THE FADE OUT: ACT ONE (Image, 2015; Softcover)
Collects The Fade Out #1-4 (cover dates August, 2014- January, 2015)
Writer: Ed Brubaker
Artist: Sean Phillips
Colorist: Elizabeth Breitweiser
Ed Brubaker remains the brightest spot in modern comics. He has decided to take Noir to it's logical extreme, experimenting with every conceivable facet of it. This time it comes in the form of The Fade Out, with the reader being transported back to the Golden Age of Hollywood, back when the rules and laws of normal society didn't apply because of money. The more things change, right? A studio tries to cover up the murder of an actress, moving the body to make it look like a suicide while leaving screenwriter Charlie Parish in a predicament since he was sleeping one off in the other room.
This is where the real problem for this title starts. Brubaker is a brilliant writer. Everything that he has ever done has pushed beyond what he has done before. The Fade Out seems to take various elements of what has worked splendidly for him in the past and are presented here without anything different or new. This isn't a knock as much as it is an observation. Think of it in terms of albums by The Rolling Stones. Whereas Fatale was his Sticky Fingers, The Fade Out is more of his It's Only Rock 'N' Roll. Highly polished bits and pieces of what worked before, presented in a cohesive and enjoyable package. The trick now is whether this is Brubaker catching his breath, reiterating what he does best before making another leap or whether he is entering a holding pattern. Will the next arc be his Black And Blue? Let's hope not.
Sean Phillips and Elizabeth Breitweiser are a great pair, with Phillips' art and Breitweiser's color becoming more polished and refined. Phillips especially has grown by leaps and bounds over the last few years.
I may sound a bit harsh, but part of this is Brubaker's own fault for being so inventive with every outing. If this were Joe Blow, who turned in competent yet average work time and again, I would be satisfied and give full approval. Brubaker is a victim of his own success, though, as I expect to be blown away. The twists and turns are all present here, but I haven't felt the gut punch yet. I am not giving up hope, though. This is only Act One. And this is still better than 99% of what is currently on the stands.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 4.5 out of 5.
The OCD zone- Image makes the nicest trade paperbacks these days. Solid.
Paper stock: Thick matte coated stock.
Binding: Perfect bound trade paperback.
Cardstock cover notes: Dull matte finish. It doesn't feel as chalky as many books with this type of coating do.