Fear Agent is one of those books that many people have said is worth reading. I once picked up the first trade, and while it was enjoyable enough, I admit I didn’t get what folks were praising. Sure, I’m a big fan of Rick Remender, Tony Moore, and Jerome Opena, so what is there not to like? My experience with sci-fi/pulp heroes is limited, so I also admit I’m a bit behind on really having a grasp of the concept on which Fear Agent is built. But when I saw that Dark Horse was putting out the first volume Omnibus, I jumped at the chance to read more and get a wider look at what Fear Agent is all about.
For the uninitiated, Fear Agent centers on Heath Huston, a cross between Buzz Lightyear, Han Solo, and Stone Cold Steve Austin. He flies around in a spaceship named Annie while basically staying drunk 24/7. In typical sci-fi fashion, he goes on many adventures, blasting alien scum from around the universe. The first arc sets up the premise of the series and gives hints that there may be more to Heath than the stereotypical drunken hero. He and a woman named Mara get caught up in an intergalactic war through time and space.
But this story really becomes special around the third arc entitled “The Last Goodbye,” which is a flashback tale of Heath’s origin. Remender fleshes out his back story really well, deepening Heath’s character beyond the person he’s first introduced as, and making him a truly well-rounded and tragic character. Remender is a master of good characterization, and it’s wonderful to see that before his career really took off at Marvel, he produced something of this quality. I can see now why he’s the commodity Marvel brought on board. Remender also surrounds Heath with a truly remarkable supporting cast and makes the reader really care about them as they go through the hellish reality of alien invasion.
Tony Moore and Jerome Opena are now well-known commodities themselves, and here we get to see some of their best and brightest work. In my view, this is among both artists’ best work, surpassing even their current Marvel work. Moore’s Fear Agent has a very similar feel to his early issues of The Walking Dead, only with the excellent colors of Lee Loughridge. Opena’s work in this book is much less painted like his current work, and more typically penciled and inked, joined by Michelle Madsen on colors. Both Moore and Opena complement each other with clean lines, great alien designs, and superior layouts.
Since this is an omnibus, there are all kinds of great extras in the book, including a slew of back-up stories by many great creators like Francesco Francavilla, Steve Niles, and Rafael Albuquerque. Even the back-up stories include superb art and plots.
I now say that my first impressions of this book were unfounded, and this is a good example of a book that if you read the whole story, you find that it’s much greater than the sum of its parts. This is the book that made Remender, Moore, and Opena the successes they are today. If you want to see the progression of their talent, this is the book you need to pick up.
I simply can’t wait until volume 2 comes out!