Indie Comic Review: Fear Agent Library vol. 1

Fear Agent Library vol. 1 by Rick Remender, Tony Moore, and Jerome Opena – Dark Horse Comics – 480 page Hardcover – $49.99

Heath Houston may not be the best guy. Heck, he may not even be a good guy. But, when the chips are down and your back is against the wall, there is no one better to have at your side than the Fear Agent, Heath Houston.

Heath Houston is an interstellar space cowboy/exterminator. Part redneck, part Han Solo, there is almost nothing Houston will do to make a buck. He is down on his luck, perennially almost out of fuel, and down to his last bottle of booze. But he wasn’t always like this. Ten years ago he was a family man on earth. He drove truck, had a wife and son at home, and was pretty pissed at what had become of his Republican party. Life was good.

Until the day the aliens came and destroyed it all.

Earth was collateral damage in a war between two alien species, with a third tagging along to feast on the humans left unprotected. It was brutal, chaotic, and the humans never stood a chance. Now Houston roams the outer reaches of pace, doing his best to get as far away from the memories of the life he once had, and taking his revenge one day at a time.

Rick Remender writes one of the all-time great space operas with Fear Agent. From alien galaxies and powerful weapons, to ragtag groups of freedom fighters doing their best to stay alive against all odds, the world of Fear Agent is totally immersive. Each issue drags the reader deeper into a storyline where the plot twists and pulls into an ever-tightening spiral of tension. Every time it looks like something may finally be resolved, Houston and the reader are rocketed (literally in the case of Houston) into some new scenario where the stakes are just as high and there is the knowledge that everything that has been accomplished so far is probably being undone. No wonder Houston drinks so much!

It would be easy to dismiss Heath Houston as a caricature. He is both literally and figuratively a space cowboy. He has spurs on his space boots, speaks with a Southern drawl, and believes that music started and ended with Hank Williams Sr. But to dismiss him so readily would be a mistake.The beauty of the series Fear Agent is that it is an extended deconstruction of the space cowboy facade. The gusto and bravado which is on display so prominently in the early issues is flayed and left in heap on the floor by the end of this volume. The third book collected in this volume, The Last Goodbye” is a gut-wrenching story which exposes the soul of a character in a way which has rarely been attempted before. It is one of the best five-issue arcs I have ever read in any comic.

Remender is joined in this book by an alternating art team of Tony Moore and Jerome OpeƱa. The two of them work well together, alternating arcs. While there are some subtle differences in how they each portray Houston, overall the transition between the two is quite smooth. It becomes almost a game of one-upmanship as each of them is given an opportunity to create whole new worlds and build on what has come before. there is not a dud page, let alone a dud panel in the entire book!

My only complaint about the collection is the inclusion of the Tales of the Fear Agent strips. These were short stories which were included in some of the individual issues, and were eventually collected into their own trade paperback. There is nothing particularly wrong with any of them. In fact, many of them are quite entertaining. but that is the problem. They come on the heels of the emotional bomb that is the third arc, and they rob it of a bit of its power. I would have preferred that they were included in volume two, or were allowed to just live in their stand alone trade.

Fear Agent is a great book. Scratch that. Fear Agent is an amazing book. It is Star Wars and Firefly rolled into one with a touch of Doctor Who thrown in because time travel should never be attempted by anyone outside of a blue police box. Whether you read Fear Agent the first time around, or missed it completely, this book should be on your shelf. Better yet, buy two and give one as a gift. Guaranteed you will make a new fan of comics with this title.

You can order Fear Agent Library Volume 1 and save almost 50% off! Heck, while you are at it, pre-order Fear Agent Library Edition Volume 2 while you are at it!

Check out a 23 page preview of the book here.

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