Back to the Beginning with "Fear Agent"

Many great stories have been told "backwards." By this I mean an adventure with a feature character is told, but the origin of said character is revealed in subsequent installments. For example, fans didn't learn how Vito Corleone came into power until "The Godfather Part II." And nobody had any idea why Darth Vader turned to the Dark Side until the most recent installments of the film franchise.

Heck, look at how many years it's taken us to learn the origin of Wolverine (and I still don't think they're done).

Well, it's time to learn the beginnings of one of my favorite comic book heroes, Fear Agent. Created by Rick Remender and Tony Moore, "Fear Agent" tells the tale of Heath Huston, a rugged alcoholic Texas spaceman who works as an alien exterminator of sorts. In addition to learning the character's origin, this new issue is also significant because it marks the move of the book to its new publisher, Dark Horse. CBR News managed to wrangle the book's creators for an interview to find out more about this move and what fans can look forward to in this latest offering sci-fi fun.

To begin with, this is the first issue you've done through Dark Horse. Did the transition from Image go okay? Any bumps or "lessons learned" along the way?

Tony Moore: Everything seemed to transition well to me. Maybe I wasn't paying attention. I definitely learned to take advantage of the lead-time, because it'll always disappear faster than expected. At least this time, I managed to actually do something with it as it fleeted.

Rick Remender: Dark Horse has shown us a ton of love and welcomed us with open arms (Journey anyone?). We've been doing creator-owned books long enough to have learned most of the hard lessons by now, and the Dark Horse staff are complete professionals, so it's been a smooth and easy process.

Glad to hear it. I know there are several plans for "Fear Agent" to appear in various forms at the moment. Can you remind me when we can expect the second trade, and update us on "Tales of the Fear Agent?"

RR: The second trade ships in May and it is a thing of beauty. Seeing all of Jerome Opena's love drenched throughout 136 pages in one volume is pretty great. There will be a "Tales of the Fear Agent" trade collecting all the previous installments as well as seven or eight new ones. There will be a "Tales of the Fear Agent" one-shot by myself and my "Strange Girl" coconspirator Eric Nguyen between Tony and Jerome's story arcs as well so there are plenty of standalone stories coming up.

Cool. What is the current plan for the ongoing series? I recall that you mentioned you wanted to be an ongoing series of miniseries? Does this mean fans can still expect the book monthly? And how will that work for the numbering?

TM: The new numbering setup will be like "Hellboy" and "BPRD." Each story arc will be an individually numbered series with its own #1, with each story culminating individually but also acting as an addition to the overall "Fear Agent" mythos.

RR: This format gives Tony and Jerome an opportunity to really dump all the love they can into each issue. It will also help keep us monthly from here on out.

Tony, it sounds like you're going to be busy with "Fear Agent." How does your work on this book affect your other ongoing title, "The Exterminators?"

TM: I've got fill-ins to help smooth it out, and I think everything should go okay. There's bound to be some hell along the way, but that's the price I pay for having two loves.

For those new to the book, how would you describe it? And how would you describe what a Fear Agent is?

RR: This first arc at Dark Horse is the origin of what the Fear Agents were. Basically, trucker Heath Huston returns home after months on the road to find his troubles have only just begun as Earth is attacked by the three feuding alien races. Within hours, nearly every living creature on Earth is obliterated, leaving Heath and his wife Charlotte trapped in the middle of a nightmare with nowhere out. This leads to Heath creating a small liberation force known as the Fear Agents.

TM: "Fear Agent" overall is a love letter to the great classic EC comics of the 1950s, in all their genres. The origin arc here, though, is more in the vein of Joe Kubert and Russ Heath war comics, with a sci-fi spike.

Tony, between "The Exterminators," "Fear Agent," and "Walking Dead," you do a lot of books that deal with the end of the world, murder and mayhem. Do you ever just want to draw a book about rainbows and unicorns?

TM: Last I checked, I'm a man! I eat meat and get dirty and break stuff. I make comics for manly men!

Allright, true, we've seen you in person and you most definitely are a man, so no rainbows and unicorns for you. But, which is the most difficult to draw – bugs, aliens or zombies? And which do you enjoy drawing the most and why?

TM: Aliens have definitely proven to be the biggest challenge, because they have to feel familiar without being trite, and original without losing the aesthetic we're shooting for. My basement holds more than enough reference for the other two subjects. As for which I like most, could you ask a parent to pick which child they love most? Frankly, I'm appalled.

...it's alien monsters.

Tony, how do you design an alien without subconsciously falling back on alien designs from other artists or mediums (movies, TV, etc.)?

TM: I guess in some way I avoid the subconscious trap by consciously looking at classic monster designs and finding what I like in them and what I can change or augment to make something new out of it for this story.

With this new series, we're finally learning about the origin of Heath as a Fear Agent. Why did you decide to tell this story now?

RR: This is the right place to tell the origin. The other events in Heath's life have raised a lot of questions and it's time to answer some before we set up an entire new batch.

TM: Really, we had to do it sometime and this definitely seemed like a good place to relaunch. We've had the story figured out for forever, and this was a pretty natural fit.

Makes sense. How long have you known his origin?

RR: I wrote the basic origin beats before I wrote the first story arc. It was important to know what lead to Heath's current misfortunes. Once the beats were laid out, Tony and Jerome and I discussed more specifics about the story as production on the series progressed. There is so much good stuff in these issues, I'm very pleased with the end result.

TM: That whole situation was pretty integral to figuring out why Heath was a spaceman, and who these main alien races were and why he hated them. We ironed out the specifics recently, but the general premise was down very early on.

What can you tell me about the story? And who are the main characters of this arc?

RR: Heath Huston is one of only a handful of humans who live through an alien invasion. He's been through the hell we all must one day face. Thank God for that, because there exists no better stage to tell a two-fisted, sci-fi war story than during earth's unavoidable first invasion. What could be more desperate or perilous? War against other humans is one thing, but as terrible as it is it doesn't compare to what the unavoidable alien invasion will bring. The soldiers of the coming war will no longer be fighting for nation or God but for the survival of all mankind. It will be time for our species to stand tall and show those crumby alien fascists what we're made of. Heath did it; this is the story of how.

The other characters are friends and neighbor who all survived the attack hiding in bomb shelters and whatnot. Some are familiar faces and others are new characters who will play larger rolls in the future.

TM: I'm loving drawing this stuff. I hope it shows.

All you have to do is look at the work you've done on the series thus far and you're love of drawing this stuff, as you say, comes screaming off the page. Now, after this origin arc, are we just going to hop back to where you left off at Image?

TM: The story is framed in a way to blend the old stuff with the new, and get our boy tossed back into the fire ASAP.

RR: Yeah, Jerome is almost done with his first issue now and it takes place right after the events in issue #10 of the Image run. The pages are the best of his life. He and Tony both are doing the work of their careers. Ande Parks' inks really make Tony shine.

In addition to learning how he became a Fear Agent in this origin, will we learn about how he became the last Fear Agent?

TM: Who's this Darth Vader guy? Is Kevin Spacey Keyser Soze? Was Bruce Willis dead and that's why the kid was talking to him? Cripes, man! Enjoy the story and find out!

RR: You will indeed learn why he believes he is the last Fear Agent.

All right! What can you tell us about the Frank Cho and Jack Davis incentive covers?

TM: Davis was on our short list of heroes to approach. I took the initiative to hunt him down, and asked if he was interested. He really enjoyed the book, and was excited to pitch in, which is a dream come true, the true meaning of which I may never fully wrap my brain around. It's still amazing to me that something born in our notebooks was drawn by Jack Davis, the premiere cartoonist of our time, and one of our all time art heroes.

RR: Yeah Frank and Jack were both on the short list and somehow it came together. It's a huge treat, as anyone familiar with my art can tell I'm inspired by Jack Davis, Wally Wood and Will Elder above all other artists. Not that I'm anywhere near them on the awesome charts. To me, Frank Cho is one of the modern masters, also very inspired by the pre-code EC comics.

The covers will ship 1/10 and 1/20. I don't know which one will be more rare than the other. Whenever I do incentive covers, it's always very important to me that they actually be very special, and I think we've achieved that here.

Is there anything else you want to let our readers know about?

RR: Remember, kids! The "Fear Agent" vol. 1 trade paperback hits shelves on April 28th, and Volume 2 hits on May 30th!

We'll remember. Thanks Rick and Tony!

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