Saturday, August 25, 2012

Ed Brubaker & Sean Phillips "Fatale Book 1: Death Chases Me" (Image Comics, 2012)

The story begins simply enough.  A man attends the funeral of his reclusive godfather.  After the funeral, he meets a beautiful mysterious woman named Jo.  Jo saves his life, and he finds himself enmeshed in a decades long conflict that is clearly out of his league.

Brubaker uses flashbacks to tease out the backstory on Jo, Hank (the godfather), and this conflict.  Slowly as the story progresses, we discover that the noir story becomes one of Lovecraftian horror instead.

Brubaker is widely acknowledged as a writer who is very skilled in the tropes of noir.  That all comes to play here.  The storyline is a classic, on par with James M Cain et al.  What is perhaps surprising is his deft touch at the horror elements.  While in this first installment the horror tropes are secondary to the noir, he works the horrific elements into the solid foundation of his everyday world.

Likewise Sean Phillips does an excellent job handling the art duties.  The preponderance of the book look & feel appropriate for a hardboiled tale, yet he handles the creepy Lovecraftian horrors protruding into this world easily.  The contrast makes the emerging horrific elements even more striking.

Since the overall story is as yet unfinished, it’s impossible to fully judge the plotting or storytelling.  However, this first installment is compelling & leaves me eagerly awaiting the next volume.

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