‘Fear Agent Volume Five: I Against I’ - TPB Review

I am here to bring to your attention once more the outrageous and unbelievable adventures, trials, and feats of bravura insanity that make up the existence of Fear Agent Heath Huston.  Continuing down his uniquely oscillating path of self-destruction and self-sacrifice in this fifth volume, I Against I, Huston finds himself coming face to face with his own worst self.  The complexities and intricacies of that encounter I will let you discover for yourself, because the Fear Agent co-creators, writer Rick Remender and artist Tony Moore, have a plethora of mind-warping shocks and surprises in store for Huston, and just as he is blindsided by these revelations, so should you be, too, intrepid reader.

For some reason, Fear Agent brings out the hyperbole in me, and I approach my reviews with an onslaught of verbose adjectives, riddling my writing with joyous excitement and unchecked enthusiasm.  I think part of this is due to my attempt to capture the incredibleness, the incredulousness, the pure outlandishness of this elaborate, time-leaping universe and dimension-spanning science fiction magnum opus, and the only way I know how to do that is to make my review as bombastic, at least in my language, as the story, not to mention Huston, is itself.  Whether I succeed in that mission is not for me to judge, but for you to decide.  Just know that with each Fear Agent review, I give my all and write what I feel is right.  I think I may be identifying too heavily with Huston, dear reader, though his challenges - physical, emotional, and spiritual - I would wish on no one, but as storytelling they are stuff of legend.  The other reason that I can point to for my extravagant verbiage is that I absolutely love Fear Agent.  Huston’s world is torn apart, destroyed, and reborn again and again, just as my mind is blown away with each subsequent volume.

As in all of Fear Agent, this volume is overflowing with righteous indignation, unbridled emotion, explosive violence, and inexplicable circumstances.  Confusion and the struggle to embrace the unexplainable runs deep in this story, and it is par for the course when you encounter as many hostile, all-powerful alien races and sci-fi anomalies as Huston.  Adding aggravation and insult to many, many injuries, just when he thinks he may have caught his break, something blows up, or is murdered, right in his face, and, often times, perhaps in some roundabout, time-fracturing way, other times in obvious, malicious ways, Huston is to blame.  He is a science fiction Sisyphus, always trying to succeed, only to be foiled repeatedly, success seeming futile.  But still, Huston never gives up, and we cannot stop reading as he defies all odds, pushing his psyche beyond the breaking point, willing himself to stay alive, if not for a chance at happiness, then for a chance at revenge.  Tony Moore’s art displays the anguish, the malaise, the joy, that Huston experiences as he finds and loses those close to him, stranded on a strange planet, surrounded by the unknown and the frustratingly bizarre, while worlds away alien machinations are churning to apocalyptic ends.  Moore relishes in every single sci-fi detail, and as always the scope feels intergalactic.  He embraces the intensity of Huston and unleashes the Fear Agent’s emotions on the page with sometimes grisly, sometimes heartbreaking precision. 

For a hard-living, hard-drinking outer-space anti-hero, Huston has a universe of emotions roiling and boiling inside him, and they aren’t all anger.  He is plagued with regret, haunted by sadness, and poisoned by betrayal.  His emotions are on the brink of going supernova, kept in check only by the desire to set things right, or to move on out of the present into the future.  Huston is a man with no family, or worse a man who cannot hold onto his family, or even call them his family.  He is torn asunder and will take respite in any form he can, even if it comes from forgetting everything at the bottom of a bottle.  The dimensions, levels, and layers of Remender’s space adventure are staggering, and you will gladly find yourself leafing through past volumes to try and locate the anomaly that led to Huston’s most recent conflagration, which keeps the story, past, present, and future, alive and kicking, a living, breathing, ever-changing entity.  This is art as sci-fi pulp, and nothing will stir up your imagination and get inside your skull like Fear Agent.

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