Fear Case #1 begins a new thriller from Dark Horse on February 3 by best-selling writer Matt Kindt. Kindt fans like myself will genuinely enjoy another mind-bending romp, especially considering this is a continuation of Bang!. Only instead of spy fiction, this series dives into Lovecraftian horror. Considering the effort, the creative team puts into the characters; there’s a genuine fear for them.
What’s The Fear Case?
Fear Case is about two Secret Service agents tasked with finding the titular item. The Fear Case in question has appeared throughout history, leaving disaster and tragedy in its wake. So dangerous, the agents have to find it in one week before passing the case to a newbie.
Fear Case #1 Weaponizing Ideas
Kindt’s main focus in Fear Case #1 is setting up and building characters enough to be likable. He does this by making the two main characters familiar with their genre settings.
Mitchum is very much the no-nonsense character common in buddy scenarios. If he were anywhere else, he’d be a hardboiled detective with a heart of gold. He values hard work and a good cup of coffee that helps him get through the day.
Then there’s Winters, a fan of pulpy novels by the writer Philip Verge from Bang!. He feels like a viewpoint to the reader, especially Kindt fans, since they would relate to him the most. Like the reader, Winters is driven to see the plot through and keeps an open mind about its absurdities.
Given the subject matter of the plot surrounding the titular MacGuffin, it might pay to be genre-savvy. Of course, with how Fear Case #1 presents the item in question, it might not be of any help. There is already a replacement ready and a culture of a time limit on the case.
Much like serializations that are planned ahead, there is already a replacement ready for Mitchum and Winters. This feels like the agents are in danger of being killed off. Which given how much time these partners show their quirks and how they appreciate one another’s company, this sense of danger feels outright tragic.
Atmosphere Thy Name Is Jenkins
Husband and wife team Tyler and Hilary Jenkins give Fear Case #1 an atmosphere of anticipation and reality distorting. Tyler on pencils gives most of the issue a sense of scale. On one page, when Mitchum and Winters confront a suspect, Tyler displays what’s at risk and how the agents work together. Mitchum gets the person’s attention while everyone stays focused on the knife she has. It’s what allows Winters to disarm her by getting out of everyone’s sight.
Hilary’s strengths lie within the surreal nature of the case. One page displays the carnage of past cases in bright but semi-muted color, presenting itself more like an absurdist painting than a record. In juxtaposition with Mitchum and Winters explaining the case to their replacement, it’s a warning that he’ll have to deal with the case if they fail. Considering the overly darkroom this newer agent is in after they leave, it already weighs heavy on him.
The lettering in the meantime by Tyler(?) displays the nature of conversations. The standard word balloons are extensions of in-the-moment talks of character, going from one panel seamlessly. Meanwhile, the text and word balloons in flashbacks are without outlines, acting like these words are detached from reality. It brings a real sense of discontent as we advance with the plot.
Get Your Printings of Fear Case #1
Fear Case #1 is a title that rightly deserves its reputation that sells out before appearing on shelves. Kindt and the Jenkins make this series out to be a blink-and-you’ll-miss event where the plot beckons the reader to follow along. Not only because of an intriguing plot but compelling characters the reader relates with. I know I’m hooked and paying attention to this series going forward. What about the rest of you?