Fatale #21 Review

Storytellers: Ed Brubaker; Sean Phillips; Elizabeth Breitweiser

Publisher & Release Date: Image Comics – March 26th, 2014

Rating: 9.5/10

There’s always been something absolutely enrapturing about FATALE, and there’s a certain feeling of bittersweet sorry tinged with horrifying excitement as the series heads toward its conclusion. Knowing that we’re so close to the end is a thrill in and of itself, but as we learn some of the key secrets and start to see the various pieces of the puzzle come together so nicely, we can’t help but feel rather blessed to have had the chance to read this series in the first place. fatale21-cover

Sure, some of that seems hyperbolic, but Fatale is really that good. I’ve been hooked on the series since the first issue and while we are only 3 issues away from the finale now, the series shows no signs of slowing down or dipping in quality. It really is hard to stick the landing, but I have no doubts that Brubaker and Phillips will nail this one with aplomb. Indeed, as we read through the pages of issue #21, we’re treated to scene after scene of great moments featuring Jo, Nicolas Lash and newcomer Otto–scenes that manage to both answer questions and pose more. Yet even as new questions arise this close to the end, there’s no sense of frustration, but instead of wonder as we desperately want to know what it all means–and where it’s all going.

But most importantly, having the series hone in on these characters at such a pivotal point is truly the best part–we’ve spent so much time with them over the course of the series, knowing that they are important to the overall narrative, that having this intimate connection to them now, when it’s all coming together, just feels so right. Rather than expanding in scope to the point where we feel disconnected to the key players, we’ve instead become far more intimate with them, sitting shotgun on this ride toward the end–and boy does it feel so good. In fact, since much of this issue focuses on Lash as our reference point, it’s a fun shift compared to what we’re used to, and his questions about all that is transpiring no doubt mirror our own. These characters are fascinating and compelling in so many ways, and one of the greatest strengths of the series.

It sounds like a broken record, but Phillips continues to kill it on this series, capturing every bit of the hybrid noir-horror that makes Fatale such a joy. Whether it’s Lash’s dreamscape or the shocking violence that occurs in some of the darker moments of the issue, Phillips brings it to life in a way that no other can–this is really career-defining work here and every issue is like a new reference point for the artist. Moreover, he captures the widely-varying range of emotions that Lash and Jo are going through as things come to a head, evoking the very same feelings in us as we watch the story unfold. As always, Jo continues to look like a woman out of time–timeless if you will–which is part of her allure and it’s a treat to watch her continue to struggle with her curse as Phillips brings her frustration to us in visual form. Breitweiser’s colors continue to be the perfect complement to Phillips’ art, draping the world in shadows and darkness–where the danger truly lies. Nary a moment goes by where the colors don’t perfectly capture the tone of the story.

FATALE continues to be utterly fantastic and where some series tend to lose a bit of steam as they reach their conclusion, Fatale is not suffering that problem. Instead, the series continues to be compelling in every way, and the intimate focus on our key characters allows us to spend the final issues of the series with fleshed-out, well developed characters that we have become so very attached to and invested in. Brubaker, Phillips and Breitweiser are doing a wonderful job here and I can’t wait until next issue.

 

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Author: Matt LeMaire

As someone who can't get enough pop culture, Matt LeMaire writes about it as much as humanly possible. A graduate of Sociology and Criminology, he approaches all of his pursuits with a critical eye that simply won't put up with low standards of quality. Outside of warping the minds of young people and critiquing pop culture, he is currently working on a series of high-concept mystery thrillers. You can reach him at mattlemaire@themacguffin.net

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