I discovered Rick Remender doing awesome things with the Uncanny Avengers and Captain America with the launch of Marvel Now!, but it turns out Remender has been doing awesome things in comics for quite some time, and I’m talking well before his renowned run on Marvel’s Uncanny X-Force. Back in the day, circa 2005-2006, Remender and artist Tony Moore, known for providing the art for numerous books by Robert Kirkman and Remender, including the very beginnings of The Walking Dead, brought into the world a creative callback to the rough-and-tumble pulp days of science fiction with Fear Agent. Filled with over-the-top action, showboating, wisecracks, weird and wild aliens, a hero with a cowboy complex, and a scientist who puts the sexy in science, Fear Agent careens through your imagination, tearing up the furniture and flinging open all the windows, letting its outlandish adventures ransack your rational mind.
Following the exploits of Heath Huston, the self-proclaimed final Fear Agent, now a for-hire alien exterminator, Remender and Moore thrust us into a nifty and engrossing sci-fi world, steeped in history and bristling with familiarity we aren’t familiar with yet. But, this works, because Heath and his surroundings, including Annie, the A.I. that runs his spaceship, feel lived in and natural. It’s obvious Heath has been through the ringer, and before the four issues comprising this first volume conclude, he’ll be put through the ringer more than a few more times. Thanks to his past, which slowly comes into focus as the story progresses, Heath has adopted a reckless, loose cannon, drunk-is-the way-to-work ethos, and we get the sense that he’s living day to day and barely at that – especially if he’s out of whiskey. This book has all the grit and gristle that make science fiction great: snazzy spacesuits and high-tech weapons; tentacled aliens; time travel; distant worlds locked in technological civil war; and nefarious plots with far-reaching consequences, their machinations shrouded in mystery. And, at the center of it all is hard drinkin’, hard livin’ Huston, getting in way over his head, doing his best to stay in one piece, and willing to put it all on the line to save the day.
Moore’s art is chock full of immense detail, from the character and alien designs to the various unique environments and situations that Huston finds himself in, and it’s all brought to life with a crackling vivacity by a highly skilled team. Fear Agent is overflowing with action set pieces that explode off the page thanks to Moore’s intricate pencils, enhanced by Sean Parsons and Mike Manley’s inks, and tying it all together are Lee Loughridge’s fantastic colors. The color palette captures the vast expanse of outer space and the variety of unknown and unbelievable things out there, just waiting to be found. The art, as a whole, perfectly conveys Huston’s hardscrabble existence, and Rus Wooton’s lettering firebrands the danger and immediacy of Huston’s line of work boldly across the pages, peppering many scenes with sound effects that you can see and actually hear, adding to your investment in Huston’s predicaments.
This first volume, titled Re-Ignition, ends on a maliciously delicious cliffhanger, and if no more had been written, then I would have felt cheated and probably incited a one-man reader’s revolt, but, luckily, the world of Fear Agent continued for many more issues, and over time Dark Horse will be re-releasing the entirety of Huston’s outer-space adventures into new collections brimming with humor, aliens, and intergalactic battles, all involving the haunted man of action. In addition, this new volume contains all the original covers by Moore, as well as some sketches providing a glimpse into just how detailed Moore’s pencils really are, and how Huston transitioned from pencils to inks to colors. Hopefully, later volumes will even include a few pages from Remender’s scripts. If you’ve never experienced Fear Agent, then this is the absolutely best place to start. So, buy a ticket, strap in, and brace yourself, because you’re in for one out-of-this-world ride, and this spaceship has just taken off.