Book of the Month

Book of the Month – Fear Agent Library Edition, Vol. 1

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Avg Rating: 5.0
iFanboy Community Pick of the Week Percentage: 0.2%
 
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Fear Agent_Library_Vol1_HC
Writer: Rick Remender
Penciller: Tony Moore, Jerome Opeña, Francesco Francavilla, & Kieron Dwyer
Inker: Sean Parsons, Mike Manley, Hilary Barta, & Ande Parks
Colorist: Lee Loughridge, John Rauch, & Michelle Madsen

Size: 480 pages
Price: 49.99

“A person who won’t read has no advantage over one who can’t read.”
- Samuel Clemens

There are certain things I’m very proud of when it comes to my iFanboy career, and Fear Agent is one of them. No, I didn’t have a thing to do with its creation, but I do feel like myself and my partners did our fair share in bringing it to the attention of a bunch of people who wouldn’t have known about it otherwise. Even then, we weren’t that early, since a couple of trades were out before Ron and I read it; Conor read it after the first trade came out. Still, Rick Remender has told us about how many people have come to his table at conventions and mentioned that they heard about it from us. That means a lot to me, because I know how much this book means to its creators. And all these years later, we’ve seen that it wasn’t a fluke, because Rick Remender, Tony Moore, and Jerome Opeña are all big deals these days. While Fear Agent didn’t get them started necessarily, I think it was the book where they all showed their best early efforts, where they put their all, and it’s the thing they’re going to look back on with an immense amount of pride, which is well deserved indeed.

fearagent_10_600The thing that always struck me about Fear Agent was that there aren’t any other books like it, at least not currently. This is completely absurd. It’s the story of Heath Huston, a lone, drunken Texan, wandering the universe in a rocketship, dressed in a fishbowl helmet, toting an actual ray gun. He kills aliens. The concept is based on the idea of old EC Comics, and the designs sing of Wally Wood’s work. If you don’t know who Wally Wood is, you need to look him up. Thankfully, Fear Agent got me to look him up years ago. Earth was hit by aliens some years back, and Heath lost everything. He’s not taking it well, but like all great protagonists, he can’t seem to help but go on as the creative team heaps loads of torment and violence upon him. There are several distinct arcs, and an overall story, and this volume contains the first three. Heath is a hapless screw up, who just can’t seem to get things right, or get out of his own way, but he always survives, just scraping by, and he has a bit of folksy charm that you just can’t help but root for. It’s the kind of story that comic books are made for, and yet, in today’s market, it’s completely distinct. This continues to make zero sense to me, but thankfully, Remender and Moore company recognized the oversight, and took pains to correct it.

Except, it never really took. The people who loved this book, myself included, fawned over it. But  it never quite gained a large enough audience to sustain itself. In the middle of its run, it moved from Image Comics to Dark Horse Comics. The book didn’t sell enough to afford the creators the ability to concentrate on Fear Agent, and they ended up having to take other work to pay the bills. There were delays and at times, it seemed like it would never finish, and that we would certainly never see a volume like this. But like Heath Huston himself, against all odds, here is Fear Agent in all its glory, and this is one hell of a package, partner.

14472The book is as impressive as any Absolute edition or omnibus out there. It’s massive. You could beat a Tetaldian to death with this thing, and feel confident that their disgusting brain goop would wipe cleanly from the huge, glossy pages. A second volume will follow, but in the meantime, you’ll get plenty to read. At $50 retail, it’s a screaming deal too, if you were lucky enough to grab one. That’s right. I’m sorry to say, it’s sold out. Maybe your shop was a good shop and ordered one, or maybe you’ll have to go to eBay, or even wait for a reprint, but if you get a chance to buy one, do not hesitate, because it’s 100% worth it. In addition to the first three trades of stories, “Re-Ignition”, “My War”, and “The Last Goodbye”, the tome contains a whole mess of Tales of the Fear Agent short stories by various creators like Francesco Francavilla, Steve Niles, Hilary Barta, Rafael Albuquerque, Kieron Dwyer, Shane White, and more. There are annotated development drawings, sketches, and layouts from Tony Moore, and a pinup gallery of Heaths to beat the band. Like the series itself, this book is a labor of love, and if you loved Fear Agent, it was literally made for you.

I can’t close this without talking about the work itself. This is pure Rick Remender. He’s stated many times that he used Huston as a cypher for some of his own feelings and struggles, and Heath is down on himself quite a bit. He oozes humanity, even surrounded by so much extraordinary settings. While he can come off as cartoonish in a lot of the story, Heath is underpinned by exceptional heart, and that’s what we grasp as we hurtle through the story, no matter how strange it all gets. I’d like to say that you get to see Remender develop throughout this story, but he had this character down from go. That isn’t to say that it doesn’t get better as it progresses. It does, and Remender becomes a better writer over the years it took to make these comics, but it never feels like the work of a neophyte. It feels sincere, and true, and mostly it’s a lot of fun. That’s the most you can ask of any comic book, and Fear Agent never once fails to deliver.

One can hardly ask for more in terms of art. Tony Moore has always been a favorite of mine, and most people think of his co-creation of Walking Dead, but I always think of Fear Agent as his signature piece. The basics are there at the start of this story, but you can definitely see Tony Moore get better as you go through the pages. His layouts get stronger, and his character acting gets stronger. More important than that though, he builds a world you completely accept. And it is a strange world full of many things that do not, and will not exist. Sure, he’s working in the style of Wally Wood to a certain extent, but the final product is completely unique, and very identifiable as Moore’s.

tumblr_md8yjrQi5u1r847q9o1_500Moore isn’t the only wonderful artist to work on Fear Agent though. As prefaced, the need grew for an alternate artist to fill in for Moore, and to trade off arcs. Enter Jerome Opeña on his first significant comic book work. Most readers know him now for his work on Avengers and Uncanny X-Force, but this is where I got to know his work, which is distinguishable from Moore’s, but fits in perfectly. I would say Opeña is a little smoother, perhaps a bit more elegant than Moore. They both agreed that they pushed each other to keep upping the bar, and produce better looking comics, and the results speak for themselves. I can’t get enough of looking at either of their pages, and I’ve been trying to pick a favorite for years, and just can’t do it.

The only reason that this giant collection exists is because of the gumption of Remender, Moore, and Opeña to just keep doing it. It took a long time, and didn’t necessarily reap the kinds of rewards they’d hoped for, but once something like that gets going, you’ve only got two choices: you finish or you quit. I’m incredibly thankful that they didn’t stop, and so every time someone tells us that we helped them find Fear Agent, and that they loved it, I feel a lot of pride. It’s a beautiful book, and the fact that it exists is testament to the kind of attitude I wish there was more of in comics. This was an easy choice for the first Book of the Month for 2013, and if you can find a copy, you’ll cherish it too.

Plus, there’s a second one coming in April!

Josh Flanagan
GLEE-NORTBO!
josh@ifanboy.com

Comments

  1. I couldn’t agree more and I can’t say enough good things about this book. The story is excellent, the art is top notch, it ranges from funny to crazy to sad (sometimes in quick succession). The packaging is great, everything looks beautiful. There is so much packed in here that the price seems low when you’re finished reading. Kudos to Moore and Remender and Opena for such an accomplishment.

  2. Neb Neb says:

    I’m looking forward to reading my copy. It’s next on my nightstand pile. I’ve read all the trades and enjoyed them immensely, but to see it in such a large format will be awesome.

    The Internet will correct me, but I’m pretty sure 2nd printings of this HC and the 2nd volume both come out toward the end of April, so if you missed out, mark it on your calendars.

    • Josh Flanagan Josh Flanagan (@jaflanagan) says:

      I believe that is correct.

    • daddy_ak74 daddy_ak74 says:

      I ordered mine on Amazon (through iFanboys link of course) after it was announced as sold out, and was lucky enough to get a copy. If it weren’t for Conor, Ron, and Josh I probably wouldn’t have picked it up. One of the best collected Hardcovers that I have!

  3. wangman31888 wangman31888 says:

    I bought this and am about halfway through my re-read. Now the question is: do I wait until April and the second Library Edition come out to finish, or will I succumb to temptation and pull out my back issues???

  4. mark. mark. says:

    okay, here’s a question: would you recommend this for someone who has never read fear agent but wants to and generally likes this type of story? in other words, is the book best for the already converted or would you also suggest it for the yet-to-be-converted?

    • diebenny diebenny says:

      Get it. You will love it and then you’ll have the awesome big version instead of this AND trades laying around… even though you may end up with trades laying around once you realize you can’t wait for Vol. 2.

    • Josh Flanagan Josh Flanagan (@jaflanagan) says:

      That.

    • KenOchalek KenOchalek says:

      Buy the book. I’d never read any Fear Agent, nor much of Remender’s work in general, but he always seems cool in interviews and I dug the premise.

      I finally read it all this weekend, and it was a ton of fun.

      So not only is this is a great story, it’s a great package too — awesome thick pages, lots of content, and for about the same price as a couple skimpy Marvel hardcovers.

      I’ve already pre-ordered Volume 2!

    • I never read Fear Agent before buying this and loved it, so the count me among the yet-to-be-converted before getting it. I wanted to read it and was planning on picking up trades when Remender mentioned the prospect of an omnibus on an iFanboy interview. I decided to just wait in hopes that it would come out because of my respect for all the creators involved. I read the whole thing in a day and am going to read it again this weekend. It is really quite good.

  5. RobotZombie RobotZombie says:

    I am anxiously awaiting my Fed-Ex delivery later today.

  6. This book is the blueprint for all of Remender’s work. High adventure comics grounded with characters you give a damn about. Which stings like a motha, because he’s not afraid to kill any of the characters off if he feels the story justifies it. It got Tony Moore and Jerome Opena, two fantastic artists who later go on to do great Marvel comics(Venom, Punisher/Frankencastle, Uncanny X-Force). Oh, and alternate dimensions. Rick LOVES alternate dimensions.

  7. CGPO CGPO says:

    I got this for Christmas from my oh so lovely wife. It definitely is gorgeous and having been a fan since the trades, it’s definitely worth it. I just hope that with the popularity of it, that Dark Horse puts the trades back into print sometime after the second volume comes out, as with Remender, Moore and Opena’s popularity growing, more people may want to check this out, but not want the giant library editions (although they are a great value, DC and Marvel would easily charge $100 for each).

  8. supersnac90 says:

    Ordered it after I read the interviews. So happy I did if the the first printing is gone.

  9. AMuldowney AMuldowney says:

    My girlfriend tracked down a copy from the first print run for our anniversary. I almost got misty.

  10. Firevine Firevine says:

    My wife called me at work when my copy came in “What the hell did you order from Amazon? It weighs a TON. You could kill a man with this!”

    I was a wee bit bummed that it doesn’t have the same type of cover as the Hellboy Library Editions, but that feeling lasted about five seconds. I stood it up on the kitchen table, marvelling at its presence, and compared it to the monoliths from 2001: A Space Odyssey, to which my wife replied “I’ve never seen that, I have no idea what you’re talking about. Now please stop smashing things.” Then I cursed myself for marrying a woman 10 years my junior.

    For when you guys get your copy. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3XyS7uCtnq0&sns=em

    This thing is seriously impressive. There’s no loss of quality from the size increase of the pages. This isn’t meant to be a slight to those that missed out, but I’m glad this sold out. It deserves to because it’s so good, and such a nice package.

  11. martinNL martinNL says:

    This was a blind buy for me. It just got recommended to me by quite a few people so I got it and I loved every page of it. The art is beautiful and the dialogue witty. Excellent stuff and volume 2 can’t come soon enough.

  12. MattDoobie MattDoobie says:

    You have convinced me. I ordered it on amazon, I hope I’m not too late to get my copy on their second printing run! Pre-ordered the second volume as well.

    I’ve never read it but I loved UCX-F, Venom and TWD and I dig space stuff so I’m looking forward to it.

  13. tarrydiggs tarrydiggs says:

    I have never purchased a hard cover copy of any book. I like digital and paperback trades and I hate the cumbersome nature of a hardback. That being said I basically begged my wife to buy this for me for Christmas. I have never been more excited to own a collected edition of a comic book.

    Can’t wait for vol. 2.

  14. wyn wyn says:

    count me in on that list.the ifanboys got me hooked on this thing.and i tweeted to rick remender about it too.he replied by retweeting the photo i posted.i then encouraged my noncomicbook reading friends (but are sci fi fans) to try it and they loved it.thanks,guys.

  15. JSAkid JSAkid says:

    I have all 6 tpb’s and can’t say enough good things about this series, Remender, Tony Moore and Jerome Opena are a team of teams. I had to get the Fear Agent Library Edition as well which sold out and said OOP within days of release, I forgot to pre-order it on Amazon when it was 27.99 & could imagine my dismay when I saw em selling for close and over $100, some around $150 and they’re we’re only a few for sale on both ebay and amazon combined….the next day amazon added a few more and I got it for $33, needless to say I was happy!!! And believe me, I made sure I pre-ordered volume 2 that day. All 3 of those guys worked on Uncanny X-Force too, another one of my favorite comix in years. I’m happy it ended solid and never got dull, better to burn out then fade away.

  16. Gritty Gritty says:

    I literally just started reading Fear Agent 2 days ago, as I have been reading Deadpool recently and have become obsessed with Tony Moores artwork, and I absolutely love this title. Thanks iFanboy, as your site guided me to Deadpool, which lead me to Tony Moore, which lead me back to iFanboy where I read plenty a reviews on Fear Agent, which lead to Fear Agent consuming my past 2 nights of reading. So indeed you can add another follower to your list of individuals you have helped introduce to Fear Agent.

  17. Apotheosize Apotheosize says:

    Thank you guys for talking me into Fear Agent….this is my first time reading and the collection is amazing!
    Already pre ordered vol 2…just got an email that Amazon is pushing back from April to July for sending.

  18. I finally managed to get one sent to me from Amazon’s “Discount Warehouse” – apparently the back cover has a “medium crease” but at this point I don’t even care – I’ve hunted and hunted since Boxing Day (and immediately pre-ordered Volume 2 to save this happening again).

  19. I ordered both.

    It seems Volume 1 is back at Amazon on a two to three week delay.

  20. Impossibilly Impossibilly says:

    I’ve never read Fear Agent before. But I am really looking forward to reading it once Amazon sends it to me in 1-2 more weeks!

  21. rjspring rjspring says:

    I’m thrilled this series is finally getting the production value it truly deserves. Dark Horse is now getting all of the individual volumes posted digitally as well.

  22. I foolishly decided to not preorder this when I had the chance since I had all the trades already. Then out of sheer luck on Saturday, I came across it in a Barnes and Noble in the Manga section, which I usually don’t go through. So glad I picked this up.