Fear Itself: The Fearless is a sort of epilogue story that takes place after the whole big event. Like many other tie-in comics, it is not essential to read such stories in order to gain a full appreciation of the original event. However it does make for an interesting little diversion and it provides a slightly convoluted answer to the lingering question of what did people do with the hammers left on Earth.
If anything, the title also acts as a nice little exploration of the character Valkyrie and it helps flesh out her story beyond just being yet another Asgardian other than Thor, in a manner of speaking. And her story is one that has been defined by duty for most of her life and yet this is a duty that she has embraced wholeheartedly.
Synopsis: Fear Itself: The Fearless is a 12-issue limited comic book mini-series that takes place after the events of Fear Itself. The series was written by Matt Fraction, Cullen Bunn, and Chris Yost.
After the events of Fear Itself, Valkyrie, also known as Brunnhilde, takes it upon herself to gather the Hammers of the Serpent as part of a charge entrusted to her by Odin long ago. However the likes of Captain America don't immediately agree to allow her to take the hammer in their possession given the belief that the hammers were far safer in the various hiding places they had arranged. However Valkyrie is adamant that she must do this and eventually takes the hammer by force to begin her question. At the same time, Sin has her own Hydra forces begin searching for the hammers as well in order to recover a taste of the power that she had lost when the Serpent had been defeated.
The story also covers a series of flashbacks involving a period during World War II when Nazi efforts to understand Asgardian magic somehow led to summoning the full host of the Valkyrie. Brunnhilde stayed behind to determine why she and her sisters had been brought to earth and also used the time to pursue a number of treats of a more mystical nature. And of course the events of the past will somehow tie to the events in the present eventually and the whole task given to her by Odin and how it relates to the Hammers.
The story maybe shouldn't have gone on for a full 12 issues. The story has some high points and some really dragging moments that make me feel that it would have made more sense as a 6-issue series with tighter writing. The whole flashback bit was somewhat helpful to the story and did provide nice character development and back story for Valkyrie, but it didn't feel all that essential either. So there's the writing conundrum right there.
But Valkyrie is a great character and I rather enjoyed following the story mainly for her. She's a complex character - or at least she deserves to be. More often than not we've seen her as some bruiser character supporting whichever Avengers team at the time. This story gives a closer look at her more of her back story and tying her to the whole Nazi thing and the semi-mystical Thule Society.
I'm not sure if we needed to see as much of Sin as we did. Sure, she's a decent antagonist and half of the story did have to involve her getting the other hammers to power her weird engine of destruction thingy. Crossbones got to flex his dialog abilities a bit in this story as well, but this all largely felt extraneous to things. It was helpful and not terribly but not essential.
It was a times entertaining and other times frustrating to watch Valkyrie and Sin take their respective hammer targets from the different heroes and other such organizations guarding them. I mean seriously, not once do they target the same hammer and every time both is pretty much equipped with the means to overcome the defenses. And so they go and just take the hammers with little true resistance until it all comes down in some weird confrontation that wasn't entirely well put together. But I suppose we can always use a big fight to end a story like this.
Fear Itself: The Fearless is an interesting little side story that can stand well enough on its own without Fear Itself. It might as well have been called Valkyrie: The Fearless and left it at that, but of course reasons. Thus the title only really gets 3.5 magical means used to forward one plan or another out of a possible 5.