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The Fade Out #11 Review

"Dead Ends"

The next to last issues of The Fade Out has arrived, and a climactic meeting is arranged, but it doesn’t turn out exactly how Charlie Parrish plans. Readers also get further clarity on what probably happened to murdered starlet Val Sommers. The Fade Out #11 is a good issue, with unexpected moments, but it’s not quite the stunning issue I was expecting. Most of the developments occur through memories of Charlie rather than present-day action. While The Fade Out #11 doesn’t really stand out as a great comic book, it’s still a good one.

 

The Fade Out #11

 

Gradually over the past few issue, screenwriters Charlie Parish and Gil Mason have been putting the pieces together of a complicated series of events that led to the murder of Val Sommers. They decided that aging studio mogul Al Kamp, who was involved in many unseemly activities involving Sommers, will have some answers. They go to his estate without much of a plan and things don’t work out well. Not only can Kamp not give them answers (for reasons I won’t spoil here), but they are caught and have to flee under gunfire. Parish recalls more memories that link undercover FBI agent Drake Miller, who is hunting commies, with Val, and he develops a theory that Miller is playing both sides, the studio and Sommers.

 

Since this is the penultimate issue of the series, I thought there would be more concrete details emerging in The Fade Out #11, but there really aren’t any definitive explanations in this issue. Charlie has a new theory based on some more recovered memories from his blackout the night of Val’s death. However, those are hardly reliable, and even these memories don’t offer any real insight on what exactly happened to Val. In addition to the fact that no real new developments are confirmed here, there really isn’t too much new in the plot. We find out what’s happened to Kamp, but while some of Kamp’s past actions factor in a major way, his presence in The Fade Out has been relatively limited, so his fate doesn’t feel like a major revelation.

 

The Fade Out #11

 

As I’ve written before about this series, I think the mystery elements of The Fade Out aren’t as important to creators Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips as the emotional repercussions. The Fade Out #11 feels pulled in both directions by these different story concerns. Charlie and Gil want to know what happened to Val and they want those involved in her death to pay, but the creators actually seem more invested in how these events affect the characters. For example, there is a lovely flashback that Charlie has about a time he went to a distraught Val, and they comforted each other by talking about past tragedies in their lives. It’s these moments that work the best in The Fade Out.

 

Sean Phillips does a really fantastic job in The Fade Out #11 drawing facial expressions. We really haven’t seen Val Sommers that much in the series (even though her death is the center of it all), but in Charlie’s flashback, Phillips draws her in a series of different moments that show both her emotional struggles and alluring beauty. In a different way, he shows how present-day Charlie is nearly out of his mind in pursuing Kamp. His wide-eyed expression gives us a sense that Charlies is not thinking rationally. Elizabeth Breitweiser again provides wonderful colors to the issue, tonally fleshing out the flashback quite differently from the story-present.

 

The Fade Out #11 p3

 

It’s sometimes hard to match expectations of a work of art/entertainment with the work itself. This comes to mind when discussing The Fade Out #11. Most of my critiques come from the fact that this is one of the last issues and there are still many questions that this issue doesn’t satisfy. However, many aspects of The Fade Out #11 work quite nicely. I like how Charlie and Gil don’t really end up as heroes. They are simply writers who end up realizing that they are not qualified for detective work even if they write detective stories. They get in over their heads and have to flee quickly, though not without some repercussions that I imagine will be explored in the next issue.

Rating
7.7
Pros
  • The issue throws out some twists and an interesting new theory
  • Sean Phillips really shows expressions well in his illustrations
  • The scene between Charlie and Val is very nicely handled
Cons
  • There isn't that much development in the mystery of Val's death
  • Charlie's theory comes seemingly out of nowhere

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