Fatale by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips

Posted by & filed under Reviews.

Fatale (short for Femme Fatale) (fm f-tl, -täl)

1. A woman of great seductive charm who leads men into compromising or dangerous situations.

2. An alluring, mysterious woman.

[French : femme, woman + fatale, deadly.]

I was a little concerned initially when I heard that Brubaker was diving into more of his creator owned work by coming out with Fatale.  His Captain America run, which he is primarily known for by current readers, has been a little “meh” as of late.  Winter Soldier, which I thought would be a great spin off,  was also a little mediocre.  I guess the bar has been set a bit higher with his writing after reading his amazing run on Daredevil and Immortal Iron Fist (do yourself a favor and track down the Iron Fist trades…they are so good that you’ll dragon punch yourself in the face for not reading it sooner).

But then I got to thinking, “When has the almighty Brubaker let me down when it comes to the crime noir genre?”  Criminal, Incognito, and Sleeper are books that I lovingly keep right by the nightstand at Casa Florence.  It took me about an hour to burn through the first Fatale trade, Death Chases Me, which collects issues 1 through 5.  Why an hour?  Because it took me that long to wrap my mind around one of the best reads I’ve had all year.  It’s the complete crime comic package with a bit of a twist.  There’s the corrupt cop, the reporter, the sexy dame, occult rituals and Cthulhu monsters.  WHAT?!?  That’s right, I said Cthulhu monsters.  Like something straight from Lovecraft’s creepy imagination.  Brubaker has really mastered crime comics and I can appreciate him getting away from straight crime fiction and tossing in some horror (which probably isn’t a huge leap from his work on Incognito which blended super villain awesomeness into his crime writing).

After reading through this trade twice I couldn’t come up with much in the way of criticism.  The narrative is a bit convoluted due to prolonged flashing back of events but the transitions are seamless.  Sean Phillips’ artwork is spot on with its pulpy feel with my only slight criticism coming  from my feeling that some of the people are drawn a little too similarly (I guess all guys look alike when wearing a fedora) but I had this problem with Eduardo Risso’s art on 100 Bullets and easily worked through it.

The story is compelling, the characters are well developed, and small twists here and there make you wonder who the good guys and bad guys are.  Except for the Cthulhu monsters.  They are, of course, always bad.  There are no good happy Cthulhu monsters.  You will never see a Shoggoth and Nyarlathotep having tea and biscuits.


Things you may have enjoyed by Brubaker:  Brubaker and Darwyn Cooke on the 2002 Catwoman revamp, Brubaker and Rucka on Gotham Central in 2003, the Vertigo title Deadenders, his big giant run on Uncanny X-men 475-503.


One Response to “Fatale by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips”

  1. Charlie Lewis

    Brubaker & Phillips have NEVER disappointed when working together. They have been an award winning team since 2001.


    2000 Prism Award (“Disguises” from Catwoman #17-19)[31]
    2004 GLAAD Media Awards – Outstanding Comic Book (Catwoman by Ed Brubaker)[32]
    2006 Harvey Award Winner – Best Writer (Captain America)[33]
    2007 Eisner Award – Best Writer (Daredevil, Captain America, Criminal), Best New Series (Criminal with Sean Phillips)[34]
    2007 Harvey Award – Best Writer (Daredevil)[35]
    2008 Eisner Award – Best Writer (Captain America, Criminal, Daredevil and Immortal Iron Fist)
    2010 Eisner Award – Best Writer (Captain America, Criminal, Daredevil, The Marvels Project, Incognito), Best Single Issue (Captain America #601, with artist Gene Colan)
    2012 Eisner Award – Best Limited Series or Story Arc (Criminal: The Last of the Innocent, with artist Sean Phillips)

    the following are ESSENTIAL Brubaker/Phillips soon to be included with FATALE

    Batman: Gotham Noir
    Gotham Noir is an Elseworlds story that re-imagines Batman in a film noir setting. The story takes place in Gotham City in the year 1949, and is told through the character of James Gordon

    Sleeper Vol 1 & 2
    Holden Carver is placed as an undercover agent in a superhuman criminal mob. When the only person who knows of his innocence is shot, Carver has no choice but to keep playing into the roll.

    (from wikipedia) The series is a meditation on the clichés of the crime genre while remaining realistic and believable.The series’ story arcs are self-contained and focus on different characters, but these central characters inhabit the same world, grew up in fictional Center City, frequent the same bar, and share a common history of two generations of crime.
    V.1 Coward
    V.2 Lawless
    V.3 The Dead and the Dying
    V.4 Bad Night
    V.5 The Sinners
    V.6 The Last of the Innocent

    Incognito (V.1)
    Incognito: Bad Influences (V.2)
    The comic is set in a world in which larger-than-life “zeppelin” pulp heroes and villains have existed since the early 19th century. Zack Overkill is in the Witness Protection Program after giving testimony against the crimelords. He begins wearing a mask again and searches for action in the streets and back alleys acting as a vigilante rather than a supervillain to avoid being arrested for violating his parole agreement.