Friday, January 01, 2016

30 Days of The Fade Out: The Replacement Blonde.

The Fade Out Number Two Three: "The Replacement Blonde"

As we noted before, this third chapter of The Fade Out is the only one to omit Charlie Parish from the "Cast of Characters" page at the beginning of the issue.  Only eight characters were listed, leaving the last position available, but Charlie's hardly in this issue at all.

Instead, the issue tells us more about Victor Thursby and introduces us to the woman replacing Val Sommers in Shadow of the Valley: Maya Silver, an actress "waiting for her big break."

The Movie.  To replace his deceased lead actress in Shadow of the Valleydirector Franz Schmitt picks Maya Silver, whom Val beat in the final round of auditions, but Schmitt still has a casting call which Maya's agent inaccurately describes as a formality.  Being fortunate enough to have the same dress size as Val, Maya enjoys her first day of shooting interspersed with photos being taken for publicity, and her day ends with Brodsky getting rid of her possessive and disruptive ex-husband.

The Murder.  Nothing changes regarding the mystery surrounding Val's murder and cover-up:  we'll learn in the next issue that Charlie and Gil continue to agonize over what they already know and are trying to forget.

Set outside of the context of the rest of the story, this issue shows us what "business as usual" looks like in the corrupt studio system: hopeful artists compromise their integrity trying to break into the business, and their willingness to do anything makes them prey for the powerful.  Maya quickly comes to terms with the costs of her emerging life of stardom, Brodsky and Tom Greavey try to take advantage of women using the lies they want to hear, and the infrastructure and even the architecture of Victor Thursby's studio facilitates his vices.

(The scandalous abuses of powerful men in the entertainment industry still make front-page news.)

Thursby's behavior is particularly interesting.  Earlier we wrote that we surmise that he was the man who rescued Val from her old life of abuse as a child star, but his life clearly isn't one of chastity, probity, and chivalry.  We learn in issue #7 what Val did to make herself unattractive to Thursby, and clearly he distinguishes between child abuse and taking advantage of adult women.

He thinks to himself that Maya isn't Val, and that makes us wonder about the friendship between Victor Thursby and Val Sommers, and just how platonic their relationship was -- or, at least, how platonic Thursby wanted it to be.

We also wonder whether Thursby ever tries that routine again:  we don't see him do so in the comic itself.
"What-- what is it you want... sir?"
"But he doesn't answer...
"...because he realizes right then, he doesn't even know anymore."

It's possible that nothing will ever be the same for him, no matter how much he tries to forget the girl he saved and the woman he lost.

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