This comic book, published today, tries to have its cake and eat it. And it almost succeeds.
Fear Itself #7.3 by Matt Fraction and Salvador Larroca, seeks to be the final endcap to the events of Fear Itself, specifically those encountered by Iron Man, which can be pretty much summed up as his releationship with Odin, and his relationship with the entire population of Paris, most of whom have been turned into stone by the Grey Gargoyle, while he was possessed as one of The Worthy. This act was colossal, its impact on the world immense, and the crime up there in the Marvel Universe with the desctruction of Genosha and the Phoenix' galactic rampage, and with the action of Hitler, Stalin and Pol Pot in our own.
To that extent this book is set during two conversations. One with Odin in Paris yesterday and one with the Grey Gargoyle, such as conversatoin can exist, with one man trapped in a heavy liquid tank unable to move.
The latter sees Stark trying to talk about the events in Paris, trying to impart blame to the Gargoyle despite the possession, trying to impart the enormity of what has occurred, and failing to cope.
The former, with Odin, regretful of choices made, and decisions done, and asking how, when gods walk the earth, such a thing can happen. It is full of anger, rage, impotence and despair.
And it's a con trick. Trying to take your attention away, move it elsewhere.
Because when Odin does decide to bring everyone back to life in Paris, it changes the context of Iron Man's second conversation with Gargoyle, the day after, trying not to let his imprisonment be cheapened or less justified now that everyone is alive again. A holocaust is a holocaust, even when you can press a big red button or flip a switch and reverse it.
Given that it was such an enormous event in Fear Itself and Iron Man, there has to be this amount of build up and meaning so that the reversal is something the reader is grateful for, and tickled by the new context to a conversation we've been reading for the book.
Like I said, it almost gets away with it. But it's cheap, and it still damages what could have actually been a long lasting impact of Fear Itself on Marvel. Stark battles with the fact that the reversal lessens the crime of the Grey Gargoyle, not allowing himself to accept any changes in the way he deals with the criminal. But things have changed, everyone is back to normal, everyone is happy.
Except Tony Stark. And possibly the reader. This is possibly the best way such a plot could have been told. In and of itsef, this is a very good comic book with a bit of a dodgy ending. But for someone reading Fear Itself it could well feel like a slap in the face. Just as the Grey Gargoyle's crime is now less as a result, despite Iron Man's beliefs, so is the impact of Fear Itself on the reader.
Combine that with Bucky and Thor not really being dead, the Point One, Two and Three issues of Fear Itself seem to have been a very well told game of creators crossing their fingersbehind their backs… then pressing that button repeatedly while sticking out their tongues..
Fear Itself #7.3 is published by Marvel Comics today, 20 pages for $3.99.
Comics courtesy of Orbital Comics, London.