Saturday, March 14, 2015

Comic Review: Fatale Book One

    I reviewed this book some time ago, but I don’t feel that I gave it enough time/space.  So here I go again.  Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips have created a hybrid Noir-Lovecraft tale that spans history and delves into some existential horror in a way often lacking, even from the devotees of H.P. Lovecraft writing today.  Mood is a primary factor, almost a character in itself, in classic Noir films (and their Hard Boiled literary counterparts) as well as in the Cosmic Horror that was shaped by Lovecraft and his circle.  Fatale is dripping in mood.  From the heavy, black shadows and muted colors of the art, to the grim trudge toward doom taken by each character.  The series isn’t about mood and atmosphere, but they sure play a big part.

    With plot and character nods to the inspirational source material, genre fans should be able to hop right in.  The corrupt cops, the corruptible journalist, the violent mobster, and the mysterious vamp.  The cult murders, growing sense of deep history, and hints at supernatural natures build up the Mythos elements.  I’m a sucker for stories that build a sense of deep time, of back story for characters and plot.  And while the main story of a woman in fear, manipulating two men in a chess game played against a demonic figure plays out, we start to see that events have been building for a long, long time.  I love the little connections to historic events that are dropped in, too.

    This was my second reading of the first volume, and I found myself even more invested, paying closer attention.  At the point that I’m writing this, I’ve read the first three volumes, and am setting off on a quest to read all five in the very near future.  And I know that some of the stuff introduced in this volume pays off, or plays into what comes next.  But I’m still not sure how it all comes together.  And I can’t wait to find out.  When I read this the first time, I was captivated.  And it got my creative juices flowing.  It made me want to run an epic, generation spanning Call of Cthulhu roleplaying game campaign.  Reading it again, I see why.  Besides being a good read for Hard Boiled/Noir fans, for Horror fans (particularly of the Lovecraftian bent), it’s a great read for tabletop gamers.  It’s also another reminder of the great stuff coming out of companies like Image, who aren’t weighted down with demands for status quo maintenance.

Fatale: Death Chases Me
Author: Ed Brubaker
Artist: Sean Phillips
Publisher: Image Comics
ISBN: 978-1-60706-563-0

-Matthew J. Constantine

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