I have recently really started to get into new and different comics. Mark Millar struck a chord for me with his creator owned comics - a move away from mainstream Marvel comics that has seen me reading titles like Superior and Nemesis, before branching out into things such as the beautifully crafted Monocyte. So when I see a big name like Ed Brubaker on the front of a new title from Image, I’m immediately interested.
Fatale is one such new comic and is a collaboration with Sean Phillips providing the artwork. For those in the know, the collaboration of Brubaker and Phillips is one which has obviously worked in the past as between them they have created titles such as Criminal, Sleeper and Incognito. For those not in the know, like me, then this is a new experience.
Opening with a current day prologue the comic quickly draws you in and introduces you to the main character Joanne, through the funeral of Dominic Raines. Nicolas Lash is also presented to you but soon takes a back seat as the story flicks back to the 1950’s.
The main story plunges you into a tale filled with normal people and the occult; it’s a semi gothic horror or at least it can or will be. Even though you’re enveloped in the story and get involved with it a lot there isn’t a huge amount that you are given or told. This leaves you with a variety of questions and hooks to drag you in further which is remarkable. One of the other nice things about it is that it doesn’t play itself down to a common denominator or dumb things to a layman's level, it treats the reader like an adult and addresses things in a common way that you can understand because it’s straightforward and realistic.
Sean Phillips’ artwork is very fitting for the piece. This is a dark story surrounded by a murky veil and the palette reflects this completely. There is a lot of work done with the shadows too. I’m happily ashamed to say that I actually caught myself trying to peek around a frame to try and see extra detail that I knew was never going to be there. But how could I resist?
Something else that I think is of merit is the way that the comic physically feels too. Now I’m not sure if this is the normal for Brubaker’s comics but in this instance it only enhances the whole thing. It’s got an almost rough unfinished quality to it and this kind of dates the comic further. Putting this together with the story and the artwork makes quite an emotive production.
Put all this together and what you also have is a comic that quite literally every adult comic book fan should read. Just for something of a contradiction in that it’s new clean and shiny, yet feels odd, dirty and gratuitous. It won’t hit with any of the younger readers but then again it’s not meant to! This is a mature comic for mature people to enjoy maturely.......or at least with a naughty little smirk.
Find this comic, buy it, treasure it and most importantly read it!
Matt Puddy is still peering into the darkness.