I was impressed with how well the first issue of The Fade Out came across. After the success of Fatale with Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips, I thought their next story may not live up to such an intense story. But I have to say that my love for Fatale has faded over into this new series. It was just as intense and highly engaging. We met up with Charlie, a screenwriter, who after a wild party has no idea where he is or what happened. He soon finds that he isn’t surrounded by much fun but instead a murdered movie star, Valeria Sommers. Instead of calling the police, Charlie decides to hide the fact that he was even in the room. He goes about his day normally while he tries to interact with his colleagues as usual too. When he hears of the actress’ death, he becomes an actor himself. Much like Charlie, the readers don’t know what happen at the party either. As his memory comes back, the reader gets to see the pieces unfold. So is Charlie guilty of murder? Or is he just wrapped up in some wild night? Either way, Charlie doesn’t seem like the cleanest man in this new title.
We start at Valeria’s funeral. It is quite sad actually. I don’t know if most people realize how sad it is. First hardly anyone is there, second all the people are just sad because they lost their star, and thirdly, they didn’t even put her birth name on the stone. Clearly this indicates what she will be remembered for. But the more interesting part of the story unfolds with Charlie and his best pal, Gil. These two know everything about each other… even their darkest secrets. We learn some of their secrets and it quickly unfolds the characters in a way I have never seen. All the characters are actors; all the characters have secrets and different identities. This issue really shows what Hollywood can do to you and what people hide in order to save face. It is pretty damn brilliant.
The art lends itself to these secrets too. It is always dark in the comic; almost like I need to squint when reading it. The characters faces are half shown and half in shadow, again alluding to having different identities. Then on top of that everyone is smoking. Granted back then everyone did smoke, but for me I think it is something more. I think the smoke gives the comic this cloud coverage metaphorically telling the readers that you can’t see what is going on behind all that smoke. I love it.
We learn a lot about Charlie and Gil’s relationship for the most part though. These two guys seem pretty messed up, but somehow working together gets them through the day. The comic is full of backstory about the two and current blow ups between them as well. I don’t know if they will soon start to investigate Val’s death or if they will just deal with it along the way. Maybe neither, but the mystery of Val and specifically why she was killed haunts the reader. You don’t want to care knowing that you will not know soon enough, but it is always in the back of your mind. That is just what Brubaker and Phillips are capable of. They capture the readers with each conflict in the narrative.
Writer: Ed Brubaker Artist: Sean Phillips Publisher: Image Comics Price: $3.50 Release Date: 10/1/14 Format: Ongoing; Print/Digital