By Ben Morse
WARNING: READ FEAR ITSELF #3 BEFORE READING THIS STORY—SPOILERS AHEAD!
FEAR ITSELF #3 saw two of the Marvel Universe’s greatest heroes perhaps leap back into action, but it also chronicled the fall of two mighty champions in very different ways.
The Avengers did their best to defend Washington D.C. from Skadi—the former Sin—and her army, but global crises caused by the Worthy ranging from Absorbing Man decimating Dubai to The Hulk battling Red She-Hulk in Brazil thinned their ranks. Captain America led a noble charge, but quickly found himself overwhelmed, compelling his mentor and predecessor, Steve Rogers, to launch himself out of the war room and into action.
On Yancy Street, the final of the Serpent’s hammers fell an anointed The Thing as Angrir, Breaker of Souls, making the Worthy complete.
Meanwhile in Asgard, Loki conspired to free Thor from captivity and reunite him with his allies. Before they could plan their next move, Odin granted the Thunder God his wish, sending him back to Midgard, though it seemed Thor may regret his decision.
And when the dust cleared, Bucky Barnes found himself with a hole in his chest courtesy of Skadi, trying to warn the world of The Serpent with his final words.
FEAR ITSELF writer Matt Fraction joins us once again to address the events of this latest momentous chapter of the saga.
Marvel.com: Quick continuity question to start: Where does FEAR ITSELF #3 fall on the timeline in regards to the “Gulag” story currently going in CAPTAIN AMERICA? Bucky is back in the Cap costume here, but did he just get finished with “Gulag” or has some time passed?
Matt Fraction: [FEAR ITSELF #3 is right] after “Gulag.” Its last part was supposed to ship simultaneously but I think human nature happened and it's now [June 22]. So, yeah: this is after “Gulag.”
Marvel.com: As opposed to the “big guns” like Thor, Iron Man, etc. being on the frontlines during the blitzkrieg here, we see the relatively underpowered group of Cap, Black Widow, Falcon and Shang-Chi. Is this any sort of commentary on how desperate things have gotten or are we just seeing one piece of the larger battle than happens to be where Sin is?
Matt Fraction: Well, the "big guns" are otherwise spoken for—Thor imprisoned on Asgard, Iron Man fighting in Paris, Steve running the big board; it's all-hands-on-deck time. We've seen the other Avengers in New York City and reacting to challenges all around the world. You know the expression "You go to war with the army you have?" This is Steve's war, and this is his army. I hope it functions as both things you suggest. FEAR ITSELF is amongst other things the story of Steve Rogers to fight a world war.
Marvel.com: Why does Sin/Skadi have such a grudge against Bucky?
Matt Fraction: Well, he's Captain America, not just Bucky. But she wants them "both" dead. If she kills Captain America, she's a better Red Skull than her father ever was; if she kills Bucky, she claims that one previously-unassailable victory her father had achieved for herself.
Marvel.com: How do Loki’s actions here dovetail with his story in JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY? Is this incarnation of Loki, who is helping his brother, so inherently different than the one who caused all the trouble of Siege not long ago due to not having been “nurtured” to evil yet, or is there more to his nature?
Marvel.com: Of course he's inherently different. That's what his whole story is about. [JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY writer] Kieron [Gillen] and I have done lots of work to make sure all our ducks are more or less in a row and Loki's adventures here and in JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY provide a portrait of the character we're trying to create/recreate together. This is the Loki that Thor loved as a boy; this is the mischievous little adventurer that brought him joy in his youth. We want Marvel readers to fall in love with him the same way Thor did to better understand what later losing him to abject wickedness in SIEGE did to him, and to the psyche of all Asgard. Loki's story is a tragedy but we never got to see the good part—Loki's always been fallen as long as he's been a Marvel character.
Marvel.com: We get our first look here at Absorbing Man as Greithoth, which seems as an appropriate time as any to ask for a bit of insight into what makes each of the Worthy stand out and who you’ve taken a particular shine to among their number…
Marvel.com: Greithoth is in Dubai, Nul/The Hulk is in Brazil—how all-encompassing has this become and is there anywhere that has remained untouched?
Matt Fraction: No. Nowhere is safe. No one is safe. If not in the pages of FEAR ITSELF than surely in the pages of our spin-outs, we wanted the scale of [the event] to truly be global.
Marvel.com: The Thing’s transformation into Angrir is primarily fueled by the hammer itself, but what role does the angry crowd and their doubt play in getting him there?
Marvel.com: It's the angry crowds of his whole life—not just as The Thing but as Ben Grimm, too. It couldn't have been easy to have been Ben as a kid, to be that smart, sweet [boy] trapped in the body of a Yancy Street bruiser, and it's surely not been easy since becoming The Thing. The Serpent has seduced that hurt part, that angry part, the thing that Ben has had to tamp down his whole life; the rage that comes from being excluded, mocked, picked-on, feared. The crowd—and that one particular jerk in the crowd—was just endemic of a lifetime of having to choke down that bilious and hurtful nonsense. This is the story of the tragedy at the heart of Ben Grimm.
Marvel.com: What is Angrir’s role among the Worthy as “Breaker of Souls” and why was Ben Grimm chosen?
Matt Fraction: He breaks souls. He was chosen because the hurt inside of him, the rage inside of him, was so great that only Angrir could relate to it. Ben wasn't chosen. Ben was seduced.
Marvel.com: Why does Odin ultimately allow Thor to return to Earth after going to such trouble to get him away from there?
Matt Fraction: He can't ready Asgard for war with one hand while restraining Thor with the other. I suspect he's allowing Thor to do a little more research, as it were; to go forth and discover, on his own, the truth of what Odin has told him. We're almost to the heart of things now. We're almost to the truth between father and son.
Marvel.com: Sharon Carter tells Steve Rogers “This is the job you wanted,” but do you get the sense he never truly wanted it or did he just not realize what he was getting into?
Matt Fraction: I think he did in fact truly want it but it had been decades since he's had to face a threat on this scale. He's a soldier, not brass.
Marvel.com: How big a moment is Steve choosing to get off the sidelines and go into action?
Matt Fraction: I don't think that's for me to say but, I mean, as a reader I know I want Steve Rogers out there fighting.
Marvel.com: What insight into The Serpent does Bucky get during his beating from Sin that makes him so terrified in his final words to Black Widow?
Matt Fraction: The good guys didn't even know The Serpent was called The Serpent until Bucky says it to the Widow. And he's not terrified—he's seen the scale of the threat, he understands how powerful The Serpent and Skadi and the Worthy truly are, [and] he's telling her what has to be done.
Marvel.com: As the storyteller, what was the purpose of Bucky’s sacrifice in the larger scheme here and why end the third issue this way?
Matt Fraction: The purpose of his sacrifice was that he was the first to stare this beast in the eyes and understand the scale of the threat; it was a chance to show how credible a threat The Serpent is to world. [CAPTAIN AMERICA writer] Ed Brubaker graciously let us conclude Bucky’s story [as Cap] here rather than at the end of “Gulag” as was his original plan. Ultimately this is meant to say this threat is big, and it means something to our heroes that is sweeping and real. The larger scheme is, I suppose, to drop some jaws and get people clamoring for what comes up next.
Marvel.com: What’s coming up next?
Matt Fraction: Thor confronts The Serpent face to face. Steve realizes he's too late. And Iron Man makes the ultimate sacrifice.
FEAR ITSELF #4 comes at you on July 6, and we’ll be back here with Matt to analyze the issue. Also be sure to visit the Fear Itself event page for all the latest info!
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