Summary: Sex, drugs, rock-n-roll, and ritual killers all collide in the strangest and most exciting volume of FATALE yet. A strange woman with no memory stumbles into the lives of a struggling grunge band in mid-‘90s Seattle… Is she their muse? Will she save them from “one-hit wonder” status? Or will she be something much worse, especially since there’s a psycho killer on her trail?
Fatale, Book 4, by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips 7.75
After Book 3, my interest in ‘Fatale’ was waning. I felt that Brubaker was treading water, unsure of where to take his characters next. Either that, or he was too subtly bringing the pieces of his mystery together and we couldn’t really grasp enough of it yet.
Well, with Book 4, Brubaker redeems himself to some degree.
Taking us to the mid-’90s, Brubaker composes a nearly self-contained tale that integrates the mythology of ‘Fatale’ thus far, telling the story of a one-hit-wonder Seattle band who are on the wane and struggling to keep the momentum and the band going.
Desperate, this leads Lance to rob banks to finance their new video. On his way back from a heist, however, he crosses paths with Josephine, bloodied and suffering from amnesia. Turns out that a local serial killer had captured and tortured her, but she’d escaped.
But she doesn’t remember that. And Lance has no idea what he’s getting himself into: He doesn’t know about the killer, who daylights as a police officer, and he doesn’t know the influence that Josephine has on men. But he’s starting to see the impact on his band…
And he can’t call the cops. Not after what he’s done.
This one was interesting because it showed Josephine almost like a newborn. In previous books, she was in full swing, using her power with ability and ease. But here she is relearning everything and we’re seeing what kind of impact she can have when unrestrained.
I also liked the character dynamics within the band; it felt real, like it would be if a bunch of guys grew up and started pulling apart – and what would happen if a magnetic femme fatale got between them. It was complicated, awkward, and it got pretty messy.
Add to this the looming danger of the killer who’s trying to track her down again, and a wrap-around story featuring an early character, and it made for a potent read. It didn’t quite satisfy my curiosity about the series’ big picture, but it’s coming together.
Too bad it’s taken so long.
After all, a lot has been forgotten over time; I’d almost have to re-read the whole series thus far just to get back up to speed and see how it all comes together. And, really, Brubaker can’t possibly expect his readers to do that. Not unless all they read is ‘Fatale’.
Yeah, not likely.
Still, having said that, I’m keen to read Book 5. There was doubt creeping in after Book 3, but I’m all in now – especially knowing that it all wraps up at that point. I may have to revisit all the other books in the meantime, but I suspect that it’ll be worth it.
Ultimately, Brubaker rarely disappoints.