Anyone reading Vault Comics’s Fearscape by writer Ryan O’Sullivan artist Andrea Mutti, colourist Vladimir Popov and letterer Deron Bennet, will already be more than aware of our central ‘protagonist’ being something of an unreliable narrator. Yet, here in issue #3, he continues to show that he is an unreliable human being too, as he continues to live off the glory of another writer’s work. It’s hard to believe that the same hand that made Void Trip also made Henry Henry, who takes part, this issue, in a planned signing at a local bookshop. To think that he honestly believe, at one point, that he has penned his “first original work” is astounding. Astounding to witness his arrogance and brass balls, even in the face of an unexpected showdown of sorts that occurs in this issue. The fact that I came out of this issue feeling angry at our ‘hero’ is testament to the skills of O’Sullivan as a writer, who is delivering the comic book series of his career, as I expressed after only the first issue.
Once again, its a book that wears its literary influences openly. The Tygers – a masked street gang we met in the first issue – return, just outside of the Blacksmith Pub (“what the hammer, what the chain”, anyone?) to menace Henry. But, this time, I almost hoped they would follow through on their threatening pontificating. All the while, Henry can sense a fire, burning bright, within him.
Furthermore, we have Henry trying to rewrite his own story, with skillfully placed speech balloons suffocating what is really being said by author, Arthur Proctor’s, daughter. Just as he does the very solicitations of this book. He seems to forget his place in this fiction. Although, there are darker forces at work here that are more than read to remind him. seems his little lie – the adoption of his mentor’s identity in his visit to the Fearscape – has come back to bite him on the proverbial ass.
Andrea Mutti and colourist Vladimir Popov do a sterling job of bringing O’Sullivan’s script to life, with art and colours that suggest a dreamlike quality – or, rather, nightmare quality – to proceedings. What is real and what is not may still be up for debate as the landscape and characters swimming in front of Henry’s eyes change and, in some cases, transform into phantasmagorical beings. It reminded me somewhat of Gene Colon’s own classic work on Tomb of Dracula from Marvel, so many, many decades ago now. A flowing, ever-changing reality in which the Fearscape seems to be bleeding into Henry’s own reality. Whatever that is anymore.
Another top issue and a cliffhanger that will really get your blood boiling, as it did mine. Seems I may have been right about that Chekov’s gun thing after all. But even I didn’t expect this to be the outcome. Well played, O’Sullivan, well played.
Fearscape #3 will be out next Wednesday, the 12th of December from Vault Comics.