Writer: Ed Brubaker Artist: Sean Phillips
Publisher & Release Date: Image Comics – November 6th, 2013
There’s something truly special about FATALE. Truly. In fact, the more I think about just what it is that makes this book so great, the more I start to realize that Brubaker and Phillips have pulled such a wonderful trick with this book by turning us, the readers, into the same kind of people that are drawn to Josephine in the book itself. Like the many men hat clamor to understand her, be with her, have her, we too crave to know more about the mysteries surround her each and every month as we wait for the next issue of Fatale. And each and every time, like the characters, we experience a powerful rush associated with the experience of reading Fatale that is over far too soon and we’re left wanting in the most exciting of ways. Yes, Fatale is always that good, and issue #18 is no exception.
There’s an almost ridiculous and unbelievable amount of talent on display in this book, whether it’s due to Brubaker’s uncanny ability to weave such a complex and unflappable mystery, or Phillips’ skill at bringing this dark and twisted world to life no matter the setting. Couple that with Elizabeth Breitweiser’s colors, and you simply have no reason to fault this book–other than the fact that you have to wait until next issue to get more. The more that our characters spend time with Jo–or Jane, as they know her–the greater the depths of their troubles, and it couldn’t be more fascinating. Adding to that is that Jo herself is such a contradiction, embodying many of the things we’ve come to expect from the Femme Fatale, being a source of comfort in one moment, then a source of anger and frustration the next, inspiring a myriad of emotions and actions in those who come across her.
But what makes this issue extra special is that it helps to further illuminate some of Jo’s past in a significant way, allowing us but a glimpse into some of the things that she’s seen and experienced–as frightening and foreboding as they are. Moreover, it’s clear that Brubaker has begun to pull many of the elements of this arc together, like an executioner tightening a noose as we get closer to some kind of resolution (at least for this arc). There is nary a single moment or word misused in this issue, as everything feels of great importance, and you find yourself wanting to re-read passages–okay, so the whole issue–just to make sure you didn’t miss anything.
And yet again, Phillips continues to be just utterly fantastic, always bringing his A-game and capturing the tone of this series so well. There’s something special about what he does in this book, and no matter the time period or the setting, Phillips nails it. He captures the grunge days of Seattle with aplomb, still managing to add on that wonderful dose of noir/horror hybrid to keep with the style of the book. Most importantly, he renders every moment with an emotional resonance that should be applauded, and with some of the key moments in this issue, it’s truly something to behold. Breitweiser’s colors only serve to bring everything together, bringing that extra something to the dark and scary world of Fatale and serving as an excellent complement to Phillips’ pencils.
FATALE is consistently excellent and is simply one of the best books being published by any comic company in existence. The book is layered, expertly-crafted and illustrated and seems absolutely unstoppable. If you haven’t been reading FATALE, do yourself a favor and catch up: you too will enjoy being enraptured by the enchanting allure of Josephine, and she’ll never let you go.