Writer: Ryan O’Sullivan
Artist: Andrea Mutti
Colorist: Vladimir Popov
Letterer: Andworld Design
Cover Artists: Ariela Kristantina, Andrea Mutti, Vladimir Popov
With a title like Fearscape, one would probably imagine over-the-top violence with extreme blood and gore (I certainly did). While the story definitely has a horror vibe, it’s much more cerebral than your typical thriller. The actual Fearscape is a very weird place with beautiful yet terrifying visuals. It is a place that exists along the fringes of reality, inhabited by manifestations of mankind’s greatest fears. Fortunately, the creative team doesn’t rely on jump-scares and creepy monsters to convey the horror of this place. The real scares come from a much more grounded, and frankly, real place. The fear of failure, of doing the wrong thing, of simply becoming old and irrelevant … these are all fears that are relatable and at times, truly frightening.
This series has been crazy-weird from the beginning, and this latest issue is the strangest by far. Writer Ryan O’Sullivan’s script eschews much of the deliberately pretentious narration that dominated the previous issues. The result is a much quieter, tightly-paced chapter, propelled by the dialogue and imagery. The art featured in this issue by Andrea Mutti is the strongest of the series by far, with visuals that are both beautiful and creepy without ever going over-the-top. The coloring by Vladimir Popov really adds to the already disturbing atmosphere. The use of flat colors contrasts with the traditional shading, resulting in an inconsistent style that works when switching back and forth from reality to the Fearscape. Subtle touches like these really add to the grounded approach and make the proceedings that much more terrifying and dreamlike.
My only gripes are with the overly-wordy narration – a problem that has diminished significantly since the first issue but is still prevalent here – and the somewhat incoherent resolution. Our lead character has never been particularly likable, but he was finally becoming somewhat sympathetic. However, it’s strongly hinted at that his part in the story may be over.
Fans of David Lynch, Neil Gaiman’s Sandman, and Mike Carey’s The Unwritten will find plenty to like in this five-issue series, although the “casual reader” may be left confused. There’s a clever amount of world-building here, with plenty of potential to expand.