Written by Ed Brubaker
Art by Sean Phillips
Colors by Elizabeth Breitweiser
Review by Joey Braccino
Fatale #12 condenses all of the sheer awesomeness of Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips’ creator-owned series into an enthralling, reader-friendly one-shot. Image has promised not one, not two, but FOUR stand-alone flashback issues of Brubaker and Phillips’ critically acclaimed new series, and issue #12 is the second in the sequence. This issue is set all the way back to the 13th Century, when heretics and witches were burned by Grand Inquisitors in the name of politics and society and everything other than religiosity. Like Fatale’s primary anti-heroine, Josephine, issue #12’s protagonist is a supernatural lady named Mathilda who has more than a few nasty habits: setting men on edge, angering entire villages, never aging, and healing from wounds rapidly.
From there, Brubaker and Phillips weave yet another exceptional noir-horror yarn, replete with strange creatures, pulpy narration, and ambiguous/loose morals. And yet, because of the unique setting, Fatale #12 takes on an almost fairy-tale-like aura. The woods twist and turn and hide the pathway home. Bows and Arrows are the only way to break up twilight gatherings of hooded scoundrels. Leatherbound tomes tell truth as often as they do stories. It’s all very mythical in the medieval environs of issue #12.
Sean Phillips is more than up to the task for the shift in visual aesthetic. Phillips’ artwork deftly shifts from the urban sprawl and three-piece suits of earlier issues to the gnarled trees and gilded tunics of issue #12. Elizabeth Breitweiser, colorist on some of Brubaker’s classic Marvel work (Captain America and Winter Soldier), perfectly complements Phillips noir-naturalism with her rich reds and grey-blues. Fatale is yet another visually stunning entry in the Brubaker/Phillips pantheon of comics storytelling.
Without any hesitation, I strongly recommend this comic and this series. If you’ve been reading Fatale or not, Brubaker and Image promised four stand-alone, reader-friendly jumping-on-points, and issue #12 continues that trend. Fatale is a series founded in genre-bending and innovative storytelling. As a single issue, #12 captures all of that ingenuity in 24 story-packed pages. Check it!