Rick Remender's "Fear Agent" #27, in stores now, left alcoholic space hero Heath Hudson in a tight fix—and with only five issues to go before the series conclusion, his fate is anybody's guess. CBR News caught up with Remender to discuss the past and future of his long-running indie sci-fi adventure.
The penultimate chapter of "Fear Agent's" current incarnation wrapped up in July with the release of issue #27 from Dark Horse Comics. The series, one of now-ubiquitous writer Rick Remender's early creator-owned hits, will end after the next five-issue arc, titled "Out of Step," which begins in January. CBR News caught up with Remender to discuss the series, the imminent conclusion, and what comes next.
"Fear Agent" stars rugged Texan space hero Heath Huston, Earth's last defense against the alien hordes looking to destroy us. Heath travels the star ways in much the same fashion a cowboy might have traveled the frontier territories in the Old West—and has thematically similar misfortunes befall him. With the added dangers of time travel, evil doppelgangers, and two alien races fighting over who gets to conquer Earth, Heath, as the last Fear Agent, has a lot on his plate. The "I against I" story arc, which concluded in July's "Fear Agent" #27, found two versions of Heath on their way to the planet Dressin, one taken as a prisoner and the other, in poor physical health, venturing with Char to rescue their daughter Eden. But by the end of the issue, the Dressite threat appears to be resolved and, in Remender's words, "the Tetaldians have come back in a big way."
"This will lead us into our sixth arc, which will pretty well be the most nonlinear story I’ve ever written," Remender said. "Time consumption, the null bang and more Jellybrains… unbridled imagination is the name of the game on this last arc. It’s also a good place to set it down and take a break for a while."
The latest arc had, in addition to the series' usual sci-fi trapping, a strong Western theme mixed in. CBR asked Remender what he enjoyed about mixing various genres into the "Fear Agent" world. "It’s a tone thing. We like sci-fi but it’s necessary to infuse other genres as well for the sake of keeping the series fresh, visually distinctive, and keeping us excited," the writer said. "The last arc will have a very psychedelic, 'Forbidden Planet' meets 'Barbarella' meets '2001: A Space Odyssey' thing going on while holding on tightly to the classic '50s Wally Wood/Frazetta vibe the early issues had. Fans of the series know I like to beat Heath up, I turn it up a notch in this arc."
That psychedelic story will be the last for "Fear Agent" as Remender puts the series on hiatus to focus on his Marvel-exclusive work. "Marvel is cool with me continuing it but we chose to take a break. The story hits the intended ending at issue #32, and readers will finally get a conclusion, no more cliffhangers," Remender told CBR. "It’s a wrap."
He said, though, that Heath will return in the lead up to the "Fear Agent" motion picture. "Over the year or two as the movie stuff moves forward in production I’ll be cooking up the new ongoing relaunch," Remender said.. "We want to plan landmarks in the movement on the film and the relaunch of the series to coincide, that’s the idea right now. It’s also incredibly important to us all to focus on our Marvel work and not fall into the trap of becoming overextended or overexposed. Comics are expensive, if they have our names on them we want to make sure we did all we could to give readers their money’s worth."
"Fear Agent" is, of course, one of Remender's earliest creator-owned projects, and as such the writer said he does feel a certain attachment to Heath and crew. "When you invest so much time in a character -- we created Heath in 2004 -- you become very connected. Writing Heath is a joy, never a moment of pause to catch his voice or wonder how he’d react," Remender said. "I know the character in and out and that makes writing an exercise in showing those nuts and bolts to the reader, it’s just a pleasure to write 'Fear Agent.'"
Mike Hawthorne and Tony Moore, along with inker John Lucas and colorist Lee Loughridge will illustrate the final arc of the current series. "All of these guys have been involved in the series since the 'Last Goodbye' story and I’m glad they’re sticking around for the final act. We’re all very excited about it and think it’ll be worth the wait. I’m guessing we’ll launch it in January 2010."