We’re here, friends. This is the end of everything. This is where the Fear Agent universe ends; not with a whimper, but with a bang. The sixth volume of Fear Agent is probably the best written, and for a lot of reasons, I’m not going to rehash the goings-on. It’s a decade old at this point, and it’s a reprint, so I’m not worried about spoilers; it just seems more productive to use this opportunity to talk about the sum total of the series, and not nitpick. This volume is not my favorite by any means, because there are a lot of parts where Remender hands the exposition out to you. But goddammit, if this isn’t the redemptive and violent finale that this series needed. It might not have been the one it deserved, but it fucking works.
The one place where this series truly shines is Remender’s character work. You take a lot of weird goddamn twists and turns with Heath Huston. You head to alien gladiator world, you get addicted to a space heroin patch, you get stranded on other planets in other times, and at no point does his characterization waver: this is not a man to be idolized, but it’s a man who’s trying to do the right thing. Well... like 95% of the time, he is. I know I’ve hated on a lot about this series in the past, but Heath Huston really is the pillar around which the rest of the series turns, and it works the whole time.
My only big problem with this final volume is that it feels rushed, which leads to some clunky expository reveals. There’s a pretty long sequence about halfway through the volume where the mastermind behind all of Heath Huston and the universe’s troubles is revealed. It all makes sense, but it’s revealed in that Sherlockian way where it’s possible to solve the mystery if you have all the pieces, but Remender keeps one piece to himself. It feels like the series took its sweet time for five volumes and then it kicked into sixth-gear for this last one.
The other truly impressive part of this volume for me is the fact that Remender pulls off that rare story where the ending is 100% sappy, a real tearjerker, but it doesn’t ring false. The end of this series is an unequivocally happy one; we see the end of a miserable man and a new beginning for a man who has a chance in this world, and it ends with a fade to white that doesn’t absolve him of what he had to do over the course of 30ish issues, but it at least forgives him.
Here was the story of a man who did what he had to do. It was illustrated well the entire run, by men who went on to become legends. It was written with a solid core, around which it sometimes faltered, and it sometimes grew strong. In the end, there’s nothing we can do that will change the course of our lives, except the one thing we were born to do. It might happen early or it might happen on our deathbed, but we all have a life that means something, and then we die. That’s just the way it is. Fear Agent runs right up to the lines of decency and sometimes crosses them, but it’s a hell of a ride. Well done, Mr. Remender. Well done.
Writer: Rick Remender Artists: Tony Moore, Mike Hawthorne Publisher: Dark Horse Comics Price: $16.99 Release Date: 9/3/14