The latest FATALE arc brings us into the present day, with flashbacks to the nineties, and adds another complicated, intense layer to Jo's story. Our old pal Nick is in prison and rapidly losing his senses, plagued by everything Jo has put him through so far -- including the publication of his uncle's (seemingly-edited) manuscript. Rather than answers (or relief), he encounters a mysterious savior in Lance, another of Jo's men. Lance's story takes over from there, and we learn more about how systemic Jo's femme fatale nature is.
By now, we know that Jo is perpetually dangerous, and that even time can't stop her from drawing unsuspecting men into her life. But it's still captivating to watch, especially when she emerges on the scene with seemingly no knowledge of how poisonous she can be to the men she touches. I'm not sure that anyone in this book can escape a meeting with Jo both alive and without blood on their hands, and that's part of its dark, dirty charm. Ed Brubaker has devised a beautiful and mysterious creation, and every time I try to nail down who she is, there's a new hitch. Constant throughout: she drives men mad, and lives up to the book's title.
I adore art that can span decades without losing consistency of style, and Sean Phillips nails it in FATALE (with a perfectly gloomy palette by Bettie Breitweiser). The book is no less the dirty noir it was in the thirties; it's just dressed to fit the nineties grunge.
This story kicks off a new arc, but it's not the best jump-on point for the series. A deep, juicy noir like this seems to necessitate immersion, and starting in the middle without context is less appropriate here than with many ongoing books. New readers could probably gather what's going on fairly quickly, but should pick up the first three trades for context.
FATALE continues to draw me in. Maybe it's Jo's eyes; more likely, it's Brubaker and Phillips spinning a beautiful, dark story that just doesn't stop fascinating.