Fatale Vol. 1 TPB (Image)

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Rating: 5/5 – Horror done right by two proven creators.

The first volume of Fatale “Death Chases Me” is another fantastic story by the award winning creative team of Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips.  If you’re familiar with Sleeper, Criminal or Incognito, then you know what these two creators are capable of, and they don’t disappoint here.  It’s clear to see by their work in this book just how great these two can be together.  Brubaker writes a dark “noir-ish” story that fits the moody and atmospheric Phillips art.  The book has a great cast of characters all with their own flaws and demons that come together to tell a frightening Cthulhu influenced story that takes place in 1950’s San Francisco.

Fatale revolves around a character named Josephine who seems to be either immortal, or at least very old, but who doesn’t age.  Although the story jumps around a bit from present day to the 1950’s, the majority of the story takes place in the latter.  That timeframe and the fantastic art of Phillips gives the story that dark and “noir-ish” feel mentioned above.  As we follow Josephine’s story, we’re introduced to two other other main characters, reporter Hank Raines and crooked cop Walter Booker.  They both have crossed paths with Josephine, and throughout the course of the story we just how Josephine can destroy the lives of those who get close to her.  We’re also introduced to those who are after Josephine.  These are the characters that have a Cthulhu type feel, from the cultists in their red robes to those that are more monster than man.  Just why they’re after Jo and what she means to them is ultimately still a mystery.  That mystery looks as though it may carry into future volumes.

What’s great about incorporating a Cthulhu influence into Fatale is that these two creators know how to make it feel creepy on the page.  They don’t show too much, but they show just enough to give it that disturbing feel.  There’s a great scene where Booker has a flashback to a time when he was a child and he sees these monsters in the everyday world, while those around him don’t.  Phillips draws just enough of the monsters to give you the sense of what they are, but pulls the camera back far enough to let you create your own image of them.  It’s a perfect balance that like successful horror movies, scares you more by what’s unseen rather than what is.  Even when we do see the monsters up close, Phillps makes the most of the image, then quickly cuts away.  Again, the perfect balance.

Although this first volume feels as though it can stand alone, I’m so glad I’ll be able to explore this rich world in future volumes.  I’m curious to see what’s next for Josephine, and to see theses mysteries unfold and my questions answered.  Brubaker and Phillips have proved countless times in the past, and again with this volume that they can deliver a rich story filled with interesting characters that are not “cookie cutter”.  They have great depth and feel real.  I’m excited to dive into the second volume and can’t wait to see where Brubaker and Phillips take us next.

Reviewed by: Shawn Hoklas – shawn@comicspectrum.com
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