Thursday, January 5, 2012

Fatale #1

Written by Ed Brubaker
Art by Sean Phillips

Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips, especially when working together, are two of the most lauded and respected creators making comics these days.  Their work on Sleeper, Incognito, and the sublime Criminal has received tons of praise over the last ten years or so, and deservedly so.

I'm not sure what caused them to publish Fatale through Image Comics instead of Marvel's Icon imprint, which is where their last two collaborations were released.  It doesn't matter though, as aside from the logo on the cover, the design and feel of this book is no different from Criminal or Incognito, down to the essay by Jess Nevins at the back of the issue.

Where Criminal was begun as an homage to the crime pulps that preceded comics, and Incognito was the same for adventure pulps, Fatale is their horror book (although it reads like a crime series).  This first issue begins at a funeral for a mystery writer.  His godson and executor meets a beautiful young woman whose grandmother knew the writer.  Later, the godson is at the old man's secluded house when some thugs with guns show up.  The girl is there too, and she helps him escape, although as they flee, they get in a car accident. 

At that point, I started to get a sense of what I expected the series to be - a mystery surrounding the old writer's unpublished first novel.  That's not going to be the case though, as the rest of the book is set back in the 1950s.  There is a reporter (with the same last name as the writer in the introduction) who is interested in a woman who has the same name as the girl at the funeral (or is she the same girl - there is a suggestion that Josephine doesn't age).  There is also a corrupt cop who keeps her as a mistress, and some business involving a cult that was slaughtered in their home.

There's not much to go on with this first issue.  Brubaker is taking his time setting up the story and characters, preferring in this case to dump us into the deep end and let us make our own connections as the story goes.  There is definitely enough to grab the reader's interest, and Phillips's art is lovely - moody and evocative of the atmosphere and time period.  It's good stuff.

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