"The Fade Out #1" Comic Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Image Comics
Written by Ed Brubaker
Illustrated by Sean Phillips
2014, 40 Pages, $3.50
Comic released on August 20th 2014
Getting blackout drunk at a party could be a regular occurrence when you live and work in Hollywood. It's a bigger problem when you wake up next to a dead body. That's the situation that screenwriter Charlie Parish finds himself in as he tries to piece together the events of the previous evening in the first issue of The Fade Out. Creators Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips have begun to craft their latest noir epic.
The Fade Out is set in 1948 Los Angeles. Brubaker fills the book with events of the time, including the fear of Japanese war planes and the Red Scare. As with previous collaborations, the creative team manages to make me feel nostalgic for an era that I was not alive to witness. You are instantly transported to this time period the moment you open the comic.
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As with any good noir tale, the main character finds himself going from bad to worse. It was one thing to find the corpse of a Hollywood starlet, but it is quite another to find out that it's being covered up. How high up does this conspiracy go? And just how much does Charlie want to find out? Charlie isn't exactly an upstanding citizen to begin with. He got a fellow screenwriter blacklisted as a communist. Plus he didn't exactly run to the police when he found the dead body.
Every panel in The Fade Out proves that Phillips is a master artist. What is continually impressive is how he slightly alters his style for different elements of the story. When Charlie first finds the lipstick on the mirror, he begins to remember bits and pieces of the previous evening. This is shown as with a series of panels featuring close-ups on a woman's face shrouded in smoke. It feels like a memory, especially compared to the standard look of the comic. Phillips changes to a sketch-like style when Charlie realizes that the murder has been covered up, juxtaposing the character's worried look with shots of classic movie scenes in black and white behind him.
The cover for this issue was also used as a promotional image when it was first announced. It was cool then and it is just as cool now. It's such a simple shot with blood dripping off a page onto a typewriter, but it speaks volumes as to the tone of the story. This is the kind of cover I'd like framed and hanging on my wall.
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As with previous collaborations between Brubaker and Phillips, there's some back matter to really make the comic worth your while. This time around there's an essay by Devin Faraci entitled “The Lonesome Death of Peg Entwistle.” These features are only shown in the single issues as a reward for the readers that stick with the team throughout the run, so it's definitely worth checking out.
The Fade Out cements Brubaker and Phillips in the noir genre with the likes of Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler. This first issue gives you everything you need to fall head first into this world of murder, mystery, and intrigue and will leave you wanting more.