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Fatale #2

Written by Ed Brubaker

Art by Sean Phillips

Review by Bobby Shortle

When reading a story my initial instinct is always to try and figure out my rooting interest. In most narratives this will often be the “hero” and in almost all cases this figure will be easily identifiable. Then there are those stories that don’t make things so black and white. These particular yarns shield their intentions behind curtains of doubt and shades of misinformation.  When narratives like this are crafted correctly they can blow you away, but more often than not, they’re disengaging failures. Fatale #2 is a story that belongs squarely to the former and one that is a testament to a writer’s ability to take us on an unfamiliar path through familiar territory.

If you haven’t read the first issue of Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillip’s noir tale I highly recommend you do so.  (If you are on the fence why not check out our review!) It was a highly entertaining and worthy addition to the noir landscape. However, if I had any criticism of Fatale #1  it was that  writer Ed Brubaker, while deftly weaving his narrative, came up a bit short on the character development front. Fatale #2 is a marked improvement over its predecessor in almost every way.  It retains its forward narrative motion while enriching its main players further than I had expected.

On the surface, whether it be adultery, bribery or witchcraft, the actions of the main characters are despicable. When I began the issue I found myself disliking Josephine for what she does to men, but by the end I could feel the desperation of a woman who is trapped by her circumstances. I also disliked Hank Raines, a man cheating on his pregnant wife, until I began to understand the literal spell he was under. I even felt a splash of sympathy for corrupt cop Walt Booker as he stares down his own mortality. Brubaker has created incredibly flawed but incredibly real feeling people in this book and like all great writing this causes the reader to look inward. I found myself thinking, “Sure all of these characters are making destructive and sometimes horrifying decisions, but haven’t we all?”

These interesting characters are also supported by a plot that is beginning to show its supernatural roots. Brubaker is beginning to show us some truly horrific things happening in the world of Fatale, but I’m even more fascinated by what we aren’t seeing. There are demons lurking in 1950s San Francisco and whether they are man or beast, I can’t wait to meet them all as long as Ed Brubaker is my tour guide.

VERDICT

Buy It – This is L.A. Confidential with monsters. A noir that plays in not just the dark places of humanity but in the terror of the supernatural. Who is Josephine really? What kind of powers might she have?  Who is the monster that hunts her and what does he want? The answers to these questions lay just out of our reach and I for one will wait with baited breath for the answers.

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