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Comic Book / Fear Itself

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Do You Fear...

The 2011 Crisis Crossover for Marvel Comics.

At some point during World War II, 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 his daughter 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 of its "Worthy" gaining awesome power and the order to spread fear around the globe.

Followed by Shattered Heroes.

Not to be confused with the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode of the same name.

Fear Itself provides examples of:

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Back from the Dead: Puck came back during this to save his Alpha Flight teammates after he'd overthrown Ba'al.
  • Betrayal by Inaction: At the end of Youth in Revolt, Thor Girl, having transformed into an Energy Being, returns to her home galaxy after growing disgusted with humanity's inability to work together and deciding that humanity isn't ready to move.
  • Biblical Bad Guy: Uniquely for this trope in the Ghost Rider tie-in it's Adam. He had became obsessed with undoing his mistake of original sin by training people from infancy to host the Ghost Rider, so he could use their power to burn sin out of humanity. This has the effect of essentially lobotomizing people, leaving them incapable of anything greater than basic survival.
  • Big Bad: The Serpent.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Victory was achieved at great cost. Many heroes died while fighting the Serpent, including Thor and Bucky Barnes (the other Captain America). Oh, and Loki's supposedly going to go on trial for his crimes against Asgard after he just helped stop the Serpent.
  • Breakout Character: Kid Loki. Critics and fans praised 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.
  • Canon Immigrant: Battle Scars, one of the miniseries dealing 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 Mjölnir.
    • And yet a third teaser, showing The Forgiven, a team of Vampires to deal with the Hulk.
  • 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.
  • 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.
    • Enforced 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 (Gillen) 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.
  • Defacement Insult: The community of Bleachville, which was long rife with racial tensions between its majority-white population and a neighboring reservation, experienced a rash of vandalism warning that the "Red Nation will rise again". The vandalism was later revealed to have been carried out by a bunch of white racists hoping to start a riot to wipe out the reservation's inhabitants.
  • 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 the Hulk (Nul) and the Thing (Angrir).
    • The prologue story in The Mighty Thor #7 hints that Cul is possessed, and that the Serpent may be another entity.
  • Dénouement Episode: Fear Itself 7.1, 7.2 and 7.3.
  • The Dragon: Sin/Skadi to the Serpent.
  • The Dreaded: The Serpent once again; 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. We later find out the Serpent's real name is Cul, Oden' older brother and God of fear.
  • Dual Boss: Thor is confronted with Nul and Angrir at the same time.
  • "Everybody Helps Out" Denouement: The comic ends with the people of the area of Oklahoma near where Asgard fell working to clean up the rubble, with the final scene being a man loaning his lawn mower to his neighbors as a sign that community has triumphed over Fear.
  • Evil Weapon: The Hammer of Skadi, natch, along with all the other Hammers of the Worthy.
  • 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.
  • Full Set Bonus: Post-event Sin reveals that she learned from Skadi how to use all the hammers strapped together as a flail to power a doomsday weapon similar to the Destroyer with which she could destroy the world.
  • A God Am I: The Serpent is a god of fear, but at some point when he regains his full strength he starts referring to himself as the God.
  • God's Hands Are Tied: While Odin made plans to raze the planet to stop The Serpent, other gods such as the Olympians argued to defend humanity due to them currently residing on Earth, but were prevented from providing aid due to pact of domain non-interference among the godheads that deemed the whole event as an internal Asgardian affair, rendering any other gods who chose to get involved punishable by all the pantheons if the pact was violated.
  • 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.
  • Gotta Catch 'Em All: Once the event ends, there is still conflict between multiple parties over collecting the hammers. The heroic community wants to lock them away, Sin wants them for an Evil Plan she learned while possessed by Skadi and Valkyrie wants to banish them permanently with a Heroic Sacrifice only she can perform.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: 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.
  • Hell Has New Management: During Alpha Flight's tie-in, it was revealed that Puck was indeed in hell during Wolverine's trip and between then and his return during this, he'd overthrown Ba'al and taken his place as ruler of the Seventh Circle.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Thor's 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.
  • Identical Grandson: Not a blood relation, exactly, but the glimpse of the original Worthy in one of the tie-ins reveals that they look very much like the present-day characters they possess during the event.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: The Grey Gargoyle's slaughter of Paris forces Iron Man back into alcoholism, not helped by enabling dwarves and endless amounts of mead.
  • 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 seemed to show the original dead.
    • Also purposefully avoided in Journey Into Mystery. In order for Loki's plan to presumably not be revealed until it affects the main book, Mephisto gets two spotlight issues where he is indulging an old rumor about the devil and going to a bar to see how long the barkeeper can last while he tells him exactly what he thinks about the whole Fear Itself mess going on, especially involving Loki.
  • 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.
  • Never Say "Die": A subversion of this happens when Reptil, 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.
    • Ironically, it later turns out that Bucky really was in critical condition at the time, but was revived with Nick Fury's Infinity Formula, and his death was faked, meaning Falcon's lie was the truth, and the truth he told was a lie.
  • 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.
  • Oh, Crap!: When The Serpent breaks Captain America's shield.
  • 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.
  • One-Winged Angel: Those who become The Worthy, often including 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.
  • Papa Wolf: A hard deconstruction with Odin combined with Knight Templar. His fear of his brother Cul and the prophecy that Thor is to die at his hands causes Odin to act abusive and erratic, beating Thor silly, taking Mjolnir, and locking him up with no explanation in a misguided attempt to protect him and all around attempting to wipe the Earth of all life just to keep Cul from killing Thor. It all blows up in Odin's face and he's left with nothing to show for it afterwards.
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: The point of the Hulk vs Dracula mini is to have Hulk not become a Fallen Hero by having 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.
  • Person of Mass Destruction: Each one of the Worthy is one of these. Exaggerated when members include the likes of Juggernaut, the Hulk, and the Thing who have their powers boosted even further. Even singular members like Attuma were described to have the power to destroy the planet.
  • 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. 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 Reason You Suck" Speech: Gravity and Hardball both get to say one of these to each other.
  • 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 Angrir, Breaker of Souls (Thing).
  • Sacrificial Lion: Bucky Cap and Thor.
    • 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. As for Thor, while he does die, he comes back not too long after the story.
  • 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.
  • Series Continuity Error: Fear Itself is full of these, mostly written by the same writer. Odin has always been portrayed as the god with a plan for anything to save everyone and willing to sacrifice himself for the good of all. Yet a last resort plan is his only plan. Odin is depicted as defeating Cul only after a massive war the first time around. The prequel Fraction wrote depicted Odin defeating him with ease. Odin mourns the death of Thor, but previously Fraction wrote Thor resurrecting Odin with ease, making you think Oden should logically be able to do the same. The Serpent displays vast strength and mystical powers such as shattering Captain America's shield, but forgets these to turn into a giant snake that is easily cut up by Thor.
    • Additionally, the history of the Serpent given in the series and a number of other events, such as the portrayal of their father Bor's death and Odin's sacrifice of his eye, are irreconcilable with past portrayals. For that matter, it's been very well established that the Midgard Serpent is the "Serpent" in the prophecy the story is built around. Nor is the idea that Earth was once the Serpent's domain in keeping with every other depiction of the history of Marvel's Earth — unless, as suggested in the Thor title's tie-in, the Serpent was possessing Cul rather than simply being Cul. It could also be that the history portrayed in previous instances was lies told by Odin to keep Cul's existence a secret.
    • Also considering the cyclic existence of the Asgardians and how there have been multiple Ragnaroks, it's likely Cul comes from a much earlier cycle than the current one explaining a number of discrepancies with established canon.
  • Shoot the Hostage: Juggernaut comes across some homeless people that didn't evacuate with most of the rest of the city to the designated areas. Hardball's team gets most out while holding Juggernaut back, but one group refuses to leave. So Hardball ends up useing his powers to blow Juggernaut out of the city limits, injuring himself, but also killing those that didn't evacuate when his team tried to get them out.
  • 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.
    • Turns out to be the key. Loki's deals, machinations and secret infiltration into the Serpent's strong hold allowed him to gain access to a type 3 Reality-Writing Book, and give the Serpent just enough of a weakness that Thor could "win".
  • 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.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Juggernaut, big time. He was by far the most powerful Worthy of them allnote . Just to elaborate: As his name and history says, he was nigh-unstoppable even before being chosen by the Serpent. As Kuurth, he lost all of his old (already few) weaknesses, he couldn't be teleported awaynote , he couldn't be attacked from the inside, he was literally able to walk through air, he shrugged off telepathic assault and of course completely ignored physical assault. Even when his Juggernaut-powers were transferred to Colossus, he still overpowered the guy and only narrowly lost due to his own former power, aka Unstoppable Momentum. In short, an already unstoppable force was made even more unstoppable.
  • Video Game Adaptation: Season 2 Chapter 6 of Marvel: Avengers Alliance kicks off the Fear Itself storyline, with She-Hulk finding a hammer and becoming Skirn.
  • 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, 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.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Amadeus, Thunderstrike, X-23, Araña and Power Man find themselves teleported onto a flying ship with no idea how or why. Most of them are worried about being away from their families as this crisis goes on. Eventually they figure out Amadeus brought them there to function as a team that's very effective by his calculations. They call him out on it and, after averting the crisis, X-23 delivers a Groin Attack to him for his troubles.
  • 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 gets so pissed at Hardball's 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 turns out to be this 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.
    • Kuurth (Juggernaut) was dealt with by Wolverine in an unspectacular manner, just to show how powerful Odin's upgrades were.
  • 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).

Alternative Title(s): Fear Itself 2011