Comic Rewind: The Fade Out Vol. 1

A young actress dies and no one cares, but one screenwriter is closer to the death than he would like in The Fade Out Vol. 1.

Charlie Parish is a screenwriter in 1948 who wakes up after a wild Hollywood party in an unfamiliar house.  Parish got blackout drunk and stubbles through the strange house as well as his previous night.  He realizes where he is just as he sees the female lead of the movie he is working on, Valeria Sommers, dead.

Parish takes off and tries to remember his night as he tries to piece together the events of the party.  However, he is only able to remember fuzzy faces and details.  Each detail brings him closer to the mystery of who killed Sommers and is hoping it wasn’t him.

When Sommers is found by the studio they set up her body to look like a suicide and cover up a scandal.  The show must go on as they say and the movie business is no different.  The studio finds a different actress to take her part and Parish is just along for the ride.

The Fade Out Vol. 1 was written by Ed Brubaker with art by Sean Phillips and Elizabeth Breitweiser.  Image Comics published the volume in 2015.

There are few things I like more than when Brubaker and Phillips team up on a crime book.  This is no different and it got me hooked very early on.  The series is mostly about old Hollywood and the seedy side of the business.  It is an examination of how old Hollywood worked and doesn’t shy away from the dark side, but also shows characters making sacrifices and showing loyalty.  

I could absolutely see this being based on a true story.  The series is right smack dab in the Hollywood scene with Ronald Reagan, Clark Gable and Bob Hope all making guest appearances of sorts.

The story is surprising complicated with Parish dealing with PTSD after serving in World War II, McCarthyism and cover ups.  The story is maybe a little too complicated at times as there are a lot of characters who are thrown at the reader.  

This volume has an opening with a list of 16 characters listed off with brief explanations as to who they are, but it is hard to remember who is who.  As I progressed through the volume it good easier, but it can be overwhelming at first.

It is a bit of a slow paced story, but is never boring and with very little “fat” to be trimmed.  Every panel has a purpose and the volume is a fast read.

Parish is a very relatable character and I can see myself being in that situation and making the same choices.  He is also a flawed character who is conflicted throughout the volume.  Everyone has forgotten about Sommers, but he is haunted by her murder.  Parish isn’t actively trying to solve her murder and is trying to forget it.  However, the universe won’t like him forget.

The series is only three volumes and is on Comixology Unlimited currently.  I highly suggest this to fans of Brubaker and Phillips, noir crime stories or fans of old Hollywood.  This volume knocks it out of the park and I can’t wait to see what the other volumes will bring.

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