The Fade Out: Keeping Old Hollywood Young In Our Minds

Rating: 5 out of 5

In the modern age we view Hollywood as the necessary evil that churns out overpriced entertainment that we’ll inevitably get in chat room arguments over and we view Hollywood as that one super expensive and polluted part of that really expensive state. But Ed Brubaker was able to take our modern conceptions of Hollywood and remind us where it all began.

Taking place just after World War II, “The Fade Out” is a classic Noir Crime tale set in the City of Angels during the heydey of Hollywood, when futures were bright, the stars were in everyone’s eyes, and the skies weren’t polluted. Being propelled by the sudden murder of the leading woman in a classic film noir, the story follows the people working on the production as they work to keep news hush-hush and the film on schedule. The story follows multiple people, from the Writer who lost his talent while at warhis ghostwriter, who’s been blacklisted for being a communist, the studio fixer, the head producer and the new woman brought in to replace our dead leading lady.

Brubaker is able to weave a perfectly intriguing and sensational mystery while also delivering a salutary send off to Hollywood long since dead. Brubaker does not just glamourize Hollywood, he takes time to highlight the rampant sexual assault and abuse of power, that, while seeming recent and fresh due to the MeToo and Time’s Up movements, have been an axiom within Hollywood for nearly a century. 

The story also handles themes of racism, classism, lust, and revenge tastefully. There are also interesting plot setups that receive good payoffs in later acts. This comic marks the second collaboration between Ed Brubaker’s writing and Sean Phillips’ artwork. Like their last outing with “Fatale” (2012-2014) Phillips is able to merge modern comic art with a style that evokes the classic tone and feel of the long since past era’s of the film noir 50’s. His style is a good mix of modern conventions with visual flavorings reminiscent of classic comic art with heavy use of shadows and the 9-Panel display method popularized by Dave Gibbons with Watchmen (1984). 

“The Fade Out” is a wonderfully crafted Noir Mystery tale of love, lust, guilt and revenge that will satisfy fans classic film noir,  neo-noir works such as that by James Ellroy, and even more modern crime thrillers.

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