Grief is Messy in The Fix 11

By Patrick Ehlers

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

I know this is hypocritical immediately following a spoiler alert, but I don’t believe in spoilers. They’re something I respect because I know other people believe in them (like God), but the threat of a spoiler doesn’t change the articles I will read or the conversations I’ll have (huh, also like God). If a movie or tv show or book is so slight as to have the experience of it ruined by simply knowing what’s going to happen, it probably wasn’t worth experiencing in the first place. The Fix 11 starts with a seismic shift, fully acknowledging the trope that Nick Spencer and Steve Lieber are subverting for shock value. “Surprise” reads the narration box. But the surprise isn’t the point, the fall-out from the surprise is.

Mac is gunned down in a shitty hotel, just like the previous issue had essentially promised in its final pages. Of course, the expectation is that he, as one of our perspective “hero” characters, would have found a way out of this mess. At least, that’s what issue 10 would have you believe. Spencer shows the reader his plan from first handful of panels. These panels, by the way, are lifted directly from the previous issue.

The speaker here appears to be Spencer himself, breaking the fourth wall to get ahead of the readers’ expectations. If Spencer and Lieber actually wanted Mac’s death to be a shocking, affecting moment, it wouldn’t be ironically telegraphed so clearly. As is typical for The Fix “what happens” is so much less important than our character’s reactions to it. Mac dies. Okay, what next?

Well, that all depends. The issue checks in with a number of people Mac touched throughout the course of his miserable life, and they’re all experiencing a The Fixian mix of grief and exuberance. Donovan demonstrates this most clearly, going on a cocaine-fueled bender that seems to be equal parts cathartic and pathetic.

First of all, what an awesome page. I love Lieber’s use of horizontal and vertical symmetry in the layout, and uniting the top-center, far-left, and far-right panels with a red color palette makes the bottom-center’s cool greens and clues a perfect antidote to their mania.

Roy doesn’t have quite so obvious a way to express himself, so he picks up Pretzels and tries to find a normal, human way to react to what’s happening. This is where the rubber meats the road. He narrates:

Truth is, I have no idea what to do. Looking at Pretzels’ adorable sad eyes just makes it worse. All I can think of is Mac dying in that shitty hotel — calling out for the one he loved most. [“Mac”] Or more likely — [“Pornhub”] I tell myself I just gotta regroup, come up with a plan. But you know what they say about while you’re making plans — that’s when real life is happening.

Roy’s even kinda mixing up his pillow-embroidery-worthy words of wisdom here. But that’s the truth about his relationship to the only person that really mattered to him: it sucked and it was broken. So Roy’s thoughts about his friend are laced with jokes about jacking off, angry exes, and twisted wisdom. That sounds about right for The Fix.

The conversation doesn’t stop there. What do you wanna talk about from this issue?

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