Fatale Vol. 1 (Collecting issues #1-5 from Image)

First, I should mention that you aren't going to get an unbiased opinion from me on this book, as I have read, and enjoyed every issue of every comic the Brubaker/Phillips team has done. Second, this is going to be more of a free form post, as I am still trying to get my thoughts fully collected. Third, well I guess I don't have a third. Let's get to it.

I'd like to start with some thoughts that aren't really story related.

For one, I've always said I'm not a fan of horror, but over the past few years that when I read a well-written story, like any other genre, I can enjoy horror stories. It was after reading this and series like Severed and Colder that they do have some merit.

This is also, a series I don't think Marvel or DC would likely publish. Maybe in their Icon or Vertigo lines, respectively. As this is a story that was originally going to be 12 issues. By issue 3 Brubaker said it would be 15, and now issue 20 was the last to be released. Also, issue 5 was a larger than normal issue, for the same price which the Big 2 never do, and Image has always been good about. Look at a lot of Bendis' series for Image back in the day. He often had extra-sized issues in his series.

I also think this is a series in which being monthly really pays off. I loved the suspense of waiting for each issue. Really built up my anticipation, to see what would happened next, instead of just blowing through it. Also, Brubaker gives the monthly collectors a little extra in the back of each issue with a text piece that doesn't appear in the trade. (Except the last issue sine it ran long)

Now that that is out of the way on the to the story itself.

Brubaker says in the end of the fist issue he had wanted to do a horror story, and knew no other way to do it than marry it to a crime story. That is most obvious in this first story, as it has the closest feel to a crime story than later arcs. The setting is definitely the key as it takes place back in the 50s in San Francisco, a nod to Sam Spade and Dashiell Hammett I imagine. heck he gets props from me, just for not making it NYC or LA.

Brubaker packs in a ton of pulp fiction tropes into this story. Cops investigating a cult. The cops are also dirty cops. The reporter looking to break a huge story. The damsel in distress, although in this case not nearly as helpless in the usual case.

While we have the crime part, we also get a bunch of magic. As well as the most overt instances, and talk of magic in the series (that I recall anyways :) ). The demon-headed Mr. Bishop. The corrupt cop, Booker, actually talking about casting spells. The symbol Josephine uses to hide herself.

That symbol is something shown, and talked about quite a bit in this series, but I don't recall seeing much of it afterward. I did check the last 2 issues that came out easily at hand, and I skimmed through those 2, and saw the symbol used once. I won't mention anything else about it to avoid any spoiler. Does anyone else recall seeing it in later issues? It does seem to be a pretty powerful icon though, as Booker cast it on himself, and it even hid him from Jo.

The Booker and Josephine relationship was pretty interesting, as you know they have been together for years by the time we see them. While Booker is still on love with Jo, he also hates her. As he has gotten old and grey and she looks exactly the same. We do see the very rare triple-cross Booker pulls on Bishop in the story, as he just can't betray Josephine. That betrayal ends up costing people a lot.

That is something that we see very early on. Every man who comes in contact with Jo ends up losing something. Bishop his eyes (even after he is reborn). Nicholas Lash his leg. Some people lose their sanity. A lot of dudes die. Then we have Dominic Raines who loses hos wife, unborn child, and is pretty much depressed the rest of his life because of the time he spent with Jo. Pretty hardcore.

I had forgotten that Raines' unborn son is who Bishop regrows into (also a heavy use of magic).

Just what is Josephine anyway? To me she is obviously some sort of riff on the Succubus. If someone else has an idea I'd love to hear it.

I didn't even touch on the story going on during the present. Do we ever learn what kind of job Nicholas Lash had/has? I don't recall ever seeing it. Is there any significance to us not know what it is?

Am I the only one who found the guys in the mirror sunglasses and bowler hats the creepiest thing about the comic?

Does anyone know where the symbol Josephine uses come from? Or is that a wholesale invention of the creative team?

What is Bishop's endgame with Jo? To bring one the Lovecraftian gods into our world?

Well I think I've rambled on long enough. I will probably have more to add later. I'd love to hear what others think.

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I guess I'll be first. I came into this series a fan of the creators as well, mainly from Criminal, which I absolutely loved. So the crime story side of it seemed completely natural, and I was already a horror fan. I think the existence of magic is kind of teased at in the beginning. It's not shown unambiguously until the fifth issue, when the guy with tentacles on his head appears. I found the chronology confusing at first. The Prologue doesn't have a time stamp on it, but I think it's supposed to be "present day," because they're attending the funeral of someone who died in 2011. Then it jumps back to 1956, but Josephine looks exactly the same. Which it turns out is one of the main points, but that wasn't obvious right away, at least not to me.

Is this the same symbol that's on the grave in the first issue Prologue? Remind me where Josephine uses it; I just skimmed over the collection instead of rereading it. I believe bringing a Lovecraftian god into the world is the endgame, but that wasn't clear to me until the third collection, which I just read recently.

I agree about the guys in the bowler hats and sunglasses. There's something really creepy about them!

Mark said:

Is this the same symbol that's on the grave in the first issue Prologue? Remind me where Josephine uses it; I just skimmed over the collection instead of rereading it. I believe bringing a Lovecraftian god into the world is the endgame, but that wasn't clear to me until the third collection, which I just read recently.

Right. The first time you see her use it on screen is in the second issue. Dominic asks her about it, and she says,"It's so no one, not even God, can see you when you sin." She then wipes it off of the door frame she had put it on. It then pops up a few more times in this arc. Do you recall seeing the symbol in the third collection? I don't have those issues nearby.

Careful of Spoilers guys, for the later books!

Is it just me, or does that upside-down triangle look like a stylised vagina?  It even has the love-button...

Is the series complete now or just to be completed soon?

So far, I've only read the first book, but I'll definitely be getting to the rest of the story eventually.  As for spoilers for the next books, personally, I wouldn't hobble the conversation to avoid them, just give a bit of warning for anything big.

The Booker and Josephine relationship was pretty interesting, as you know they have been together for years by the time we see them. While Booker is still on love with Jo, he also hates her. As he has gotten old and grey and she looks exactly the same. We do see the very rare triple-cross Booker pulls on Bishop in the story, as he just can't betray Josephine. That betrayal ends up costing people a lot.

When he's first introduced, Booker seems like a fairly generic corrupt cop, but by the end of the book, I think he might be the most complex character.  While the mystery of Jo, (and just what's going on / went on), are the overriding focus, I think the way the different layers of the characters' backstories and relationships are peeled back might be the most captivating part of the book.  We start the book with a mystery and the noir style narration, but by the end of the book, it's not only the horror elements that have been fused in, we also have some extremely well realized characters, all while keeping with its pulpy style.

I agree about the guys in the bowler hats and sunglasses. There's something really creepy about them!

Yip, those bowler hat guys are creepy.  I think the cart of bodies that only Booker sees is kind of eerie too.

Spoilers, right. Sorry about that! I don't think I'm giving much away by saying that the symbol does appear in the third volume, in a flashback.

And Figs, I was going to say it was just you. But now that you point it out, I see what you mean. I don't recognize the symbol from anywhere else, so I do think it was just made up for the story.

Border Mutt said:

Is the series complete now or just to be completed soon?

It is supposed to be completed soon. The current arc is the last of the series. I believe it is will finish somewhere in the mid-20s.

Yip, those bowler hat guys are creepy.  I think the cart of bodies that only Booker sees is kind of eerie too.

Indeed

Travis Herrick said:

This is also, a series I don't think Marvel or DC would likely publish. Maybe in their Icon or Vertigo lines, respectively. As this is a story that was originally going to be 12 issues. By issue 3 Brubaker said it would be 15, and now issue 20 was the last to be released. Also, issue 5 was a larger than normal issue, for the same price which the Big 2 never do, and Image has always been good about. Look at a lot of Bendis' series for Image back in the day. He often had extra-sized issues in his series.

I agree with you that's how Marvel or DC would publish it.  If not, there would be pressure to have Logan or a Wayne family member intrude into the story.  I'm glad Brubaker and Phillips got to tell the story they wanted.  Very cool of Image not to jack the price when an issue is a little bigger.

I also think this is a series in which being monthly really pays off. I loved the suspense of waiting for each issue. Really built up my anticipation, to see what would happened next, instead of just blowing through it. Also, Brubaker gives the monthly collectors a little extra in the back of each issue with a text piece that doesn't appear in the trade. (Except the last issue sine it ran long)

My experience was different.  I got Fatale #1-5 off Comixology all at once.  I was glad I could dive right in to the next installment as soon as I wanted.  Unfortunately, no text pieces included.  But I was hooked from the first issue, so it was all good.

The Booker and Josephine relationship was pretty interesting, as you know they have been together for years by the time we see them. While Booker is still on love with Jo, he also hates her. As he has gotten old and grey and she looks exactly the same. We do see the very rare triple-cross Booker pulls on Bishop in the story, as he just can't betray Josephine. That betrayal ends up costing people a lot.

Just what is Josephine anyway? To me she is obviously some sort of riff on the Succubus. If someone else has an idea I'd love to hear it.

I thought at first Jo was just immortal for some reason, but yeah, there are definite aspects of a Succubus to her.  As you said, every man loses something, with Booker it's his health.  Maybe it's also his ethics?  Did he become corrupt because of her?  And what was up with him seeing the dead bodies on the back of that truck as a boy?

I haven't read Fatale any further yet, but maybe she's a reformed demon or a fallen angel.  Perhaps that's why Bishop wants her.

I didn't even touch on the story going on during the present. Do we ever learn what kind of job Nicholas Lash had/has? I don't recall ever seeing it. Is there any significance to us not know what it is?

My guess is that he's a writer or a publisher.  Not much of the story takes place in the present day.  There's some reason that we don't see in this arc for Lash to keep the unpublished manuscript - remember, Jo pulled it out of the fire and put it in his hands.

Am I the only one who found the guys in the mirror sunglasses and bowler hats the creepiest thing about the comic?

Nope, not just you, they're pretty creepy.  I'm guessing there's a lot more to them than what we've seen so far.

 

 

John  Dunbar said:

I agree with you that's how Marvel or DC would publish it.  If not, there would be pressure to have Logan or a Wayne family member intrude into the story.  I'm glad Brubaker and Phillips got to tell the story they wanted.  Very cool of Image not to jack the price when an issue is a little bigger.

True, and I also don't think they would have let the series grow to double the size it was pitched at. Well, maybe if they did it as two separate series.

I thought at first Jo was just immortal for some reason, but yeah, there are definite aspects of a Succubus to her.  As you said, every man loses something, with Booker it's his health.  Maybe it's also his ethics?  Did he become corrupt because of her?  And what was up with him seeing the dead bodies on the back of that truck as a boy?

The question on Booker's ethics I guess we can never truly know, since he is with Jo. Would he have been a corrupt cop without her around? No one can really say (well maybe Brubaker can  photo biggrin.gif). As to the dead bodies, I think it was Bishop who asked Booker at one point why he didn't go insane with everything he saw during World War II. Booker was already tapped into the world of magic, and could see the reality of it over what the magic hid from everyone else. I believe his innate magical abilities is one of the reasons Josephine stayed with him so long.

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