Fear Itself #7.1 invalidates the Fear Itself event, but in a good way.
Credits & Solicit Info:
Written by ED BRUBAKER
Pencils & Cover by BUTCH GUICE
• The Marvel Universe holds a wake for Bucky Barnes
• Fear Itself forever altered the life of Captain America,
When I first started reading comics, Bucky Barnes was described as one of the "Three Untouchables", characters whose deaths would never be reversed. Along with Uncle Ben and Barry Allen, it was assumed that Bucky Barnes's death defined him more than anything he did in life. Of course, Ed Brubaker proved that rule wrong when he resurrected Bucky as a brainwashed Russian assassin during his initial run on Captain America, fleshing out the character to make Bucky one of the more compelling cast members in Steve Rogers' book.
Bucky proved to be such a well-developed character that he was chosen to pick up the role of Captain America after Steve Rogers fell in the aftermath of Civil War. When Steve came back a couple of years later, most comic book fans assumed that it would only be a matter of time before he became Captain America once again, especially with the Captain America movie hitting theatres this summer. The only question that remained was "What about Bucky?"
Then, in Fear Itself #3, Bucky was seemingly killed by the Red Skull's daughter, Sin. Although the comic left Bucky's fate a little vague, Fear Itself #4 showed Bucky's lifeless body being wept over by his lover Black Widow. The death spurred Steve Rogers to take up the Captain America mantle once again and eventually led Earth's heroes to victory, although not before another Avenger, Thor, was killed in battle as well. While Thor's resurrection is all but guaranteed (solicitations show Thor's book following the Norse god's attempt to escape the afterworld), everyone presumed that the major death of the series was Bucky's.
Well, Fear Itself #7.1 has proven that even a dead body doesn't necessarily mean a character's gone for good. As Steve Rogers prepares a eulogy for his best friend, Nick Fury and the Black Widow reveal to him that Bucky actually survived Sin's attack. Although Bucky remains in critical condition, Nick Fury guaranteed his survival by giving him the last dose of the Infinity Formula. As Bucky recovered, Fury and Black Widow faked Bucky's death to allow him to escape the gulag where he was due to be imprisoned after Fear Itself ended. Although Rogers is understandably upset by the deception, Bucky arrives and tells Steve that he wants to stay in the shadows for a while to make amends for his actions as a Russian assassin.
Brubaker and penciller Butch Guice do an admirable job explaining to the readers how Bucky survived Fear Itself and why Nick Fury and the Black Widow felt the need to fake his death. Let's face it, if there's two characters that would have the chutzpah to lie to Captain America and fake his best friend's death during the middle of an interdimensional invasion, it would be the former chief spy of SHIELD and the Russian femme fatale. Brubaker even throws in a couple of twists to Bucky's miraculous survival via the Infinity Formula, adding an extra level of gravitas to the affair. By sacrificing his last dose of the drug, Nick Fury has not only opened the door for his own demise but also doomed Bucky to additional uncertainty about his long-term survival as well. Without more Infinity Formula, either character could drop dead at any time, which could open up some new story possibilities in the coming years. Brubaker should be commended for recognizing the incredulity of the entire scenario and appropriately frames the explanation by telling it to the person most upset about the deception and letting Rogers react for the reader.
My main issue with Fear Itself #7.1 is how quickly it reversed one of the major consequences of the main Fear Itself event so soon after it happened. While I don't mind that Bucky's death was reversed, it cheapened an already mediocre event and solidified Fear Itself as the worst event to come out of Marvel in the modern Avengers era. However, I suppose that Marvel itself recognized this, as it quickly paved the way for one of the main characters lost in the event to return to the realm of the living.
At the end of the day, Fear Itself #7.1 is a satisfying read with solid art and a convenient explanation used to brush away a rather silly death. If you're a fan of Brubaker's Captain America series and enjoy his ongoing tale about Bucky Barnes, you're sure to enjoy this fitting epilogue to Bucky's days as Captain America and the establishment of his new status quo.
Review by: BlueStreak