Fear Agent Volume Three careens headlong into the past, revealing the history that writer Rick Remender has been teasing and tempting us with for the last two volumes, spurred on by the desolateness of the Heath Huston of now. The past is like a flood that comes crashing over Heath, and we get caught up in its deadly undertow, dragged along through the memories of Heath’s triumphs and tribulations. The almost mythic story escalates fast into insurmountable alien obstacles, and then somehow goes beyond that with sci-fi shock and awe and damaged, desperate character choices. We know how Heath is in the present, and in The Last Goodbye we learn why, and that revelation is dark, destructive, and heart-crushingly irreparable.
This volume is full of calamity, devastating loss, and last-ditch efforts. The circumstances and challenges raise your ire and rend your heart, and yet with what we know from the future, it all makes sense in the end and everything fits into place. There are equal parts sadness and excitement, emotional drama and action, all wrapped up in science fiction of the highest order. The story is told on the grandest of scales: a small contingent of humanity’s last hope bands together in a courageous attempt to salvage the earth and save mankind after an obliterating alien attack. Remender pushes the sci-fi genre to the extreme, presenting us with climatic outer-space battles and desperate struggles to survive and to protect a planet gone to pot, because it is all we have left. Tony Moore is back, this time just on pencils, while Ande Parks and Rick Remender provide inks, as we travel back into Heath’s scarred memory, reliving the end of his everyday life and witnessing the origin of the Fear Agents, all part and parcel to the malicious events that transform him into the wretched, self-loathing, and yet often times heroic individual he has let himself become.
While Heath is a victim of some horrendous circumstances, he still makes selfish, questionable, dangerous, and downright vicious choices that continue to haunt his psyche, weighing down on him and crushing any joy that might try and make its way into his fallow life. As brave and self-sacrificing as he may sometimes be, Heath is far from a saint, and Remender doesn’t let him off the hook for his choices. Moore’s art relays the pent-up rage and frustrated incredulousness that Heath must release on his enemies and on the world around him in order to survive, at least the way he sees it. Lee Loughridge’s color palette is full of anger, adventure, and regret, and, as always, Rus Wooton’s excellent lettering connects everything with perfectly nuanced clarity. Never has Heath’s cause been so just, but not everything is as it seems, especially in times of war, intergalactic or otherwise. Love is dangerous in this volume, because it makes the pain of loss so much greater, but even more so it makes the fear of loss so potent that unchecked it can become all-consuming, to the detriment of everyone. Heath’s emotions have never run so high, his blood boiling until only an ether of rage remains, and, by the end of this volume, he has possibly destroyed his own soul. Heath has made for himself a world of regret, and Remender and Moore make his pain palpable, and it is staggering. This is the birth of the Fear Agents, and the emotional death of Heath Huston. This is The Last Goodbye.