Fearscape #4 Review: After Me …
It’s Fearscape-o’clock, and Henry Henry never fails to disappoint.
Or is it that he always fails to impress?
Or maybe it’s that he’s just a bad, bad person.
Story: Ryan O’Sullivan
Art: Andrea Mutti
Colors: Vladimir Popov
Letters: AndWorld Design
Publisher: Vault Comics
Oh, Fearscape. Every time I think I have this book pegged, it does something to surprise me. While eschewing spoilers this far into the game is difficult, what I will say is: it’s rare to find a comic that has a lot to say about the tenuous nature of creation between an author, their text and the audience that receives it while giving way to the endless pontification, emotional swerves and undeniably distasteful justifications Henry Henry’s still throwing our way. While undermining all of that, to an end yet unknown.
O’Sullivan is doing interesting things with this book, and every time I try to find a place to land I find treacherous ground. My question as we wind toward the center with one issue to go is if this is a mere exercise in solipsistic literary fragmentation, or if there’ll be that ineffable, holistic comics moment. I’m not a particularly trusting person – reading for most of my life across many genres has taught me not to be – but I am hopeful, and I’m curious if my hopes will be dashed by HH’s craven cynicism and the unravelling of the mystical, or if there’s something more ahead. And if my hopes are indeed dashed, if they’ll be dashed effectively.
That was a mouthful. Whatever happens, O’Sullivan and the crew have kept me guessing throughout permutations of heroes and villains, trauma and fractured points of view, and it’s been a very enjoyable experience with very few bumps along the way. Mutti’s delicate art continues to impress, and Popov lends the brutal and intricate mental landscape of Fearscape a soulful depth that it very much needs. Without the vibrance Mutti and Popov bring to the table, along with pacing, tension and dread, this story wouldn’t hold itself together. Without Bennett’s careful attention to rigidity and tension in the lettering and the tremulous outlines of the balloons and narrative boxes, Henry Henry’s dialogue would be scannable and bland. This is a book concerned with writers and writing, with a very clever writer at its helm, whose conceit is ultimately carried off by the talents visual team who imbue the story with life.
None of this is a dig at O’Sullivan, or the collective idea behind Fearscape. Rather, all of these elements mesh in Fearscape, which means this is the right creative team for the piece you’re holding in your hands, and a testament to the ultimate symphony that a good comic becomes when all of its parts build on each other to a greater whole.
In comics, both the creators and the readers are the masters of time and space, and those things can change with a turn of the head or a blink of an eye (as HH so roundly reminds us). I ruminanted before about what’s at the core of Fearscape, and I’m pleased to report at the end of issue #4, there’s a good chance I’ve entirely missed the mark. At the risk of sounding arrogant, that doesn’t often happen, so I’m very tickled to see what the hell O’Sullivan and the team have in store for us next.
Fearscape #4 is out this Wednesday, so make sure to pick up a copy before they all vanish into the violet-tinged ether.