So I've managed to work my way a few issues into both Flashpoint and Fear Itself, and so far.......Flashpoint is much more interesting.
I may be a bit of a mark for alternate reality stories though, so its probably not a fair comparison. DC went into this with the edge of writing the type of story that I'm often engaged by. What would have happened if Thomas Wayne had lived instead of Bruce? What would have happened if the U.S.A. had never won its independence? Would the world change if Barry Allen never became the Flash? The very idea of a complete re-imagining of the DC Universe under those standards is always intriguing.
Now Fear Itself hasn't been bad; it just hasn't been captivating. Sure, it's interesting to watch seven hammers of mythic power fall to Earth, and to see who will pick them up. Sure I'm confused by the gutless attitude of Odin, as he runs for cover like a chicken and looks around for a nuclear option. And yes, I will admit that I would like to get to the reveal and see the All-Father(s!!) collide. But other than that? So far this thing has too much fodder and not enough substance. 3 issues in and what I've learned should have been revealed in 1 issue. Seriously.
Where the difference stands for me is in the details.
On a large scale like event like Fear Itself, Crisis On Infinite Earths or Secret Invasion, I often find myself mired down in little details that I couldn't care less about. Side issues, and minor details in every book in the company don't mean a thing to me, and quite frankly I find that they detract from the bigger story. They also use it to draw out the space between the big moments in the story. Shouldn't the story itself be the big moment?
However in titles like Flashpoint (or Marvel 1602) I find the details equally engaging as the core story for a simple reason. They hold the same message. They say "this is how the world is different." It's the author revealing to me how the comic universe would have unfolded if his vision had been its guiding light. It's a very different experience for me. I want the minute details, and I scour every panel for them.
And that's really all it is for me. In a 'What If' or 'Elseworld' I want the details. In a mega-crossover event in core continuity, I find myself much more interested in the big picture. The 'real' story.
And in Fear Itself, I'm not getting enough of what I want.