Review: Battle Scars #1

Spinning out of Fear Itself comes a mystery about an Army Ranger being targeted by both sides of the cape set.

Andy Hunsakerby Andy Hunsaker

Battle Scars #1

You may recall that Chris Yost was one of the only writers to actually do anything with the fear part of Fear Itself in his three-part Fear Itself: Spider-Man series, and he did it excellently.  So it's with a sense of gratitude that we can look at the credits of Battle Scars #1 and see that, while the story is credited to Matt Fraction and Cullen Bunn as well, Yost is the one handling the scripting.  That means it's actually pretty decent.

Yost once again brings that palpable sense of people being driven mad by a fear aura to war-torn Afghanistan, as we see Army Ranger Sgt. Marcus Johnson and his platoon being caught in a crazy firefight when the Taliban, his fellow soldiers and everyone else involved have their desperate terror cranked up to a zillion, resulting in a mad scramble to survive.  Once it calms down, though, Johnson gets the call to go home, because it seems his mother was targeted for a kill in the middle of the Fear Itself madness, and he has to go find out why. 

Turns out they were just trying to draw him back home so they could kill him.  The regular Russian hit squad is no good against the skills of a Ranger, but the photo-reflexes of Taskmaster are a different story.  Johnson has no idea why he's being targeted, but both the bad guys and Captain America seem to know there's something special about him.  We, the readers, have no idea what that may be just yet, but Yost is good enough to make us curious as to just where this is leading.

Battle Scars #1 is the first chapter in a 6-issue miniseries that Marvel has been touting since Comic-Con as a major development spinning out of Fear Itself.  So far, it's pretty much a point-of-view piece from a rank and file soldier in the midst of the insanity of the Marvel Universe.  Interesting, but nothing particularly captivating just yet.  The art from Scot Eaton is decent, although the Taskmaster splash page looks a little off – where is that sword scabbard attached, exactly? 

Anyway, Marvel's promising that Marcus Johnson is going to be a hugely important character as the mystery around him unfolds, and Yost has certainly earned enough credit to be allowed to unfold it the way he'd like.  Battle Scars #1 isn't anything stunning, but it's just the first chapter in a larger story, and it does manage to remind us a bit about what Fear Itself was actually supposed to be, but failed to become.