The Fix #10 has been a phantom for nearly half a year now, flickering in and out of existence on lists of the week’s Image releases. To be fair, writer Nick Spencer spent a lot of his time in 2017 working on a side project called Secret Empire. But, after months of watching The Fix’s release date tumble-down the calendar, it’s nice to see that Nick’s getting back to the real moneymaker, now that his little passion project has wrapped.
Fortunately, the drop-off in releases this year isn’t commensurate with a drop-off in quality. Spencer and artist Steve Lieber are back with their brand of Black comedy buddy cop hi-jinks, and fans of the series won’t be disappointed by the book’s return. Creators often feel obligated to add some catch-up exposition whenever a book takes an extended mid-arc break, and the previous issue opened with a few pages of rehashed storytelling that felt like an out-of-place meta-acknowledgement of the erratic release schedule. Fortunately, Spencer and Lieber organically incorporate the refresher this time around in a way that fits the narrative yet also alleviates the need for me to go digging through my longboxes for context.
While issue #9 focused entirely on detective Roy and his quest to solve the untimely demise of his celebutante ward, The Fix #10 catches up with detective Mac and his canine counterpart Pretzels. The new issue doesn’t miss a beat with its lowbrow gallows humor, crass characters, and self-serving motivations. Torture, murder, and corruption are all presented with flippancy within the book’s pointed dialogue and visual gags. Of course, Mac and Roy are scumbag’s, so the appeal is in spectating the depths of their degeneracy. Filmmaker Donovan and his characteristically despicable commentary also make a return in issue #10, and he busts out some next-level awfulness. In fact, if any character approaches the point of taking things “too far” in this story, it’s Donovan; his truculent, debauched, nihilistic persona is almost too much, even in the world of The Fix.
Lieber’s art continues to be a show-stealer, presenting expressive and well-crafted faces that convey as much of the book’s sardonic humor as Spencer’s writing does. Issue #10 also features one of the series’ most gruesomely hilarious pages that mashes up photos of a psychopath’s macabre tableaus with a social media feed. Lieber’s gory creativity (along with the spot-on layout of letterer/designer Marshall Dillon) knocks this concept out of the park. Lieber also incorporates real-world product logos, like an L.A. Galaxy sweatshirt on a fleeing bystander, that do much to ground the story in its real-world Hollywood setting.
It’s inevitable that some may find this subject matter distasteful, especially with police brutality and corruption persisting as significant social issues. That being said, I think it’s important to not only separate art from artist but also acknowledge that a depiction of morally-abhorrent behavior (even one as steeped in dark humor as The Fix) is not a tacit endorsement or glamorization of it. Much like The Wolf of Wall Street isn’t Scorsese’s how-to guide for committing white-collar crime, The Fix isn’t a vehicle for Spencer and Lieber to condone or normalize the behavior of crooked cops.
Spencer’s work with the Cap concluded around the end of September, so I’m hopeful that he’s been able to churn out enough scripts in the past few months to finish this arc. Fans of the series who have been waiting since the summer to find out what happens to Roy, Mac, and Pretzels should definitely look forward to grabbing the next chapter of The Fix this week — fingers crossed for a consistent release schedule in 2018! 4/5
(W) Nick Spencer (A/CA) Steve Lieber