Best Comics of 2014: The Fade Out

Best Comics of 2014: The Fade Out
In a world where Ed Brubaker makes writing noir-tinged period pieces look effortless, what can we say about The Fade Out - a murder mystery set in Hollywood's golden age - except that "it's more of what you'd expect from this team, and that's why we love it"?

Well, let's back up a little. If you enjoyed the deep, dark, nuanced world of Criminal. If you liked the period setting of Fatale. If you enjoy the intrigue of Velvet. If, basically, you've ever enjoyed an Ed Brubaker comic, The Fade Out is like the ultimate expression of one. Rich in plot and character, fully-researched and well-realised, with flawless technical execution from Brubaker and his frequent collaborators. With the obvious caveat that the subject matter might not interest you, it's hard to find fault with.

But more than that, it's an important project. For one, it's the first project of an unprecedented five year exclusivity deal Brubaker and Phillips have with Image. Second, it's trying new things with format - the first issue was released in oversized magazine dimensions to evoke the era the book is set in. Third, it's got backmatter essays that'd be worth paying for in their own right. On every level, it's designed to make you think about what can be done within the boundaries of a comic, and as an opening salvo for a deal, that's impressive stuff.

If anything's wrong with The Fade Out, it's that despite all this, it's not really being talked about. We're as guilty as anyone of this, of course, but at least we're making up for it now. Perhaps the problem is that Brubaker, Phillips and Co. are so dependable that it's simply taken for granted that they'll produce high-quality work that'll leave you gripped. Unfair on the part of the audience, perhaps, but as problems go, it's not exactly a bad one to have. If you can find a better crime comic from 2014, then bring it to us.