cover image Night Fever

Night Fever

Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips. Image, $24.99 (128p) ISBN 978-1-5343-2609-5

A man on a tedious business trip discovers his dark side in this taut thriller from reliably top-notch noir duo Brubaker and Phillips (the Reckless series). Jonathan Webb is a foreign rights rep attending a book show in Paris who spends sleepless nights contemplating his outwardly successful but inwardly staid home life. On one of his nocturnal wanders, he comes across a masked gathering (“sex and drugs... violence... but with a veneer of class”) reminiscent of Eyes Wide Shut. Webb slips in using a fake persona and meets Rainer, a European man of mystery who seemingly lives the exciting life that Webb is only pretending to inhabit. Losing his grip on reality, Webb falls deeper and deeper into Rainer’s chaotic lifestyle (more steamy soirees alternate with getting punched up in alleys by toughs)—but when one of his own authors get involved, Webb realizes he’s let the fantasy go too far. Brubaker’s sharp dialogue (“I thought the night had peaked when I blew up a cop car, but maybe it was just beginning”) pairs perfectly with Phillips’s atmospheric rendering of the moody Parisian milieu. Details are choice, from industry gossip between patrons milling around at a banal hotel bar to a trippy psychedelic epiphany, with moody coloring done by the illustrator’s son. It’s not the most original tale ever told, but Brubaker and Phillips tell it in crackling, effortless style. (June)