This week I’m breaking down the 10th issue of Fear Itself: The Fearless.
This issue was co-plotted by Matt Fraction, Chris Yost, and myself. I handled the script. Paul Pelletier and Mark Bagley did the pencils. Danny Miki and Andy Lanning inked the book. Matt Wilson did colors. This is the Part 10 of a 12-issue limited series.
Here we go!
Page 1. This issue is the first in the series that does not start with a flashback. I wanted to let readers know right away that this issue was the beginning of the end. From this point forward, we’re barreling toward the conclusion!
Captain America injured. Tolor dead! As we’ll see in the next few pages, Valkyrie’s gonna kick somebody’s ass!
Page 2. When I wrote “Valkyrie stands with her sword in one hand, Cap’s shield in the other,” I knew I was setting up one of my favorite panels in the series. Paul didn’t let me down.
By the way, teleportations are annoying to write, especially with limited space to get the idea across that characters are suddenly vanishing.
Page 4. If I had it to do over again, I probably would have added a line somewhere to remind readers that Host (the creepy ninja-looking dude) had used his spider to track Valkyrie. It’s been a few issues since I referenced that.
Page 7. Shield to the face! C’mon. Admit it. Even when Hellstrom was on the side of the angels, you kind of wanted someone to hit him in the face with an adamantium shield.
Page 9. Valkyrie’s interrogation of Innards is one of my favorite scenes this issue. I was kind of proud of her threat: “For centuries I have ushered fallen warriors into the afterlife. Do you think I couldn’t find you no matter where you end up in Hell? Do you think death can protect you from me?”
Pages 10 & 11. Okay. Time for a little exposition. The origin of the Sleepers has been hinted at throughout the series, but I wanted to go ahead and drive home the idea that the Sleepers we’ve seen in the Marvel Universe for years have connections to the Serpent’s Destroyer that Sin has been trying to raise.
Page 12. I know Hellstrom can burn Crossbones to ash and bone where he stands, but I think the Son of the Devil would rather hurt someone emotionally. He has a gift for getting under someone’s skin… and he enjoys doing it.
Page 13. Aww. Sad Crossbones. Here we have Crossbones crisis of faith. Has Sin been using him all along? He may be a cruel, merciless killer, but he’s got a heart. It’s funny. After all the mean stuff Crossbones has been doing this series, all I need to do to give him a little heart is slow him down and give him a few silent panels. Don’t worry. The beatings commence again on the next page.
Pages 15 & 16. Two pages… 22 guest stars. 11-to-1 is a good ratio, I guess. Most of the characters who have appeared in the series so far (and plenty of extras) show up here for the final showdown. The tough thing with this many guest stars is that it runs the risk of taking away from Valkyrie’s story. At the same time, I needed to show that the stakes are high now, and all of these heroes are needed to turn back the darkness.
Also, I love the look of glee on Valkyrie’s face.
Page 17 & 18. The D.O.A. vs. the Avengers. I needed a few pages to show the chaotic battle both sides are plunging into.
Page 20. And now the final chess piece is on the board! The Final Sleeper, fueled by Sin’s soul and armed with all of the Serpent’s hammers, steps out of the pit. The fight is about to go really, really bad for our heroes. The design of the Final Sleeper is great, conjuring images of Odin’s Destroyer as well as the Sleeper robots of the good old days. Putting the hammers on a cat-of-nine-tails was my idea, but I’m thrilled with the way Paul pulled it off.