NetGalley is certainly letting me sample comics that I normally wouldn’t jump at the chance to read ASAP. I see this as a very good thing!
THE FADE OUT, VOL. 1
by Ed Brubaker (writer), Sean Phillips (illustrator)
Image Comics, March 2015
Graphic novel, noir crime/mystery
Rated: / 5 cookies
provided by NetGalley
Brubaker and Phillips’ newest hit series, The Fade Out, is an epic noir set in the world of noir itself, the backlots and bars of Hollywood at the end of its Golden Era. A movie stuck in endless reshoots, a writer damaged from the war and lost in the bottle, a dead movie star and the lookalike hired to replace her. Nothing is what it seems in the place where only lies are true. The Fade Out is Brubaker and Phillips’ most ambitious project yet!
Collects THE FADE OUT issues #1 to #4
Two things certainly attracted me to the volume: the typewriter and the blood on it. The typewriter told me it was a period series (I mean, come on, it exudes ’40s/’50s), the blood told me it was a crime mystery. The blurb closed the deal because at that point I expected a story with all the trappings of Hollywood film noir–except with colors on paper.
What I got was a nitty, gritty introduction inside a Hollywood broken up by blacklists and the Red Scare. The opening itself led quickly to the scene of the crime, as it were, introducing both the confused screenwriter Charlie and the beautiful blonde–but clearly dead–bombshell Val Sommers through a series of flashbacks. After a night of drunkenness–which he barely remembers–Charlie finds Val dead on the floor of the apartment. Panicking, he flees the crime scene and pretends to be shocked when Val is announced dead–though I suppose pretending wasn’t too hard to do, since he was genuinely surprised–and torn up–by the fact that the movie studio covers up the nature of Val’s murder, passing it off as a suicide.
From there, the story picks up, showing us various other characters revolving around the movie that’s already been having problems getting into production mode.
I quite liked how the story began, and I loved the setting as well as the way the comic was illustrated. I did run across a few “buts” within the storyline, though, one of which was the fact that soon after the murder and funeral, the story slows down immensely. I suppose characters had to be introduced somehow, but I wasn’t fond of it happening all at once, within the span of four issues. It got to the point where I was slightly confused over who was who and why they were important to begin with (though admittedly, the Clark Gable cameo was pretty awesome). Once the initial excitement petered off to character intros, my interest kind of waned, and I found myself nodding off by issue three.
That said, I am willing to give this series a chance. I usually give comics a harsher rating at the beginning (example: Bill Willingham’s Fables and Neil Gaiman’s Sandman) and by the second or third volume, I’ll either keep reading or stop altogether.
3 out of 5 cookies!