If there’s ever been a comic book that was the perfect gift for a comic book geek to give his non-comic book-reading girlfriend, Fade From Grace would be it. Elegantly written, and beautifully illustrated, it’s a four-color “chick flick” that any self-respecting fan of quality comic books would love.
Fade works on two levels, first as a traditional origin story following our hero, John, as he develops super powers – the ability to control his density – while saving his girlfriend Grace from her burning apartment. The first three issues follow John as he learns to control his powers and, at the behest of Grace, becomes the superhero Fade. The twist here, what lifts the series above the glut of men-in-tights comics, is its perspective and tone, as we witness John’s story through Grace’s admiring eyes. It’s a trick politicians have used for years, one Howard and Judy Dean resisted a bit too long, humanizing a larger-than-life character in a way simply giving him a personality defect or two doesn’t achieve.
“At the time, I didn’t worry about the future. How do you worry about something you can’t comprehend? I mean, it isn’t like there’s a training manual for wives of super-heroes. And the risks were real. On nights like this,…when I try to tend his wounds — I wonder if all he is sacrificing is worth it.”
At the risk of turning off potential readers that are insecure in their masculinity, Fade From Grace is, at its core, a love story. Writer Gabriel Benson ably delivers the heroics, but the story hinges on the unabashed love between John and Grace and, more importantly, on the credibility of Grace’s character, which Benson pulls off perfectly. He takes a minimalist approach, not through decompression but concision, almost poetic in his ability to nail a moment in a few words. Teamed with artist (and Fade creator) Jeff Amano, whose stylized almost iconic artwork gives the book a vibrant, distinctive feel, Fade From Grace is one of the most pure, exquisitely realized comics being published right now.
Fade‘s publisher, Beckett, got a lot of buzz for releasing The Ballad of Sleeping Beauty #1 as its contribution to last year’s Free Comic Book Day, and followed it up a month later with Fade From Grace #1 for $0.99. That, along with its regular cover price of $1.99, should be enough to land it a regular spot on Diamond’s Top 200 list, but sadly, #3 barely cracked the Top 300 back in November. In a month where two issues each of Loeb’s fanboy wankfest Superman/Batman and Bendis’ awful Avengers Disassembled dominated the Top 10, that’s a crime.
It was the risky cover to the just released fourth issue, featuring only Fade‘s logo with no title or price, that finally got me to check it out, and led me to buying all four issues on the spot. The story concludes next issue and, for those not willing or able to track down these first four issues, if and when a trade paperback is announced, you need to order two of them. One for yourself, and one for someone you love.
If you’ve ever wished for a really good comic book to add to your pull list, Fade From Grace is what you’ve been wishing for.
Fade From Grace #1-4 (Beckett Comics, $1.99/ea [#1: $0.99]); Created and Art by Jeff Amano, Written by Gabriel Benson.