Review - The Fade Out #1

"I threw my back out trying to deck Bob Hope."

Actors live in a world much different than that of the everyday folk. Sure, having gobs of money helps, but there's a certain atmosphere that accompanies the profession. That atmosphere is best exemplified by living in LA, a place where people make pilgrimages to in hopes of hitting it big. Imagine such an atmosphere though in 1948 and you've got the makings an intriguing mystery book from Image Comics called The Fade Out #1. The issue is written by Ed Brubaker, illustrated by Sean Phillips and colored by Elizabeth Breitweiser.

Hollywood - 1948. A noir film stuck in endless reshoots. A writer plagued with nightmares from the war and a dangerous secret. An up-and-coming starlet's suspicious death. And a maniacal studio mogul and his Security Chief who will do anything to keep the cameras rolling before the Post-War boom days come crashing down.

The 1940s as a decade was quite fascinating, largely because of the recurring attention devoted to World War II. It was an era when the safety of the world was largely uncertain for half the decade, while the other half was largely uneasy acceptance of a new future. Still, Brubaker manages to capture both in The Fade Out #1, providing a setting that is a keen on excess in Hollywood with a few reservations. The first issue unfolds in a whodunnit fashion, with the reader privileged enough to have more insights than most of the characters. The mystery of the events at the party are intertwined so deeply with one another and Brubaker is offering up quite a few threads for readers to tug on. Tackling the air of invulnerability that actors at the time felt is pretty exciting, giving Brubaker a chance to really shine.

Brubaker's success as a writer notwithstanding, it's Phillips' familiarity with him that pushes the book to the next level. The duo has been putting out quality title after quality title for years and it shows in The Fade Out #1. Character depictions effectively convey the era they inhabit, with Phillips imbuing the book with his familiar noir style. Charlie Parish, for instance, feels like he stepped right out of a 1948 picture and carries the emotion of his realizations on his face extremely well. Breitweiser's use of contrasting dark and light colors brilliantly emphasize the shift between settings, such as when characters enter a vibrant party or exit into the darker LA night.

The Fade Out #1 is not going to surprise anyone in terms of the talent involved, but it will offer a rather welcome look at a turbulent time in LA. By the end of the issue, all the cards are on the table in terms of where the mystery will venture next. Brubaker is in top form, writing a book that paces very well and offers up just the right amount of bread crumbs to keep the reader nibbling the hook. Phillips' illustrations are edgy and bold in a style befitting of the personalities of the players involved, further accented by some stellar coloring choices by Breitweiser. The Fade Out #1 is another solid outing from some familiar friends that everyone should check out.

The Fade Out #1 is in stores now with interiors below.