The Fade Out #1 Review

By: Rob Neil Gruszecki

A writer in 1940s Hollywood wakes up in unrecognized surroundings to find a young starlet murdered and a hazy memory as to the previous night’s events. Cigarette smoke billowing towards the ceiling amidst a raucous chorus of big-band jazz, the nightlife of the land of fame and fortune bustles on with little sympathy. Dark secrets, murder and intrigue all during the height of McCarthyism in the city of angels. Ingredients for a noir masterpiece.

This is just how it was here…

The creative powerhouse that is Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips continue to pump out the hits with their new ongoing series The Fade Out. After having worked on Sleeper, Criminal, Incognito and most recently Fatale together, the team have reunited once again under the Image comics banner for a noir tale of life in 1940s LA. After having signed a five year contract with Image comics giving them creative carte blanche to publish whatever they want together, the two keep on in the tradition of creating brilliant crime comics with this first issue.

The internal monologue is an element of Brubaker and Phillips’ comics that excels and really cements the dark, smoky tone of their books together and as their work continues to grow and their catalogue expands their chemistry with this device gets better and better. The seamless connection between the thoughts of a character and their display in a panel has always been a relationship that I’ve admired with their work and here in the Fade Out as Charlie tries to piece together the events of the night before, you as an audience are immediately transported inside the mind of a character with a very distinct voice and world, something not many collaborators are so adept at achieving. The world that they paint together in the Fade Out is vivid and grim and of renowned quality.

Another excellent feature of the Fade Out is one that has been a mainstay of the partners’ comics all the way back to Criminal and that is of the single issue backmatter pages. Each month Brubaker will report on his current movie, comic, book or television recommendations and it is always a great read. In addition to that, an essay provided by the likes of Patton Oswalt, Jess Nevins or in this issue’s case, Devin Farachi, is often included which give you even more reason to pick up the singles and not just wait for trade (I have even been known to double dip for the team’s work. The Criminal Deluxe Hardcovers are too beautiful not to pick up in addition to the singles).

Brubaker and Phillips are a team in comics that is bound to produce excellence with each of their ventures, as Image clearly saw when they offered them an opportunity to publish whatever they wanted for 5 years, and they have achieved this yet again with the noir gem, The Fade Out. Be sure to check it out this week whether you’re a mystery, crime, noir, action, drama or simply quality comics fan.

Rob Neil Gruszecki is a writer, musician and Wednesday warrior

Follow him on Twitter @Ghost_Factory

Listen to his music www.Ghostfactory.bandcamp.com, read his comic series with Shae Frank, www.wildrosecounty.com or follow the Weekly Comics Round-Up Podcast www.Geekstampede.com