I’ve read a few complaints already about Marvel Comics’ current “event” title, Fear Itself. The comic focuses on Captain America and Thor, with major roles by Iron Man, Hulk, and some major Marvel mutants. The complaints I’ve heard are all pretty much the same: “Gee, ain’t it a coincidence there’s an event about Cap and Thor when they both got movies coming out this summer?” (It’s spoken sarcastically.)
Here’s my response: Duh!
Look, Marvel sells over 65% of the comic books in this country for a reason: They know how to market. They’ve always known how to market. And if I had two major film studios (remember, Disney ain’t behind X-Men: First Class) promoting my characters, you can pretty much bet I’d get as much of them as I could on the stands, stat! It’s a no-brainer. But more to the point: Thank God for Marvel! How many of you got into comic books for the first time reading “Criminal,” or “Sweet Tooth,” or “Morning Glories,” or “Cerebus The Aardvark,” or “Dreadstar?” I’d bet zero. But how many got into comics because of Spider-Man or The Avengers? A lot more, I’d bet. If Marvel ever forgets how to reach new readers, we’re gonna lose the smaller comic shops. We’re gonna lose the indie books that all the indie snobs read while they sniff and snort about how Marvel sucks.
As for the book itself, Fear Itself is two issues in: A prologue and issue #1, and so far it’s mostly set-up. But the foundation is being laid with plenty of action mixed in the concrete. And I’m digging the irony of Sin, Red Skull’s daughter, being possessed by a God who, too, has daddy issues. Plus, you’ve got to hand it to Marvel: If this is a sell-out event just to tie-in to a movie or two (or three), at least they’re using less mainstream characters and fitting it into Marvel’s complex continuity. It’s not like they just plucked the heroes off the street, threw them on a distant planet, and told them to all fight. (Having said that, Marvel Super Hero Secret Wars kicked ass. Face it, it just did: It was the first real “event” book and it rocked the planet.) And so far, the story is self-contained. In fact, the companion book is all but irrelevant. You can read it if you want, but you really don’t have to.
So, if this gets a few new readers out there or generates just a little bit more press than it otherwise would due to the movie hype, I’m all for it. The printed word is dying a slow, painful death, and I’m not ready to see my favorite artistic medium die. Plus, I just dig superheroes.
DC’s doing a similar thing, too, with a new big Green Lantern event coming just when the movie hits. It just makes sense. God bless ’em.