Reviewer: Chris Delloiacono
Story Title: N/A
Written by: Gabriel Benson
Art and Cover by: Jeff Amano
Managing Editor: Gabriel Benson
Publisher: Beckett Comics
Muhammad Ali shocked the world on February 24, 1964 by knocking out Sonny Liston. On July 3, 2004 Beckett Comics laid their own shock on the world just over forty years later, when they released The Ballad of Sleeping Beauty #1 as a part of Free Comic Book Day III. I’ve never seen such a quality comic series launched with the entire first issue available for free. The quality was apparent from cover-to-cover. Everything from the story and art, obviously very important aspects of any comic series, down to the paper quality and preview pages of other books were out of this world. They may not have knocked the champions (DC and Marvel) out with this blow, but they certainly put them on notice.
Fade From Grace was previewed in the back of that fateful FCBD offering. Getting a look at the six-pages contained within and then realizing that the first issue would be only .99 cents made it a no-brainer purchase.
After FCBD the buzz surrounding Ballad was apparent. The ‘net was alive with positive reviews and the people in my comic shop (Wild Pig Comics) were singing its praises. I guess some might have questioned whether the high-quality would continue into the regular release books. Well, with this week’s shipping of both The Ballad of Sleeping Beauty #2 and Fade from Grace #1 it’s clear that Beckett is going to be a major player in the comic industry from this point forward.
Beckett Comics appears poised to tell compelling stories that are quite a bit different from most comic publishers. They aren’t different in a way that pigeon holes them or makes them less appealing to the mainstream. With the small sampling that’s been released so far, it’s clear that Beckett is producing the most approachable, and mainstream comics of any American publisher. All Ages and All Genders (I know there’re only two genders, but it sounds better with the two alls) can sit down and love these books.
Not only is the book of superb quality, but its available for a great price. This issue of Fade will cost you less than a buck. The second issue of Ballad is less than two bucks. One of the other major problems faced by smaller publishers is being forced to charge a high price point. An example would be CrossGen, which put out some of the slickest books on the market, but they were nearly three dollars each. Beckett seems to have addressed so many of the concerns of longtime comic readers, by making their books look great, reasonably priced, and appealing to the mass market. Not bad for a company that’s just beginning to make their name in the comic business.
Did I just write five paragraphs and not get to, what we at The Nexus call, the meat of the review? Let’s move on…
The first issue of Fade From Grace does something that’s quite rare in this day and age…telling a superhero origin story that’s totally fresh. The book centers on a pair of lovers, John and Grace. Narrated by Grace we get a look into the inner-world of these characters and the momentous changes in store for them after John exhibits superpowers when he rescues Grace from their burning apartment. Gabriel Benson’s script rings true to life. We get a clear understanding of who these lovers are and their actions make sense within the context of the story.
Told with a minimum of word balloons and text that is mostly free floating in the panel, the book is lent a lush, but spacious atmosphere. The story is fast paced, made more so by the stunning effect of the word layout, and never gets bogged down. It’s the perfect introduction to the characters and situations that we can expect and it left me wanting more, without cheating me on this month’s story.
Artistically, Fade From Grace is wonderful. As I mentioned, the text layout is free floating, often beneath the panel, allowing Jeff Amano’s work to stand out that much more on each page. Amano has an amazing knack for using silhouettes to tell the story.
I’ve got to hand it to Beckett, I’ve tried two books from their line, and I’m on board both. Beckett’s got me excited to see what’s next.