Collecting: Fatale #1-#5
Original Release Date: 2012
Publisher: Image Comics
Characters: Josephine “Jo”, Dominic, Nicholas
Art: Sean Phillips (Hellblazer, WildC.A.T.S., Sleeper, Criminal)
SCORECARD (each category ranked on a 10-point scale):Storyline – 10
Art – 9
Captivity and Length – 10
Identity – 8
Use of Medium – 7
Depth – 9
Fluidity – 10
Intrigue/Originality – 10
The Little Things – 7
Overall Awesomeness – 10
Fatale: Death Chases Me is not an easy book to sum up in a nutshell version of itself, and it jumps straight into the action and ever twisting storyline so please forgive me if I seem to struggle in hashing it out for you. This is a continuing storyline, but it begins in modern day with a man, Nicholas, who is pivotal to the endearing story, but you won’t see much of him throughout Death Chases Me. He meets Jo at the funeral of a “miserable old man” named Dominic whom was his father’s only friend. She claims he is there because Dominic and her grandmother were in love once. He was a writer and his estate has been left in Nicholas’ hands. When he goes to look around the old house he discovers an unpublished manuscript, one that predates anything Dominic had published. Just as he is about to open it, some men show up outside and out of nowhere Jo appears to shoot down one of the men and tears Nicholas away in the “nick” of time (you see what I did there? I’m so punny). A car chase ensues just as Nicholas is beginning to question the what, how, and why of Jo and it ends in an explosion that leaves Nicholas down one leg and very confused in the hospital, clutching onto only the memory of Jo making sure he had Dominic’s unpublished manuscript. At this point the story travels back in time, to a young woman named Josephine and the eager young reporter, Dominic or “Hank” she is meeting at a bar. From here, the story develops into so many different layers involving mystery, betrayal, adultery, mobsters, and Lovecraft-ian demons, monsters and occultists.
Full disclosure: I was blown away by this book. It was not at all what I expected, and I didn’t lose interest for a single moment. I read it as a graphic novel (obviously) but the single issues were perfectly seamed together. It read much more like a novel than a comic for me, even though I was turning pages a lot more and going from panel to panel, the fluidity was flawless. I’m a big Lovecraft fan myself; I really attached to his ideas about what horrors could exist within other dimensions and what frail specimens we humans would be if those boundaries ever came down. Therefore, anything that plays with his ideas is always intriguing to me but Fatale: Death Chases Me is one of the best I’ve seen.
The story is intricate and mysterious, and Ed Brubaker took special care to reveal only enough details to keep the reader from being frustrated but to still keep you guessing the whole time. I’ve finished the first book and I still don’t know what or who Jo is, I just know that I’m utterly fascinated with her. She can manipulate and control people’s minds as she needs, and my god does that ability jump right off the page because I was enthralled with her. She’s beautiful, she dangerous, and she’s vulnerable – what more could you want!?
The story does have it downsides, but those are really just horrifying things happening to a devastated pregnant woman and her 8 month fetus. This element does not bring the story down, but it was a little hard to read. And believe me, coming from me that is saying something. It wasn’t graphic by any means, just really, really dark. But that truly is one of Fatale’s selling points; the world is a dark and twisted place and most people are oblivious to it. Jo unfortunately knows all of these evils, and inevitably she has to use some people to escape them and others – the one’s she loves – become targets of it.
The whole thing reads like a really well done horror noir, which is tough to pull off. When it’s scary there’s no cheese factor, and the dialogue is extremely believable and strong – especially considering its noir format and how easily that can go awry.
I honestly feel like I’m struggling to do this book proper justice because the truth is it left me kind of speechless. But not completely speechless, like I want to tell anyone within earshot that they should totally check this book out because it was so amazing, but then if they ask me why I’m at a loss for words. Because… I don’t know! Because it was freaking awesome! It was creepy! And kind of addicting, and when I got to the last page I was kind of pissed I had to stop. Read it because that’s why!
All images belong to Image Comics.