Sunday, August 12, 2012

Fatale TPB 1: Death Chases Me

I think I’m suffering from unreasonably high expectations. I liked this book a lot, it’s great, but I’d been hearing rave reviews for months, Brubaker’s other work ranks as some of my favorite comics ever. I think what threw me was the line of “a noir with Lovecraftian monsters.” Now, that’s entirely accurate, but I was expecting a bit more monster and a bit less noir, at least to start off with. By the end of the book, I think the series is in a place where it will deliver more visceral thrills in addition to the solid characters and criminal atmosphere.

The titular fatale is Josephine, a beauty with some weird powers. It seems she can dominate men’s minds in more than a physical way, somehow domineering their thoughts to make them fall for her. She’s also immortal, explaining how the story is unfolding in two times simultaneously. In the past, she’s Josephine, enthralling reporter Hank Raines and getting him mixed up with crooked cops and criminals whose bosses are from FAR out of town. Raines’ life gets very exciting with Josephine, very steamy. The problem is he forgets about his pregnant wife when his new lady comes into his life. You have to pity the guy as his life spirals out of control.

In the present, Nicolas Lash is Raines’ godson, and he meets “Jo” while attending Raines’ funeral. Jo isn’t the only immortal; the baddies that are hunting Jo in the past are there in the present too, bald headed, sunglass-wearing thugs who don’t seem to fit in. There’s definitely a “low man in yellow coats” vibe to them (for you Dark Tower readers) and that’s a good thing.

The supporting characters are brilliant, and even the outmatched crooked cops have redeeming qualities. The art is wonderful, with Jo shining out from every page she’s on, and the subtle callouts to her beauty like all eyes on panel watching her only inflate her sense of importance. Sean Phillips is an old pro at this stuff, now, his action is perfectly choreographed and the settings are characters on their own. There’s a realism to even the Lovecraftian pieces that gives the monsters the same sense of grime as the criminals who populate most of the book.

(Side note: I was reading this on the plane, but after a page of bloody, beheaded bodies and a panel with Jo hooking up then getting dressed, I figured it might not be best for people reading over my shoulder!)


No comments: