Pick of the Week

Pick of the Week – 11.02.2011 – Fear Agent #32

What did the
iFanboy
community think?

166
Pulls
Avg Rating: 4.8
iFanboy Community Pick of the Week Percentage: 11.1%
 
Users who pulled this comic:
Writer: Rick Remender
Penciller: Mike Hawthorne & Tony Moore
Inker: John Lucas

Size: 32 pages
Price: 3.50

From the moment I started reading Fear Agent, several years back, I knew I’d found a comic book I liked very much. The thing is, it didn’t feel like something completely different, but I couldn’t think of anything like it. The very fact that there aren’t way more comic books like Fear Agent boggles my mind, but not nearly as much as the fact that it’s not selling ridiculous numbers. Yes, that’s how good I think it is, and I’m shocked that Rick Remender can move so many X-Force units, and such a small fraction of those readers don’t think to pursue what else those wonderful comic creators have too offer. If Fear Agent was a movie (and it very well could be), starring the most precious Nathan Fillion, it would be held in cult revere for decades to come. Yet the comic book, one that we’ve been beating the drum about for so long, doesn’t seem to make a huge dent? Man, that chaps my ass.

And when I say “chaps my ass”, I say it in my mind as I imagine Heath Huston might say it, with a Texas drawl, and just a touch of whiskey-based intoxication. I like Heath Huston, but anyone following this story knows that it can’t end well. It’s a tragedy waiting to happen, and no matter what ol’ Heath does, and he really does mean well, it just isn’t going to go his way, and in the meantime, he’s going to be pummeled like Wiley E. Coyote. Yet still, this end is fitting. It’s both sad and hopeful, in a way that only science fiction can muster. Heath ended up with nothing, and in doing so, gave himself everything. Not that he’d ever get a chance to enjoy it, of course. If that makes no sense, that’s because you didn’t read it. It’s a good ending, and it’s a strong ending, and it’s the right ending.

I can’t tell you it’s been easy to be a Fear Agent fan over these years. That has nothing to do with the content. As far as I can tell, there weren’t any weak spots, or parts that suffered. But there were massive delays. This final arc took much longer than it should have. But at the end of it all, there’s a complete and single story, spanning multiple genres, and centering on a dude who drinks too much, flies around in a jet pack and/or a huge sentient rocketship, and wears a fishbowl space helmet. We’ve seen the creative teams get more work (paying work) at bigger publishers. We’ve seen the title switch from Image Comics over to Dark Horse, and we told as many people as would listen to go try this book.

One thing Rick Remender, an artist himself, has always had going for him is that he knows how to find the right collaborators on art. Time and again, over and over, the guy pairs up with fantastic artists, and nowhere is that more clear than Fear Agent. Starting off, he co-created the book with Tony Moore, who defined the look of the world. Then Moore started alternating arcs with Jerome Opena, another superstar to be, and finally, they brought in Mike Hawthorne and John Lucas to finish it up, and the book never suffered from switching between teams. Not once while reading the final adventure of Heath Huston did I feel like I wasn’t looking at the perfect artwork, which on paper, maybe it should have. But they pulled it off. Where this final issue really shined was that so much of this story has been about crazy science monsters, the Tetaldians, and the Dressites, but most of this issue focused on comfortable moments among family and friends. They were talking heads and actual humans who needed to sit around a table and have a good time. Then at the same time, we had to read a lot into Heath’s old and beaten face as he watched on. The words didn’t hurt, but the art was what sold it. I felt sad and hopeful all at once.

I specifically want to mention the cover Tony Moore did for this issue. Read it, and you’ll know it says it all. Heath is riding off into the sunset, and this is just a spectacular piece of work. While it’s unfortunate that Moore didn’t get to draw as much of the series as some fans would like, his mark never left the book, and the whole thing was a fitting cap and tribute to what Moore and Remender created together.

Finally, let’s talk about Rick Remender. He’s the guy who’s been holding this thing together. He’s the guy who we’ve talked to many times, and the guy who clearly has an emotional connection to this story, these characters, and this world. He’s a guy who became a father during the course of telling this story, and if the meaning of fatherhood isn’t creeping through the words and thoughts of Heath Huston, I don’t know what else is. Remender has gone on to build quite a career for himself. He’s done a whole lot of work at Marvel comics, as well as plenty of other creator owned series, but this one is special, and I think he’d tell you the same thing. This one is my favorite, by far, in a body of work that is very good and very diverse. While I think it must be bittersweet to shut down the shop on Fear Agent, it must also be a great feeling, as he moves on to the next project, and the next thing. Yet he will always have Fear Agent, at every convention, and it will be one of his showpieces, where he can always look back and say, I did that thing, and I’m proud of it. And he damn well should be.

I think anyone could see it was time to close this one up, and move on to the next thing, but I’m very glad that they (eventually) got around to doing it right. I’m glad I got to see what happened to the incredibly flawed, but well-meaning Heath, and that it fit. I’m glad that this series existed, and gave rise to some incredible careers, some of which we’re seeing, and some of which have much more to be seen. This is the end of a start, and if anyone out there is paying attention, they should be stealing from it liberally. Pour yourself a glass of your favorite whiskey, any kind will do really, and raise it up to Fear Agent, one of the most heartfelt, fun, original, and inventive comic series we’ll see for a long time to come.

Josh Flanagan
A man can’t appreciate the true worth of a day of sunshine with his family.
josh@ifanboy.com

Comments

  1. Well done. You’ve said everything I would want to say about this book and this series. It’s one of my favorites. I’m glad it got the ending it deserved.

  2. This is one of those times where I’m excited by the POTW even though I didn’t get the comic. I’m waiting for the Omnibus Remender keeps mentioning on the Talksplode podcasts. Let’s fire up the printing machines and get that thing going! It sounds awesome and I can’t wait to eventually read this book.

  3. This was really good. Those bittersweet endings always get to me, definitely got a bit misty

  4. Josh thank you for not picking Uncanny X-Men #1 as POTW. I don’t think I could have stomached three X books in a row as the pick. My pick was very close between Swamp Thing and Invincible as both were great this week.

  5. Jeff Lemire and Scott Snyder must have drunk the same john carpenter juice this week

  6. Glad to see Fear Agent to make it POTW.
    While I think Hatchet Job and especially I Against I weren’t as good as the previous storyline (but still pretty good), Out Of Step is back to form again for the final and as good as the best arcs until then, My War.

  7. I read this in trade and have been eagerly awaiting this.
    I actually would argue that The Last Goodbye is the best place to start with this book, despite it being the third trade. Then go back and read the first two. I haven’t read them since they came out so I plan on revisiting them all at once.

  8. I was wondering if hardcover collections have already been announced.

  9. Josh, you suggested I not wait for the Omnibus and actually pick up the trades now. The suggestion was that I could always get the omnibus and sell or give away the trades. I’m glad I listened to your suggestion because this has become my absolute all time favorite series in a comic, ever.

    As I was reading the final issue I thought that perhaps it was going to end just like Strange Girl(if you don’t know the ending I won’t spoil it here). But as it became clear and we got to that panel that solidifies just how it was going to end, I did a triumphant fist pump and lost myself in the emotions.

    This book brought tears to my eyes, never before has a comic did that and I think it shows just how well this series was crafted.

    Excellent review, keep up the good work.

  10. Geebus Josh, I’ll get to it, I promise… right after I re-read Uncanny X-Force for the third time muwahahaha.

    In all seriousness I can tell you guys connect with this comic. As endeared as you all are to it really puts it in the must have category. This is next on my list. I’ll probably try and grab the first few trades around Christmas. You’ve always gotta treat yourself a little during the holidays.

  11. The cover does say it all. One look and you nod and think, yep, that’s how this all should end. And it does!

  12. This seals it, picking up the first trade from Amazon as we speak.

  13. Interesting. I’m not at all familiar with this title. Looks like a good one to try out.

  14. Finally got around to reading FearAgent about 5 months ago, why the hell did I wait so long?! I tore through the first 27 issues in 4 days, and liked it so much I went out and bought issues 28-30, and then 31 and 32 as they were released over the past month, just so I could own the final arc, and feel like I did my part in supporting this fine title. This really is one of the greatest comic stories I have ever read, and if you consider yourself a fan of the medium, you MUST read Fear Agent!

  15. Fine, Josh.

    I get it.

    I’ll order the first couple trades next week.

    Jesus.

  16. One of the most satisfying comic book endings I can remember in a long time! This just left me with a great big smile on my face and a good feeling inside. Heath Huston should be remembered as one of the great characters in any kind of fiction in the last decade, and this was a more than fitting send off. Awesome pick, Josh!

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