Ed Brubaker is about to deliver. He and Sean Phillips are break the skylight and get onto the roof. The Fade Out, an entirely grounded detective story set in Hollywood, is about to be where Brubaker joins the very small group of comics writers who I will buy regardless. Because what they do will be something special, even if its mainstream, because their styles may not reflect how comics are progressing as a narrative art form right now, but they will in a few years.
It’s like if Sleeper: Season Two had actually been as good as the first series. It’s like if Captain America really were as good as Catwoman. Brubaker jumps between projects with impatience. He gets excited for the new shiny. Only Fade Out doesn’t have the shiny, it just has the skills. It has the writing and the art and the writer’s understanding of what the art is going to do to this story. Brubaker understands how the comic book is going to read and he lets it inform how he’s writing.
It’s entirely commercial, entirely artistic and sublimely elegant.
He could screw it all up next issue, of course.
That would be very sad.
As for the comic itself, Brubaker gets around to revealing some things Gil should have known about from Charlie. Not to mention the reader. The reader should have known too. Except it works better here defining Charlie as a person, making him more understandable. It’s a genre standard and Brubaker pulls it off.
Then it’s Gil and Charlie on an adventure. It’s amazing. And Charlie’s narration of it, with how the plot progresses and then how Phillips illustrates it, that adventure is where Brubaker and Phillips do something extraordinary. They show how comics noir is its own genre. They prove the argument of their last ten years of work.
Even if The Fade Out flops next issue, Brubaker and Phillips have done something extraordinary with it.
Anyone Else But Me; writer, Ed Brubaker; artist, Sean Phillips; colorist, Elizabeth Breitweiser; publisher, Image Comics.
Yep, here we are, a mere issue away from the finish. Fade Out put Brubes and Phillips in the next plateau of creators, and we all await with anxious glee whether or not Charlie becomes one of the most memorable characters in comics history. Phew!