Comic Review – The Fade Out #1

Adam reads as many comics as he can afford. Every week he is going to attempt a mini review of his favourite one, with potential minor spoilers.

Picking a favourite this week was more difficult than I was expecting! I came away from the shop with a nice haul of very different comics, and have ended up deciding to review something other than what I originally had in mind. That something was The Fade Out #1, written by Ed Brubaker, with art by Sean Phillips and colours from Elizabeth Breitweiser, published by Image Comics. I’m going to make this a quick one as it is pretty late right now and I’ve got more to do tomorrow than my lack of sleep gives credit to.

The Fade Out opens with Charlie, a screen writer and part-time reprobate (as the cast of characters on the opposite page tells us), waking up in a bathtub following ‘The Wild Party’ in Los Angeles, 1948. He starts flashing back to the events of the night before, picking up his friend Gil who was drunk (and tried to punch Bob Hope) before heading to the party. As he moves through the flat, he has intermittent flashbacks that reveal little by little what he got up to, but reveal nothing of the dead woman he has just found in the living room. Shocked, Charlie sees she has been strangled while he slept, and he realises he needs to not be there. To never have been there. So after clearing up after himself, he slinks away. It turns out that the woman he found was an actress in the film he is working on, Valeria Sommers, and Charlie is eventually brought in by the studio security chief. It turns out the studio has changed the story already, altering the scene so it looked like Val hung herself. Charlie can’t speak up though, unless he wants to give away that he was there. He feels complicit in this and falls back into the bottle, remembering more and more of the night, talking to Valeria. It may be that he was more involved in her death than he originally thought…

Difficult to sum up the plot without giving too much away, and I’m pretty sure I have. This is a really well crafted story. Brubaker creates an interesting, noir mystery and it is clear that plenty of research and care has gone into making sure the era feels right for both the setting, story and dialogue (in fact they actually credit their new research assistant, Amy Condit, in the back pages). The same can be said for Phillips’s art, with the style and characters feeling very 1940s, all really standing out. Breitweiser’s colours are washed out when they need to be, dank and threatening at other times when it suits the mood, but more often vibrant and very clear. Also, the dream sequence is a terrifying couple of panels.

Another great new series. This is a team that has been working together for several years, and it shows. As Image often do, this is an oversized first issue for the normal issue price to get new readers in, so the value for money is excellent. In addition, in the back pages Brubaker (I think) indicates a preference for physical print copies over digital, and for that reason they always try to include extras at the back of single print issues. In this case it is a short article written by Devin Faraci, about ‘The Lonesome Death of Peg Entwistle’, one of the many tragic tales of Hollywood and broken dreams. Another good read, and I always appreciate the inclusion of interesting extras. This is well worth picking up, and you can find it at your local comic book shop or online, or I’m sure the digital version is nearly as good!*


Score: 9 Commies out of 10


* I do happen to completely agree with Brubaker on that though. Things are better, tablets and e-readers aren’t really for me.