Thursday, March 18, 2010

Chronic Review: Fade to Black # 1

Fade to Black # 1
Image Comics

Script: Jeff Mariotte

Pencils: Danielle Serra

22 pages for $3.50

I bought into this book based on the solicitation copy, which sold Fade to Black as a survival horror book with a few clever twists in store. Things suddenly get real for a group of five actors on a desert set when a mysterious band of cannibals start eating the production crew. That could be fun, right?

I like horror in general, and I like your basic survival scenario a great deal. Tales From the Crypt: Demon Knight is one of my all time top ten films - that's how much I love the niche.

So how is it that I would rather have a fresh glass of blow fish toxin than read another issue of Fade to Black? Let me count the ways.

Maybe it's Mario's incredibly authentic "gangsta" dialogue:

Makes you feel like you're on the mean streets. Esse. Somewhere Brian Azzarello is crying, and he doesn't know why.

Maybe it's these clever little "character moments" that subtly announce that they are CHARACTER MOMENTS by punching you in the throat while holding a roll of quarters:

Could it be the super realistic emotional reactions of the characters? I'm sure if you were a budding actor and just saw your director's decapitated head laying on the table, you'd bust out your rapier with like this:

It gets better. Directly after this "Aggh!" and that something that I think was intended to be funny, the entire group just goes on about their business of looking for a cell phone as though it was a plate of cheese and crackers on the table instead of a co-workers skull.

If that weren't enough to make you close the book and set fire to it, this incredibly long and completely improbable piece of exposition should do the trick:

Wha??? Why exactly is Dave Koresh in the distance being cryptic about "rightful places" and the "goal" when he's surrounded by nothing but dirt and his lackeys? Not only is that bit too talky and too long, but it reads like it was put down by Ed Wood. This is the hook that's supposed to drag us into the next issue, that and the mystery of who "the one" might be from our group of five actors we care nothing about. I don't think so. It's not just clumsy, it's an affront to fiction.

What makes it extra painful is the fact that 9 of the 22 pages of this book contain 3 panels or less. It reads in 3 minutes. There's just no value here. I'm struggling to find something positive to say here, and I can't. These things happen. Unfortunately. NEXT!

- Ryan

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