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Fade from Grace    by Jeff Amano & Gabriel Benson order for
Fade from Grace
by Jeff Amano
Order:  USA  Can
Image Comics, 2005 (2005)
* * *   Reviewed by Lance Victor Eaton

The dichotomous nature of this graphic novel will easily propel it to the top of reading lists. Uniquely blending romance and superheroes, Fade from Grace tells the story of John and Grace as they come to terms with John's superpowers and what their existence means to them as a couple. Upon returning from an ice cream trip, John finds Grace's apartment building on fire. While everyone flees, he rushes into the building to find his Grace but the smoke and heat separate them. Before he realizes it, John's innate superpower manifests and he walks through the wall to save his girlfriend.

Time lapses before he and Grace admit to what happened but when the cat finally escapes the bag, John decides to test his abilities. He learns about his powers with Grace's help and encouragement. Finally, the day comes when John assumes the identity of Fade, his superhero alter-ego. Within weeks, he cleans up crime in the city. But the efforts of superheroes have their costs. When Grace is kidnapped, John realizes his vulnerability and also discovers that his powers are taking a toll on his body, quickening the aging process. So can a superhero have it all - love, justice, and longevity? John may have to sacrifice more than one of these by story's end.

This graphic novel aesthetically stimulates the eyes with fantastic canvasses uncluttered with an overabundance of text. The minimal dialogue and narrative text is enough to guide the story, but each panel reveals a great deal of information. The bold decisive lines of drawing provide great contrast to John's faded presence during his exploits, not to mention the stark juxtaposition between lighter elements of the panel and the pitch black silhouettes of characters within the story. The use of bright and dark panels also polarizes places of safety such as the home and places of danger such as the streets.

The simple and elegant style of the panels relays ample information to the reader. From the bold black outline of John and Grace on the cover to the last page, the striking art draws you in and propels you through this amazing visual and emotional journey. Also, a cover gallery, and commentary on the artwork by David Mack, add more food for thought to this already overflowing buffet.

Your typical superhero story smacks of cliché, trite dialogue, and an overabundance of melodrama. Though Fade from Grace does have its share of melodrama, yet, the soft delivery and light touch of the artists make the story much more bold and unique than the usual. Fade is a superhero of a higher caliber.

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