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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 In present time, Nicolas Lash, executor of author Dominic Raines’ estate, discovers an unpublished manuscript mere moments before shotgun-toting bad guys pull up out front.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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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.
I have to admit I never read a comic by Image or the Brubaker/Phillips team. Sean Phillips' art really sets the mood: dark and mysterious. Makes you feel like your watch a film noir as I mentioned before. I am fussy with comic book art, but this one fits with the story. His covers are all great too. They look like posters for the film noir movies. I mainly wanted to read this comic because of Ed Brubaker. I really loved his run on Catwoman and missed his writing style. He knew how to write crime/mystery comics I always thought. He can write horror too I guess.
Fatale I would highly recommend to anyone who reads good comic books. Sure, this does not have the popular superheroes or science fiction, but it has good horror, mystery, crime, art, and writing. The story may be confusing at first, but everything makes sense at the end. Just who is Josephine and what make us drawn to her?