Summary: Secrets, lies, horror, lust, and monsters from the time before time all collide in Fatale: Death Chases Me. In present day, a man meets a woman who he becomes instantly obsessed with, and in the 1950s, this same woman destroys the lives of all those who cross her path, on a quest for… what? Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips’ bestselling series will leave you craving more! The first arc of Image’s surprise hit is collected just in time for new readers to jump on board with issue #6!
Fatale, Book 1, by Ed Brubaker and Sean Philips 7.75
I had never heard of Fatale when I picked it up. I think that it was put on my library card by a graphic novel-peddling clerk with whom I enjoy discussing recent reads. Likely prompted by my return of ‘Captain America: Reborn’, he added a few Ed Brubaker titles to my list of things to check out.
Brubaker is said to have specialized in crime comics, but my local library has a larger number of his superhero works, all of the DC and Marvel variety. There are a few of them that aren’t, however, including his Eisner Award-nominated turn on the ‘Scene of the Crime’ (which I will be reading shortly).
And then there’s ‘Fatale’.
‘Fatale’ is what is appropriately known in some circles as “supernatural noir”; it’s a ’50s crime story with supernatural elements. This particular collection, binding books 1-5 together, intersperses with another story taking place in the present and featuring the grandchildren of the key characters in our main story.
If it all sounds confusing, rest assured that you’re not alone: I actually got a little lost after the first 20 pages or so and had to re-read it to ensure that I was following the story. It’s not especially challenging, however: it merely requires the reader’s attention. (in my defence, I tried continuing it days later instead of reading the whole thing within a short time-frame)
The core story is about a couple of journalists investigating police corruption, and what transpires between one of the newspaper men and one of the cops’ girlfriend. The thing that the man doesn’t know is that this woman is skilled in the black arts, as is her cop boyfriend; having crossed their paths, his life will now forever be altered.
The writing is totally solid. Again, I blame myself for losing my way in the first few pages and wouldn’t want anyone to be repulsed at the notion that it might be too complex. It isn’t. In fact, it’s just complex enough to bring life to it, but clear enough that it shouldn’t lose most readers. Brubaker has constructed his story extremely well.
The artwork, however, isn’t nearly as fantastic. Philips’ work, while accurate, is mostly serviceable, giving the comic books a vibe that is old school, and not particularly impressive. The advantage with it, however, is that it means that it doesn’t overshadow Brubaker’s writing; the story can unfold without being overwhelmed by its visual component.
All this to say that I look forward to the next set of ‘Fatale’. And I’m not alone: what was once supposed to be a 12-issue maxi-series has since been transformed into a full-fledged, ongoing series. Hopefully this doesn’t mean a dilution of the original idea, as can happen when the plan is changed midway (i.e. ‘Kingdom Hospital‘).
We’ll soon find out.