Fear Itself: The Book of the Skull (Marvel)

Marvel’s big summer event kicks off with this special one-shot.



32 pgs. full color; $3.99
(W: Ed Brubaker; A: Scot Eaton)
Well, here comes another season and so comes another major Marvel crossover event, this one titled Fear Itself. What? You’re a little burned out on major events in your comic books? Well too freakin’ bad! They are here to stay, so you can keep whining about them like I used to and keep trying to figure out what the hell is going on in your regular monthly books without reading the main event books, or you can concede and try to enjoy them a little, even if (like me) you are doing so begrudgingly.
Fear Itself: The Book of the Skull, the prologue to Fear Itself, opens in the present day with the Red Skull’s daughter—Sin, who has taken on the Red Skull persona—and Baron Zemo on a hunt for the original Red Skull’s lost, secret hideout from the WWII era. They quickly find it, and Sin immediately goes for what they came for: some sort of book of magic made from the blue skin of dead Alanteans. Okay, that’s actually a pretty good start.
We are quickly taken to a back story about the macabre book that takes place during WWII and features the Invaders—good ol’ Captain America, his loyal and daring sidekick Bucky (a.k.a. Winter Soldier), and the eternally pissed-off Namor—on the tail of the Red Skull. The Red Skull could do without these guys invading his personal space as he is busy slaughtering Atlaneans and gypsies in his quest to conjure some magical thing from another plane that those dirty Nazis can use in their bid for world domination. He certainly succeeds in summoning something, but maybe not quite what he expected. The Invaders catch up with him and foil his plot till another day, which turns out to be never. These things left undone by the Red Skull are exactly what Sin (aka Red Skull) plans to finish in her bid for world domination. Sigh…like father, like daughter.
Fear Itself: The Book of the Skull is another quality piece from the increasingly legendary Ed Brubaker. I would argue he is the best set-up man in the business, with grand ideas and deep vision. As usual, his pacing is a perfect rhythm and all his narrative captions and dialogue are both entertaining and relevant. The thing that stuck out to me the most is that we get to see the classic, Golden Age Bucky with the new revamped persona Brubaker gave him in the Winter Soldier/Death of Captain America stories of recent years. No longer is Bucky this jolly “go get em’ Cap” kid of yesteryear. Instead, we see a hardened war veteran and soldier who is as much a force under fire as any of his battle companions.
Scot Eaton’s art was great, of course, and what you would expect from a leadoff book to a main event title. His battle sequences are fluid, easy to follow, and powerful when they need to be. Eaton also makes great use of geometry in how he displays the dynamics in his scenes and the physical relationship between characters. It’s always immediately clear who is addressing who and what their demeanor towards each other is.
So, while I might have to hide the receipts from the comic book store from my wife for the duration of this event as I try to keep caught up with the storyline, I am looking forward to seeing where this one goes. Based on the promo material and this first introduction book, I think we are in for a good time. | Ryan Parker

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