Unlike a lot of fans, I really don't care about Fear Itself. I look at Fear Itself as an opportunity to sample some characters I overlooked during Marvel's Civil War. I'm enjoying Thor-Girl and Loa. I'm loving the whole Defenders resurgence, but I don't give a rat's ass about falling hammers and possessed super-villains.
This Fear Itself focused issue of Avengers Academy is a mixed bag. Christos Gage demonstrates his skill by making Fear Itself dramatic. However, I still don't particularly care about the drama. It's technically good, but I'm looking at Gage's writing from a detached position. It's not as invigorating as his Korvac return or as involving as his Tigra spotlights.
It's sort of fun to see Hank Pym and Absorbing Man act like giant monsters, but it would be genuinely fun if the Absorbing Man weren't possessed by a magic hammer. Fortunately, letterer Joe Caramagna distinguishes the dialogue you can skip. Don't read the black dialogue balloons unless you really love Fear Itself. It's just not worth it.
The Absorbing Man and Titania have been possessed by Asgardian lovers. I don't know these people, and I don't care about them. Their personae are basically pollutants to my enjoyment of the Absorbing Man's bout against Hank Pym. Of course, I doubt the Absorbing Man would be so wantonly murderous had he not been possessed, and unlikely he and Hank would duke it out kaiju style.
Gage, Raney, Hennessy and Cox do much better when they concentrate on Veil. Yet again, it's a coin toss. The hero's rescue is genuinely resonant. Veil's promise to the little girl is heart-breaking, and her triumph is exhilarating. What's more, very few heroes, Tigra included, could have done what Veil did. The sour note ending is the flip side. I realize that we can't jump into TARDIS and leave no bodies behind all the time, but Gage throws his story under the Fear Itself grinder, and Fear Itself just isn't good enough to deserve that kind of sacrifice.
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