Sam Quixote's Reviews > Fatale, Vol. 1: Death Chases Me

Fatale, Vol. 1 by Ed Brubaker
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's review
Jul 20, 2012

it was ok
Read in July, 2012

The book follows a mysterious beautiful woman - the Fatale of the title - called Jo who is attached to several men and, in true noir Femme Fatale fashion, proves to be the downfall of each of them. She's on a journey to escape the life she's leading - that of mistress to a detective who is getting more distant from her by the day - with a journalist but she's harbouring dangerous secrets and soon she's fighting for her life as a Demonic cult sets its sights on her as their next sacrifice.

Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips' series "Criminal" is first class comic book artistry at its finest; "Incognito" not so much; and "Sleeper" was so boring I didn't make it halfway through the first book. So when I saw "Fatale" I was heartened that it looked so much like the "Criminal" series - perhaps this was one of the better Brubaker/Phillips collaborations! Alas it's not. Here's why.

The book might work well as a straight crime noir story much like "Criminal" but it veers off into the kind of horror territory found in Mike Mignola's BPRD series. The horror elements sit awkwardly within the noir and when the detective turns out to be somewhat supernatural himself the tone of the piece feels a bit off.

Then there's the plot. It's unclear what each character wants and why. The detective, Booker, is sick and dying of some mysterious illness causing him to betray Jo to the Demonic Cult but it turns out that he and Jo are both "dead" already (though how they could be dead but alive is never explained) so it must be some kind of illness that affects the living dead (but he's not a zombie). Then there's the Cult - what are their goals again - something generic like ruling the world? And how about the Fatale herself, Jo, what does she want out of all this? Her attachments to the men in her life are tenuous at best given that she hooks onto them without much thought, so it's a bit hard to believe she cares about any of them enough to motivate her to do half the things she does in the book. With no clear plot, too many strands and underdeveloped characters, "Fatale" becomes a convoluted mess.

And while there is a lot of action and spooky scenes amidst the noir, it's hard to keep interested as the action and spooky things keep on happening with such regularity that it becomes standard and uninteresting. As the characters are underdeveloped the danger they're in doesn't move you as you don't care about them very much.

While Sean Phillips' artwork and Dave Stewart's colours make this an extremely attractive book to look at, Brubaker's weak storyline and unusually poor writing makes this a strangely dull read despite it's potentially exciting subject matter. I finished this after 3 sittings and this isn't a long comic book; I just lost interest quickly after picking it up. The Brubaker/Phillips creative team is a brilliant one but "Fatale" isn't their best effort - for that, try the "Criminal" series, which is.
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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Anna  (Bananas!) Bummed you didn't like it. I'm so excited to read this one.

Morgan Looking back I still liked this series, but not one of his best. Criminal was better I think too.

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