Fear Itself: Fearsome Four #1

Man-Thing is driven by fear. Given that Marvel has this "Fear Itself" event going on, there might be some effect on Man-Thing, right? Right! Compelled by emotion - especially fear - Man-Thing reacts to those emotions frequently with tragic results to those unlucky enough to know his touch. Such is the case in this book as Brandon Montclare writes Man-Thing amok in Manhattan.

While it would be a natural leap to have Man-Thing be tracked down by his current "team," the Thunderbolts, it also wouldn't do much to play up some less prolific characters in the Marvel Universe, such as Howard the Duck, Nighthawk, and Frankenstein's monster (making it a two-for-two week for those looking for Frankenstein's monster adventures from the Big Two this week). Add in She-Hulk to balance out this load of nuts and the story almost has legs. Of course, with Man-Thing being tied to the Nexus of all realities, anything is possible, and some really odd things happen in this book.

One of those odd things is the attempt to marry up the disparate art styles of Michael William Kaluta, Ryan Bodenheim, and Simon Bisley. The three divide the book up, not quite evenly, and not quite consistently, but each serves his purpose in telling this tale. The resulting read comes across more as a poor man's anthology that's written to fill a projected collected edition than a coherent run at a single tale.

To make matters worse, Bodenheim makes Howard the Duck not quite right. I cannot put my finger on it, but the combination of yellowing up his feathers (a reaction of fear, perhaps? I kid! I kid!) and Bodenheim's attempt to make Howard less cartoony and more "realistic" causes Howard to look less like a duck and more like Muddy the Mud Hen.

This book is full of odd pairings and gatherings, but all the same it just seems slow and choppy. The plot is well-intended, the characters an odd assortment, but nothing about this book really entices me to plunk down another three bucks for the next installment. I'll peek between the covers, sure, but I'm not expecting a great deal.

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