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The Fade Out #1
Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips have carved out a pretty solid film noir niche in the comics world. They've done film noir superheroes in Sleeper, Lovecraftian film noir in Fatale, and straight-up film noir crime stories in Criminal. You'd think film noir would be played out by this point, but here's the thing: Brubaker and Phillips make really good film noir stories. So with a five-year Image Comics deal in the bag, naturally the pair are turning their focus on the touchstone of film noir: Hollywood itself.
The premise? A 1948 Hollywood screenwriter wakes up hungover and discovers the corpse of a rising starlet, strangled to death in the next room. Fearing murder charges he flees, only to learn someone rearranged the scene to look like a suicide, protecting the studio from investigation. Since no one else knows a murder occurred, the writer must seek his own answers, hoping that he won't ultimately be implicated for the crime.
Beyond the engaging premise, The Fade Out is a biting critique of 1940s Hollywood. A woman's death is clearly less significant than keeping the movie business running, making Hollywood culture itself the enemy to overcome. There's also a certain amount of irony in seeing film actors and producers as a literal film noir cast, deconstructing the genre just as quickly as it's presented. All told, Brubaker and Phillips are off to a great start yet again, with a book sure to become a critical hit.
Favorite Moment: "I threw my back out trying to deck Bob Hope."