Going back to “Daredevil” for a bit, if Mark Waid didn’t come along to reset the tone and inject some positivity and good humor into the title and character, it was inevitable that someone would’ve done it at some point. That’s the nature of these corporate-owned characters -- they’re meant to be kept continually in play for reasons of copyright and promotion. So you can’t keep grinding them down into nothing because the system just won’t allow it. Now I realize it’s stupid to say that a creator-owned title like this could benefit from that kind of mindset about heaping nothing but miserabalism onto your main character, but this volume represents a tipping point for me. The first volume was good, but the second one started hard fightin’, harder living, hardest drinking intergalactic action hero Heath Hudson on a downward spiral that only gets worse with this volume.
What happens to him here? Not only does he find out he has a daughter Charlotte, his ex-wife, never told him about, but it happens just as his ex’s current husband impales himself on a spear to save him during an alien gladiator match on a hostile planet. Later, Heath gets tossed out an airlock after letting his girlfriend get shot, winds up on the outs with his ex-wife again, and then flies into a black hole to escape an alien invasion. The badness doesn’t just extend to our main character as we see the tragic origin of his girlfriend Mara, see Charlotte and her team get slowly picked off religious alien crazies, and witness Heath’s daughter be kidnapped by someone who has a serious mad-on for her dad. In spite of it all, writer Rick Remender does continue the book’s solid action-adventure vibe with the almost-nonstop action and zesty dialogue but that’s all on the surface.
Take “Scalped” as an example. Here’s a series that virtually thrives on making its protagonist’s life a living hell by acknowledging it, treating it with the appropriate seriousness, and displays genuine cleverness in the way it torments Dash Bad Horse and seamlessly spins new complications out of his old problems should they ever be resolved. Contrast this with “Fear Agent” where the tone, the dialogue, the lively art from Jerome Opena and Kieron Dwyer is meant to give the reader the impression that this is all meant to be a fun little sci-fi B-movie of a comic book. For some people, that may still hold true. Not me. After four volumes of bearing witness to Heath’s near-relentless downward spiral I’m going to call it quits. Everyone has their limit for this stuff and I’ve just reached mine here.