Earlier today I took the time to watch Marvel's livestream of the company's big press event, where it announced some of the details for next April's Marvel-universe-spanning "Fear Itself" event. I wanted to take some time before I posted a reaction, but for the eight-plus hours since the news conference ended, there's been one word that continually pops into my head: money.
I only started buying comics a little more that four years ago, but I've already become so jaded that I attribute every creative, editorial, design or character-related decision to money. And Marvel definitely expects this thing to make some money. Let's watch the trailer (yes, they produced a trailer for a series of comic books).
Putting the money answer aside, I'm not sure how to feel about "Fear Itself." When it comes to the primary Marvel universe (a.k.a. Earth 616) I'm ostensibly a two-title reader: Amazing Spider-Man and Invincible Iron Man. I've branched out from time to time, mostly into related titles, and I recently started reading X-Men because the whole "mutants vs vampires" storyline intrigued the Buffy fan in me, but I've never really gotten into the big events. I didn't start regularly buying ASM until the last issue of "Civil War", and while both Secret Invasion and Dark Reign were going on, I stuck to ASM and IIM without getting into the tie-in titles at all. Did that make the story hard to follow? Not particularly, but I did feel like I was missing out on something, and I wasn't willing to make the time or money investment to get every book on the checklists.
The other thing that concerned me about "Fear Itself" is it feels like Marvel is pushing the "Heroic Age" feel of its line aside too quickly. Ever since from Civil War through Dark Reign, the Marvel universe -- at least the titles I read, and the information I read about the other titles -- felt dark. Heroic Age was supposed to be the thing that changed that, allowing the Marvel superheroes to be "super" again, but if "Fear Itself" is as universe altering as Marvel is making it out to be, then the Heroic Age will have been less of an "age" and more of a "blip on the radar".
Also, along those lines, this will be the fourth major universe-spanning event in a six-year span, following "Civil War" ('06-07), "Secret Invasion" (2008) and "Dark Reign" (2009), and that's if you don't count 2010's "Shadowland", which while multi-title didn't touch as much of the Marvel universe (it also doesn't account for the 2008-09 "Ultimatum" event in the Ultimate universe, which obviously wasn't an Earth 616 thing, but impacted many of the same fans).
Despite all that, I'm intrigued by at least the main "Fear Itself" series, since it's going to be written by Matt Fraction -- who's done outstanding work on "Invincible Iron Man" -- and penciled by Stuart Immonen -- who ably replaced Mark Bagley on "Ultimate Spider-Man". Regardless of my underlying feelings for the "event", the title itself should be of high quality with those two involved, which definitely increases my chances of buying it. Which brings everything back to my original point, money. Marvel's already getting mine at least five times a month (ASMx2, IIM, X-Men, USM) and "Fear Itself" is likely to add to that. Even if some readers stop reading because of this massive event, Marvel will more than likely make up for that with new readers, and increased sales of related titles to existing readers who otherwise wouldn't buy those.