This is it: the big bad free-for-all throwdown to change the Marvel Universe forever and ever. Captain America -- the real one, Steve Rogers -- against Sin/Skadi, and Thor against the Serpent for the fate of Midgard. Prophecy has Thor defeating the Serpent, but not without cost of his own life.
Fearing this, and trying to prevent it, Odin arms a handful of Thor's allies with mystically amplified weaponry to fight the Serpent's hordes. You've seen the ads for "The Mighty" as Dr. Strange, Hawkeye, Red She-Hulk (is there something wrong with Jen Walters?), Black Widow, Ms. Marvel, Iron Fist, Spider-Man, and Wolverine are bearing new arms, and this issue promises to put them in action using those arms. If you look closely you may even see them doing just that. Otherwise, you might want to sit back and enjoy the story of Broxton resident, Rick, as he finds the gumption to stand for his town.
This issue is a major letdown from what was built up initially. The Serpent arose and claimed the Worthy to fight alongside him. Everyone was supposed to be afraid, but chose to simply throw in the towel instead of actually fighting, and most whined about it all instead of cowering in fear.
Matt Fraction offered up a promising story in the early stages of this tale, but somewhere in between it became just another event. This issue resolves things, but not in the most electrifying way. The climax of the story was almost yawn-worthy and the ripples it sent throughout the rest of the battle spoiled the story at the core of this issue. Fraction tries a little too hard to drop in some big character moments, but those mostly fall flat as we bear witness to Black Widow hacking and slashing while screaming, "Who's next? Who's next?!" While I could go on, I'm going to stop there as most everything else I could write about the story is either spoilerish (although not really) or too boring for me to type about.
The story almost feels as though something else distracted Fraction; the "Defenders" preview at the end of the issue provides a solid indicator of what was so distracting. It's only four pages, but it was much more interesting than the past four issues of this series.
Sure, there's a big death in this issue, but the nature of the death makes it immediately suspect. Fraction oversells it, but there's not much supporting evidence around the Marvel Universe to validate the event.
Before I get too far afield, I would like to commend Stuart Immonen on his work throughout this series. The story itself lost my interest more than once, but as I visually toured the details and designs Immonen drew upon the page, I usually managed to find my way back into the story and forged ahead. I'd like to see Immonen give another go at a collection of characters. His work is solid and consistent and worthy of stories bigger than this one turned out to be.
This is, perhaps, the lamest of events in recent memory, as the entire Marvel Universe was threatened, but only a handful of heroes were deemed sufficient of carrying the story in the main title and decisive conclusions were documented elsewhere but never reflected back in the main story. Events should be eventful, with characters from everywhere all at the same time. The group collected throughout this story barely strays away from the current Avengers (and New Avengers) roster. Rounding out the impotence of the issue is the collection of a quartet of four-page teases for stories that "pick up" from where "Fear Itself" ends. That's right, sixteen pages of this issue are essentially devoted to ads for other series. Thirty-eight pages of "Fear Itself" precede that, but the main story there feeds an additional trio of "Point" issues. Truly, "Fear Itself" is becoming the event that just won't end. For me, however, this is the end. I'm afraid I just can't continue to find interest for this tired tale.