- Paperback: 144 pages
- Publisher: Image Comics; First Edition edition (July 10, 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1607065630
- ISBN-13: 978-1607065630
- Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 0.4 x 10.1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 80 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #505,450 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Fatale, Book 1: Death Chases Me Paperback – July 10, 2012
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The top-notch team of Brubaker and Phillips (known for their collaborations on Criminal and Sleeper) launch another series that gives familiar tropes an entertaining tweak. In present time, Nicolas Lash, executor of author Dominic Raines’ estate, discovers an unpublished manuscript mere moments before shotgun-toting bad guys pull up out front. Then Jo, a woman he met at the funeral, appears out of nowhere to rescue him. Jump back to San Francisco, 1956, and we’re witnessing events from Raines’ book, starting with a young reporter trying to get a scoop from a beautiful woman about her corrupt-cop boyfriend. But any resemblance to standard detective fare ends there, as the creators mix in magic, cults, human sacrifice, and the possibility of eternal life to create a potent cocktail with any number of twists. Brubaker doesn’t write a word more than necessary, and Phillips’ scenery has all the right angles, evoking a film-noir feel without slavish imitation. If the words “last call” make you think of “The Call of Cthulu,” this is your kind of hard-boiled tale. --Keir Graff
Fatale: Book One (Death Chases Me)
Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips. Image (Diamond, dist.), $14.99 trade paper (144p) ISBN 978-1-60706-563-0
The minute Nicolas Lash encounters Jo, femme fatale extraordinaire with more dark secrets than Faust, things go from bad to worse in this captivating noir. Occult forces and gut-wrenching horror collide in 1950s San Francisco, as a corrupt cop and a smitten reporter go toe-to-toe over Jo, an ageless beauty with the looks of a Vargas girl and the heart of a rattle snake, who is desperate to escape the grasp of a satanic cult and their demonic, shape-shifting leader. Graced with a suspenseful plot that has more twists and turns than an alpine road, and deliberately understated artwork, Fatale boasts both intrigue and an atmosphere that feels as densely bleak as a San Francisco mist at the tip of Fisherman's Wharf at dawn. Colorist Dave Stewart deserves special mention for his subtle, highly evocative use of neutral tones and earthy shades. This is a universe of darkness and gray shadows, and the palette perfectly fits the angst-ridden, desolate, catch-22 world of supernatural horror the protagonists must face-off against. Immortality may be a double-edged sword, but it's one the intoxicating Jo wields with a boundless grace in this addictive page-turner. (July)
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I’m a great fan of the Brubaker/Phillips partnership and bought every issue of this series as it was released. Though the series is now up to Issue #21, I enjoyed returning to these first two story arcs and noticed how much I had missed or forgotten since the first reading. This excellent series is scheduled to end soon with Issue #24 so I expect that one more hardcover is forthcoming.
What bothers me about the book that is apparent in this first volume but becomes a more looming problem as the book goes on: are we suppose to really sympathize with Josephine and the men who become obsess with her? The reasons why are never completely fleshed out, and while we see Josephine in multiple times at the same age in the book, there is no payoff for this in a complete and satisfying way either in this volume or the series as a whole.
While this grabbed me, and while I was interested in the characters, it didn't feel like the balance between noir, where Brubaker and Philips are obviously the most comfortable, and Lovecraftian horror really even mixed well and this let to a strange tone where I can't tell if we are suppose to read the heroes and heroine as sympathetic. I don't mind unsympathetic or even ambiguous protagonists, but I do have a hard time if I don't know if it is supposed to be ambiguous.
Still the concepts in the book are interesting, the art is amazing, and the dialogue is strong and appropriately pulpy. It's a very adult book, but doesn't feel extremely exploitative. I suppose it just feels like it could be more.
Jo is the most interesting part of this book. She is the titular fatale and she gets wrapped up in all the different storylines. My problem is that she is kept to the sidelines. I wanted more of her story, but I got to read more about all of the different men that she has been involved with.
The cult aspect is pretty good. It doesn't push things too far, and for the majority of the book it doesn't delve into the fantastic. But I want more of that too. It makes the setting much more interesting to have that supernatural element creep in. As things are, the book didn't interest me enough to seek out volume two, but it is quality work from Brubaker and Phillips.