Review: Fear Itself Prologue Book of the Skull

Published on March 18th, 2011

How excited are you for Marvel’s latest story, Fear Itself?! If you’re anything like me, it’s a whole lot of excitement. We still have a couple weeks or so to go before this story starts, but the good folks at Marvel decided to give us a little taste of what’s to come with this one-shot issue called Fear Itself Prologue: Book of the Skull. While the actual book will be written by Matt Fraction, this first introduction is written by Ed Brubaker, who may very well be the greatest person to write Captain America ever! Too much?

fibookoftheskullThe book starts off with Sin, the daughter of the Red Skull, and Baron Zemo taking a trip through Egypt to find one of the Red Skull’s old secret bases. Once they arrive there, the two villains teleport to the ground and make their way inside the cave. Now, all they gotta do is fight their way through the Skull’s army of robots and get past all the booby traps. Then they find their way to the main hall where a blue leather book made from the flesh of Atlanteans is sitting on a pretty fancy pedestal.

The book then shifts to Germany, 1942, where the Red Skull has just had several Atlanteans sacrificed by some nutty cultists to gain favor from the Gods. Not to mention, something that will help the Nazis win WWII. After some lightning strikes, it becomes clear that whatever the Nazis are after has come to Earth, just not where they want it to be. The following day, Captain America, Bucky, and Namor are searching the now abandoned Nazi fortress to find out what has happened to Namor’s people. Once they learn what Red Skull did to the Atlanteans, the heroes quickly make their way to Antarctica where the Skull and his Nazi buddies have already arrived.

When we meet up with Red Skull, he has found what fell to Earth, but we still don’t know what it is. All we know is that it is not what he was wanting or expecting. When Cap and the other two Invaders arrive, their plane is attacked by a Frost Giant that was also brought to Earth during the ceremony. Namor and Cap immediately go to attack the monster, while Bucky holds off the Nazi troops. While the good guys are fighting the monster, Red Skull decides it’s a good time to fire away at them while they’re distracted. Luckily, the explosions cause the giant to fall into the freezing water, but also takes Bucky with him. Bucky’s tough though, so, even though he’s freezing in the water, he still manages to get a grenade into the monster’s mouth and blow its head off. Believing that they have ruined the Nazi’s latest evil plan, the heroes head back for home, but the Cultists have stayed behind to hide what was really the ultimate weapon, a golden hammer that is stuck in the ground and impossible to move.

We are then brought to the present where Sin and Baron Zemo escape the secret base before it caves in after another booby trap goes off. The book ends with Sin leaving Zemo in the desert, while she escapes in his ship to go after the hammer.

Marvel has been pretty secretive of Fear Itself up until now, but this book really got me excited. I can’t wait to see what they have in store for us. I really thought it was cool how the origins of Fear Itself come from Captain America and Thor since we’ve got their movies coming out this summer. It really shows that Marvel knows how to get readers excited and keep everything tied together. I also enjoyed how even though Captain America and Namor are the big characters featured in this book, it was Bucky who saved the day and stole the show. Brubaker did a fantastic job of making Bucky a bad-ass while still keeping him as the plucky sidekick. Scot Eaton’s pencils were pretty damn good. Looking at Sin was creepy enough, but seeing The Red Skull almost made me pee myself. Usually one-shots aren’t the greatest books to read, but this one entertained me while getting me ready for Fear Itself.

Ken Zeider