Waiting for the Trade
by Bill Miller
Fear Itself: Deadpool
and the Fearsome Four
Hastings and Brandon Montclare
collects Fear Itself:
Deadpool 1-3 and Fear Itself: Fearsome Four 1-4
Why I Bought This: I
was buying Fear Itself tie-in trades
from the discount bin of my favorite local comic store and this one had an
unusual team-up story, which can be fun when done well.
The Plot: When
Deadpool learns about the magic hammers in Fear
Itself he decides to play a trick on D-list super-villain the Walrus.
Howard the Duck assembles an unlikely group of heroes in a bid to prevent the
Man-Thing from exploding since the Man-Thing normally absorbs fear to empower
his mystic energies.
Chapter 1 – Deadpool is selling home security systems when
he learns about the magic hammers falling from the sky. Suddenly some plumbers
get their van bazooka’d and a sledgehammer falls out. Deadpool takes the hammer
with him and starts gluing glitter decorations to it. Meanwhile the Walrus
blows up a monster truck show with a horde of bees in revenge for some slight.
Deadpool tracks Walrus down and drops his faux-hammer from the sky. Deadpool
then dresses as an “avatar of destruction” and approaches Walrus with a
mission. Meanwhile the plumbers realize they lost their hammer and say without
it some small town will be destroyed.
Chapter 2 – Deadpool has Walrus perform various pranks on
the citizens of the same small town the plumbers are concerned with. We learn
the plumbers are actually werewolf hunters and a coven of werewolves is set to
descend on the town tonight. Deadpool has Walrus rampage in broad daylight.
Deadpool then approaches the town fathers in his normal costume and offers to
save them from Walrus for a fee. Deadpool defeats Walrus but then when the
moonrises the faux-hammer becomes actually enchanted and the tables are turned.
Chapter 3 – Walrus pounds on Deadpool. Deadpool tries to
change back into the avatar costume but Walrus sees through it and pounds him
some more until Deadpool calls it quits. He tries to hitchhike out of town only
to run into the plumbers who tell Deadpool of the impending werewolf attack.
Deadpool and tries again and loses even worse. He then tells Walrus there is
safe of gold in some underground vault. When Walrus goes there the hammer loses
its magic without direct moonlight and Deadpool shoots him in the head with a
shotgun. Afterwards the townspeople attempt to pay Deadpool in gold but the
gold was stolen by the werewolves in the commotion (who weren’t seeking a
slaughter, just the gold).
Chapter 4 – In NYC Man-Thing is rampaging and killing
civilians by touching them which causes them to burst into flame if they feel
fear. Howard the Duck hires She-Hulk to help him track down Man-Thing,
explaining how Man-Thing’s powers work and that he may potentially explode with
the force of nuke given the fear-levels in the city. Kyle Richmond is back in
the Nighthawk identity as we gloss over the events of The Last Defenders Story where he had given it up to some SHIELD
agent. He also appears to be out of control with rage for no discernable reason
as he beats on some would be muggers. While flying by he sees She-Hulk, who was
one of his teammates in said Last
Defenders Story and offers to help out. The heroes hear a commotion and a
mob of civilians is attacking the Frankenstein Monster. The heroes save the
monster and Howard invites Frankenstein to accompany them as the Fearsome Four.
Just then Man-Thing arrives and uses the Nexus of Realities to mutate the Four
Chapter 5 – We get a five-way monster fight until Man-Thing
shuffles off and the heroes revert to normal. Frankenstein gives his origin and
notes being recently captured by an unseen mad scientist and tasked to capture
Man-Thing for him. The unknown scientist is revealed to be Psycho Man, who
dispatches the heroes with ease. Man-Thing makes the save allowing the heroes
to rally but just as it looks like the battle is in hand, Man-Thing opens a
Nexus portal and the 1990s “New Fantastic Four” of Spider-man, Wolverine, Ghost
Rider and the Mr. Fixit grey Hulk pop out.
Chapter 6 – Psycho Man uses his emotion box on the New FF so
they will fight the Fearsome Four. Spidey easily webs up Howard. Mr. Fixit
pummels She-Hulk. Ghost Rider sets Frankenstein on fire. But for no explainable
reason Nighthawk just beats the crap out of Wolverine and tosses him into
Spidey and then breaks Ghost Rider’s magic chain. This allows Frankenstein to
literally punch Ghost Rider’s head off. Mr. Fixit is still beating She-Hulk
until Man-Thing returns to engage him. The fight continues until Psycho Man
realizes Howard has version of the Ultimate Nullifier called the “No-Thing.” He
takes it from but when he presses the button it fizzles. Howard gets it back
and uses to incinerate Psycho Man and the New FF (although Psycho Man was
revealed to be a robot duplicate during the fight). Howard then tries to use it
on Man-Thing to put Man-Thing out of his misery but the device malfunctions
again as Man-Thing begins to burst into flame.
Chapter 7 – We get a flashback on how Howard acquired the
No-Thing. The device still won’t work so the heroes try getting physical with
Man-Thing. When that doesn’t work Howard has them jump into the Nexus to
confront their greatest fears. Each hero does so and triumphs and when they
reemerge from the Nexus their triumph over fear allows Man-Thing to harmlessly
disperse his excess fear-energy and the team disbands.
This is even worse than the main Fear
Itself story. As a crossover it has nothing to do with the main story; and
its own merits it still pretty awful.
I have very little to say about Deadpool other than this is
the second trade of his I’ve read since his solo-popularity boom and clearly
the character’s brand of lunacy is just not my cup of tea. There’s a chuckle or
two here and there but not enough to make the price tag worthwhile.
The Fearsome Four story is the one I was more interested in
when I purchased this but that too is just a bad story. Howard the Duck is a
character that I’ve only seen once before in a throwaway Spider-man team up (and
also his bad 80s movie); but based on this story he’s another character I never
need to read about again.
I don’t blame this writer for throwing away The Last Defenders story as that too was
a bad story that few people read and it was clear 5-minutes after reading it
that no other writer would ever hold to the status quo it attempted to set up (The
short version is Kyle gives up the Nighthawk costume so he can fund a new
version of the Defenders made up of variations of the original team that some
prophecy said would become the greatest super-team of all time. The problem is
the variation is Hellstrom, She-Hulk and some Atlantean whose name I can’t even
remember; and clearly no other writer was ever going to use that line-up over
the A-list combination of Dr. Strange, Hulk and Namor). However, that doesn’t
explain why Kyle’s character is completely unrecognizable. The dude has never
been this savage or had the rage problems they show here whether in the original
Defenders series that ran from the
60’s – 80’s in which he was a mainstay to his more recent continuity
appearances in the Thunderbolts and
the aforementioned Last Defenders Story.
Indeed if they are going to make the character so different than his roots then
why not just leave the SHIELD agent Kyle gave the costume to in the identity
and then you could characterize him anyway you want. Furthermore why in the hell can Kyle, who is
clearly D-list in every other appearance over 40 years, suddenly take Wolverine,
Spider-man and Ghost Rider in a fight?
Indeed while it’s always kind of fun to see the New FF, this
whole fight scene makes no sense. The Kyle scenes are the worst but by no means
the only plot hole here. Psycho Man has emotion manipulation not full on mind
control as a power, yet a few panels in he’s calling them minions as he barks
out orders and they just do what he says. Mr. Fixit pummels She-Hulk in their
fight, but the Fixit version of Hulk is far weaker than normal Hulk. He’s the
only version that ever lost a fight to the Thing, which means he should be
equal in strength to She-Hulk instead of totally outmatching her. Howard also
vaporizes them at the end of the fight, which even though Howard says its
alternate reality versions of the heroes, I still don’t see why that make its
acceptable instead of just returning them to their home reality.
The only hero handled with any depth in this is She-Hulk. (I
mean yes Howard has the big tormented moment of whether to kill his best friend
Man-Thing, but they way his dialogue is written you can’t really connect to
him). First of all her continuity is touched on throughout. She apparently has
a past association with Howard, and they also touch on her recent association
with Kyle. Ditto she knows Psycho Man from her days in the FF and gives this
team some tips on fighting him. On the personal level when we see her greatest
fear, it is she never wanted to be hero—she got her powers from a blood
transfusion, and yet she gets sucked into these cosmic world level stories
fairly often and hopes she can live up to the example of the other Avengers,
Fantastic Four and Defender heroes she’s met and not accidentally cause the
world to get blown up one day. Of the fears we see faced it’s the only one that
feels like an actual insight into the character. Still since I’m mostly
indifferent to She-Hulk that alone isn’t reason to recommend this story.
Grade E. I
suppose if you’re a fan of Deadpool, Howard the Duck or She-Hulk you might like
this more than I did. I only moderately care about the last of those three
characters. For as well as She Hulk is written that’s offset by how poorly Kyle
is handled or how the use of the New FF ultimately fails on every level as
well. Frankenstein also serves just no purpose at all in this story, which
feels like yet another missed opportunity.