Year of the Artist, Day 256: Stuart Immonen, Part 5 - <i>Fear Itself</i> #7

Every day this year, I will be examining the artwork on a single comic book story. Today's artist is Stuart Immonen, and the issue is Fear Itself #7, which was published by Marvel and is cover dated December 2011. Enjoy!

Fear Itself is an odd event book in that the first issue was by far the best one and it got more and more boring as it went along, but that's certainly not Stuart Immonen's fault, as the art in the comic (with Wade von Grawbadger and Dexter Vines on inks, and Laura Martin, Justin Ponsor, and Matt Milla on colors) was the sole reason to buy it by the end. I'm not going to show too much of Immonen's art, because by this time, everyone knows what his art looks like, but I will show some nice work from the final issue!

As we saw a few days ago, Immonen began changing his style to give it a harder edge, but he was always able to mix the softer lines from the first stage of his career with the new style, and he uses that a lot in his post-2004 superhero work. In Panel 1, Cap has some hard angles, but he's generally much smoother than we saw in Nextwave or Never As Bad As You Think or Moving Pictures. In Panel 2, we see him using silhouettes again, with the burning gun in the foreground made up of thick blacks, the burning robot in the upper right created by black chunks and thick lines but some lack of holding lines, and the telephone lines black markers against the crazy sky. We can see that Cap and the others are still a bit harder than Immonen's earlier work, but that edge is blended with the other, softer pencils. The colorists do wonderful work on this series, as they uses that beautiful green swirl in the sky and the glowing blue globes to show how crazy reality has become.

Here's another good example of how Immonen has modified his style. We get some cool special effects for the lightning and the other electricity, while the colorist(s) also do a nice job making Cap's glove shine white and slowly fade as we get farther away from the lightning strike. Immonen does what he can with Cap's armor, making it obvious that it's armor without going all John Cassaday on it, and the rest of Cap is not as angular as we have seen the past two days. Immonen uses spot blacks well to "soften" Cap a bit, but he's still able to make the Nazi robots behind Cap look mechanical and clanky. Even the people standing behind Cap are a bit more angular than Cap, which helps them stand out a bit more. Immonen and his inkers use a lot of blacks these days, but unlike the blacks on Moving Pictures, they're a bit less harsh - they tend to slowly fade into the surrounding areas rather than exist in stark contrast to the light. This, it seems, allows Immonen to combine his old style and his new style quite well.

The climax of the series comes here, and obviously, the colorists do a lot of work here. The bright yellow that obscures so many of the heroes in Panel 2 of the first page becomes a swirling green in Panel 3 of the first page and the splash of the second page. With the light, Immonen doesn't use as many blacks, so in Panel 2, we get more of his new style, with a lot more sharper lines than we saw in the Cap example above. However, as Thor fights the serpent, Immonen becomes very detailed, as we see every scale on the serpent, and we get terrific hatching on the splash page, with the serpent's "fins" lined just enough to make them look more ragged. Immonen and von Grawbadger (and Vines, I guess) are able to use blacks again, making the serpent far more sinewy than something like Fin Fang Foom from Nextwave, for instance (which I know I didn't show, but trust me). Immonen's details, as usual, are marvelous - I love how the lightning bolt cuts the serpent's tail off.

Immonen does a very nice job here with the death of Thor, as he switches to an overhead view in Panel 2 to show all the heroes moving toward Thor, who remains very much alone after his victory. Obviously, there are several ways to show this scene, but had Immonen stayed "on the ground," so to speak, either we would have seen Thor from the back or the heroes from the back and the distance between them wouldn't have been as evident. Had Immonen shown it from the side, with Odin on one side of the panel and Thor on the other, we would have seen the distance between them but we wouldn't have gotten the full impact of the area around Thor being scorched earth. Thor is not only alone, but the ground around him is bare. This angle is perfect, and it's one of those things that great artists do (although it's certainly possible Matt Fraction made this suggestion) - they think of things that we mere mortals might not necessarily consider.

Immonen continues to work for Marvel, of course, and I continue to be a fan of his work even though he's drawing books I don't want to read. Such is life, I guess.

Tomorrow: So much controversy!!!!! Can you handle such a controversial artist???? I don't know if you can!!!!! Find far less controversial artists in the archives!

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