And with that, we ring in 2016 with the first New Comic Book Wednesday of the year, and we bid a fond farewell to The Fade Out, that masterful Phillips/Brubaker joint about everything in Hollywood in the 1950s. The team on this book, including their frequent partner-in-crime Elizabeth Breitweiser, have done and said more with twelve issues of this book than some teams manage to say in hundreds of issues of mainstream books. So thank god for creator-owned.
Anyway, The Fade Out: I am not going to spoil the finale of this book for you. I know you may want me to, you may have clicked on this review to find out whodunnit or find out if Charlie Parrish will ever find peace in his mess of a life. I am not here to give you that satisfaction. I will tell you this: as important as a strong opening issue is, a strong final issue is where a series like this really lives. We forgive a lot of the shortcomings of the later volumes of Y: The Last Man because the last issue is a perfect comic, and a perfect cap on the series. With The Fade Out, it was a concise little potboiler of a comic, but it had a stellar first issue and stuck the landing in a big way. For those of you who have been keeping up with every issue of this series, there is nothing here that will disappoint you. The ending is just as messy and beautiful as Hollywoodland itself.
In the last year and a half or so, since the beginning of The Fade Out, it’s been a little series that could. Popular, but seemingly not as popular as other Phillips/Brubaker joints like Fatale, it’s helped introduce incentives like the magazine-size first issue variant, most recently seen on Rucka/Scott’s Black Magick #1. That’s as good a microcosm as any for The Fade Out. It wasn’t a game changer in a huge way, but it wasn’t nothing. It’s a book that did a lot of things exactly right on the first try, and it was a huge home run for the idea of a twelve-issue series as a well-contained story. A lot of writers at any level of the game—fresh faces who just broke in to old hands—jump into a story expecting they’ll need at least 60 issues to tell it right, rather than paring it down and figuring out what the essentials are. Brubaker and Phillips have done that here, and it is, as I’m sure I’ve said before, a well-oiled machine.
I don’t have anything else to say about The Fade Out. It’s an excellent comic, and it had an excellent ending. The highest praise I can give: the minute I finished the last page, I wanted to dig the first issue out of my longboxes and read the whole story again in a sitting.
The Fade Out #12 Writer: Ed Brubaker Artist: Sean Phillips Colorist: Elizabeth Breitweiser Publisher: Image Comics Price: $3.99 Release Date: 1/6/16 Format: Ongoing; Print/Digital