fascinating. As a reader and critic, I don’t give a crap — all that really matters to me is that the comic in front of me be entertaining. Personally, I think “Fear Itself” has a lot of potential in that regard. “Straight-up supervillain comes hard at all of the superheroes, even the gamma and mutant ones” is a long-overdue structure for a Marvel mega-event, which from “Avengers Disassembled” onward have all either pitted heroes against heroes (“Disassembled,” “Civil War,” “World War Hulk”) or heroes against villains who appeared to be heroes to someone, at least (“House of M,” “Secret Invasion,” “Dark Reign,” “Siege”). An old-school good-vs.-evil crossover from character-conscious talents like Fraction and Immonen could be just what the doctor ordered this spring and summer. And judging from Marvel’s move away from the business plan they announced with much fanfare when unveiling “Siege” over a year ago, that’s what they’re banking on.




You mean it was dead and they thought it was a good idea to bring it back?

When did said era ever end?

Wow, I have to hand it to Marvel they know how to kill my interest in their product. First by mishandling the X-Men to such a point that I am openly hostile to the books now. Next getting rid of the Marvel Universe titles replacing with titles from bloated family lines. And now by getting rid of the Heroic Age which had promise to help undo all the damage done to Marvel Universe over the past decade. You know what I am afraid of, that these people are still going to be in charge at the end of next year.

“First by mishandling the X-Men to such a point that I am openly hostile to the books now.”

openly hostile? just from reading that, you clearly need to get ahold your life sir.

How is no longer giving the benefit of the doubt to the editorial staff and the creators a sign of my life being out of control? I hate how the characters are being written and I don’t shy away from stating that. I hate how they can’t get books out on time yet have Alonso claim keeping deadlines is why back-up features were dropped from Uncanny but they still kept the price at $3.99. Please tell how expressing my negative feelings about something I care about is a sign of that I need “to get ahold of my life”?

wow the image, if that was a team i dont see the juctise league beating them hahaha, power houses and strong leaders.

Ok, so from this Teaser, it appears that Ben Grimm is going to live!!!
Way to go Marvel for dwindling down the list of who it is that is about to die.

Same thing happened with ShadowLand and Amazing Spider-Man.

I agree with Blue Saint. The preview for Wolverine: The Best There Is is what did it for me. I’m starting to hate Marvel.


December 21, 2010 at 5:17 pm


When did it end?

That was Siege right?
Was that even a full year ago?

Shame Marvel didn’t think too try a no events approach – y’know, the one that gave us some of the best comics of the decade, and helped restore them from bankruptcy.

Siege had a bunch of tie-ins, but I’m not sure it constitutes a “line-wide mega-event”…it mostly centered around the Avengers books and a couple of related titles.

The last real line-wide event was arguably Dark Reign (which ended December 2009) or Secret Invasion (ended January 2009). So by the time Fear Itself actually starts, it will have been at least 16 months. Not a ton of time, but it’s not exactly yesterday.

Personally I’d count Siege. It was slightly smaller than Civil War or Secret Invasion but bigger than World War Hulk and far more impactful on the direction of the overall line, seeing as how it was billed as the culmination of the entire Marvel Universe storyline since Disassembled. Marvel themsevles said “this is our last line-wide event for the foreseeable future” at the time, too.

Marked departure? Revived? What are you talking about? Siege 4 came out in MAY of 2010. They spent the next 6 months, among other things, seeding their books for the next crossover and churning out, what, a half dozen smaller interim crossovers– they couldn’t even make it a full year without announcing the NEXT mega-crossover.

How in pluperfect hell are you characterizing this as a departure of any kind? This is their SOP, and to suggest otherwise, just because their marketing machinery made some fart noises with its mouth, is silly. You’d just have to be oblivious to the timelines in place. This kind of crossover took months of planning and even the seeding’s been in the books for months now. To suggest there was any credible period of time where that company didn’t believe its future lay in mega-crossovers– it’s really just not very believable.

I find it interesting that Jim Shooter or Bob Harras ended up being more influential to the modern generation of Marvel mainstream comic creator than Alan Moore or Frank Miller, say. I wouldn’t have predicted that, growing up. I find it sort of curious that Fraction’s talking in adman-speak in the marketing material (“underserved”? I just thought that was an odd phrase). I find what an age of continuous crossover means about who Marvel believes its audience is and what they want. But: mega-crossover as “marked departure” … ???

I just don’t get the math there.

Sir Manley Johnson

December 22, 2010 at 12:08 am


interesting that they chose to spoil thing’s survival of the current FF story, and in the press conference said that we (fans) should be inferring that bucky will no longer be captain america from the teaser image.

as for the “revival” i can only assume that we were supposed to believe the mega-event was dead because marvel said it was. maybe time is just moving differently for me as i age, but civil war still seems pretty recent to me, so less than a year and a half between mega-events is not much of a break.

Wow, I just found out that’s Dracula with the white ponytail, off to the far left. I had assumed it was Magneto, in another transitory phase.

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