Thursday, October 20, 2016

The Fade Out: Act One

I am a HUGE fan of Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips. Their first collaboration, a combination of superheroes and espionage, Sleeper, was followed by Criminal, a series of  hard-boiled crime tales. Since then, they have created all sorts of crime series, like Fatale, where it was mixed with mystical horrors, and Incognito, where there were superheroes involved with the witness protection program. In The Fade Out, they turn back to a straight noir tale.
The narrative here is set in post-WWII Hollywood. It involves a drunken screenwriter, a dead starlet, a blacklisted screenwriter, a crazed director, and shady studio executives. The drunk screenwriter is privy to information that what was reported as a suicide was actually a murder and that there is a cover-up. Of course, there are multiple interested parties (suspects?) and the entire situation is as clear as mud. One of the strengths of this book is that the plot is extremely intricate and the characters are types of a sort but also intriguing because of their circumstances. I am trying not to spoil things and doing a poor job of describing just how great this book is. I should just say that if you are fan of noir, murder mysteries, or classic Hollywood, you should check this book out.

All of the reviews I have read about this book have been glowing. Publishers Weekly concluded by calling it "a strong beginning to a serial mystery that offers a fresh spin on the genre." The reviewer at Comic Bastards summed up, "you should come to The Fade Out for the plot and the atmosphere, stay for the characters, and never think about McCarthyism the same way again." Sean M. Thompson wrote that it was full of "great characterization, excellent pacing, a great mystery, and brilliant art and color."

The Fade Out was published by Image Comics, and they have more information and previews available here. There are violence, sex, and nudity in this book, so it is suggested for mature readers.

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