TCR: Book of the Skull (Prologue to Fear Itself Event)

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Thursday Comic Review

The prologue book to Marvel’s Fear Itself initiative set the stage with some back story and new information from those years of WWII when Captain America battled the Red Skull. Masters of their crafts Ed Brubaker and Scot Eaton take readers back to the 1940s, simultaneously paralleling the events of the past with a present day plot line inevitably to be the springboard for the direction of Fear Itself. Therefore two stories are being told here.

Scenes from 1942 begin with Red Skull yelling at his Nazi mystic because the sacrifices they have made to the dark forces from beyond are not being received with enough enthusiasm to immediately grant him a powerful gift. The “sacrifices” hang, tied to wooden beams. They are blue-skinned Atlanteans, people of Namor’s, the Submariner’s, kingdom. As Red Skull is yelling, a bolt of lightning shoots over their heads. Their sacrifices were accepted. The Nazis rush off to find where the lightning landed with their gift from the dark forces.

Captain America, Bucky, and Namor eventually stumble upon the sacrificial grounds. Namor’s anger seethes at seeing his people killed so abominably. They chase after Red Skull and a battle with the demon accompanying the gift from the dark forces ensues.

Flashing forward to present day, Red Skull’s daughter, Sin, knows that her father had a relic from the dark forces that he was never able to figure out how to utilize. She thinks she understands the secret to its use, if she can get to it. To do this she needs a certain book of her father’s filled with dark magic and covered in the blue flesh of dead Atlanteans. Sin shows her potential as a full-fledged evil villain. She is ruthless and cocky.

This prologue to Fear Itself read like a story from history. It was factual and interesting, but rather without any real tension. The point was obviously to get information to readers in the most succinct way possible. This goal was met, and the book reads clearly with a nice flow and pace to it. Even better, they have dropped the information in a way that even readers who are mostly new to Captain America are able to have a firm understanding of what is happening in this book. This is important, since Fear Itself will be expansively touching all corners of the Marvel Universe, and therefore potentially be drawing in readers who specifically specialize in a few series of choice.

The art supplied the reader with all the more background information, setting the mood with WWII planes, uniforms, and weapons. There is a stark contrast to the technology of the modern day with rapidly explosive guns and teleportation devises. I enjoyed the jumps back and forth between the two time periods.

So is this book an absolutely necessary purchase in the Fear Itself line? Well, personally, I’ll be wanting to collect all the books of this initiative – but considering how annoying that endeavor might be to a lot of readers (Understandably so. It’s going to appear all over the place), I’d say that if you’re trying to skip the non-vital books (staying just with the 7-issue main story arch and ditching the tie-ins), you won’t be hindered by skipping Book of the Skull. Peruse the internet. Read a few more reviews. You’ll get the gist.

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