Fear itself is to be the ultimate adversary of the Marvel heroes in what is appropriately titled Fear Itself, the publisher's line-wide event initiative that has been teased over the last several days in a series of cryptic images. Announced Tuesday morning at a press conference hosted by Midtown Comics in New York City, Fear Itself will take the form of a seven-issue $3.99 monthly miniseries written by Matt Fraction with artwork by Stuart Immonen, Wade von Grawbadger and Laura Martin, and will impact a number of existing and newly created titles across Marvel's line on a scale comparable to that of Secret Invasion.

As suggested by some of the teaser imagery, the theme of Fear Itself is of course fear, but specifically the pervasive variety that seems to dominate the international media. Marvel Editor-in-Chief Joe Quesada remarked, "There's a world divided. Who do you trust? It's a great time to be fearful, and a great time for people who profit on making people scared. Charlatans, tyrants." Quesada said everything is poised to go up in flames, all that's needed is a spark.

Vice President - Senior Editor Axel Alonso echoed Quesada's remarks. This is a world where every single one of us is urged by some talking head to point fingers at someone else."

However, Quesada added, "The good news? We're talking about the Marvel Universe."

In a taped message, Fraction said Fear Itself will be "Relatable to where we are today and something that speaks to the world we live in. There is a shadow of anxiousness and anger, reason and discourse have taken a backseat to mob hysteria." Fraction added that if you don't believe him, remember his words the next time you walk through the security line at an airport.

The story will pit eight chosen characters against who Fraction identified only as "the god of fear," and hinge on a secret at the heart of the Marvel Universe that had been hidden for centuries. Its revealing will "unleash something unspeakable, something that has been clamped down for centuries that will flourish and cast its shadow across the world."

"Get ready. Get excited," said Fraction. "This is the biggest story we've ever told." To facilitate his work on Fear Itself, Fraction will be "scaling back" his involvement with Uncanny X-Men, which he co-writes with Kieron Gillen.

On hand at the press conference was Vice President - Senior Editor Tom Brevoort, who is personally editing Fear Itself. He and his colleagues expressed their belief that the best Marvel Comics stories, and that what sets this superhero universe apart, is that it takes its cues from the real world, citing iWorld War II, Apollo 11 and September 11, 2001 as events that have influenced stories of the Marvel heroes. With its political themes, Civil War was acknowledged by the group as an apt comparison for Fear Itself, but said that at its core, Civil War was still a traditional "superheroes-punching-each-other" story, and that Fear Itself, while it will certainly be that, will also be something more.

With respect to the crossover aspects of Fear Itself, the editors confirmed that the story will spill into "a bevy" of Marvel Universe titles, included some newly created books along the lines of the popular Front Line series spun-out of Civil War. The Hulk, Avengers, Spider-Man, X-Men and Dracula were all name-checked as being part of Fear Itself. Brevoort offered some hope for those readers who wish to minimize their investment in the crossover, saying, "At whatever level you choose to buy-in, hopefully we've built this in such a way that you can [be satisfied] no matter what your level of involvement."

The Fear Itself event begins with a special as-yet-untitled "prelude" issue by Ed Brubaker and Scott Eaton in March 2011, which tells a story of Captain America, Namor and the Invaders that sets up the main Fear Itself series, which launches in earnest in April.

Before the Fear Itself press conference was concluded, Axel Alonso made sure to point out, "And yes, Deadpool will be involved too."