By Ben Morse
WARNING: READ FEAR ITSELF #2 BEFORE READING THIS STORY—SPOILERS AHEAD!
While FEAR ITSELF #2 provided a heaping helping of action, intrigue and surprises this past week for readers, things went from bad to worse for the Avengers and the rest of the Marvel Universe’s erstwhile good guys.
Following their mass Odin-ordered exodus from Earth at the conclusion of FEAR ITSELF #1, the Asgardians returned to their native realm, where a restrained Thor railed against his father’s strategic retreat and his allies attempted to reconcile their own feelings. Meanwhile, the All Father continued to formulate his plan for dealing with the return of The Serpent and made it clear humanity’s survival did not necessarily factor in.
On Earth, more of The Serpent’s hammers fell from the sky and empowered the likes of Juggernaut, Titania, The Absorbing Man, Attuma, The Grey Gargoyle and even The Hulk to join the Worthy. With mass chaos engulfing the planet, Sin—aka Skadi—led an all-out blitzkrieg on Washington D.C. with no Avengers to be found to play defense.
We’ve once again been fortunate enough to procure FEAR ITSELF writer Matt Fraction to walk us through the exciting events just witnessed as well as what comes next.
|FEAR ITSELF #2 cover by Steve McNiven|
Marvel.com: To begin on a storytelling craft note, working on an epic story like this and kicking things off with a bang as you did, how do you keep momentum going into the second part? Where does the second chapter fall for you as a writer between the big kick-off and the next major landmarks?
Matt Fraction: Lots of working and reworking. I'd lay down a few miles of track then have to go back and blow one up again; it was an organic, ongoing, and constant process. I still am sending in revamps of scripts that have been "in the can" for weeks if not months now on FEAR ITSELF. Even down to final dialogue passes the Friday morning that the book goes off to press, I rework to try to keep the thing working as a whole and to keep each issue working on their own.
For me, the end of the second issue is basically your first act break. The threat is revealed, the protagonists are confronted by it, and the stage is set for what comes next.
Marvel.com: Odin seems almost to switch by the moment here from a bit panicked to supremely confident even if that confidence is that doom is on the way. Which would you say is closer to his characterization and temperament? How is the Odin we’re seeing here different from the guy we’ve seen tackle multiple apocalyptic crises in the past?
Matt Fraction: He's the voice of confident and strong leadership when addressing his people, and he's not panicked so much as he doesn't want Thor to go. They're all of the same character and temperament: it is the All Father's prerogative to share what he knows when and if he chooses. Thus far, for reasons that will later be revealed, he's chosen to not share anything but rather to give orders. It maybe ain't the right way to behave, but it's the Odin way.
And we've never seen Odin have to face a crisis like this in the past. Ever.
|FEAR ITSELF #2 variant cover by Stuart Immonen|
Marvel.com: What is at the center of the debate between Thor and Odin in regards to how to handle this new threat and where in your mind do the various Asgardians fall in regards to their loyalties?
Matt Fraction: Thor wants to stand with Earth. Odin wants Thor nowhere near The Serpent. It's a classic father-son/parent-child thing writ large and apocalyptic: the kid wants to go out on an adventure and the parent doesn't want the kid to get hurt. The kid has unbridled enthusiasm; the parent has wisdom—only, y'know, done in the Mighty Marvel Manner. This story—Thor and Odin—is half the heart of FEAR ITSELF and doesn't fully resolve until our final page of issue seven.
You'll see where the Asgardian loyalties fall in FEAR ITSELF #3, and throughout JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY.
Marvel.com: Why the specific selections of the characters that make up the Worthy and what exactly have they become?
Matt Fraction: Juggernaut was chosen to be avatar of Kuurth, one of the Serpent's Worthy. He and his brethren, from Attuma down below to Absorbing Man and Titania above, to Hulk and Grey Gargoyle and Sin, were all seduced by the dark powers imbued within the mysterious hammers. If you had to assemble an army to demolish a world, who would you chose? All of the worthy have the capacity to break the world within them.
There is one more of the Worthy to reveal, bringing The Serpent's army to nine.
Marvel.com: Does the dichotomy between The Hulk and Bruce Banner make him a different sort of Worthy than the others? It would seem that way as he at least attempts to warn Betty to flee.
Matt Fraction: We've given the Hulk a Hulk, in a way.
Marvel.com: Can you give some insight into what exactly the “chaos” Maria Hill describes is and what’s causing it? We’ve already seen from this story and some of the early tie-ins that an undercurrent of fear and discord is sweeping the planet, but what is the nature of it?
|FEAR ITSELF #3 preview art by Stuart Immonen|
Matt Fraction: People get scared and panic. Ever been in a grocery store the night before a blizzard? People can get nuts very very easily. And as these catastrophes are unleashed simultaneously around the world, The Serpent exploits it, encourages it—stokes it, even. But ultimately it is who we are at our worst. There's no magical nature, no superhuman secret, to man's basest instincts. We can become savages when we get frightened. The end.
Marvel.com: Does The Serpent have any goal outside of causing widespread terror and destruction?
Matt Fraction: Yes. He's coming to Asgard for what is rightfully his.
Marvel.com: What has happened to the Avengers in all this?
Matt Fraction: A world war has sprung up around them instantaneously. They're struggling to respond. Look at what's happening to Washington, DC, then put that all over the world all at once—The Serpent is here and they don't even know his name yet.
Marvel.com: What’s coming up next?
Matt Fraction: The Avengers fight back; the battle for Washington, DC; the final fate of the hammer that fell on Yancy Street.
FEAR ITSELF #2 comes at you on June 1, 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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