Posts Tagged ‘Fear Itself’

Witchfire cameo in Fear Itself: The Fearless #8

January 3, 2015

fearitselffearless8coverFear Itself: The Fearless #8
Apr 2012

Fear Itself was one of the biggest and most widespread events in recent comic history. Spanning almost two hundred issues, it included just about every team, title and character in the Marvel Universe at some point in 2011 and 2012. It had at its core a 7 issue maxi-series, plus crossovers into just about every major title, tons of spinoff mini-series (including the fourth volume of Alpha Flight!), prequels, epilogues and ancillary material including an official handbook, a poster book, a spotlight issue and eight webcomics that were later collected in print. Alpha Flight did very well in this event even though no members appeared directly in the core 7 issues.

Fear Itself: The Fearless was a biweekly 12-issue mini-series that followed the main series as an epilogue, featuring Valkyrie and Sin racing to collect the powerful Asgardian hammers of The Worthy. Valkyrie’s motivation was to collect the hammers for safekeeping; to secure them from being used again as weapons of mass destruction, while Sin’s motivation was less altruistic. With the assistance of the mercenary Crossbones and the D.O.A. (Department of Occult Armaments), Sin hoped to use the hammers to raise the Final Sleeper, a gigantic mecha/organic death machine, in an evil scheme to burn the entire earth. Based out of a facility in Charleston, South Carolina, the D.O.A. grew in ranks suddenly right before a visit from Daimon Hellstrom, son of Satan. The “new recruits” of the D.O.A. are revealed to him, shown in a full-page splash panel including a couple of dozen diabolical baddies – basically anyone from the Marvel Universe with a snake, bat, devil or fiend for a father, mother, aunt or uncle. Right in the middle is Witchfire, shown prominently with glowing blue fire hands.

fearitselffearless8

The demon fire casts a too-strong blue effect over her skin and most of her costume, but oddly not her cloak. It must be a magic blue-resistant cloak, or just a bit of a coloring error. The last time we saw Witchfire before this, she had been captured by Magik, hauled away and made to suffer, but apparently not killed. Well, there’s nothing like incarceration and torture in a demonic realm to make someone want to be part of an evil scheme to burn the entire earth using a gigantic mecha/organic death machine, I suppose.

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Alphans in Fear Itself: Fellowship of Fear #1

April 2, 2012

Fear Itself: Fellowship of Fear #1
Oct 2011

Part of the Official Handbook series, this book contains both a “Saga” portion and regular handbook entries that blend together to tell the backstory of the massive Fear Itself storyline. The first portion of the book, roughly akin to a “Fear Itself Saga”, is narrated by the Fear Lord D’Spayre and tells the story of recent events in the Marvel Universe. No, you won’t find the harmless 1980s-era funtime battle-o-rama like the Contest of Champions, or Spidey getting his new costume in Secret Wars, nah – this is all about widespread damage, high body counts and all-around devastation. The second portion consists of handbook-style entries for various dreadful characters and terrifying events in the Marvel Universe. Murmur and Radius appear in the Saga portion of the book and several members of Alpha Flight (Vindicator, Shaman, Snowbird, Sasquatch and Marrina) appear in one of the entries. Additionally, the Dreamqueen has a one page entry.

Wait – the Dreamqueen wasn’t in Fear Itself! Well, some of the events mentioned in the Saga portion and many of the entries in the handbook portion are not directly related to the Fear Itself storyline, but they do fit with the theme “all things frightening!” quite nicely, so it’s all good. For those of you who keep track of these sorts of things, she had an entry in the OHOTMU ’89 update (issue #2) and one in the OHOTMU Master Edition in 1993 (issue #28), but this one is completely re-written in the modern style – it even refers to Laura Dean as Pathway!

In the Saga portion of the book, D’Spayre gleefully recounts events in the Marvel Universe from the perspective of how frightening it must have been for the characters. For instance, The House of M storyline, which wasn’t exactly in the horror category and likely didn’t frighten any readers (who were too busy trying to figure out who was left powered and depowered in its aftermath), is described chillingly:

Millions upon millions of beings were left powerless, their very identities torn to shreds, terrified to be left vulnerable and weak in a threatening world.

Creepy, and well-done. The accompanying image for this text is taken from the array of depowered mutants as depicted in a two-page splash from New Avengers #18. The actual image shown is the modified version from the House of M entry in the Blockbusters of the Marvel Universe #1 handbook, as can be seen by the slightly rotated image [to better fit the grid into the small horizontal space]. The four Alphans shown in that array are Murmur, Radius, Wild Child and Windshear, but in this cropped image, only Murmur and the very top of Radius’ hair can be seen.

The Alphans have been highlighted in red below. Look for Radius’ hair in the extreme lower right corner of the image. For a larger version of the original and for more info on that panel and its importance to Alpha Flight, please click on the link above to the post for Blockbusters of the Marvel Universe #1.

In a new two-page entry for the Chaos War event, one of the inset illustrations is a miniaturized version of a splash page taken from the Chaos War: Alpha Flight #1 one-shot showing five members of Alpha Flight watching the battle with the Great Beasts just as Walter revealed the corrupt bargain he had made with them. There is also a very well-written account of the events of that issue as well as some other mentions of the Alpha Flight resurrections in Chaos War #5 and the team’s current status.

Just in case you wanted to see Heather’s butt, here is an inset from the original page showing each of the characters in greater detail:

Oh and since this a is a blog about collecting comics, I’d like to take this opportunity to mention where I picked up my copy of this issue: Coliseum of Comics in Kissimmee, FL, while on vacation with my trusty sidekick.

It’s one of the best (and largest) comic shops I’ve been in with a great staff, a great selection and best of all, free parking! So if you’re ever in the Orlando/Disney area, make sure to stop by and check it out!

Northstar uncut in Fear Itself Poster Book #1

April 1, 2012

This magazine-sized book contains extra large versions of various covers to Fear Itself and related issues, with the titles and business elements removed. The posters are nestled inside of each other so you’d have to remove the central staples to get to them, and you get a folded-in-half poster as a result. Unfortunately, they are double-sided, so you have to buy two copies if you want to hang all of them on your wall. Northstar appears on the cover of Uncanny X-Men #541.

The strange part about this particular poster book is that many of the posters are taken from cover art that was largely obscured or otherwise truncated by the very large Fear Itself trade dress that occupied so much of the cover real estate. The result is that many of the covers are letterboxed – printed with black borders on the top and bottom. Also, many of those are even further cropped on their left and right sides to help with the aspect ratio as well. There is an unusual amount of landscape orientation pieces as well, as many of the covers had an additional Fear Itself border beneath (see the cover shown above for an example), and many others had a giant stripe going across which resulted in two landscape oriented pieces, and those are similarly letterboxed.

The huge Fear Itself trade dress has a particular importance for Alpha Flight fans because it was slathered all over the first four issues of volume 4. Of course, without the crossover, likely the fourth series wouldn’t even exist, so no complaints! Luckily, for the first four issues of the series, we also got full page variant covers that were free of the giant ugly block taking up nearly half the page.

In the poster where Northstar appears, both the black letterboxing and truncation had to be used to get the poster to fit onto the page. Fortunately, Northstar, who was near the bottom right corner on the original cover, wasn’t truncated. Just to show how much of the image was removed, here are the Poster Book (sans UPC bar-code) and original versions for comparison, with the truncated portions shown in dark red.

For the truly insane: the Poster Book version also reveals that there was a small area of art that extends further down than the original to the extent shown also shaded in dark red on the original.

The original pencil tracing by Greg Land shown below (in high contrast) gives the overall picture of how much the top portion of the page ended up covered by the Fear Itself logo. It’s practically half a page!

Here is an inset from the original pencils so you can see Northstar fully to the left, right, up and down without anything being snipped off the guy.

Northstar cameo in Fear Itself: The Worthy #1

March 29, 2012

Fear Itself: The Worthy #1
Sep 2011

Originally published as a series of free, four-page digital features back in March 2011 just as Marvel started to reveal the Fear Itself storyline, this one-shot tells the “Secret Origins of the Hammer-Wielders”, eight heroes and villains who form “The Worthy”. Each of the eight chapters is rendered by a different artist, so if you’re a fan who likes to read these anthology type books with wildly varying styles, it’s really quite a fun book. Northstar appears in one panel in a generic flashback to his early membership in the X-Men.

The success of this book is that the origin stories, which we’re all familiar with, are told from a softened, introspective point of view. The characters reveal their inner fears, doubts and anxieties about their powers and what they’ve done with them and it’s really far more sophisticated from what you’d expect from a normal four page origin story. I’m glad the theme of Fear Itself is so ready in the writing and I congratulate this group for pulling it off!

Northstar appears in the Juggernaut’s chapter (for those of you who keep track of these sorts of things, it was the 2nd chapter when released digitally on 3/4/11), written by Jeff Parker and illustrated by Declan Shalvey. It’s not clear if he or the colorist Matthew Wilson decided to use a smattering of the halftone coloring method to indicate the flashback effect, but it works and looks great. He appears in a single panel showing the general membership of the X-Men around Chuck Austen’s run on Uncanny X-Men in 2002-2004.

Northstar had joined up with the X-Men in Uncanny X-Men #414 and would go on to appear as a regular member during Austen’s run in 15 issues on that title, right around the time Juggernaut was there too, during several arcs: Dominant Species, Rules of Engagement, Sacred Vows, and The Draco, among others.

This closeup shows Northstar wearing his red goggles, which were part of his costume back then. It’s a nice touch to have him and the other X-Men drawn in the proper costumes from that era, so good job on the costume check!

Canada wins a gold medal in Fear Itself Spotlight #1

November 21, 2011

Fear Itself Spotlight #1
Jun 2011

This spotlight issue was published a few weeks after the Fear Itself story arc had already begun, but still served as an excellent preview for the upcoming event. Filling 32pg with preview art, interviews and other features that set an historical context for the readers, it contained all except an actual checklist of the massive company-wide crossover. In a section called, “The Main Event”, Spotlight Bullpen writer Jess Harrold recaps many other company-wide crossovers from Marvel history, which ought to remind readers of the content in Blockbusters of the Marvel Universe #1, but shrunk down to 6 pages and mashed up with full-on advertisements for recently published HC collections and other TPB’s.

One of the HC collections shamelessly hawked is the Marvel Premiere Classic #45 “Avengers: The Contest” book which collected the Contest of Champions series from 1982. The dustjacket shown features art taken from the cover of the first issue of that series, colored using modern techniques. Sasquatch, who played a significant role in this series, can be seen near the center.

The accompanying text correctly notes that the series was once supposed to be based on the 1980 Olympics, but the comments goes awry shortly after that. It states:

With cosmic string-pullers Death and Grandmaster handing out the medals, the all-powerful American team engages in spirited competition with some plucky new foreign super-types – including China’s Collective Man; France’s Peregrine; and Ireland’s lucky lassie, Shamrock.

Wait, the Grandmaster and Death didn’t hand out any medals! Also, there wasn’t an American team battling it out with an International team; the two teams of twelve heroes each were evenly distributed. For those of you who keep track of these sorts of things, there were eight heroes from the United States selected for the two teams (Angel, Captain America, Daredevil, Invisible Woman, Iron Fist, Iron Man, She-Hulk, and The Thing) and they were divided equally between the two teams.

It’s rather bizarre to describe the Contest of Champions this way, as all vestiges of the Olympics were removed by the time the issue went to print. It’s hard to believe that Jess Harrold or the editor(s) of this section had even read the Contest of Champions series in the first place, because anyone who had actually read it would never have made these errors. Still, it’s always good to see Sasquatch representing Alpha Flight from that moment early in the team’s history and I’m glad that a little three-issue series from almost thirty years ago is considered on par as an “event” with the insatiable mega beast horde of 120+ issues that is Fear Itself.