The recently concluded fifth arc of Fear Agent, I Against I, concluded earlier this year and the creative team is taking a brief pause before barreling into the final storyarc of the Fear Agent saga. At the end of issue 27, the last remaining Fear Agent Heath Huston got the biggest shocker yet – one we shouldn't spoil here for those waiting for the trade shipping in January – that makes Heath question what the whole battle been for, and where he should go from here.
Seeing Heath out of sorts and caught off-guard is a regular occurrence in Fear Agent. Writer Rick Remender, along with artists Tony Moore, Jerome Opena and Mike Hawthorne have excelled at taking him into the heights of space while keeping him down on his luck – the constant underdog, but with the cahones to fight back. When this series first debuted, Remender said the book was a response to the fact that "science fiction has lost its stones", and through the twenty-seven issues of this series, Heath Huston has upped the macho-quotient to the squeaky clean stereotypical sci-fi fare.
With the team scheduled to begin the last story arc, "Out Of Step", in early 2010, we talked with series creators Remender and Moore about the man, the myth, and the end of Fear Agent.
Newsarama: Why so soon, Rick? What led you to doing this final storyarc of Fear Agent?
Rick Remender: This arc ends the first big story, the story that began with issue #1. Crazy but it’s all been just one big story. So we want to take a break, walk away from it, let it cool off so we can approach it with a new fresh perspective and new ideas for an eventual relaunch.
Tony Moore: Like Rick said, it's not a airtight ending, of course, but the ongoing space opera that's spanned these last 27 issues does have a purpose and eventually comes to a head. It's a natural time for it, since Rick and I, along with all the great guys we've brought in to bring this thing to fruition, have been doing this thing for a long time and have started getting some dandy gigs at Marvel, so we've decided that we should wrap this story up for a bit so that we can ride the creative wave we're on over at the House of Ideas.
Nrama: When will the previous story arc, I Against I, come out in trade?
Remender: It ships the first week of January. Just in time for you to be out of money from Christmas. But you’ll find the money, we trust you have means to a Stringer Bell package you can put out on the street.
Nrama: Okay, enough beating around the bush – what is this upcoming, concluding storyarc of Fear Agent about?
Remender: The universe might be the external representation of a Jellybrain’s dream, The Null Bang will happen, The Tetaldian revolution has happened, and Heath Huston is dead. The distant future is where the action happens and there is a guy who looks a lot like Heath’s dad there.
The art team will be Mike Hawthorne, Tony Moore and John Lucas. These guys have all been involved in the last arc as well as throughout the series. We’re well into it now and it’s all gorgeous stuff.
Moore: Yes, Mike Hawthorne, John Lucas, and I are all tag-teaming these pages. Mike's doing some fantastic pencils and his storytelling is much more fluid and dynamic than my own. Then I'm going in and pencilling in some of the gear and odds and ends, and doing finishes on the heads. Then Lucas comes in and polishes off everything with his masterful inks and ties it all together. This way, it still reads as part of the ongoing story without a jarring change in artistic style from the previous issues, and the process gets these guys paid without the delays that come with me juggling 2 penciling jobs. It's a winning situation for everyone.
Nrama: In the last issue, we saw the Dressites taken care of but the Tetaldians bearing down. How much of this did you have planned out in the beginnings of the series?
Remender: It’s all in the first treatment. The first outline has all the basic beats up to and through Out of Step. To be honest, back in 2004 when I wrote it I had no idea in hells hot halitosis we’d ever see the entire thing happen. A creator-owned Sci-Fi book? If you remember 2004, Sci-Fi was dead as dead. There was nothing going on. I take full credit for it’s resurgence and for anything made in the genre from then on out and demand royalties. How’s that for arrogant AND entitled?
Nrama: Although classically sci-fi, a real western vibe has permeated the comic - especially in the latter issues. What do you see as the big inspirations for the series as a whole?
Moore: Well, obviously, EC's library from the 1950s has been the biggest influence. We're geeks over all that stuff and this series has been our love letter to that stuff, filtered through our modern influences. I think our generation of creators is an interesting meld, because as artists, we adore EC's craftsmen like Wally Wood, John Severin, Will Elder, and Jack Davis, but we grew up on the big action of the late 80's and 90's, but also came up through the indie scene, where we ingested healthy doses of work by guys like Jamie Hewlett, Evan Dorkin, and Bob Fingerman. Add in our cinematic and TV influences like Sergio Leone, David Milch, and a dash of Rod Serling and Gene Roddenberry, and I guess what comes out the other side is something that looks like what we're doing with Fear Agent. A big explosive space western with grit and some deep dark moments of personal weakness and vulnerability.
Nrama Rick, what say you about this book's inspirations?
Remender: Start as a youth playing with the classic Mego Star Trek toys, grow a bit older and discover EC comics, a toss in a ton of Sci-Fi films, Big Trouble in Little China, pour into a pie crust made of Kurtman and Jack Davis war comics, baked in a searing oven powered by Wally Wood, Johnny Cash, Hank Williams and Sergio Leone. Fear Agent then comes out of the oven and fucks your wife, dog and neighbor(s).
Nrama: Although classically sci-fi, a real western vibe has permeated the comic – especially in the latter issues. What do you see as the big inspirations for the series as a whole?
Nrama: Flipping through the old issues while preparing for this, I noticed how Heath tends to get beat up - a lot. Bloody noses are just the beginning of it. Do you have it out for Heath?
Remender: Yeah, that dude needs to get taken down a notch. No, obviously I like him, he’s about my favorite character to write, but I like to write him beaten to shit and way out of his depths. Maybe it’s symbolic, sort of mirroring life. I guess I feel a lot like that so it comes into a few of the books I write. Overwhelming odds to get what you want and you’re going to get beat the fuck out of you everyday on your way there.
Nrama: Are you guys going to be doing anything special, promotion- or appearance-wise, to ring in the final issues in 2010?
Moore: We'll be doing our best to promote it online as much as possible, but aside from that and Dark Horse's efforts, I'll be pretty much grounded with work, so i don't see myself doing any signing tours or anything like that in the near future. We might end up with something figured out nearer the release, but as of now, i know i don't have anything to speak of.
Remender: I want to plan a naked Roman style man-party. Need to find the right store in the right city, Gotta get all the team out for it if we do.
Nrama I think this is the first Tony's heard of this, Rick.
Remender: Need lots of green salad dressing, sanitary napkins, and disposable cameras. But seriously, I’d like to have some night to commemorate what we did, you know, to celebrate myself.
Nrama: Don't go shopping just yet Rick... I wanted to ask about the news of a Fear Agent movie. What can you tell us about that?
Remender: It was sort of announced and sort of it leaked. The details are being ironed out, the real announcement will be much cooler and come with fireworks and dancing ladies with boobs. If this happens the way it might happen, it’ll be great.
Nrama: So Tony, how would you like to see a Fear Agent movie turn out?
Moore: I know Rick and I both would love to see Jon Hamm don the spacesuit. After seeing Mad Men, we're convinced he's our guy. In the end, it couldn't be made too slick, you know? Abandoning the Atomic Age aesthetic would undermine a big part of what it's about, high adventure with that sense of danger and bravery that goes with WW2 heroes and Apollo 11 astronauts. So the insides of the rocket would still have to feel like a submarine, the weapons would have to look like cool old kids' toys, and the monsters would still have to be built like they walked off a pulp cover. Otherwise, you end up with some kinda soulless overbaked garbage like that Lost in Space movie. There hasn't really been much of this brand of fun in Hollywood, so i think it could be an interesting new voice in a sea of ho-hum remakes and spoof flicks.