After a week of images depicting the greatest fears of Spider-Man, the Hulk, Captain America, Cyclops, Thor, and Iron Man Marvel Comics unveiled the details behind the upcoming "Fear Itself" event at New York's Midtown Comics. Joe Quesada, Tom Brevoort, and Axel Alonso showed two teaser videos and announced that Matt Fraction and Stuart Immonen will be the creative team on the core seven-issue miniseries, with Ed Brubaker and Scot Eaton tackling the prologue issue, which hits stores in March.
Joe Quesada, Marvel's Chief Creative Officer, began by taking the podium and introducing VP - Executive Editors Tom Brevoort and Axel Alonso. Quesada also acknowledged that the state of the economy was rough, and that a number of television pundits "are telling you what to be afraid of."
"It's a great time to be fearful," he said. "The world has gotten smaller, and fear, above all else, seems to be a great motivator. There are no shortage of frauds, charlatans, and despots looking to fan the fire."
Quesada then showed a trailer announcing "Fear Itself," by Matt Fraction, Stuart Immonen, Wayne Von Grawbadger, and Laura Martin. He said that Marvel has always reflected the real world, and its heroes "represent the best in us." The series debuts in April.
"What happens when fear gets so prevalent that it seems the norm?" he said, and added that the line between hero and villain will be blurred... and crossed.
Matt Fraction spoke about the series in another video, adding that the Marvel heroes would be fighting the god of fear. "You will not feel underserved on any level," Fraction said. "We are going to be busting the doors down with the biggest story we've ever told."
Brevoort then took the stage. "This is the earliest in the morning I've ever seen Joe Quesada," Brevoort joked, "so you know this is important."
Brevoort acknowledged that fans had asked for a break from big events and Marvel largely took the last year off, but is now returning with a story "as ambitious as 'Civil War.'" The series itself will be 7-issues, and Ed Brubaker will be writing a prelude with Cap and Namor, with a title to be named later.
"There is a concealed act at the center of the Marvel universe that was committed a number of years ago, and it will change everything," Brevoort said. "And that, in essence, is what 'Fear Itself' is all about."
Brevoort brought Alonso on stage and, before handing the mic over, noted that readers can choose to just read the core series but many series will also be involved.
Alsono took over saying "Fear Itself" is "an extinction-level event." "It's a major event that involves everyone--expect major participation from X-Men, from Dracula ... and alliances you wouldn't have expected."
Brevoort added that Marvel had been "setting up some dominoes" for a while now, some of which readers will have recognized and others will have been glossed over.
The editors then opened the floor to questions.
"It's undeniable that there's a certain... something in the air," Quesada said when asked about fear's connection to current events in comparrison to "Civil War." Brevoort added, "'Civil War' touches on a number of issues, but it was at heart a superhero story," adding, "we're doing a similar thing with 'Fear Itself.'"
The next question was about characters and which titles should be watched. "For characters that aren't in books right now, it's a bit premature," Brevoort said, adding that Phobos can be seen in "Secret Warriors" but he couldn't comment on Captain Britain or Nightmare. Alonso added that the event would be a springboard for some characters.
The map of time seen in "Secret Avengers" is "a little bit of a Rosetta Stone," Brevoort said. "It won't be easy, but if you figure it out you can lord it over the guy next to you."
Asked about returning to darkness returning after "Heroic Age," Brevoort explained that the heroes are always being put through their paces, with Alonso adding, "if we advertise a series where nothing bad happens and it's all golden fields of corn, nobody's going to care." He said there are regularly periods of tension and release, and though problems the heroes face can be small ("it might be Peter Parker needs to get Aunt May her medicine before she has a heart attack") there are always problems.
The next question was about political overtones in the event. Quesada spoke about the issue being more cultural and moral than specifically political, and that Fraction had a good handle on how to portray these issues.
"This is a world in which all of us on a daily basis are told by talking heads to point fingers at one person or another," Alonso said. "They might be left of center or right of center."
Brevoort would not say anything more about "Fantastic Four," but "whatever's left of the 'FF' after that deathbag issue, they will be involved."
Asked how long "Fear Itself" had been seeded, Brevoort said some pieces had been set in place about 18 months to 2 years ago, but couldn't say exactly.
Brevoort said Fraction will continue writing "Thor" and "Invincible Iron Man," but his involvement in "Uncanny X-Men" will be scaled back, with Kieron Gillen taking a more active role. Stuart Immonen will be coming off of "New Avengers" to work on "Fear Itself."
The first issue of "Fear Itself" will be about 45 pages, and the final issue will probably also be oversized. The price point is expected to be $3.99.
Brevoort said the teaser image of Captain America should not be used to draw conclusions about Bucky's fate.
March will see the "Fear Itself" prologue by Ed Brubaker and Scot Eaton, followed by the seven-issue mini and tie-in miniseries, including one similar to "Front Line," Brevoort said, recapping and explanding his earlier statements.
"Fear Itself" will have afterefects reverberating throughout the Marvel Universe, Brevoort said. "It will be a sad story that they refer to again and again and again until you are sick of hearing about it."
With that, the panel concluded, with attendees receiving a print of Stuart Immonen's "Fear Itself" promotional artwork. The editors stayed after for a signing.
CORRECTION: In the original article, we had stated "Brevoort said the teaser image of Captain America should be used to draw conclusions about Bucky's fate." This was incorrect. The article above has been updated to say "should not be used."