As we saw in Bendis’ Avengers #5, something called “Fear without Man” is coming up on the horizon. And Marvel just released some images of the upcoming story arc that may or may not let us know what is coming.
Now these are extremely interesting depictions of what there is to fear in the Marvel Universe right now. Obviously we see that Scott may come to fear where his choices and idealogy have led him. Spider-Man, who is most affected by the politics of the day (as he is subject to the most daily trends of the everyman). The Hulk fears his power as it often threatens those he loves as well as the innocent of whom he surrounds himself. Thor fears the process of reconciliation and redemption of himself to his people after killing Asgardian royalty. And lastly, Captain America fears the loss of an almost idolized philosophy and way of life. Marvel seems to be bringing their heroes to their knees in a new way. A way of desperation that cries out for help, but finds none.
The heroes must band together, but this is not like any enemy that they have fought in the last few years. How do you fight ideas? How do you fight consequences?
Another interesting point with these teaser images is the attempt to utilize all forms of literary conflict. Man vs. Himself, Man vs. Machine, Man vs the World, and even the red-headed step-child of the bunch Mankind vs. Me. The categories are easily recognizable from the Hulk’s loss of control to Cyclops’s political ideology that cannot be stopped. Then we come to Cap dealing with the world creeping in on what he holds sacred. And or course, when is all of mankind NOT after Spider-Man?
Although this is not a totally new angle for Marvel to take, the ideas of total defeat by an unseen and intangible villain could not come to the Marvel U at a better time. Here on Earth-0 we have to deal with this too.
In an effort to keep the Heroic Age of Marvel relevant to the common man, the company must now address the issues that face the core of their audience. How will they react? How will we react? As our role models of good face down the terrors of fear, we too will take note and live lives worthy of the Heroic Age.
Marvel is not tormenting their Heroes. They are showing us the way.