With the release of Rick Remender’s “Black Science” earlier this week, Bloody-Disgusting thought it time to revisit the second volume of “Fear Agent.”
The series is the spiritual prequel to “Black Science” featuring alcoholic Texan roughneck Heath Houston as the last remaining Fear Agent. The series is notable for its emphasis on balls to the wall action, insane creatures, and complete disregard for actual science. It was designed to be a tribute to the medium, break all the rules, and even make a few of its own.
The second volume “My War” launches directly from the events of the first arc. The story is anything but predictable and manages to make some serious character changes along the way. The result is another wildly entertaining romp through space and time that will drop your jaw to the ground.
Jerome Opeña takes over on pencils from Tony Moore, but the shift is hardly noticeable. Opeña’s style is very reminiscent of Moore’s gritty work from the earlier volume and at times manages to outdo it. “Fear Agent” never lets up and somehow manages to become even more thrilling in this second volume.
Every moment that I thought I could predict where the narrative of this volume was headed Remender proved me dead wrong. See “Fear Agent” is written with this unprecedented sense of urgency that allows the story to take hard sharp turns without ever feeling jarring. The world constantly builds upon itself and with every issue Heath Huston’s predicament is different and more difficult.
The story follows the ramifications of the last arc and brings us back to a war torn Earth between times. We see Heath’s character develop into a more complicated and fragile man. The roots of his drinking are a little less murky. The nature of his roguish ways is somewhat revealed. He is inherently more exposed than the last volume and he’s better for it.
Remender does an incredible job at throwing even more genre tropes into the story. He doesn’t linger on any of them long enough for them to derail the adventure, so instead it becomes this beautiful smorgasbord of science fiction. Everything from the genre is at play here, but everything builds off what came before. It’s a complicated way to express that it’s awesome. If you’re a fan of science fiction, “Fear Agent” has something to offer you, and it offers it with a sense of confidence that isn’t afraid to augment what you know about it.
Opeña’s art is brisk, brutal, and beautiful. His sense of pacing allows the book to rocket forward with each successive page. His attention to background characters even makes something like an intergalactic tribunal interesting to look at. While the hell he physically puts Heath through shows new sides of the hero.
Together Opeña and Remender tell a story about how Heath has failed. How his rip-roaring fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants attitude has ultimately condemned him to a life of isolation. They tear him down, only to rebuild him as a hero. Yet, once celebrated as a hero, he no longer seems to believe in himself. Which was all he had before. It serves as a fantastic deconstruction of the confidence behind the man and raises all sorts of questions as why he was on his own when we first met him.
“My War” is a success on every level. The art is absolutely staggering. I mean, where else will you see a gigantic crab man get his skull caved in? On top of that, Remender pulls away the veils that his characters were hiding behind. Through this exposure, we learn more about the secrets they harbor. All amongst the backdrop of time travel, intergalactic tribunals, and the domination of Earth.
The series continues to impress. Each single issue is a totally exciting adventure that manages to take the story somewhere new by its conclusion. Very few comics manage to tread new ground with every 20 odd pages but “Fear Agent” makes it look easy.
“Black Science” # 3 drops on Janurary 22nd, look for a review of “Fear Agent: The Last Goodbye” later that week.
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