Dark Horse’s 2nd edition of Fear Agent Volume 2: My War is a little bit of a shame. It’s the best edition this story has seen so far, but this is the point where the story starts to get old for me. We pick up from the last volume sort of in the middle of Heath’s battle with the Jellybrains on behalf of the Monkey Aliens who are also fighting the Tetaldians (yeah, it’s messed up). This volume eventually sees Heath [spoilertown:] make another jump through time, get hella addicted to space heroin patches, finally make it with Mara, and reunite with the new Fear Agents, including their leader, President of... the United States, I guess? I don’t know if the US still exists in this brave new future. It’s fun space adventure, it just errs towards the direction of “too many things going on at once.”
Remender digs himself into a hole in his pursuit of relentless space action. Every time he hits an action beat, it plays really well. The fight scenes, the chase scenes, what have you, all feel really natural and Opeña knocks them out of the park. His overall plot is really interesting and fun to follow in terms of twists and turns and “this person’s not REALLY dead,” and so on. It’s when there’s supposed to be character or emotional beats that cracks start to show. When Mara confesses to wanting to screw Heath, it comes off as weird, teenage-boy wish fulfillment (she’s in a device that won’t allow her to lie in a courtroom, so she obviously blurts that she wants to have hot “monkey sex” with Heath. Obviously.) Also, Remender obviously has a distaste for red staters, as anyone reading Deadly Class has probably figured out, so he tends to write Heath as the cartoony version of a Texan. At one point, Heath says, and I’m quoting, “ding-dong hoobity-dee.” I mean... what? No one on any planet in any time period has ever said that.
The one beat he really nails in the entire series is in issue 3 of this collection. Heath is in prison separated from his drinks, and he resorts to “cleroin” which is the aforementioned space heroin patch. It’s so addictive that there’s a 0% success rate in recovery, so he’ll always be addicted to it. It’s the moment where this guy who literally never wins and who pushes everyone away from being on his side, this guy is in desperate need for something to scratch the itch that he can’t. He turns to something terrible. We’ve all done it, on some scale, and it’s a terrible place to be. It’s a daring place for Remender to take the character, and I wish we could have lived in it a little bit longer.
Jerome Opeña has a lot of saves in this collection. Whenever Heath’s antics seem backwards, or the cowboy-isms start to get in the way of a moment, Opeña is there, rescuing the whole damn operation with the most lovingly-rendered exploding alien brains you’ve ever seen. Seriously, even if this series was being written by a talentless hack, Opeña’s art would make it worth the slog. Luckily, Remender’s story is fun to follow, so it’s a lot of fun watching Heath land in demolished Texas among the Feeder aliens and proceeding to fight them in the most violent, gutsy way possible. And I mean gutsy when I say it.
This is another excellent collection by Dark Horse. The chapters all get divided up with old-school style one-sheets advertising “daring adventure! Thrilling action!” and such, which is a cool touch. I don’t know if they re-did the colors or not, but it looks like they have. They’re incredibly smooth and vivid.
If you’re a Remender fan, this is a good one to have. Not much in the way of bonus material, but an excellent reprint of a fun space romp. If you haven’t picked up Fear Agent, this is in no way a good place to start. Stick with volume one. If you’re a casual reader, this is a good library borrow, as an interesting view into where Remender came from.
Writer: Rick Remender Artist: Jerome Opena Publisher: Dark Horse Comics Price: $16.99 Release Date: 5/7/14 Format: TPB, Print/Digital