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Advanced Review – FEARSCAPE

In the middle of May it was reported that British comic collective WHITE NOISE and VAULT COMICS had signed a partnership encapsulating four series.  SURPRISE!  Smash hit DEEP ROOTS was actually the first of the bunch.  Now we’re inching closer to the 2nd and 3rd of the WN books to drop.  We got our hands on an advance copy of FEARSCAPE by Ryan O’Sullivan (HUGE HUGE THANK YOU for passing this on) and the team of Andrea Mutti on the art, Vlad Popov on the colors, and Deron Bennett (Andworld Design) on the letters.

“Henry Henry’s Fearscape is the greatest work of this era; too bad he’s a plagiarist.

The Fearscape is a world beyond our own, populated by manifestations of our worst fears. Once per generation, The Muse travels to Earth, discovers our greatest Storyteller, and takes them with her to the Fearscape to battle these fear-creatures on our behalf. All has been well for eons, until The Muse encounters Henry Henry—a plagiarist with delusions of literary grandeur. Mistaking him for our greatest Storyteller, she ushers him into the Fearscape. Doom follows”

That is what we’re told about Fearscape.  The premise is ripe for one hell of a fantasy ride.  Immediately the solicit makes me think of the old age tale of “careful what you wish for because you just might get it.”  A plagiarist seeking literary grandeur getting wrapped up in an otherworldly battle for our fate?  I’d say that exemplifies that cautionary tale pretty well.  The other world element and fantasy backdrop got me rearing to go upon the announcement of the title due to the absolute craziness O’Sullivan brought with VOID TRIP (check out our thoughts HERE).  What I love most is that the narration sets the tone, appropriately, for this adventure.  Precisely, what I mean, is that the fact we all come into ventures with preconceived notions about how they should be is immediately addressed.  In proper prose fashion we’re greeted and given the “how” this is going to go.  The literary aspect is what launches us on our way.  

Real life issues that people struggle with are woven directly into the narrative from our tragic? protagonist.  Identity, self-worth, world view and so on.  It’s all there and served up almost bleeding heart style.  I say almost because O’Sullivan edges that but tries to keep it more as though our main character is really trying to explain as opposed to garner sympathy.  Hard doses of reality do that to people and we get that feel with the unfolding of this initial issue.  As the issue goes on we see the transformation of our “author” move from confidant and directed, to hastily justifying, and finally on to woefully empty in understanding himself, his place, and the grander reality we all exist in.  Even as The Muse enters the fray and reveals the grander reality he’s still blind.  The obvious and literal sitting directly before him is washed away by the ego and hubris of man.  Ignorance blinds as the lines and parallels drawn from the Fearscape and reality are blatantly ignored in favor of the romantic tale that must be playing out.  We do though, get a glimpse of our “author’s” actual ability as he maneuvers himself and The Muse upon entering the other worldly landscape.  

The ending of the issue is much more “real” so to speak.  The set up and insertion is extremely well done.  Conflicting courses of action are conjured and equally believable.  In the concluding pages we get transcribed images of the story woven by The Muse.  The narrative returns to the ego driven, almost cocky tone from the beginning.  While we’re being told one thing we’re actually being given the opposite but not to the point of revealing.  As all good chapters do this opening one teases and leads.  We’re supposed to want to turn the page.  We absolutely do …    


I absolutely love the art.  It tells the tale and reflects the story element.  Yes, this is a comic book but the overall aura is of a tome passed on from generation to generation.  When we read novels our mind puts together the words and gives us pictures so we can see the story unfolding through more than just words on the page.  Mutti and Popov do a perfect job of reflecting just what I felt this story should look like.  It is a perfect match.  Simple things like the bar setting we get as the first actual images of the book are, wonderful.  The look of the Fearscape itself comes off perfectly as well.  The connection between their and our world is explained so it only makes sense that they would have a very similar and familiar look.  Subtle differences are all to often all that exists between one thing and the next.  Bennett’s lettering top it of with a nice literary looking cherry.  The story here deals with a faker.  What he’s faking is a sophisticated art, and what we as readers should be seeing and reading is that representation.  Along with the images the words look, feel, and convey perfectly.  This book is visually, exactly what it should be.  Perfect.


Vault has quickly gained a well earned reputation for chart topping hits with each book they release out into the comic world.  We saw with Deep Roots that the partnership with White Noise would only make the chart have to grow in order to keep pace.  FEARSCAPE will extend that chart upward even further.  One of the constant comment pieces on what is coming out of Vault is the amazement at what they’re able to do in the medium.  Again, this partnership is the mold setting of the already written in stone fact of that matter.  Yes, this is a comic book.  It looks, reads, and feels like so much more.

FEARSCAPE will land in your LCS at the end of September.  PRE ORDER it.  Grab one to read and one to sit safely on your shelve next to your other expertly done works of literary art.


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