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Comic Book: Fear Itself

Do You Fear...

The 2011 Crisis Crossover for Marvel Comics.

At some point during the Second World War, the Red Skull enacted an arcane ritual under the orders of Adolf Hitler, causing a mysterious artifact to fall from the heavens and crash land in Antarctica. Upon locating the artifact—a large hammer, supposedly tied to the Norse goddess Skadi—and learning that he is incapable of lifting it, the Skull has the Thule Society seal it away in a fortress and guard it with their lives. Fast forward to the present day, where Sin, believing the hammer to be her inheritance, comes to collect; and after killing the guards and getting her hands on the hammer, she proves capable of lifting it. Of course, as with any mystical weapon there is a catch to wielding it, and this hammer is no exception; for, as the runic inscription on its shaft states,

"And he who shall be worthy shall wield the power of Skadi."

As such, much like Donald Blake before her, Sin is transformed into the powerful Asgardian, Skadi. With the awesome power conferred by the hammer, Skadi sets out at the head of a large Nazi force to lead a blitzkrieg on the United States...but not before stopping off by the prison of a mysterious deity known only as the Serpent and busting him out, first. Setting the stage for a series of other hammers to fall all over the world with each its "Worthy" gaining awesome power and the order to spread fear around the globe.

Fear Itself provides examples of:

  • A Day in the Limelight/Merchandise-Driven: The series, whilst a Crisis Crossover featuring important roles for several of Marvel's A-List heroes, is more focused on Thor & Captain America. Coincidentally, both characters had Summer Blockbusters released during the publication of the series.
    • Fully justified in that Matt Fraction's original proposal was for a self-contained crossover between Thor and Captain America. Only afterwards was it decided that Fear Itself would be a Crisis Crossover.
    • An Issue of Journey into Mystery was an all-Mephisto issue. Also counts as an Villain Episode.
    • Several issues of the Fear Itself: Homefront mini series aside from the Speedball main story, featured one off stories featuring various less popular to out and out brand new characters reacting to the various problems and hysteria caused by the Serpent.
  • Adult Fear: Ultimately, everything Odin did was a crazed, futile attempt to save his son from dying.
    • Also invoked when Skirn and Greithoth invade the Infinite Mansion to strike at the Avengers Academy alumni: since Absorbing Man's hatred for Hank Pym was too big for Greithoth to override, Skirn suggested they attacked the students for whom Pym voiced concern earlier.
  • A God Am I: the Serpent is a god of fear, but at some point he starts referring to himself as the God.
  • Anti-Hero: kid!Loki, somewhere between type 2 and 3. He's got a comparatively good cause (apparently he has to make something bad happen to prevent something even worse from happening instead) and even asked Thor's advice (while being very vague) to make sure he doesn't do the wrong thing. However, he's made deals with Mephisto and Surtur and really only seems to want to stop The Serpent so it won't kill Thor, with the rest of Earth just being a bonus.
    • That deal with Surtur? Loki agreed to work to bring him into Asgard to feed on its core to escape his imprisonment. He got out of it by bringing him into the Serpent's Dark Asgard, but due to everything now Surtur is still free.
  • Artifact of Doom, Evil Weapon: The Hammer of Skadi, natch, along with all the other Hammers of the Worthy.
  • Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: Thor Girl, at the end of the Youth in Revolt series, after reawakening her original powers and deciding to leave the Earth.
  • Big Bad: The Serpent.
  • Bigger Bad: As revealed during Fear Itself, the Marvel Universe's real Satan. The other demon lords hold meetings around his throne sometimes, but it's stated that all of them, including, apparently, cosmically-powered ones like Shuma-Gorath and the aforementioned Dormammu, are terrified of even trying to sit on it. He's been gone from this plane of existence so long that even among the demons themselves it's a common belief that he doesn't actually exist.
  • Breakout Character: Kid Loki. Critics and fans are praising Journey into Mystery as Marvel's best book in a long time and Kid Loki as a fresh take on the character that is still true to who he is. A good thing too, since the current JIM writer said Loki's main arc is planned at 30-40 issues and with the publicity it probably won't be cut.
  • Canon Immigrant: Battle Scars, one of the miniseries sealing with the aftermath of the event introduced the Ultimate Marvel Nick Fury (albeit as the original Fury's biracial son) and Phil Coulson into the classic Marvel Universe.
  • The Chosen One: More like the chosen seven for the bad guys; The Worthy are those deemed...well, worthy to wield the Serpent's hammers. The good guys end up facing them as the Mighty thanks to a deal between Iron Man and Odin, wielding Uru weapons. In addition, Cap gets to wield Mjolnir.
  • Cleanup Crew: After all this is over, Damage Control is going to be very busy
  • Comic Book Fantasy Casting: When Miriam Sharpe appears in the HOMEFRONT crossover miniseries, she looks remarkably like Lena Headey.
  • Cutting the Knot: Thor finds himself unable to best Nul in a straight up fight. He proceeds to teleport Nul into orbit.
    • Which causes Nul to land in Romania, becoming Dracula's problem.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: The first issue of Hulk Vs Dracula is Hulk/Nul beating the crap out of vampires.
  • Demonic Possession: Those chosen to wield the Hammers of the Worthy find their personalities overwritten or at least subsumed by the deity to whom their respective hammer belongs. Because of this, the villains of this piece are a mixture of actual bad guys like Sin (Skadi), Attuma (Nerkkod),the Juggernaut (Kuurth), and the Grey Gargoyle (Mokk), and heroic or antiheroic characters whose bodies have been taken over by the evil spirits within these hammers, like [1] (Nul) and the Thing (Angrir).
  • Dénouement Episode: Fear Itself 7.1, 7.2 and 7.3.
  • Downer Ending: Victory was achieved at great cost. Many dead all over the world, including Thor.
    • Oh, and Loki's supposedly going to go on trial for his crimes against Asgard afterward he just helped stop the Serpent.
  • The Dragon: Sin/Skadi to the Serpent.
  • The Dreaded: The Serpent once again; while much about this elusive deity remains uncertain, the fact remains that he has Odin scared shitless of him, to the point where the Allfather is willing to raze the entire planet Earth just to destroy the Serpent.
    • In fact, the only person in the MU not seemingly in on the mass panic attack is Loki, who is a kid at the moment (and actually has a plan...whatever it is).
    • Strong as They Need to Be: Odin has faced down far stronger opponents than the Serpent in the past without even a shudder, and has undergone a degree of Badass Decay in regards to just how powerful he really should be (in the past its been demonstrated he can destroy entire galaxies). The Serpent is powerful, but it doesn't even come close to matching the power of, say, Dread Dormammu, or the various other things he has succesfully defeated before.
    • It's implied that Odin is freaking out so badly due to the prophecy of Thor dying in combat with the Serpent. Since about 95% of the Norse mythology (even in Marvel) is You Can't Fight Fate, he's somewhat understandably panicked; not over the fact that he can't stop the Serpent, but that he won't be able to before the inevitable happens. Loki figured out a loophole to at least give it a Bittersweet Ending. Not to mention the fact that, if the Serpent's Evil Twin claims are truthful, it might not be a case of having more power, just the right type.
  • Dual Boss: Thor is confronted with Nul and Angir, the two strongest of the Worthy, at the same time.
  • Evil Makeover: Those who become The Worthy.
    • Often includes Tron Lines for some reason.
      • Even the Mighty have ones. In-story, that's explained as aftereffects of the transformative properties highly concentrated Uru (a sponge for Asgardian magic) may have on baseline humans.
  • Evil Twin: What the Serpent claims to be to Odin.
    • Apparently they're brothers
    • The Serpent summoned something over NYC called "Dark Asgard" that is a mirror image of Asgard that he plans to use to strike at the real one. Kid!Loki apparently has a plan for dealing with it, that like all his other deals has so far falled under the Unspoken Plan Guarantee
  • Fountain of Youth: the Serpent turns from a crooked white-haired old man into a visibly younger black-haired man when his power returns to him.
  • Gone Horribly Wrong: In the X-Men vs. Juggernaut fight, they deploy Adam X, and he sets the Juggernaut's blood on fire. This has the effect of turning him into a raging psychopath... who sets everything he touches on fire.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Hardball SEEMS to make one using his powers to the max to try to save people in Vegas. It didn't stick.
    • Thor's heroic sacrifice is the whole point of the entire event.
  • Hopeless Boss Fight: Anytime the Worthy show up at least during the first half of the event..
  • Hope Spot: The Battle of St. John's Newfoundland Speedball arrives to fight off Nerkkod and sends him flying by redirecting his own hammer back at him, seemingly defeating him. As Speedball limps away still thinking of possibly aiding others, Nerkkod returns lays into Speedball and summons a tidal wave to drown the thousands of people in the area.
  • "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight: The Thunderbolts try this on Juggernaut
    • Red She-Hulk's also vaguely trying this on Hulk, while mainly trying to get people out of his way.
      • She tries it again in Hulks vs Dracula #3, This time it works and Hulk breaks free from the hammer's control and destroys it.
      • Of course, that wasn't actually Betty/Red She-Hulk, but a vampire mesmerizing Hulk so that he saw her as Betty.
  • Jumping on a Grenade: Geiger does in in Youth in Revolt #2.
  • Late Arrival Spoiler: More like Spoiler-given-mid-event. In their promos for November's "Shattered Heroes" Marvel unveiled the replacement for Thor as well as a cover that seems to show the original dead. The bets on how long that'll last are short and really short.
  • Mind Rape: Inverted: Veil tries to neutralize Skirn by possessing her like her future self had done to Korvac before, but it's Veil who gets mindraped with the horrors within Skirn's mind.
  • Names to Run Away From Really Fast: The seven other members of the Worthy, both for their actual names and for their titles. See The Red Baron for more information.
  • Never Say "Die": A subversion of this happens when one of the Avengers Academy students asks Falcon about Bucky Cap being stabbed, he initially lies to them saying that it was critical and they are trying to save him, until realizing he is treating young heroes that just fought a hellish battle like children and told them the truth that he is dead.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: When Hulk broke free from his hammer's control, he destroyed his hammer... Which released Nul, who now doesn't need a host.
  • No OSHA Compliance: Quickly lampshaded when Iron Man comes out of the vat of molten uru in his new armor.
    I'm sure OSHA would have a word or two with you, Odin, but... I gotta say... It cuts an imposing figure. It'll be an honor to die in this thing.
  • Ominous Floating Castle: the Serpent's palace.
  • One-Winged Angel/Scaled Up: the Serpent transforms into a gigantic dragon during the final battle against Thor. Fitting enough with a name like this.
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: The point of the Hulk vs Dracula mini is to have Hulk not cross into Moral Dissonance by having the his near unstoppable evil side rampage on a nation of vampires instead of normal people rather during the second half of the event. On the other hand, Gischler's said that he wants to show Dracula and the vampires as being sympathetic against the unstoppable force that is Nul, Breaker of Worlds, without forgetting that they are, in fact, vampires.
  • Poke in the Third Eye: Happens to anyone who tries to read/possess one of the Worthy. The Avengers Academy tie-in has Veil trying to possess Skirn, only to be flooded by visions of hundreds of people crucified to Yggdrasil. And when the X-Men finally get Juggernaut's helmet off, Emma Frost doesn't have a fun time when she tries to mind control him.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: MODOK and Zero/One, who has been hunting the Red Hulk, decides that it's far more important to fight the Nazis that are causing havoc
  • Precision A Strike: Thor gets one during his fight with Nul and Angrir, after having Mjolnir run through Angrir.
    Thor: And him I liked. But you? You were always a giant pain in the ass.
  • Prophecies Are Always Right: Thor meets his fated end fighting against the Serpent. Even Loki's machinations and attempts to rewrite fate only give Thor the chance to take the Serpent with him.
  • The Red Baron: Every single member of the Worthy, Skadi excluded, is called the "Breaker" of something. To wit, we have:
    • Kuurth, Breaker of Stone (Juggernaut);
    • Nul, Breaker of Worlds (Hulk);
    • Skirn, Breaker of Men (Titania);
    • Nerkkod, Breaker of Oceans (Attuma);
    • Mokk, Breaker of Faith (Grey Gargoyle);
    • Greithoth, Breaker of Wills (Absorbing Man);
    • and Angir, Breaker of Souls (Thing).
  • Sacrificial Lion: Bucky Cap
    • Though eventually subverted in Issue 7.1, where it was revealed that he survived the beating given to him by Sin/Skadi and had his death faked by Black Widow and Nick Fury to convince Steve Rogers to become Captain America again, as well as give him the leeway he needed to attend to his own problems.
  • Sequel Hook: One shows up at the end when it is revealed that Nul somehow separated from Hulk and Bruce Banner, and is poised to be at the heart of the first story arc of Matt Fraction's new run on The Defenders.
  • Shoot the Hostage: Hardball in order to get Juggernaut out of Las Vegas tries to blow him away with his powers. Juggernaut comes across some homeless people that didn't evacuate with most of the rest of the city to the designated areas. His team gets most out while holding Juggernaut back, but one group refuses to leave even with Hardball's team unsuccessfully battling Juggernaut right in front of them. So Hardball orders a evacuation of his team and uses his powers to blow Juggernaut out of the city limits, injuring himself but apparently killing those that didn't evacuate when his team tried to get them out.
  • Simple Staff: The Serpent starts out holding a gnarled walking stick. As he gains power, it's upgraded to a very intimidating hammer...
  • Sinister Scythe: ...with a scythe on the other side. He tends to use the hammer part a lot more than the scythe part, though.
  • Spanner in the Works: Loki's resurrection is, depending on the source, either the reason The Serpent is back, the key to the only way to defeat The Serpent, or both. Either way, by bringing him back, Thor very possibly caused this crossover.
  • Starfish Language: Half of the Worthy don't seem to bother speaking anything but this unless their hosts have a relationship with their current opponent/target. Or at least Depending on the Writer.
  • Symbol Swearing: The Svartalfheim dwarves constantly curse in the Asgardian Runic language (the same referred to in Starfish Language above). When Tony works with them on weapons for the Avengers, he quickly catches on.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Gravity and Hardball both get to say one of these To each other.
  • The Team: The Forgiven.
  • Unspoken Plan Guarantee: We have yet to be told what Loki's plan for defeating the Serpent is (outside of the fact that he seems to be the only person with a plan at all and that it's a brains-over-brawn plan). Since we have no clue, it is therefore likely to succeed, according to this trope. And the fact that Loki is a reincarnated Magnificent Bastard.
    • Now Iron Man has a plan too, and we're not quite sure what. Odin's plan is stated-destroy Earth entirely and the Serpent with it.
  • Villains Out Shopping: Grey Gargoyle's prologue tie-in has him walking around Paris, drinking coffee from a local cafe, and lamenting on his Villain Decay, wondering where his life will go from there before he stumbles onto one of the hammers...
  • Wham Episode: Played with in Issue 3: Sin/Skadi apparently kills Bucky Cap, though this was arguably done to return Steve Rogers to his role as Captain America.
    • Word of God states that this (Bucky dying & Steve becoming Captain America again) was always going to happen in the main ongoing.
  • Wild Card: Juggernaut explains that this is how he sees himself; he's not hero and he's not a villain. He works for whoever's offering him a spot on the team for however long that lasts(and it never lasts long) and then he moves on.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Gravity, he got so pissed at Hardball actions in Vegas that he flies half way across the country to try to beat him up, only for their fight to accidentally set off a earthquake.
    • Nul is shaping up this way too in the aftermath/Defenders series tie-in. Just existing in this world causes him unbearable pain.
  • The Worf Effect: Red Hulk getting his butt handed to him by a possessed Thing.
    • The Serpent casually breaking Captain America's shield in two with his bare hands. Previous examples of its destruction have only occurred with universal scale reality warping.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Obviously given the grand scale carnage they bring about all the Worthy. Special mention does go to Greithoth (Absorbing Man) and Skirn (Titania) for deciding to head after Pym's Avengers Academy students after their battle in Dubai.
    • Everyone Kid!Loki faces is perfectly willing to kill him. (Most don't because he makes it so they would owe him, or because they know Thor will mess them up for hurting his little brother).
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The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest HeroesThe New TensFF

alternative title(s): Marvel Fear Itself
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