Fans of Brubaker and Phillips can expect a truly authentic experience from their books. No matter the setting, time period, or genre, Brubaker’s expertise on every subject he writes about practically bleeds off the page, while Phillips classic style yet nuanced style drives home that the books the create together are the real deal. “The Fade Out” #2 balances with noir sensibilities of issue one with the studio era context of the book to substantiate the style and tone of the book while moving the plot forward appropriately and developing our cast of archetypal characters in an honest way. “The Fade Out” is a perfect balance.
WRITTEN BY: Ed Brubaker
ART BY: Sean Phillips
RELEASE: October 1, 2014
Reviewed By Eric Switzer
I like that this issue puts an emphasis on setting. That isn’t to say anything is missing in terms of story or character; all the “Criminal”/”Fatale” flavor is there, but issue 2 really brings you into the world these characters live in. Too often I think setting is kept too much in the background; something to inform the visual style and frame the story being told. The story in “The Fade Out” feels like something that it happening in a world that existed before the story began. Part of that may be due to the historical context, but that doesn’t take anything away from Brubaker’s skill as a writer, the man does his research. Furthermore the relationships between these characters and their pasts are present but overwhelming, the book introduces a lot of people and histories without being bogged down by exposition. It makes one feel like the writer respects his audience. Brubaker/Phillips are in an elite class, so pick up “The Fade Out” and get with the program.
Something clicked for me when I read this issue and I finally understand the brilliance of Phillips style. I’ve always loved it in its muted tones and hard edges, I’ve felt it was wildly appropriate for the genre work these guys do and always consistent yet varied to meet the stories needs. It is minimalist is a way, and it finally struck me how iconic his work has become. Instantly recognizable and purposely so, I think, because while many artists have brilliantly creative uses for panels and layout, Sean’s are simple, balanced, and perfect for the kinds of stories being told. I can’t help but stare in awe at a page depicting a emotionally charged fight between old friends: four panels, each perfectly square, within them a man bellows and thrashes at the open air, trapped in the panel. It is really quite brilliant, yet easy to overlook. The longer these guys work together the more substantial their work becomes, the more I realize how much there is to appreciate.
I really can’t recommend this book enough. What they offer isn’t hugely varied from series to series, but it is always consistently well researched, well plotted, well executed, and well designed. If you don’t like classic hollywood crime there is something wrong with you.
Eric Switzer is an aspiring filmmaker and screenplay writer living in Los Angeles. His work tends to focus on the lighter side of entropy, dystopic futures, and man’s innate struggle with his own mortality. He can be found on twitter @epicswitzer or reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.