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FEARSCAPE Issues 1 & 2- Review by The Comic Book Yeti

  • Big Indie

  • FEARSCAPE, ISSUES #1 & 2

    Writer: Ryan O’Sullivan Art: Andrea Mutti Publisher: Vault Comics

    Fearscape, Issue #1, cover, Vault Comics, O'Sullivan/Mutti

    This review only covers the first 2 issues. Because of that, we don’t have insight into the full story arc, so this review might look a little different than my other ones of entire volumes.

    WHAT IS IT?

    A kind of modern retelling of Dante’s Inferno if Dante were replaced by a self-righteous, hack writer with delusions of grandeur.

    It feels like a classic “in too deep” adventure story if it were narrated over by a con artist. Or a fantasy/horror version of Memento.

    WHAT’S IT ABOUT?

    (Minor Spoilers)

    There’s another world, and it’s filled with our fears. Each generation, The Muse comes to our world in search of the greatest storyteller of the time, whose creative mind battles these fearsome beings in their world, the Fearscape. But when The Muse mistakes our protagonist, Henry Henry, for the greatest writer of the current generation, we get the sinking feeling that this could go very badly for him…and for the world he’s supposed to save.

    This first issue mostly introduces us to Henry Henry, who is insufferable in the best kind of way. His self-obsessed narration holds up a mirror not only to Those Kinds Of Writers, but also to the smug, over-confident, under-accomplished white males we so often encounter in subreddits and comments sections. But in reading his words, a part of us also cringes — or maybe I’m just speaking to my own reaction as a writer or as an over-confident, under-accomplished white male, myself. (Granted, I’m a yeti with a comics blog, so that’s an accomplishment, I suppose!)

    Henry makes for a strangely charming, if unreliable, narrator as he leaves out details he thinks are unimportant to us, fails to put his finger on those details that are important, and changes his mind on his own descriptions, trashing characters he had just complimented mere panels or pages earlier. He’s an anti-hero in an untraditional sense — playing the fool more than the villain. That’s not to say he’s a good guy: He objectifies women, cuts down others to make himself feel smarter or better, and we watch in delight as his lying and posturing wrap him up in events that we know he is not prepared for. But maybe we’re not giving him enough credit. After all, he’s the hero of this story, and if he had no survival instincts or redeeming qualities, it would be a very short, dull story. And so, by the end of this first issue, we’re entrap, watching as Henry Henry enters the Fearscape, a place where all our fears are very real and powerful things. All that we can do is root for our protagonist; he may not be perfect, or even likable, but he’s ours. And so, in the second issue, we watch as he gets himself into trouble. He encounters more of the Fearscape, filling the pages with his own narrative where he oscillates between talking himself up and talking trash on the Muse or the stupidity of the Fearscape and its rules. On the rare page where he doesn’t try to impress us by spinning his own own situation so we look upon him favorably, the story grows, and we’re reminded of the dire situation he’s in. The tone becomes less silly, less comedic, and turns back toward the horror genre you’d think would accompany a title of “FEARSCAPE.”

    You’ll also get some reveals in this second issue that set the hook for the story and will keep you coming back for more. But even just two issues in, this is one of my favorite ongoing comics right now. It’s so much fun to read and study and pick apart, like a fine piece of art.

    I can’t wait to see where the story goes.

    WHAT WORKS?

    • O’Sullivan’s story and characterization here are phenomenal, something to be studied for the intentions behind his choices and mined for meaning — it’s a true pleasure to read
    • Mutti’s art is ethereal, almost dreamlike when combined with Vladimir Popov’s colors, and feels inspired by classic fantasy illustrations
    • There’s a certain sadistic joy in watching a jerk like Henry get himself into a world of trouble
    • You know that feeling as you’re going up the initial slope of a roller coaster? That’s what these first issues feels like.
    • Deron Bennett’s lettering is on-point, and certain caption placements yield results that not only further characterize Henry Henry, but will also make you laugh out loud
    • It’s fascinating imagining the story without Henry’s narration — how we might give more credit to him, and how it may seem so much more like a traditional adventure story
    • What makes Henry Henry so cringeworthy is that he reminds us of ourselves
    • He complains when a task is too easy or too difficult
    • He downplays his own shortcomings but is quick to point out others’
    • He takes credit for things that he doesn’t deserve to take credit for
    • He bites off more than he can chew

    WHAT DOESN’T WORK?

    • Since it’s only the first couple issues, it’s hard to know if the series will be more on the side of frightening fiction or commentary on writers as creators
    • There’s no one really likable in this story so far, so anyone who needs a character to stand in for themselves in order to enjoy a story may be disappointed
    • This title may appeal more to longtime comics fans, writers and people in touch with how they lie to themselves than your average person
    FEARSCAPE, issue #1, Vault Comics, O' Sullivan/Mutti, image used with permission from creators

    WHY SHOULD I READ IT?

    FEARSCAPE is a novel concept by an insanely talented and thoughtful creative team. It may be a little early to say, but if you’re a fan of meta fiction or horror, I really think you’ll like this title.

    WHAT DO I READ NEXT?

    If you like the writing:

    • VOID TRIP by Ryan O’Sullivan & Plaid Klaus
    • The Sandman, Vol. 1 by Gaiman, Kieth, Dringenberg & Jones III
    • The Unwritten, Vol. 1 by Mike Carey & Peter Gross

    If you like the art:

    • FEARSCAPE #3 by Ryan O’Sullivan & Andrea Mutti
    • Port of Earth, Vol. 1 by Zack Kaplan & Andrea Mutti
    • Swamp Thing, Vol. 1 by Alan Moore & John Totleben

    ABOUT THE CREATORS

    Ryan O’Sullivan – Writer

    • Influenced by Bukowski, Kerouac & Hunter S. Thompson
    • Outlander: He’s from Yorkshire, England
    • Puts an enormous amount of thought and meaning into his works

    Andrea Mutti – Penciller & Inker

    • Outlander: Currently lives in Italy, and I’m super jealous of this fact
    • In the past, he worked on several detective titles for French publishers
    • His talent for drawing the noir genre definitely translates well to this title

    Vladimir Popov – Colorist

    • Dream Team: Also worked with Andrea Mutti on the comic, Control
    • Seems to enjoy working in muted colors
    • Inspired by Moebius, Simon Bisley, Frank Frazetta, Robert Crumb, Alex Raymod, Wally Wood and Don Lawrence (according to BrokenIconComics.com)
    • Outlander: Lives in Serbia

    Deron Bennett (AndWorld Design) – Letterer

    • Founded AndWorld Design, a lettering & design studio
    • Multitalented: Also wrote the comic, Quixote
    • Has a cool video where he talks about why he loves lettering

    The image(s) used in this article are from a comic strip, webcomic or the cover or interior of a comic book. The copyright for this image(s) is likely owned by either the publisher of the comic, the writer(s) and/or artist(s) who produced the comic. It is believed that the use of this image(s) qualifies as fair use under the United States copyright law. The image is used in a limited fashion in an educational manner in order to illustrate the points of the author and not for the purpose of entertainment or substituting the original work. It is believed the use of this image has had no impact on the market value of the original work.

    All Vault Comics characters and the distinctive likeness(es) thereof are trademarks of and copyright Vault Comics or their respective owners. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

About The Author

Matt Ligeti

(AKA "The Comic Book Yeti") believes reviews should be simple and modern, written in a way that's easy for the average person to read. Wanna' know more? Send the Yeti and email at TheComicsYeti@gmail.com or visit ComicBookYeti.com

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