Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Writer: Matt Kindt
Artwork: Tyler Jenkins
Colours: Hilary Jenkins
Release Date: 3rd February 2021
In the Secret Service, there’s an impossible case which is given to new agents to solve. It’s the oldest active case in existence, and agents are given a full year to solve it before it’s taken away to avoid them becoming consumed by it. To date, nobody has even come close, but for agents Winters and Mitchum, a grisly murder with a chilling mystery at its heart may be the lead they’ve been looking for. The only trouble is, they have just three weeks left to solve it.
Honestly, I was sold on this new Dark Horse Comics series long before I even knew what its premise was, solely by virtue of its creative team. Matt Kindt and Tyler Jenkins are the textbook example of a “must read” partnership for me, having previously collaborated on Black Badge and the Eisner Award-nominated Grass Kings, both at BOOM! Studios. I named Jenkins my Artist of the Year back in 2018, and he remains one of the most underrated talents in the business today, particularly when he’s collaborating with his colourist wife Hilary. So yeah, even without the killer hook, there was absolutely no doubt that I was going to pick Fear Case up.
Thankfully, the story itself more than measures up to my personal hype tsunami. This is a slow-burning first issue, heavy on dialogue and tone-setting, with a snappy second half that sinks its hooks in and ensures that the reader will be helplessly dragged along for the rest of the ride. We get to know Winters and Mitchum a little through their conversations and different outlooks on various things, from coffee to theatre to the case itself, and learn a little more about the case itself and its rather storied history.
One thing I really enjoy about Jenkins’ artwork is the way he subtly changes things up from series to series. Never allowing himself to be pigeonholed, this new heavy-handed and shadow-packed aesthetic perfectly fits the tone of the story he and Kindt are telling. Sure, its intentional roughness and the scratchy, almost crayon-like colour work could potentially be off-putting to some, and there are a couple of occasions where differentiating between characters requires a little more concentration than it perhaps should, but I still found myself absolutely mesmerised by the ebb and flow it provided, particularly in the latter moments where the agents arrive at the crime scene.
Ultimately then, this feels like yet another win for Kindt and Jenkins. A tasty, supernatural-tinged mystery with a strikingly unconventional art style. As I mentioned above, this is very much a slow-burner of an opening chapter, and while the narrative is yet to fully embrace the potential of its premise, there are enough hints here – not to mention the stellar pedigree of the creative team – to make this is an incredibly easy title to recommend.
[PREVIEW ARTWORK – CLICK TO ENLARGE]