Comic Valhalla #1: Fear Agent
This is Comic Valhalla. Consider it a way to… shake off writer’s block, rust and, most importantly, ride the rainbow bridge to fantastic comic series that have ended. No real “professional” writing structure, just you and I having a conversation about books that have gone to the drinking halls of comic books that I love and think you should pick up. Hell, worst case is it’ll get some conversation going, hopefully. Bottom line, the goal of this, heading into it, is to try to make it a regular occurrence, or at least semi-regular. Baby steps.
I saw someone on Twitter mention to Rick Remender that he just picked up the two massive volumes of Fear Agent put out by Dark Horse Comics and that got me thinking. Something along the lines of, “Man, I really have to read that again!” followed by, “Well… I have a huge back log so maybe later…” but that was quickly followed up with, “More people need to learn about this series…”
Fear Agent ran between 2005 and 2011 and jumped from Image Comics over to its eventual home with Dark Horse. Written by Rick Remender, it was primarily drawn by Tony Moore and Jerome Opeña, with a few one-shot artists here and there. Now that the technical stuff is over with, let’s get down to business. Fear Agent. That’s why we’re all here, right? Of all the things that Rick Remender has done, and the vast majority (if not all) of them being excellent, this has to be the series that sticks out in my mind the most.
Maybe it’s the almost old-school approach to sci-fi where the science doesn’t really matter and you just go with the flow. Maybe it’s the stellar art and character design from Tony Moore and perennial Remender partner-in-crime Opeña. It’s hard to pinpoint the exact reason that this series sticks out in my mind because it seems to have a little bit of everything to it. Horror, action/adventure, sci-fi, time travel (maybe that falls into the previous point, but whatever) eye patches and more. Fear Agent is witty, and well written, too. The character of Heath is deeply flawed and has had a hard go of it, to put it lightly, and seems to simply be trying to make the most of the shit hand he was dealt.
Through thirty issues (and two MAGNIFICENT hardcover editions put out by Dark Horse), Remender takes you on a journey with Heath. It’s disheartening at times, downright sad at others. He has that budding Remender humor (though at time’s dark humor) that we’ve all come to love about his writing and in that he has a character that, frankly, will stand the test of time. Maybe Heath isn’t a revolutionary character, in that he’s not necessarily breaking new ground per se, but Heath is a character that you want to root for. He’s a character that seems to grab you by the hand and drag you through his crazy life. Rick Remender is a fantastic creator of characters, plain and simple, and Heath just might be his best. I know that in all other Remender series, and there has been many since, it all seems to come back to Heath for me and how this new character he introduces stacks up.
The art and colors are beyond reproach here, too, let’s not forget that. We’re talking about Tony Moore (The Walking Dead), Jerome Opeña (Uncanny X-Force, Seven to Eternity) and maybe to a lesser extent Mike Hawthorne (Deadpool) as well. These guys are giants in the industry now, make no mistake. This series started in 2004, maybe before you even picked up The Walking Dead (though that did come out a little sooner) and certainly before you saw Opeña’s work, I’d think. And now look where they are and who they are. This is like going back to the first demo tape your favorite band, who also happens to be pretty huge currently, put out.
The writing aspect is amazing. The art aspect of this is amazing. The story, as a whole, when looked at like it’s simple one piece is beyond expectation. Fear Agent is a series that will stand the test of time because of the creators involved; it will stand there because of the heart and determination of said creators to make a story they wanted to make and spit in the face of then-conventional wisdom that said sci-fi comics really didn’t have shelf room. Fear Agent is everything and more.
It’s been over a decade since Fear Agent, now, and you’re way behind the times. Pick this up digitally, physically, in the hardcovers, in the trades, hell, BORROW it from your friend with good taste if you have to. This is a series for the ages and one that, in my humble opinion, really helped to put Rick Remender on the map. He, and his co-creators in Moore and Opeña, really pushed the envelope here and it came out spectacularly. Remender even spoke about the series late last year, so here’s some further reading for your brains to digest. If you pick this up, chances are you’re going to love it. In the words of ol’ Rick himself, from the PASTE interview, “…The fans of Fear Agent are real fans, it’s not a casual love affair with the people.” and he couldn’t be more right.