Fade from Grace #1

Written by Gabriel Benson
Art by Jeff Amano
32 pages, color
Published by Beckett Comics

Beckett Comics opened its doors with low priced comics offering a wide variety of subject material; movie tie-ins (Terminator 3), post-apocalyptic gang warfare (Ruule), and western-meets-fairy tale (The Ballad of Sleeping Beauty). Now with their new book, Fade from Grace, it looks like they’ve got a superhero book. But is it just more of the same?

John and Grace had been together for three years, happily in love. When a fire breaks out in their home, John discovers that he may have abilities that he never knew he possessed. But now that John has these powers, what is he going to do with them?

Reading Gabriel Benson’s script for Fade from Grace #1, it surprised me at just how familiar it felt. Reading the book, it’s the ultimate example of a by-the-numbers origin story for a superhero comic. Powers appear during a moment of stress to save someone, they find nothing physically wrong at a doctor’s checkup, and after saving another person decide that they need to use these powers for the greater good. The whole way through I kept waiting for something different, like the mixing of genres in The Ballad of Sleeping Beauty, but it never shows up. Instead we’ve got a slightly trite narration from Grace the whole way through the book; it’s supposed to sound introspective and wondering, but it just doesn’t come together.

I’ve really liked Jeff Amano’s covers for The Ballad of Sleeping Beauty, which are simple and stylish. What works well for single images, though, doesn’t quite hold together as sequential art. The art doesn’t seem to really flow from one panel to the next, instead coming across as a series of static images. There’s no real sense of motion here as well, which makes some of the scenes really tricky to follow because it’s hard to tell what Jeff is doing. There’s something going on strange here with perspective as well, making Jeff and Grace occasionally look like they’ve turned into bobble-headed dolls, like when they’re in the doctor’s office. That said, when it does work is when Amano goes for the splash pages. The shot of Jeff carrying Grace up out of the burning home, for instance, is perfect because it’s able to exist in a vacuum and just look nice. For individual images, Amano’s got it all together perfectly.

I wanted to like Fade from Grace #1 a lot more than I did; the book just seems too stiff right now, though, both in writing and in art. Hopefully in future issues it’ll loosen up a bit and flow a little more naturally, breaking away from the typical and becoming something stronger. At 99 cents an issue it’s hard to get too disappointed, but it’s just not there yet.

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