Fear Itself Archives | Robot 6 | The Comics Culture Blog

Re-reading ‘Invincible Iron Man,’ Part 4: ‘Unfixable’ and ‘Fear Itself’

iron man's new costumeReady for the penultimate installment of our re-reading of writer Matt Fraction and artist Salvador Larroca’s impressive five-year, 60-ish issue run on The Invincible Iron Man? Well, if not, you can always come back later when you are; it will be right here waiting.

Today we look at one official part of the run, and two more collections worth of Fraction-written Iron Man comics, which aren’t necessarily labeled as part of The Invincible Iron Man, because Marvel moves in mysterious ways.

Vol. 8 Unfixable (#501-503, Free Comic Book Day 2010 Iron Man/Thor, Rescue #1): With this volume, the drifting of the narrative glimpsed in the previous volume becomes more pronounced, with the bulk of the collection devoted to the next chapter of the Invincible Iron Man storyline and ending, mid-book, with a “Continued In FEAR ITSELF!” tag, and a pair of one-shots that sorta distract from the ongoing story (but certainly needed to be collected somewhere, if only for us wait-for-the-trade types) filling up the rest of the book.

In the title story, Stark is busily pitching his repulsor technology’s consumer applications, when he’s interrupted by “the post-life crisis ” of Spider-Man’s villain Otto “Doctor Octopus” Octavius, who, in the Spider-Man books of the time, had developed a terminal, degenerative disease and turned himself into a barely recognizable cyborg of sorts, his arms folded and legs tugged up like some sort of mummy awaiting burial, while a mass of mechanical arms did all his moving for him.

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What Are You Reading? with Josh Wigler

Sweet Tooth #40

Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading?, our weekly look at exactly what the title says. This week we welcome special guest Josh Wigler, editor of MTV Splash Page and former CBR contributor.

To see what Josh and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below.

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What Are You Reading? with James Asmus


Welcome to What Are You Reading? Today’s special guest is writer and comedian James Asmus, who you know from Gambit, Thief of Thieves and the just-released The End Times of Bram & Ben.

To see what James and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below …

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Cullen Bunn on the end and aftermath of The Fearless

Marvel’s big Fear Itself crossover event last year introduced readers to Odin’s brother, the Serpent, who along with the Red Skull’s daughter, Sin, used seven divine hammers to turn several Marvel heroes and villains into his agents on Earth. Spoiler’s alert: Marvel’s heroes win, but in the wake of the event came the question of what happened to all those hammers.

Cullen Bunn, Matt Fraction, Chris Yost, Mark Bagley and Paul Pelletier answered that question in the pages of The Fearless, a miniseries that saw Sin and her boyfriend, Crossbones, in an Amazing Race-style adventure to find all the hammers. They were pitted against Valkyrie, a character ripe not only for an Asgardian-laced race against the forces of evil and some character development of her own. Over the course of the series, we learned a lot about the Valkyrie’s history, saw guest stars galore and even got a tease for a potential new series. Now that the miniseries has wrapped up, I chatted with Bunn about the comic, the characters he used and what he did with them. My thanks to him for taking the time to answer my questions.

JK: If I’m not mistaken, this was your first major project for Marvel since going “exclusive” with them. You’d done other stories for them and even other Fear Itself tie-ins, but is it safe to say this probably put you on the main stage of the Marvel Universe in a way you hadn’t experienced yet? Did you feel any pressure going into it because of the scope and the fact that it came out of a big Marvel event?

Cullen: Yeah, this was a big, intimidating undertaking. The Fearless featured most of the major Marvel superheroes in one way or another, and it spanned numerous locales. Luckily, I was working with a very supportive team who made me feel pretty comfortable going into this. They put a lot of trust in me with the series, and I didn’t want to let anyone down. Every time I sent some crazy note or suggestion for plot points, I expected them to yank me off the title, but they were pretty receptive to the idea of exploding sharks, a new team of Valkyrie, and Wolverine gutting Crossbones (among other things).

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Talking Comics with Tim | Tom Brevoort

Tom Brevoort, photo by Luigi Novi

Let’s not mince words, the online presence of Tom Brevoort has provided hours of great reading for Robot 6 readers. Given his constant and unflagging willingness to interact with consumers via social media, Brevoort is a quote machine (His Twitter bio? “A man constantly on the verge of saying something stupid–for your entertainment!?”). There’s always a directness (some would say bluntness) to his manner online–making him the ideal subject for an interview. Last year saw Marvel promote Brevoort to senior vice president for publishing. 2011 was a year of some major successes for Marvel, as well as a year where some hard business decisions were made. In this interview, conducted in mid-December via email, I tried to cover a great deal of ground (we even briefly discuss DC’s New 52 success)–and Brevoort did not hold back on any of his answers. For that, I am extremely grateful. Like any high profile comics executive, Brevoort has his fans and his critics (and many in between), but I like to think this exchange offers some perspectives everyone can enjoy.

Tim O’Shea: Whether it’s in your job description or not, fan outreach via social media is definitely part of your job–clearly by your own choice. What benefit or enjoyment do you get from interacting with the fans/consumers?

Tom Brevoort: I’m not sure that I get a particular benefit, except maybe just being the center of attention for a few minutes—maybe everything I do is motivated by ego! I’m a whore for the spotlight! But I started doing this kind of outreach back in the formative days of internet fandom, largely because I like the idea of internet fandom. I know that, if the internet had existed when I was a young comic book reader, I’d have been on those message boards and in those chat rooms all the time, obsessively—just like a certain portion of the audience today. So I like the idea of giving back, of being accessible enough that anybody who has a question or a concern knows where to find me, or at least to find somebody with an insider’s track who might have the background and knowledge to speak to their point. In a very real way, it’s all an outgrowth of what Stan Lee did in his letters pages and Bullpen pages. Joe Q, I think, was really the first person to perfect that approach for the internet age. As EIC he was incredibly available to the audience in a myriad of ways. It’s a philosophy that’s very much woven into our DNA at Marvel. And for the most part, our fans are interesting, vibrant, cool people, especially when you meet them in person.

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Food or Comics? | Point One, Silver Star, Tezuka and more

Point One

Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy at our local comic shop based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on a “Splurge” item.

Check out Diamond’s release list or ComicList, and tell us what you’re getting in our comments field.

Chris Arrant

If I had $15, I’d first get the third issue of my favorite New 52 title, Batwoman #3 (DC, $2.99). Seriously, J.H. Williams III is hitting a home run on every outing here when it comes to my tastes. Although the writing isn’t up to the level of Greg Rucka’s time on the book, it’s close and only bound to get better. Next up I’d get Point One #1 (Marvel, $5.99). I think this format–an extra-size preview book for what’s coming next–is an interesting experiment, and I’m intrigued most by the Nova story, but also interested to see what the others do. Third would be Uncanny X-Force #17 (Marvel, $3.99), to get the one-two punch of Rick Remender and Jerome Opena. Iceman as a bad guy? I dig this.

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The Fifth Color | Nothing to Fear, everything to gain

Fear Itself #6“This store is so negative!,” a woman said in astonishment. She had a kid with her, a happy elementary schooler who was perusing our new comics wall. The young shopper’s mom, perhaps grandmother had ambled her way to the counter to make this proclamation. I asked her why she thought the store was negative and the woman went right to the heart of the matter: violence. There was just too much of it in the store for her to consider this a positive place for her child. Calmly going into “Oh man, what did she see?” mode, I calmly explained that not all comics were for kids and that Batman sometimes has to fight a bad guy or two to make sure they go to jail. She understood, but there was something displayed behind me that got to the heart of the matter: our Fear Itself promotional poster.

“Fear, that’s terrible for kids to see, and all the violence, it’s just too negative for them,” she explained. I looked at the poster, wondering if there actually was something terrible on it but no, no gore, sexual situations or excessive violence. She actually had a problem with the title. I told her the title came from the quote that we have nothing to fear but fear itself, an appeal for strength. How every kid faces a fear at one time or another and why not show them how super-heroes handle theirs? “After all,” I told her, “… you know the good guys win.”

She thought about it and we talked about fear and being strong. In the end, I hadn’t changed her mind entirely but she did admit that saying the whole store was negative was probably a bit rude. The young customer bought something he liked and everyone went home happy. If a robot had carried in a cupcake for me, it would have been the perfect day.

But then again, nothing in this world is perfect, not even my unflinching adoration for one of Marvel’s finest architects (FRACTION 3:16!). But if you boil Fear Itself down to its base elements, you will find jewels of the human spirit expressed in the Mighty Marvel Manner. It may not be the best event book, but I’m starting to think that the core of Fear Itself is one of the most important stories you can read for inspiration.

(WARNING: We will be talking about Fear Itself, including this week’s cataclysmic issue #7, grab your copies and read along)
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Food or Comics? | Rub-A-Dub-Dub, Batman in a tub

Batman #2

Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy at our local comic shop based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on a “Splurge” item.

Check out Diamond’s release list or ComicList, and tell us what you’re getting in our comments field.

Michael May

If I had $15, I’d mostly grab the second issues of some DC stuff I enjoyed last month: Batman ($2.99), Birds of Prey ($2.99), and especially Wonder Woman ($2.99). No Justice League for me though. Unlike Action Comics, I didn’t enjoy the first issue enough that I can rationalize paying $4 for it. Instead, I’ll grab Avengers 1959 #2 ($2.99) and Red 5’s Bonnie Lass #2 ($2.95), both of which had strong first issues.

If I had $30, I’d have to put back Bonnie Lass and wait for the collection in order to afford Jonathan Case’s atomic-sea-monster-love-story Dear Creature ($15.99).

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The Fifth Color | Forward into the Past with Marvel for November 2011

I hate to start it out this way, but we have to talk.

Despite fan apathy, despite the louder bolder act from the Distinguished Competitor, Fear Itself is a mighty fine event book. It has a very easy premise that people unfamiliar with comics can get into (hey, you know Thor? It’s like all the bad guys are that strong now), it’s got that “Versus” style atmosphere where people can debate all day long on who should have really been the first down or defeated in the Worthy vs. Heroes, it’s got a super-powered upgrade coming up for us by Iron Man, there’s been some tragedy and some triumph, and coming up in October, we’ll have closure with an ending that multiple comics can build up or down from.

Fear Itself #7.1

Fear Itself #7.1

Fear Itself #7.2

Fear Itself #7.2

Fear Itself #7.3

Fear Itself #7.3

Or maybe not.

Remember in the last Lord of the Rings movie when they just kept having to tie up so many loose ends or add so much finality to the main story that it just felt like the audience just didn’t know where to applaud in a well-made film? Or even worse, you drank a really big soda during a three-hour+ movie and really wanted it to have a firm sense of a finish so you could escape? Yeah.

So, thanks to some New Math numbering by Marvel, it looks like #7 of Fear Itself really doesn’t end so much for our heroes because come November, we’re getting a Captain America ending, an Iron Man ending and a Thor ending (Depending on how well you do playing through the game, does this unlock any achievements?) If your mini-series is seven issues long, you should be able to tell me a complete story between issues #1 and #7. Afterwards, if there is a banner theme running around the books as they’ve done historically since Avengers: Disassembled and even further with some of the old annual arcs, so be it. I think, as comic readers, we’re more familiar with picking up what looks good coming out of a major event and deciding for ourselves that hey, let’s see the prologue with a certain character after the book is finished. Even a Fear Itself: Thor #1 one-shot would be more preferable, because at least with some distance from the main series, it feels like we’re moving on and not buying a very sneaky issues #8, 9 and 10.

Yeah, it’s probably too much of a sour note to play against the backdrop of a very solid set of storytelling, but man. What a way to start November.

Let’s see what else is coming from the House of Ideas in November 2011, shall we?
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Food or Comics? | D is for Daredevil, DeConnick, Deadlands and ducks


Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy at our local comic shop based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on a “Splurge” item.

Check out Diamond’s release list or ComicList, and tell us what you’re getting in our comments field.

Graeme McMillan

As we’re heading towards the middle of August, it’s no surprise that curiosity is getting me to pick up more than a few DC books just see how particular series “end;” I’d be getting Justice League of America #60 and Legion of Super-Heroes #16 (both DC, $2.99) anyway, because I’ve been following those series for awhile, but I’m likely to add Batman #713 (DC, $2.99) to the pile as well, if only to see the explanation as to why Dick quits being Batman before the big relaunch. But it’s not all endings for me with my $15 this week; I’d also make a point of grabbing Daredevil #2 (Marvel, $2.99), because the first issue was just breathtakingly good, and the series became a must-read before I’d even reached the last page.

If I had $30 this week, I’d add to my list of DC final issues with Supergirl #67 (DC, $2.99), which Kelly Sue DeConnick has talked up in interviews as being the highpoint of her short run to date and a great capper to the series as a whole. I’d also check in with the third issue of David Hahn’s All Nighter (Image, $2.99), as well as see if Nick Spencer’s Iron Man 2.0 is worth a look with the mini-collection of the first three issues, Iron Man 2.0: Modern Warfare (Marvel, $4.99).

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Food or Comics? | Fear of a Bad Island

Fear Itself #5

Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy at our local comic shop based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on a “Splurge” item.

Check out Diamond’s release list or ComicList, and tell us what you’re getting in our comments field.

Graeme McMillan

It’s a week where I’m happily embracing the superhero of it all. If I had $15, I’d go for the fifth issue of Marvel’s Fear Itself ($3.99), mostly because I’m this far in and I’ll probably keep going just to see how it turns out instead of actually enjoying it, as well as the first issue of “Spider Island” in Amazing Spider-Man #667 (Marvel, $3.99) to continue my love/hate relationship with Dan Slott’s Spider-Man run. But when it comes to full-on nostalgia, DC has me in the palm of its hand with DC Retroactive: Justice League of America – The ’80s #1 (DC, $4.99). No joke: The Justice League Detroit era is one of those guilty pleasures that I not only can’t explain, but also can’t resist – Gerry Conway revisiting that failed team for a new one-shot (especially with art by Ron Randall) is something that I literally can’t help myself but pick up.

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The Fifth Color | Looking at Marvel for October 2011

Fear Itself #7

Fear Itself #7

You guys.

We did it.

This is, quite possibly, the best it’s ever going to get. Two opening weekends of more than $65 million from Marvel Studios movies this summer, Thor and Captain America, combined with the $55 million from X-Men: First Class … I feel like I want to go buy a jet ski! We really did own the box office this year, and I am so proud to see the House of Ideas forge their own path in Hollywood and come out on top for staying close to the stories we adore and yet still forging entirely new ones for a new generation.

Then there’s print media. I know, it’s a weird time to be looking ahead to October, because events tend to end around this time of year, if not simply reveal their catastrophically shocking twists. So the solicitations have shed a lot of words like trees shedding leaves, both leaving us with the bare branches of what will later flower in the spring with … well, whatever next big story will dazzle the public.

I will be honest with you, gentle reader; this one will be a little bare as a snapshot of Marvel’s titles in October. Add to this that I wasn’t at Comic-Con this year, so I can’t exactly report or add info I heard at the show. The good news is that CBR is the most dashing and handsome news site out there, so you can catch all the coverage here.

Thanks to the seasonal shift that event books create, there’s a lot of stuff we just can’t say or know about until we hold those issues in our hot little hands. On the other hand, you can’t keep everything a mystery without the public going to town on speculation, so let’s delve int the unknown of October and see what Marvel has around this corner.

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Marvel offers retailers a Fear Itself variant for unsold Flashpoint tie-ins

Cue up the Steely Dan: Marvel has announced their intention to do it again by offering retailers a rare Ed McGuinness variant of Fear Itself #6 for every 50 covers they send in from certain Flashpoint tie-in titles from DC. Dubbed “Comics for Comics,” the divisive program is intended, according to Marvel, to offer relief to retailers who they say have been saddled with unsold product during the current economic climate. (This claim has met with some skepticism, Tom Brevoort’s protestations notwithstanding.)

Marvel’s done this before: Last year, they offered a J. Scott Campbell Deadpool variant of Siege #3 in exchange not just for unsold Blackest Night “power ring” tie-ins the from DC, but for unsold Siege and X-Men: Second Coming tie-ins as well. A copy of that comic [UPDATE: a signed, CGC-graded one, which I’m told makes a difference] recently sold on eBay for $625 (via ComicsAlliance commenter Tom). I’m curious as to whether Marvel will eventually make its own books eligible for this trade-in, too. (I’m also curious as to whether some other country will provide us with a functioning legislature in exchange for every 50 House GOP members we send them if we default on our debt, but I suppose that’s neither here nor there.)

SDCC ’11 | A roundup of Sunday’s announcements


As is typical, Sunday was a bit slower in terms of announcements at the San Diego Comic-Con, but there were some on the last day of the show:

At the Fear Itself panel, Marvel made several announcements, including a new Defenders series by Matt Fraction and Terry Dodson. The team includes Dr. Strange, Iron Fist, Namor, Red She-Hulk and Silver Surfer.

• Jason Aaron and Marc Silvestri will chronicle the adventures of Bruce Banner and his alter ego starting in October, when Incredible Hulk #1 hits the stands.

• Much like Siege begot the Heroic Age, Fear Itself will bring Battle Scars, a post-event branding for the Marvel Universe titles. Several Shattered Heroes one-shots will be released, focusing on how Fear Itself impacts various Marvel heroes.

• Marvel confirmed the launch of The Fearless, a bi-weekly series by Matt Fraction, Chris Yost, Cullen Bunn, Mark Bagley and Paul Pelletier.

• DC Comics released a gallery of character designs and sketches for the New 52 launch.

• Comic-Con International released the full list of Inkpot Awards recipients from this year’s show. The list includes Steven Spielberg, Alan Davis, Chester Brown and many more.

SDCC ’11 | Marvel to launch The Fearless in October

The cover of the August Previews catalog gives us an indication of how Marvel will follow up Fear Itself, and what we should expect to emerge from the publisher’s Sunday panel at Comic-Con International.

October will see the debut of The Fearless, “an event that shows readers what’s in store for their favorite characters in the wake of the Fear Itself event. Anyone that enjoyed Fear Itself should be interested in finding out how Captain America, the Avengers, and other characters from all across the Marvel Universe deal with the aftermath.”

Although further details haven’t been publicly released by Marvel or Diamond Comic Distributors, Newsarama reports that the twice-monthly series will be written by Matt Fracion, Cullen Bunn and Chris Yost, and illustrated by Mark Bagley and Paul Pelletier. The website also confirms the October launch of Incredible Hulk, by Jason Aaron and Marc Silvestri.

Stay tuned to Comic Book Resources for more information as details surface from Comic-Con.

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