By Ben Morse
WARNING: READ FEAR ITSELF #5 BEFORE READING THIS STORY—SPOILERS AHEAD!
The end is on the horizon.
Following the Serpent’s assault on New York City, Thor lay nearly incapacitated at the hands of the transformed Thing and Hulk, while no less than Captain America himself declared the odds to perhaps be insurmountable. In FEAR ITSELF #6, our heroes gathered their wounded and made preparations for the final battle hurtling inevitably closer.
While The Serpent and Skadi fortified their conquered territories, Cap split the ranks of the Avengers, leaving Luke Cage’s team to keep up morale and protect New York while he and the remainder of Earth’s Mightiest traveled to Asgard, Thor in tow, hoping Odin could heal his wayward son. Despite a verbal confrontation with the All-Father that resulted in his and his team’s expulsion from the Golden Realm, Steve Rogers managed to accomplish at least that mission and salvage Thor for the time being.
As the gods spoke of prophecy and destiny in Asgard, the heroes of Earth settled in for a last defense. Odin, failing to dissuade his boy from remaining man’s champion, provided him with words of warning and the armor he previously used to dispatch the same foe. Iron Man took the ultimate leap of faith to fortify his armor and provide the weapons his allies will need. And after six issues of suffering and conflict, Captain America selected how he would make his stand.
Once again, FEAR ITSELF writer Matt Fraction joins us to recount what has led us here to the precipice of all-out war.
Marvel.com: Last issue ended with Captain America letting Spider-Man go home and telling Hawkeye they had no chance at winning, but here at the beginning he’s back in strategy mode, not happy that civilians are seeing them “run” with Thor’s body—where is his head at? Even if he thinks their odds are bad does he not want the public to realize that?
Matt Fraction: Of course not! He has a war to fight. People are terrified enough. The last thing anyone needs to see are the heroes turning tail and leaving Earth—which is, if you have no context, what it might look like the Avengers are doing at the issue's start. Strategically Cap might have come to terms with the final stand of it all but that doesn't mean it's every man for himself. Not yet anyway.
Marvel.com: Why does it make sense for specifically Luke Cage’s team to stay behind while Cap takes his group to Asgard?
Matt Fraction: [Luke has] been the face of the Avengers in New York City while Cap and company have gone rocketing through the time stream and [fought] for the Infinity Gems and everything else. Luke's presence and Luke’s team's presence on the streets will be invaluable.
Marvel.com: How does the Serpent’s willingness to sacrifice himself to give Skadi the world contrast to Sin’s relationship with her father, The Red Skull? Was that something you thought about while writing their scene here?
Matt Fraction: The Red Skull wouldn't share anything with anyone, his daughter included. I wanted to echo the roles the children of Odin and The Serpent are playing here—that The Serpent and Odin aren't so different, or at least, the situations they find themselves in aren't so different in a way. I wasn't thinking about the Skull, but that this war Thor and Skadi are fighting is really one that belongs to their fathers.
Marvel.com: Where has Odin and Thor’s relationship come from their confrontation back in the first issue? Is Odin proud of his son or does he just think he’s being foolish and that’s it?
Matt Fraction: I think Odin understands more than anyone and better than anyone the inevitability of prophecies. He's lived his whole life trying to stop Thor from having to do this and, yet, everything Thor's been through at Odin's behest—banishment to earth, living as a mortal, everything—has built him into the kind of hero that will face this prophecy head on and will not yield.
Marvel.com: Will we get more back story on Odin and The Serpent coming up in THE MIGHTY THOR upcoming? What should we expect?
Matt Fraction: Yes. THOR #7. You get to see the first rise, and the first fall, of The Serpent and the Worthy and what Odin had to do to stop his insane brother.
Marvel.com: Has Odin gained a respect for Tony Stark?
Matt Fraction: He sees the same suicidal heroism in Tony that he sees in his son and in Cap. These heroes, the closest things to gods [that] man can become, refuse to save themselves and instead would lay their lives on the line for the very worst of us.
Marvel.com: Why does Cap choose to stand with the people of Broxton against The Serpent rather than the Avengers?
Matt Fraction: There's no difference now. No difference at all.
FEAR ITSELF #7 comes at you on October 19, 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!