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As The Fade Out edges towards its conclusion, we are starting to see unravel some of the mysteries at the heart of this series, as The Fade Out #10 reveals some important details about who is who and what is what. The 1940s Hollywood-set noir mystery from Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips has always been intended as a 12-issue mini-series, so there are only two issues after #10 to bring together the many story threads established so far. After The Fade Out #10, though, the story’s climax is looking even more intriguing.
In The Fade Out #10, screenwriter Charlie Parish attempts to break into the office of studio fixer Phil Brodsky but is caught by PR girl Dottie Quinn. Confronted, Charlie explains what he knows about the mysteries surrounding Val Sommers’ death. Dottie is able to give Charlie the info that the menacing Drake Miller, purportedly a producer, is actually an undercover FBI agent trying to find Communists. This follows another revelation when Charlie searches Brodsky’s office and finds out that leading man Earl Rath was not with the group the night of Val’s murder, as Charlie had previously though. Instead, it was closeted actor Tyler Graves.
There are certainly many more questions left unanswered after The Fade Out #10, primarily what happened to Sommers and how it is connected to studio head Victor Thursby. However, for most of the first nine issues of the series, we’ve only been getting the establishment of questions and incorrect answers, so to start to get some significant leads to what did and did not happen shows that Brubaker and Phillips are entering the third act of the series, in which answers will occur, so I expect the last two issues to offer even more revelations.
Throughout the first ten issues, The Fade Out has not just been a noir mystery. It’s a story about old Hollywood, World War II, the rise of McCarthyism, opportunism and exploitation. That Drake Miller is undercover hunting commies again ties the series to larger issues. I would imagine that whatever happened to Val, it’s not just going to be a lover’s quarrel or accident. Brubaker and Phillips are telling a bigger story than that, and it’s why The Fade Out, even though it has stretched the mysteries very far, has been an enjoyable read.
The art of The Fade Out #10 is some of the best in the series so far. Phillips pencils his figures with a great deal of weight and they have more of a power than in some of the previous issues. Even a phone call between Brodsky and Gil Mason packs a lot of energy in its panels. Colorist Elizabeth Breitweiser again shows her value in this issue. Most of the scenes have a subtle but noticeable color scheme. The movie party is purple, Gil and Charlies’ planning is blue, Brodsky’s office is yellow, and Charlie’s conversation with Dottie is black-blue. These touches give each scene a distinctly different feeling and tone.
The upcoming end of The Fade Out gives me mixed feelings. I’m excited to see how Brubaker and Phillips wrap things up and what surprises they offer during the last two issues. At the same time, I will miss this series when it’s over. The two creators have another project planned, so that will likely be promising, once details are released. Regardless, for this series, The Fade Out #10 pulls us further towards a finish line, with a strong issue in all facets.