STORY BY Ed Brubaker
ART BY Sean Phillips, Dave Stewart
COVER BY Sean Phillips
PUBLISHER Image Comics
COVER PRICE $3.50
Ever since I read one of the earliest arcs of Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips’ superb comic Criminal I have picked up everything they have done together. When Brubaker and Phillips’ names are on the front cover of a comic you can be guaranteed that it will be a great book. Fatale is no different.
We’re eight issues in now. This feels a little strange because most Brubaker/Phillips projects are limited issue runs – apart from the first volume of Criminal the arcs they produce usually run any length between 3 – 7 issues. For the past half a decade they’ve pretty much alternated between Criminal and Incognito. So to have a title from these guys which is in the middle of its second arc, on issue 8 and which shows no signs of ending any time soon is very exciting.
I love the work these two did on Criminal and Incognito. And before that Sleeper. Over the years that they’ve been working together they have developed into one of the most consistently rewarding creative teams working in modern day comics. Brubaker’s writing, steeped in a crime/noir writing tradition and heavily influenced by film and TV paired with Phillips’ richly detailed illustrations, is a recipe for highly accomplished, beautiful looking comics.
Nicholas Lash returns in this issue and the first half of Fatale #8 is an interlude told partly in his flashbacks, memories and dreams, which reveal a hidden part of his past, and a previous meeting with the mysterious Josephine. In the present day Nicholas is not looking in the best shape following his beating a few issues back. He has been lying low, trying to avoid Bishop’s henchman, who he keeps seeing, or at least thinks he does. Is he paranoid? What happens to him in this issue would indicate that he isn’t.
Then Chapter Three begins. We’re back in the seventies. A storm is brewing – in the air, and in Josephine’s carefully sequestered existence. After last issues sighting of Bishop/Hansel’s goons she realises that another encounter with him is inevitable. In a clever divergence of setting and period, we see Josephine’s encounter with the young Nick from her point of view in real time.
Then, finally, we see Hansel. It’s not pretty. There’s sacrifice, murder, blood, and a familiar dagger. It is clear that when he does encounter Josephine again Hansel does not intend to let her get away.
Meanwhile Miles takes Josephine to an old friend of his ‘Rat’ who he believes can help her. As they approach the bar they are due to meet him in, Rat is being thrown out of the front door. He then proceeds to beat the doorman to a pulp. It’s not the most auspicious first meeting.
Lastly we see Miles’ friend Suzy snooping around Josephine’s house. She discovers a photograph which appears to be of Josephine in the 1930’s. Obviously freaked out by this she heads back into town and is soon stopped by members of the church, who pull a gun on her and order her into their car.
There is a lot going on in this issue and in the series so far. I’ve read this issue a couple of times and I know I’ll be going back for another. It’s such a rewarding reading experience. The writing is impressive and Phillips’ art is stunning. The colouring by Dave Stewart is superlative as ever. This creative team is absolutely on fire and if it was possible this series just got hotter.
Brubaker has said that Fatale has been knocking around as an idea in his head for several years. After the first, brilliant arc and the current arc which is keeping up the pace and the quality, it seems like this is the book Brubaker and Phillips were born to create.