Wednesday, December 09, 2015

30 Days of The Fade Out: Action in Every Issue.

Having just reread the first eleven issues of The Fade Out in one go, I'm amazed by the details that I've missed, particularly the subtle images that are paid off months later for those of us who have read the individual issues.  That hazy memory of debauchery in the first issue isn't just setting the scene:  the image is reused in issue #8, when the moment suddenly becomes important.  And that beach house in issue #7, which we barely see, we'll see again in a flashback.

What's also impressive is that Brubaker and Phillips avoid the pitfall of making issues with nothing but dialogue, exposition, and only verbal threats of violence -- what I'm guessing is a particularly tough challenge for naturalistic comics, as opposed to the super-powered mayhem of Sleeper and Incognito and the supernatural horror of Fatale.

In the second Criminal arc, "Lawless," Brubaker challenged himself to include a heist in every issue, and the story is told so effortlessly that you don't notice the gimmick:  every "job" is a natural consequence of the narrative.

Here, in The Fade Out, there's at least one violent or otherwise criminal act in every issue, and it's worthwhile to enumerate them without going into too much detail.
  1. A woman is found murdered, and her murder is covered up as a suicide.
  2. Two men have a fistfight in a cemetery -- and not the last fight between them.
  3. In addition to a lot of hedonism and sexual deviancy, a man is beaten and "taken for a ride," with his fate unknown except that he won't be killed.
  4. A man is evidently murdered, and his house is destroyed by arson.
  5. A man is beaten to a bloody pulp, and enraged, his gay lover recklessly drives his car off the road, at high speed.
  6. A quieter issue, a man begins to threaten other, very powerful men with blackmail.
  7. Two men have a fistfight in a bar, with one suffering blackouts afterwards.
  8. Two people search an opium den for the man beaten up in issue #3, now strung out because his life has been ruined.
  9. After one of them retrieves his service pistol from the war, the two men from the fight in issue #2 have their second fistfight in an office; long ago, the two had been tied up in the back room of a mob-owned bar, and in the present day, one of them conducts the very dangerous work of a private eye.
  10. After getting repeatedly punched for the fourth time in this series, a central character breaks into and enters an unlocked office, looking for answers.
  11. Another man has been found murdered, and a shootout ensues, injuring one man -- evidently fatally.
In the sordid world of this noir story, the threat of violence isn't just real, it's frequently erupting, and it makes for compelling reading.

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