Matt Kindt and Tyler and Hilary Jenkins are tapping into some True Detective vibes with Fear Case, the team’s new fantasy horror book for Dark Horse. To tie it only to that show, though, does a disservice to the range of ideas unleashed on this story. There’s a dark fantasy undercurrent to the plot that looks like it will grab hold as the comic progresses and there’s a Philip K. Dick reference in there that provides a big hint as to what’s coming. What’s certain is that this story has the potential to be among many ‘best of’ lists come year’s end.
Fear Case #1 focus on two Secret Service agents, one a New Age enthusiast with a love for speculative fiction (called Winters) and the other a more old-school agent that’s not keen on entertaining fantasies (called Mitchum). They’re on the last three weeks of a mysterious case assigned to them concerning a strange box that’s been seen in some of the world’s most enigmatic tragedies. It’s a case that’s eluded many other agents, driven some to madness even. It’s because of this that those who get the case have a one-year deadline to solve it, if they withstand it.
The setup is clean, enticing, and beautifully presented without really getting bogged down by insider shop talk, which tends to make reading procedurals and detective stories a bit cumbersome sometimes. Kindt’s dialogue smoothly transitions from light exposition to character development and it does look like one won’t overpower the other, something that tends to hound True Detective.
Tyler and Hilary’s art, an illustrator and colorist combo, keeps the tone dark and heavy but not to the point of making the book feel like a walk through hell to get at its mysteries. Their approach to tone is not meant to oppress the reader rather than to offer a counterbalance to Kindt’s lively and quick dialogue. They play off of each other nicely. It shows how synchronized this creative team is on this book.
The mystery behind the fear case has an air of conspiracy theory behind it, making the interaction between Winters and Mitchum unravel as a clash of worldviews. Winters indulges the more mystic elements of the case while Mitchum is willing to go beyond his comfort zone but only within reason. It’s a refreshing state of affairs that thankfully doesn’t result in the two characters sniping at each other from opposite extremes. They prefer the grey area, perhaps alluding to the possibility no clear answer will come from the case and that a lot will be left up to interpretation.
There’s enough in Fear Case’s first issue to justify following the series at a monthly basis. This is the kind of comic one desperately wants to continue reading once an issue is done. It just comes off as a very good pilot episode for a TV series, like the first episodes for Fringe and The X-Files. Much like those shows, Fear Case hooks you in immediately and I doubt you’ll put up much of a struggle given how good it is.
Script: Matt Kindt Art: Tyler Jenkins Color: Hilary Jenkins
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy and brush up on your Philip K. Dick
Dark Horse provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review