Written by: Ed Brubaker
Art by: Sean Phillips & Elizabeth Breitweiser
Hot off the finale of “Fatale” comes “The Fade Out” #1, another sure to be a hit series from Ed Brubaker, Sean Phillips, and Elizabeth Breitweiser. Set in 1940s Hollywood the series tells the tale of the untimely death of an up and coming starlet and a screenwriter in the studio system.
The basic version of the premise is something that we’ve seen quite a few times, but the story Brubaker delivers is something that truly sinks its teeth into and doesn’t seem to want to let go. Brubaker shows a very real Hollywood of the era. You get the studio politics, Hollywood parties, Hollywood fights, and fears of the era you can imagine getting from someone who lived in the time. In the backmatter of the book he has a disclaimer of the sort of language of racism, anti-Semitism, and sexism being commonplace, and as such that language would appear in this book. There is obviously a lot that can go wrong with that but the couple instances where that sort of thing pops up don’t feel out of place. Charlie Parish is the lead of this series and the center of the mystery Brubaker sets up. On the surface Charlie seems like a simple man. He’s a writer doing his job and enjoying the life that comes with it, but there is whole lot more to him. There’s a specific scene in this issue that shows him in a panic after a big discovery. Instead of staying in that panic there is a quick shift to a man who knows what he’s doing to cover his own ass. It’s after this you realize he’s deeper than the man just doing his job. It will be interesting to see if this is something that plays out in the long run.
For a Hollywood noir series, or any noir series for that matter, Sean Phillips is the best choice in artist. He really nails down the look of Hollywood at the time and the noir feel of the genre. It’s a Hollywood that isn’t bright and glamorous like the movies would tell you, but lived in. There’s something else Phillips nails, and that is the main character Charlie Parish. As I said, Charlie seems simple on the surface, but gets a tad more complex. You see it through out the issue as well and it seems Charlie plays the part that’s needed in particular situations as his composure shifts panel to panel. He’s an actor just like those around him. Phillips’ art drives this home.
Elizabeth Breitweiser brings it on every page she colors and this is no different. I think the best thing, for this issue at least is that the green that covers Charlie when the focus is on him. Even if things are in “full” color, there is usually a touch of green. There is one page where Charlie’s green palette slowly fades to red when the story turns focus to Valeria Sommers, a Hollywood actress. It isn’t subtle, but something you may miss on the first read. Her colors alone make this required reading.
The Fade Out #1 brings together a powerhouse trio that delivers, the first chapter is a mystery that will bring you back month after month.