Fear Case #2 from Dark Horse Comics, out March 3, depicts the titular MacGuffin and how it controls the plot. Under the pen of writer Matt Kindt, known for his work about the influence of memes like this series’ predecessor Bang! this issue shows how the plot tells itself. With art by Tyler Jenkins and Hilary Jenkins’s colors, the anticipation on display creates a thick atmosphere.
Fear Case #2: The MacGuffin Case
For clarity, a MacGuffin is a plot device that advances the plot and character motivations despite its insignificance. Think of the iconic case from the movie Pulp Fiction in how it drives the plot. It’s not a doomsday device or money; it’s just something everybody wants and can change a subplot’s direction. With Kindt at the writing-table, this concept combines with Lovecraftian horror.
Our quirky secret service agents Mitchum and Winters, who the audience comes to love in the last issue, chase every lead. From how the case has rules surrounding it, Fear Case #2 provides context as to why. While the Secret Service wants to secure it, Mitchum and Winters are becoming obsessed with it. It doesn’t help that there’s a criminal gang looking for it too. Hence why there’s a time limit for the agents, stay on the assignment too long, and the case consumes them.
It sounds ridiculous when you hear the outline, not that the reader won’t feel the obsession. The case, through its own set of rules it instills, sends whoever is pursuing it on a wild goose chase. Nobody knows how or why, but somehow, it can motivate whoever has it to pass it along, all from a box that has no value other than the one it fabricates. Through Mitchum and Winters, the reader feels the frustrations behind it all.
Anticipate The Madness
Tyler draws out the tension throughout Fear Case #2 with panels and images that make the reader feel uneasy. The pencils that make panel layers alone create small permeable barriers between situations. It’s like whatever’s on a page is ready to invade a moment of clarity. The images of eldritch horrors appearing at random times in characters’ thoughts only add to the cosmic horror. If Tyler also does the lettering, he arranges it in a way that assists in anticipation. Like when the agents feel the scent of death, leaving the reader anticipating.
Hilary certainly helps drive that feeling forward with her coloring. That rotten smell Mitchum and Winters feel gets a visual equivalent when Hilary shows the red colors of intestines. Those eldritch horror scenes often have colors that look gloomy with an otherworldly green and purple.
Does Fear Case #2 Have You?
Fear Case #2, much like its MacGuffin, digs its way into readers’ minds to see it through. Now that the rules of engagement are set up, it’s time to see what comes next. Just be sure to set up your own rules of engagement. Otherwise, the anticipation will kill you.