It is perhaps most famously attributed to Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the 32nd President of These United States, during his first Inaugural Address. Paraphrasing Sir Francis Bacon, Mr. Roosevelt said "So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself — nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance." and in a time when America was at the depths of it's greatest depression it was, in many ways, precisely what we needed to hear. That the things that kept those proud Americans awake every night were simply best set aside and that the future and not the past should be our greatest concern. Not to think about the loss you suffered yesterday but instead the gains you might make today. Not to ignore the past, no. But to learn from it. To find what caused retreat and convert it into advance.
This has become one of the tent poles of the American ideology. That we need not fear. That we must learn. And that the only thing to fear is that unnameable, unknowable, ungraspable darkness in the night.
But today we fight a "War on Terror". Today we fear the kind financial collapse that crippled our nation in the 1930's. Today we see something to fear around every corner and behind every cloud. Fear has become something that drives us ...
"So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself ..."
Never before have we needed to heed these words so direly. Never before have we had to put fear behind us than now. The things we fear are numerous, and many of them are unknown ... but many have names.
"... nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance."
In this time of tumult and terror writer Matt Fraction has found a way to solidify fear, to give it heft and shape, to, perhaps most importantly, give it a name. Yes, fear has a name ladies and gentlemen. It is not just the unknown of the future or the change around you that has left you ever so perplexed. Fear, dear readers, is The Serpent. He is the true All-Father and he has no interest in your worship, he cares not for how you treat your fellow man, he sees no worth in man ... except as a creature of fear.
The conceit is an interesting one. It has an air of the difference between the God of the Old Testament and the God of the New Testament. And while Odin may not have been the most loving All-Father he, I believe, is going to be shown to be the kind of loving god that sends his champion to earth to fight alongside the world's mightiest heroes and The Serpent would have crushed the world's mightiest heroes under his heel until they were a quivering miasma of uncertainty and terror.
This is the kind of story that events should yearn to be. Written by talented writers who aren't afraid to challenge the world as we know it, yet whom have respect fo the characters that he will use. Drawn by the kind of artist who will bring honesty to the emotional expression of the characters on the page and who knows how to craft both scenes of epic battle between foes as well as scenes of intimate exhcange of ideas between compatriots.
Stuart Immonen is the kind of guy who was born to draw this series. His work in the past has been perfect to position him for this kind of event. Expect the action to be well paced and easy to follow across both panels and pages. Also, expect to see expressive faces and to understand the body language of the characters ... and also expect to be wholly creeped out by The Serpent.
Fear Itself #1 and Fear Itself: Homefront #1 both hit the shelves tomorrow and you're going to want to get them.