Writer: Ed Brubaker
Artist: Sean Phillips
Publisher: Image Comics
“Fatale” looks to be an intriguing combination of “LA Confidential” and “Angel Heart”. Or if you haven’t seen those movies a combination of California Noir and California Noir combined with Real Magick.
Its a little hard to describe but it starts out in 2011 with the funeral of a writer named “Dominic H. (Hank?) Raines”, a man in his 70s who’s described as an atheist who hates all religions. (Just as an aside: just because you’re an atheist doesn’t mean you hate religion. It just means that you don’t believe in them although this character would seem to have a different motivation: religions and their crazy vindictive gods are real and destructive but back on point…) His funeral is attended by his godson who now has control of the late writer’s estate, whose work he derides as being commercial yet hackish junk. Sounds a little like cheap pulpster Mickey Spillane, or the poor man’s Raymond Chandler.
Turns out he meets an intriguing woman at the funeral. She says that her grandmother knew the late writer. Here’s the scene.
We are then taken to the late writer’s estate where “Nicholas”, who seems to have white streaked Dr. Strange hair (a homage?), finds a previously unpublished manuscript called “The Losing Side of Eternity”.
He is then attacked by guys who look a lot like Mister X with hats. They’re some kind of cult like Gestapo agents. Actually, since the origin of this seems to begin in Nazi era Romania they might actually be former Gestapo.
He is rescued by the brunette he meets earlier, and is then attacked by a small plane. He subsequently loses his right leg and starts reading the manuscript from his hospital bed on page 12 of 32.
Now, here’s where it gets kind of interesting or confusing. It looks like “The Losing Side of Eternity” isn’t a work of fiction. Its a nonfiction book that comes with a real photograph. We are then taken to San Francisco 1956. We are introduced to a world of intrepid fearless reporters (Whatever happened to them?), dirty cops and a bunch of cult related ritual murders, with its requisite hangings, obligatory ram’s head and gruesome beheadings. I guess if I had to predict the plotline the woman who looks 30ish and is described in this “novel” and the woman who saved Nicholas in 2011 are one and the same. The “Double Indemnity” like woman in the alleged work of fiction wants her dirty cop husband dead. And off we go as they say.
Verdict: Very stylish and professionally well done. Not transcendent but decent. The gorefest writers behind both “Kick Ass” and “Luther Strode” might want to note that sometimes with violence Less is More. You can allude to things and that can be scary too, not that this book is lacking in exploded twisted carved out torsos. 4.2 out of five stars. I can hear the cool west coast jazz sound whenever I read it…