‘Fear Agent Volume Six: Out of Step’ – TPB Review

This is it, the conclusion of Fear Agent.  The final five issues, twenty-eight through thirty-two, are brought together in Volume Six: Out of Step, and they perfectly tie up the series, not in a neat, little bow, but in a tangled knot of emotions, violence, pain, sacrifice, hope, and retribution that does justice to the sorrows, struggles, and successes of Heath Huston, the last Fear Agent.  This is the last hurrah for Huston, and everything is on the line.  Everything has been on the line for Huston before, but this time, here at the end, the entire universe is on the line, the fate of existence lies in the hands of Huston, and he’s up to the challenge.

I cannot get into the details of the story without blowing some of the amazing twists and reveals that writer and co-creator Rick Remender has woven into this captivating finale, but suffice it to say that events from Huston’s past come back to haunt him in the most unexpected of ways.  All of Huston’s time traveling and dimension jumping have led to him ruining and restoring his life and his world over and over again but have also made him an anomaly existing outside of traditional time, and, instead, he exists within his own time stream.  He is out of step with the universe, and the insane, elaborate science fiction that Remender has been developing throughout the entire series comes to a head here.  All roads lead to either absolute destruction or salvation; there is no in-between.  The art in this final volume is, at times, rough and grizzled, just like Huston, and it exquisitely encapsulates Huston’s last-ditch effort to save the universe.  All beauty is gone, all light has been extinguished, and all Huston has to hold on to is what once was, what he once had, and what he owes those who are gone.  His past is the only thing keeping him alive, because there is no future unless he succeeds.

Co-creator Tony Moore and Mike Hawthorne provide pencils as detailed and intricate as the story is labyrinthine, and in Huston’s face is all of the failure, hate, love, loss, triumph, and sadness of a life lived far beyond humanity’s emotional boundaries and even beyond human existence.  The weight of the world is on Huston’s shoulders, and the weight of those he’s lost is on his heart, and all that weight can break a man, or make a man.  Moore and Hawthorne bring that struggle to vivid life, and Josh Lucas enhances those visceral visuals with his lean inks, creating shadows in Huston’s surroundings and in Huston’s face.  The world he once knew is now only a memory, a shadow, a ghost, and Lucas’ inks convey that deep sense of loss, while also electrifying his present battle against the most powerful enemies he has ever encountered.  Lee Loughridge’s colors explode all over the page, maintaining an amazing consistency between all the various timelines and time frames, drenching the story in menace and glimmers of hope. And, as always, Rus Wooton keeps it all coherent thanks to his solid, decisive lettering, separating the myriad alien races with distinct lettering styles and blending Huston’s fantastic narration seamlessly into the action.

Fear Agent is one of the most incredible, fun, mind-warping, sci-fi pulp series I have ever read, and while I am sad to have finished it, I am excited to have followed Heath Huston all the way from the beginning to the very end.  If you haven’t read any Fear Agent, then go back and start with volume one, Re-Ignition, and get a glimpse of the wonders that await you, because you can’t even begin to fathom where things go from there. But, if you’re like me and up to speed with Huston’s trials and tribulations, then revel in the glorious conclusion of this masterful, epic series, and know that it will stay with you forever.  Fear Agent is a part of your past, your present, and your future, and the reckless determination and fiery resilience of Heath Huston flows through your veins.  You’ll always be ready for action when the need arises.  And, you’ll always want a rocket pack.

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