Writer: Ed Brubaker
Artist: Sean Phillips
Colorist: Elizabeth Breitweiser
I’ll be the first to admit, I like a lot of comics. When you read one of my reviews, chances are I really enjoyed it, and the rating will be high. Honestly, a lot of that comes with reviewing a lot of issue 1s. There’s always a sense of the future of a title that causes excitement and captivates. Sometimes, however, an issue, or really any story, comes about that just leaves you shaking in how good it is. I had one of those moments over a year ago, right here in the Review Brew, when I looked at Morrison and Quietly’s Multiversity: Pax Americana. I can very happily say I had that feeling again today, when I read the final Chapter of Brubaker and Phillips’s masterpiece: The Fade Out.
Since this was the final chapter, and this story is required reading for all humans that like fiction of any kind, I’m not going to go too heavily into the story of this issue. The series has been about screenwriter Charlie Parish attempting to get to the bottom of a murder he may be a part of. What we get through the series is a journey into the seedy underbelly of Hollywood in the Golden Age of Cinema. The genius of this series comes in the seamless mixing of true life issues from history and gripping characters struggling to survive. In this finale, after everything seemingly came to a head in the last issue, we see the world deal with what happened, and it ends in the only way that makes sense. The world of this book is a cruel place, and no character gets away unscathed. While I’ve loved the look at real life figures like Clark Gable and Desi Arnez making appearances, the digging into Charlie’s complicated life and character is the real meat of the story. These people are really fairly horrible at their core (with a few exceptions) but Brubaker forces you to care about them. What was shocking with this issue, Brubaker actually talks some sympathetic realism in one of the most reviled characters of the series in Phil Brodsky, the Studio Head of Security. To sum this up, between the threads of blacklisted writers and classic Hollywood, and the noir style characters we know and love from Brubaker, this was easily the best book of 2015, and, with this issue, finished stronger than I even anticipated in the start of 2016.
When we think of Brubaker stories, the first artist that always comes to mind is Sean Phillips, and between Criminal and Sleeper, the duo have created some of the best comics since 2000. This story was an absolute perfect fit for him. His retro style seated us firmly in the world from jump, and the panel to panel storytelling, which is extremely important and almost heightened with a Noir style story like this, is some of the best in comics. There’s something to be said about the feeling of absolute paranoia and pressure that is ever present in this world, and it all comes through in the silent moments rendered by Phillips. I would also be remiss to not shout out Breitweiser’s colors, which we really saw her go all out crazy in this series. While she’s always been an incredible colorist, for a lot of this series, she really made the palette go nuts, and almost explode over the page, matching the tension and waiting eruptions of the story. This final issue saw a return to a more subdued but equally effective palette, as the world goes back to it’s seeming sense of normalcy. When anyone questions why coloring is important in comics, read this series.
As you can tell, I cannot say enough good about this series. To me, this is the best comic in years, and the best work of the Brubaker and Phillips team. When this is collected in a nice Deluxe hardcover, it’s a must own for any reader’s collection.
5 Booze Bottles out of 5