This isn’t the next planned Free Comic Inside but considering how little I care about horror comics or horror games (or any other horror story), this is really the only time I’d be able to discuss this particular minicomic. I know there are people who like the adrenaline rush they get from being scared, or just really enjoy dark and bloody stories or games. I am not one of those people and there’s nothing wrong with that. So a game like F.E.A.R.: First Encounter Assault Recon is not something I would ever play, unlike most of the toys and games that come with free comics for me to review. But there is a minicomic and this is the day when people like scary stuff so why not boost the signal a bit?
In the “director’s cut” release of the game on CD-Rom you get a minicomic, which I learned thanks to Lazy Game Review’s review of the game. I’ll post that at the end of the minicomic review but here’s what little I know. In the game you play the silent protagonist (normal for a “first person shooter”) known only as Point Man. You are a member of the First Encounter Assault Recon, a special ops unit that deals with the freaky paranormal stuff. From what I can tell the minicomic is an extended version of the opening that serves as a mission briefing to the characters, but I’m going strictly on the review. Note that the game is rather dark and violent and I’m expecting no less from the minicomic. Given the nature of this site I do warn that LGR left a lot of that in there in his video but as for images from the comic I will not. But how scary is this thing?
Dark Horse Comics/Vivendi/Sierra (September, 2005)
WRITER: Alden Freewater
ARTIST: Edwin David
COLORIST: Dan Jackson
LETTERER: Michael David Thomas
DESIGNER: Debra Bailey
ASSISTANT EDITOR: Katie Moody
EDITOR: Dave Land
I don’t know if this was ever released outside of the Director’s Cut game but if you want to read this yourself, it is on the F.E.A.R. fan wiki (because there’s a wiki for almost everything nowadays). So let’s get into this thing.
First of all I’m happy to see this isn’t in the painted style of art. It looks okay on the cover but it rarely looks good in sequential art. We open on a guy sitting in a…I think it’s a cell…at ATC headquarters. This is Paxton Fettel, the antagonist of the game. It could be the scan quality but whomever he’s conversing with I can’t read the dialog. It’s small and a bit blurry. It seems to be a telepathic communication given Paxton’s line “why are you in my head?” so maybe we aren’t meant to see it. A spoiler for what’s coming avoided perhaps. It seems to jump right into the deep end. Unless you’re already fully aware of the game’s lore you don’t know why he’s there or why he’s sitting Indian style on a bare floor. It also starts creepy, with Paxton’s comebacks. “I am you, you are me. Show me your pain.” If he’s not just hearing voices this is not a sane man or at least he’s very weird.
Luckily the important answers are given on the next page. Three ATC agents are watching him on a monitor, one a new guy so we can get the exposition dump. Paxton is a powerful psychic who can control mindless clone soldiers. Said soldiers are apparently kept in the same building because having his mind slaves in ready access can’t possibly be bad. They’re also worried about another “synchronization event”, where it appeared someone entered his mind and drove him crazy. I’m not sure he had far to travel, mind you. Then something goes wrong because you wouldn’t have a video game if it didn’t. A little girl shows up walking the corridors. One of the agents writes it off as broadcast interference. Broadcast interference from what? The game was released in 2005 and appears to be set in modern times. Would their closed-circuit camera system be picking up? The Shining?
He sends rookie Deadmeat down to investigate anyway, so at least he isn’t completely stupid. Meanwhile, Paxton is still having his conversation with illegible voice, with a cryptic shot of the mindless clones. So if they’re clones, don’t they still need to eat and go to the bathroom and stuff? They’re just standing there like a mime doing the ragdoll pose. He keeps going on about how they have been used and “they” (the abusers I think) are going to stop him from finding her, because this is clearly tied to the little girl…which is obvious when she suddenly goes all freakish and Paxton starts getting mental images of the girl being tortured and scared in a corner. The girl, by the way, is Alma Wade, the creepy girl who follows you around in the game and keeps appearing and disappearing at random. Apparently the game’s lead designer, Craig Hubbard, is freaked out by creepy little girls in horror stories. That’s what Hubbard actually said according to the wiki.
Meanwhile, rookie Deadmeat finds nothing and here’s where these guys are just asking to be horribly killed. Remember, they have a prisoner who can psychically command his own clone army, which is in the same building for some dumb reason. This isn’t one of those stories where they don’t believe in paranormal phenomenon. They know he’s dangerous. They know he has powers. They’re worried about an event where someone unknown entered his mind and boosted those powers before. They have a camera monitoring him 24/7 to make sure a second synchronization event doesn’t occur (although we just saw it totally did and apparently nobody saw him go into crazy face for a moment). He might even be the only prisoner in this facility. I haven’t played the game, I don’t know. They know he isn’t to be taken lightly. They just told rookie Deadmeat this a few minutes ago, so their solution is to reboot the entire camera system. Nobody going down to watch him and report something’s going to happen. No questioning that this isn’t psychic phenomenon. Not even waiting to see if it happens again to confirm it’s a glitch. Just the new guy, alone in a hallway, while the other officer is taking his lunch break (literally what he said before sending Deadmeat down there), near the dangerous psychic who controls his own clones. Did he already beat them at poker or something?
So with the cameras down the dangerous psionic with his own clone army just walks right out of the cell with nobody seeing while Alma makes sure Deadmeat lives up to my nickname. Good job, guys. You suck at your job. Again, they know this stuff exists and they STILL act like he’s not worth being scared about because he’s sitting in a cell otherwise unguarded. Who’s in charge of security around here, Goldie Gold? Officer Lunchbreak is attacked by Paxton, while (shock of shocks) the clone army wakes up and starts shooting everyone. Wait, you didn’t even take their guns? Is this the suicide shift? Paxton reaches the monitor room just as they realize Paxton’s not in his cell and can’t imagine how he did it. How are you smart enough to know this guy has dangerous enough superpowers to be taken seriously…and still not take him seriously as a threat? He demands the location of Alma, which the guard claims he doesn’t know the name of, but Paxton doesn’t believe him. The next page ends the story with the famous trailer shot of Paxton having lunch like any cannibal would and claiming he and the others deserved to die. I’m not sure I share his reasoning why, but I kind of agree with the statement itself. They kind of asked for it.
This isn’t intended to be a full story. It’s just the set-up to the events of the game, showing the player the full sequence of events that led to Paxton Fettel’s escape and the existence of the ghost girl who will be popping up. I don’t know her backstory but I can guess she’s also some kind of psychic who can reach all the way there. Or maybe the game takes place in the ATC building. I don’t know and not being into this kind of game or story I probably won’t find out and that doesn’t bother me. The art is good and as for setting up events, it is quite successful. Most of the comic isn’t as graphic as I thought it would be, but considering the game that’s less of a plus/minus situation and more what they had time to do.
So I hope you enjoyed this little excursion. I hope you have a happy, safe, and fun Halloween and your kids get all the play and candy they want. Next time we’re still checking in with the bug people.