Fear Itself

Fear Fallout #7

Matt Fraction returns to discuss the fate of Thor, the origin of The Serpent and more as we analyze the finale of Fear Itself

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By Ben Morse

WARNING: READ FEAR ITSELF #7 BEFORE READING THIS STORY—SPOILERS AHEAD!

The world has been saved, but not without grave consequences.

As Captain America led his own one-man campaign in the opening pages of FEAR ITSELF #7 to protect Broxton, Oklahoma and Earth from The Serpent and his forces, Iron Man returned from Asgard with mystic weapons to empower his fellow Avengers and Thor entered the field of battle sporting his own special armor. All-out war broke out on multiple fronts, as heroes, villains and even civilians joined the fray.

While the God of Fear took on the God of Thunder, Cap led Earth’s Mightiest Heroes and their newly enhanced accessories against the Worthy and Sin’s foot soldiers. While Black Widow, Hawkeye, Red She-Hulk and company chipped away at the avatars of terror, Steve Rogers got unexpected reinforcements in the form of Broxton’s ordinary citizens and picked up a discarded Mjolnir to strike back against Skadi, the god who killed his protégé.

When the dust settled, Thor drove The Serpent from this world and stripped the Worthy of their power, but seemingly at the cost of his own life. As the Avengers mourned one of their own and set about the task of rebuilding, Odin removed himself from Earth, leaving the Asgardians to find a new place on our world.

With FEAR ITSELF now in the books, we took one last opportunity to pick the brain of writer Matt Fraction on how we got to this point.

Marvel.com: This was a Marvel Universe-encompassing event and to some extent involved dozens of characters, but at the end of the day, it really was Thor's story, and to a lesser extent Captain America's. Why did it make sense to center on these two and how did challenge and appeal to you to focus on two characters so different on the surface?

Matt Fraction: It all started with external reasons—the origin of the idea came from [editor] Tom [Brevoort] calling [CAPTAIN AMERICA writer] Ed [Brubaker] and myself and saying, what about doing a Thor/Cap story to take advantage of the movies coming up. It made sense because those two characters were suddenly very high profile so why not tell a story about them both? Then coming up with the villain and the idea of this sort of—pardon the expression—old testament god that fed on fear rather than faith or what have you grew it to an event-sized event. 

I didn't want to do a story where the heroes' solution to fighting the villain was to throw more heroes at it; the story became very immediately about people taking care of each other in spite of their fear and terror. It became, to me, a story about the men inside the costumes, the men inside the heroes. Odin asks Thor twice, are you a man or are you a god?

To me, FEAR ITSELF's challenge and appeal was writing about the heroes that declare themselves men and not gods.

Marvel.com: What similarities bind Thor and Cap?

Matt Fraction: They both have that unshakable belief in their fellow man; we see them lose sight of it for a bit, then rediscover it and find they're even stronger than they'd imagined. Something like that, anyway.

Marvel.com: Where did the idea for the Avengers to be powered up by Asgardian weapons come from? It certainly seems like the type of the thing that fits the story perfectly, but is also a fun bit for the kid who wants to play with their toys.

Matt Fraction: [It] came out of the writing. The story has its refrains and recurrent things and it just felt like a natural fit. I wanted, too, to have Tony [Stark] not fighting front and center; I kept calling it "fighting the battle of Bedford Falls," the guy that stays home to keep the war machine fed and fueled. It was compelling to me to see Iron Man realize he's of more value to not be on the field but back home, as much as it was to have Spider-Man suffer one of his crises of faith at the end of the second act; Tony wasn't just going to have to give up his sobriety for a moment but his oath to not make weapons anymore.

And, yes! Who doesn't want to play with those toys?

Marvel.com: Were there aspects of the Odin/Serpent dynamic you wanted to include in the core series but had to push into MIGHTY THOR to make room for other stuff, or was it always your intention to have their story be more in the background?

Matt Fraction: All background. None of it mattered that wasn't in the pages of FEAR ITSELF. We grow the story elsewhere—in this week's MIGHTY THOR #7 for example—but all you need is in FEAR ITSELF. I could've written for months about all the stuff. I had elaborate stories about all the weapons, how they worked, how they felt to use, all this stuff about the Worthy, who they were, how they got along with each other—but none of it really pushed the story forward. That stuff pushed the story out, it pushed the story back, but not forward. So I had a lot of it. As big as the event was, with the Point One  issues at the end, and the prologue book—13 issues worth of stuff all-in and I could've done 13 more without sweating.

Marvel.com: What's the significance of coming back once more to the people of Broxton throughout this issue?

Matt Fraction: That's what the story's all about. The day we had to save ourselves.

Marvel.com: Why to your mind is Cap able to lift Thor's hammer?

Matt Fraction: Because he's worthy. In that instant he is really and truly worthy. 

Marvel.com: With his tale ended—for now—can you give a little more background on how you came up with The Serpent? Where did this guy come from? And why use him as opposed to an established villain?

Matt Fraction: It's in MIGHTY THOR #7. And I wanted an event that didn't require having a history degree in Marvel History; I wanted an event that had the heroes and the readers learning at the same speed, regardless of how much the reader knew about the Marvel Universe.

Marvel.com: How has Fear Itself ultimately affected Odin?

Matt Fraction: Read FEAR ITSELF 7.2.
Marvel.com: What is the new status for Asgard and the Asgardians emerging from this?

Matt Fraction: Read FEAR ITSELF 7.2 and THE MIGHTY TANARUS #8.

Marvel.com: What were you trying to sum up with Cap's final speech about rebuilding? How does it put a bow—or not—on this story?

Matt Fraction: That's it. That's all. The good guys got the hell pounded out of 'em, got knocked down, got beat up, and today they're getting back to their feet and their gonna come back stronger than ever. If you want to grow a strong bone, you gotta break it. Y'know?

Marvel.com: Is there something to that flash of light on the final page?

Matt Fraction: It's the World Tree.

Marvel.com: What's next for the Marvel Universe?

Matt Fraction: The aftermath: FEAR ITSELF 7.1, 7.2, and 7.3. Cap buries Bucky, Asgard sets Thor alight, and Iron Man has words with Odin one last time.

The story is not over! Pick up FEAR ITSELF #7.1 on Wednesday, November 2 to see the aftermath for Captain America, then issues 7.2 and 7.3 in the weeks to come. Also be sure to visit the Fear Itself event page for all the latest info!

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