Writer: Ryan O’Sullivan
Cover Artists: Andrea Mutti, Vladimir Popov
Illustrator: Andrea Mutti
Colorist: Vladimir Popov
Letterer: Deron Bennet
Publisher: Vault Comics
Review by Anelise Farris
Fearscape #1 introduces us to a world inhabited by of our biggest fears. Once a generation, the Muse leaves Fearscape and journeys to Earth to find a storyteller with serious skills. Said storyteller is then brought to Fearscape to battle these fear-generated incarnations, so we don’t have to. For generations, this process has worked beautifully–until now when the Muse meets Henry Henry. Far from being a skilled writer, he is a deluded plagiarist, but the Muse doesn’t know that. And now, the fate of the world rests in the hands of a storytelling fraud.
This is one of the most unique comics I’ve read in a long time. It’s certainly ambitious, but this skilled creative team executes it so well. It opens with your typical 9-panel grid format but not art, only text. This invites a musing from Henry on semiotics and our allegiance to form. Right away, Henry reminded me of a lot of people in English graduate seminars–people “of letters” as Henry calls himself. He’s an obnoxious character, sure, but his aloofness to his pretentiousness makes him super fun to watch. From his “dear reader asides”–VERY Victorian–to his conviction that all authors are merely translators, reworking familiar stories, as well as the line “Peer Review. My Old Foe,” I found myself smiling, like I was in on a private joke. If you’re not in academia, especially an English department, they might not be as funny to you, but THIS BOOK SPEAKS TO ME.
The art is just as captivating as the way Henry is written. The smudgy shadows, soft linework, and moody colors bring Fearscape to life. I love the way that the Muse looks: Old Hollywood beauty style, in a literal wash of gold. And that gorgeous purple otherworld had me eager to take Muse’s hand. The wide gutters and different panel arrangements supply the issue with great energy. The lettering skillfully handles the dialogue and Henry asides, and everything is well-placed and not overwhelming. The final page is my absolute favorite. Want to know why? READ IT TO FIND OUT.
Verdict: Buy it.
When I saw that suggested similar titles to Fearscape #1 included Sandman and The Swamp Thing, I knew I had to read this. And it did not disappoint. So, take a “Kafkaesque leap” (yes, this is an amazing line from the issue) to your local comic shop on September 26, 2018, and get it!