Who Are The Worthy?

When Marvel Comics held a secret press conference back in December last year to reveal the big event of 2011 – Fear Itself, they knew they had a winner on their hands.

The concept of the Marvel Universe being caught up in an age-old conflict between Asgard and the God of Fear immediately captured the imagination of the media and Marvel has since taken advantage of the hype and not letting the frentic pace drop even for a moment. Ever since the annoucement, news articles have been churned out on a weekly basis on and the sheer deluge of information all over the Internet have done much to prepare fans for an event truly unlike any other. With just hours to go before the Fear Itself prologue – Book of the Skull – hits the stands, the question still on many minds now is the same one posed by Joe Quesada back in December: Who are the Worthy?

We know this much: there are eight members that make up the Worthy, who have been chosen by the Norse God of Fear, the Serpent, to fight in his war against Odin and Asgard. We know they each carry a hammer, making them almost equal to Thor and Mjolnir in power, and are made up of both heroes and villains all tapping into their potential for great destruction and for eliciting dread in the hearts of those they oppose. But who are they exactly?

Hints have been sprouting up over the past few weeks, but since Scott McNiven’s cover to Fear Itself issue #2 identifies three of them, let’s just get them out of the way first.

The Grey Gargoyle, Hulk and Juggernaught. Each of these carrying the very hammer they sought after in the five teaser posters that were released last month. The way McNiven portrays them, they’re looking eeriely amped up and, for the likes of Grey Gargoyle, ready to make their long awaited mainstream breakthrough in the Marvel Universe.  This immediately begs the question – what about the others pictured in the same teaser poster? Sure, Giant-Man and Iron Man are obviously not part of the Worthy, but what about Hercules, or Loki? Or even the Thing and Colossus? After all, there are fifteen characters in the teasers, surely more than one from each will be deemed Worthy? 

The other teaser comes from Marvel’s Twitter feed, and clearly the hammer wielded suggests that this is either Dracula, Sin or Storm. I originally assumed it was Dracula – why else would he even be involved in Fear Itself, but having only just picked up the Fear Itself Sketchbook tonight, it is clearly Sin, the new Red Skull. The being said, it is no secret Sin is one of the Worthy, since she, through the sinister experiments of her father the Red Skull during World War II, plays a crucial and critical role in the story.

The other remaining hint comes from the cover of Christos Gage’s highly acclaimed but mostly underappreciated title Avengers Academy #15, which is drawn by Billy Tan and has a member of the Worthy silhouetted out to protect their identity, even as he struggles against Giant-Man. Based on the hammer he’s carrying, and its similarities to the one in the teaser poster featuring Giant-Man, it would be my guess that the Absorbing Man will be part of the Worthy.

The wonderful thing about the characters chosen for the Worthy is that Hulk, Juggernaut, Absorbing Man and Grey Gargoyle are classic Marvel characters created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in the 60s back in the early days of Marvel and are now given a makeover for a new generation of readers. Kudos also to Marvel Architect Matt Fraction for choosing classic antagonists from Thor’s history – Grey Gargoyle and Absorbing Man were created as opponents for the Thunder God.

But what about Sin, who’s own sordid and convoluted past have been essentially whitewashed by Captain America writer Ed Brubaker? Over the past five years, he has successfully reintroduced her to readers and prepared her to take her place as the new Red Skull. However, that clearly was not enough, especially for those who don’t follow the Captain America title, so Sin, as the Red Skull, is now poised to gain even more mainstream attention now that she is part of the Worthy.

So who are the remaining three members of the Worthy? If I can take a wild guess, I’d go with these three: Dracula, Storm and Bucky Barnes.

Dracula’s been appearing quite a fair bit lately thanks to the X-Men arc Curse of the Mutants, and with recent solicits on upcoming series Tomb of Dracula: Throne of Blood, I have no doubt the vampire lord will continue to remain in the forefront of the Marvel Universe’s conciousness. Storm, on the other hand, has seen her various storylines with Black Panther and the X-Men come to a less than satisfactory conclusion, and is undoubtedly in the need for involvement in a big crossover, without which she would be relegated to little more than a random cameo.

But my third choice surprised even myself. I’m basing my pick of Bucky Barnes as the final member of the Worthy because I’ve noticed, in one particular scene in Fear Itself #1, where the Avengers are lined up as Iron Man is making an announcement, Bucky Barnes is conspicuously absent. I don’t know if it was an error by artist Stuart Immonen, but I’m more likely to believe that in an attempt to stop Sin, Bucky gets lured or tempted with such irresistable power that he himself succumbs to the God of Fear.

The truth of the matter is Bucky is a different Captain America than Steve Rogers, and when push comes to shove, Bucky simply doesn’t have the same immovable morality that Rogers does. If there’s anything I, as a fan, would fear, it would be that the man beneath the costume simply cannot live up to the demands of being Captain America and gives up.

Yes, yes I do.

The prologue Fear Itself: The Book of the Skull #1 goes on sale today with a variant cover by Joe Quesada!

Peter Lin

His teenage years spent nursing a giant man-crush on Steve Rogers, the first Captain America, Peter naturally found himself drawn to many other heroes who depicted strong, manly qualities, including the honour-bound warrior Worf, first Klingon in Starfleet, and the muscular rock hard abs of The Thing.

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  1. Hah, didn’t recognize that was Hulk and Grey Gargoyle in issue #2. Maybe it could be one of Hulk’s kids?

    1. That’s what I thought at first, but with Skaar in a new Savage Land series, I don’t think he’s going to be involved in Fear Itself. Anyway, it looks like Hulk’s wearing his World War Hulk manica (the gladiator shoulder armour).

  2. It can’t be Dracula with that Hulk vs Dracula issue coming out the announced a few days ago

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