Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in!
As the great Michael Corleone in Godfather III exclaims, “just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in!”, so too may readers of this issue. Fatale #5 brings the first arc of this intricate, crime, noir thriller to a close but despite the horrifying conclusion, all is not what it seems as questions old and new continue to mount.
It’s not easy being immortal, as Jo, our femme fatale will confess. She’s the “it” girl and everybody wants a piece, whether it be for her irresistible grasp or the mysterious powers she possesses. Brubaker has very effectively constructed a violent tug of war with Jo in the middle, struggling in despair. He has distorted the character into a prized possession and this issue really confirms her as the very centrepiece of this series despite a fascinating, ensemble cast. She remains totally ambiguous as we are no closer to learning about her origin, her powers or her motives.
Fatale continues to showcase both Brubaker and Phillips’ expert grasp on this genre. The narrative flows effortlessly with his use of slick and minimal wording which make the story ooze with that cool, which defines pulp, noir fiction. It’s the 50’s, where men are men and women are women but with a dash of magic and the odd curse, Brubaker has managed to turn the genre on its head.
Sean Phillips’ artwork is the perfect companion to tell this story. His style is bold and predominately dark but he uses rich highlights to make the art pop. He doesn’t mind shocking the reader with his vivid and intense imagery of severed limbs and mutilated faces but does it with a style that isn’t revolting. It isn’t a book that will amaze on first glance; it’s understated but has been vital to the book’s success.
It’s hard to talk about this book without giving too much away. Brubaker is building something big here. The first arc, or should I say chapter, in this epic is over but the ramifications are sure to extend far into the future. This is a series that will undoubtedly read better in trade format and I could see current readers becoming a little impatient with the pacing but I for one have enjoyed the approach. I constantly find myself flicking back through previous issues trying to join the dots and discover snippets I may have initially missed.
Fatale has been a consistent hit since issue one. It won't be to everyone's taste but if you're looking to get away from capes and try something new, try this series with a creative team at the height of their powers.
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