WAYWARD/THE FADE OUT
Written by Jim Zub and Drawn by Steven Cummings
Written by Ed Brubaker and Drawn by Sean Phillips
Published by Image Comics
Reviewed by Marc Mason
Taking a look at two recent newbies…
I was somewhat dubious heading into WAYWARD #1, mainly because, while I can appreciate the professionalism in the execution, writer Jim Zub’s SKULLKICKERS is not quite my thing. That was, frankly, dumb on my part, particularly because WAYWARD is wildly different than that other book. This one is thoroughly modern, introducing us to Rori Lane, a half-Irish, half-Japanese teenage girl who arrives in Japan to move in with her mother. At first, we are led to believe that the book will simply be one about culture clash and adapting to identity, and that alone would have made it interesting because Zub makes us like her immediately. But as the book progresses, some intriguing supernatural undertones settle in, and suddenly we get something more along the genre lines of BUFFY. It’s a glorious surprise, and I loved every second of it.
Of course, it works as well as it does because of the fantastic artwork turned in by Cummings. I’ve seen his art recently on a couple of graphic novels from the major book publishers, and he shows here why he’s been in that kind of demand. His characters are eye-pleasing, his backgrounds are gorgeous, and his storytelling is excellent. In short: this was a book I expected pretty much nothing from, yet when I was done with it, I wanted the second issue immediately because of how good it is. One should never be afraid to admit being wrong, and I was very, very wrong in my attitude approaching this one. Buy it.
I’m not sure what else I can say about THE FADE OUT #1 that every other reviewer (and professional for that matter) hasn’t already said. With FATALE having wrapped up just a few weeks ago, you’d have thought that maybe Brubaker and Phillips would take a break, enjoy a victory lap, whatever. But instead, they have followed up almost immediately with this one, and it might be their best work together yet. When Charlie Parish, a hack screenwriter, wakes up after a party with no memory of what occurred, that’s troubling. When he enters a room and finds starlet Valeria Sommers dead? Well, that’s way past troubling.
Set in the Blacklist era of Hollywood, Brubaker and Phillips create a grabber of a story, complete with fascinating characters, zesty dialogue, gorgeous milieus, and enough intrigue to keep the audience sucked in to the very end. Nobody does this stuff better than these guys, and I’m not just talking right now. I’m talking ever. In looking at their output over the past few years, it’s clear we are watching two people in their prime doing work that will outlast them far after they’re gone. They’re the Lee/Kirby of noir.