Fatale, Book 5

Fatale 5Summary: The final book in ED BRUBAKER and SEAN PHILLIPS’s best-selling horror-noir epic. The secrets of the immortal Femme Fatale and her adversary come to light before their final explosive confrontation. Collects FATALE #20-24.

Fatale, Book 5, by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips 7.5

‘Fatale, vol. 5’, which is subtitled “Curse the Demon”, is the last volume in the ‘Fatale’ series. It collects issues 20 to 24 of the supernatural thriller (or horror-noir, as it’s also described) created by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips. The book serves as a wrap-up of its main storyline all the while answering some of the questions that had remained unresolved thus far.

For instance, the book finally explores Bishop/Hanson/Sommerset’s origins, binding together what had been served piecemeal thus far. We also explore Jo’s backstory further, how she tried to escape her fate via multiple suicide attempts, as well as her secrets, which are revealed as she and Nick have a transcendent sexual and spiritual experience together.

And we finally find out what Nick’s role is in all this madness, as Jo rescues him from Nelson only to use him as bait. With his help, she gets Bishop/Hanson/Sommerset’s eyes back from storage, which inevitably means that he’s now onto her. This leads to a massive confrontation with her archenemy, in which Nick is caught and tortured and Jo’s life is at stake.

Does she have any chance of survival? Or has she always been doomed?

I know very little about the genesis of ‘Fatale’ and Brubaker’s intention, but I’ve always felt that it was an unexpected hit and that he found himself trying to flesh out something that was always only intended as a mini-series. The feeling persists here, because there are a number of contrivances and/or oversights that that don’t pass muster, contextually.

For instance, as we’re exploring Jo’s series of suicide attempts, there’s one vignette in which Jo’s been beaten by her partner and he’s kidnapped and taken her out on the road in his truck. Except that she still sports black eyes – even though a fair bit of time has passed since they’ve left. That’s discrepant because in other books she’d heal super quickly.

And from much worse wounds.

Another suicide (her 17th!) has her leap from the ledge of a small building. The problem is that it’s a very public way to die and, to cement this notion, a man is shown trying to assist her from the safety of his window. Now, you’d think that having her hit the pavement and walk away from the incident would attract some sort of attention. So why hasn’t she been spotted?

You’d think at least the media would catch wind of this.

On a similar note, Jo’s plan to get out of the mess at the end revolves around Nick finding the inner strength to get out of being hung upside down from a tree. Well, coincidentally enough, the bad guys had hung him up by his prosthetic leg – which made it easy for him to escape. As if. And then he was able to run on one leg fast enough that he had the element of surprise.


Honestly, even though it wraps up all its loose ends, this volume feels a bit rushed to me. Already I had mixed feelings about ‘Fatale’ after the first volume, but this didn’t help matters any. At the very least I would have liked the collection to feature an interview with its creators, to provide insight into their inspiration and intentions. Alas, no such luck.

So ‘Fatale’ remains a mystery to me.

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