Fear Itself vs Flashpoint, the Summer Event Debate

With two issues of Fear Itself and the first issue of Flashpoint released, I’m now able to compared the two events to each other. Now you might be saying that I comparing things too soon. Well to me, the first issue or so of a mini-series sets up the direction that the series will be on and we can tell what the mini-series will be like.

At this point, Fear Itself is remaining rather ambiguous. Outside of a few spoilers ran by Bleeding Cool and other sites, not much is known about Fear Itself and its direction. We only know Steve Rogers will assume the mantle of Captain America, again, and the Asgardians will be likely doing battle. Marvel has done a surprisingly good job on keeping their mouths shut and leaving the direction of the mini up in the air. Even after the first two issues, I am left wondering where they are going with this and how it will all be done. This uncertainty attracts me to the story. After every issue I am finding myself wanting to read the next. The comic satisfies my desire to read something different from the Big Two.

Fear Itself feels very fresh, but it is not without its flaws. It is a decompressed event (though not as bad as other Marvel Events) and it is possible that by the end of the seven-issue run that the actual amount of story might not warrant the full seven issues. This is troublesome. I hate when Marvel overextends their event comics, but depending on issue three the comic is moving at a decent pace in getting exposition out and finishing the set ups. The fluff of issue two was necessary fluff and couldn’t fully fit into the tie-ins because even if they did, everyone would be complaining about the lack of the explanation behind who was chosen. I am also wary of Fear Itself because of Matt Fraction and how poorly he handled his last “event”:  Utopia. Utopia started strong, but fell apart by the end of the seven issue crossover.

Still remains that Fear Itself is more original than your average event fare and that’s what I am looking for in comics at this time.

I wish I could say the same for Flashpoint. Don’t get me wrong, Flashpoint #1 is excellent. It is well done and beautiful to look at. The slight changes in continuity were brilliant and in this issue a lot is set up. It moves fast and has a twist early on in the event. With that said though, I feel Flashpoint is unoriginal. If you ever read a single Altered Universe story (Age of Apocalypse and House of M being the biggest of them all. Maybe The Nail.) you will find Flashpoint following the paint by the numbers formula. I am not certain what Altered Universe story it follows the closest as it is too early to tell what the tone will be, but it has certain tropes.

The tropes:
1) A main character is out of time and knows something is wrong (Bishop in AoA, Wolverine in HoM, and Barry Allen in Flashpoint).
2) The man seeks a team to fix what’s wrong with the universe (Wolverine and Layla Miller in HoM, Barry Allen and Batman in Flashpoint).
3) There is a great War/Overlord and a resistance is forming to fight it all (Everyone not a part of Apocalypse’s system in AoA, Everyone that’s not in Europe sans Batman in Flashpoint).
4) There’s something wrong with Europe (AoA and Flashpoint both have screwed up Europes).
5) The biggest one a jerk character changed the universe (Legion in AoA, Quicksilver’s influence over Wanda in HoM, and possibly Zoom in Flashpoint)

While predictable, Flashpoint is still a great read, do not think I am hating on it. Now, Geoff Johns is known for his twists in events this means things are likely to not be fully predictable. It comes down tp this though, if I know where the book is going and where all the beats are likely going to be, it hurts my desire to read the event. I usually don’t mind knowing where an event is likely to end up. I am often about the journey and not destination but when it comes to Flashpoint: I know the destination, the journey, the rest stops, and the tourist traps in between. I just feel like I’ve been down this road before.

The great debate between Fear Itself and Flashpoint, for me, is originality but with some weakness or strong but predictable. I am a large supporter of anything new and that’s where Fear Itself has me hooked. It’s new, it might have some form of a lasting effect on the characters, and it leaves me guessing. Flashpoint is a lot stronger in terms of writing, but the predictable content leaves me disinterested in the story. The tie-ins are far more interesting than the main Flashpoint series. The European war just strikes me as a more compelling story than Barry and Batman go fight crime.

I will give both events more time develop which will allow me to form a fair opinion on them, but as of now, Fear Itself has my attention. I have to say that if I only had money to purchase only one event, I would pick Fear Itself.