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Fear Itself: Book of the Skull #1

Last week I read the first issue of Marvel’s newest mega event miniseries Fear Itself which I enjoyed very much. In fact, I enjoyed it so much that I wanted to go back and read the one-shot prologue that had come out a couple of week earlier. What can I say, Fear Itself is two for two not only did I enjoy this issue as well but it really is germane to the overall miniseries. Sure, you could read Fear Itself #1 without reading this one-shot but this prologue does contain important background information. More then that it gives you the information you need in a stand-alone self-contained story format while still managing to lead directly into Fear Itself #1.

SPOILER WARNING The issue begins with Baron Zemo aiding the Red Skull’s daughter Sin in finding one of her father’s hidden fortresses. Zemo is doing this in order to pay back an old debt he owes to Sin. Once the fortress is found and its defenses breached Sin finds what she is looking for a book that she calls her father’s greatest failure. Once she has the book we flash back to WWII and witness the secret events that are part of the book’s past. We see how the Red Skull and his Thule Society priests tried to summon other worldly help for the Nazi cause. Needless to say things did not go as planned because while they where able to summon something they didn’t know how to make use of what they had summoned. At the same time Bucky, Captain America and Namor are hot on the Skull’s trail looking not only to prevent him from claiming his prize but also seeking revenge. It seems the Skull has been sacrificing Atlanteans as part of his effort to get this otherworldly help. Unable to intercept the Skull in Germany Namor and the others follow the Skull and his men to Antarctica. The showdown that follows is inconclusive and the Red Skull escapes once more to fight another day. Flash forward back to the present with the book in her hands Sin and Zemo leave the Skull’s old base. It is at this point that Sin double crosses Zemo stealing his hovercraft and leaving him stranded in the middle of the Egyptian desert. I love Zemo’s reaction to being double-crossed and his final line is perfect. I also enjoyed the portrayal of Sin throughout this issue. Writer Ed Brubaker makes it perfectly clear that Sin is one crazy mean bitch. END SPOILER WARNING

In the end, if you read Fear Itself #1 and you enjoyed it then you will enjoy this prologue issue every bit as much. On the other hand, if you read Fear Itself #1 and where not wild about it you should still read this issue the extra background information should enhance your understanding and enjoyment of it. If you have not read Fear Itself #1 at all then start with this issue instead it is an excellent starting point.

Keith Forney