The Brubaker/Phillips train just keep right on rolling with issue #1 of “The Fade Out” – a 40’s era film industry noir that epitomizes and defines the genre in equal measure. For the uninitiated: Brubaker and Phillips have been writing crime books together for 15 years and have never once put out anything that wasn’t exceptional in every way. If you missed their last book “Fatale”, or if you have any interest in hard-boiled fiction, get on this book immediately. These guys are masters of their craft.
WRITTEN BY: Ed Brubaker
ART BY: Sean Phillips
RELEASE: August 20, 2014
Reviewed By Epic Switzer
I can’t believe Brubaker is finally telling this story. As the go-to-guys for crime/noir in comics it is hard to believe this is their first trip into “Hollywoodland” territory.
“The Fade Out” begins with a familiar premise reminiscent of “The Black Dahlia”: a promising young actress has been murdered at a film star’s party. I remark upon the familiarity not to admonish the book or dispute its originality, because noir relies upon the readers understanding of its tropes and conventions and the narrative familiarity is what establishes the foundation for the intricate series of events that are sure to transpire.
It is said by some that noir is more of a style than a genre, and from this perspective we can see how expertly Brubaker and Phillips control the noir aesthetics to draw us in with a familiar premise; invocative of “Sunset Boulevard”, “Mulholland Drive”, and so many others. However, if you know anything about this team of evil geniuses and their knack for genre bending and expectation advertising, you know to expect something really incredible.
I tend to look at new books with a simple rubric: new = good. What I love the most about reading image books is that they are consistently packed with fresh ideas and new stories. “The Fade Out”, on the other hand is not something entirely unique, but instead what it is is a perfectly crafted genre piece from the guys who can do it the very best.
Brubaker’s words are poetry. His concise narration complements the tight constricted frames that Phillips arranges so beautifully. If you want to introduce someone to film noir, you show them “Maltese Falcon”. If you want to introduce someone to noir comics, you show them “The Fade Out”, and there ain’t nothing wrong with that.
This may not strike you as a wholly original kind of comic book, but it is perfectly constructed in genre, style, and tone. Read “The Fade Out” and appreciate it as a perfect book that will eventually become a perfect series.
I don’t usually throw my two cents into reviews, but I can’t help but entirely echo the above sentiments about this book. It’s a perfectly crafted genre piece that fills a void you didn’t even know was empty. Holy shit guys, the Brubaker and Phillips train just keeps gaining speed.
Epic Switzer AKA Eric 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 email@example.com.