Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips continue to show that they are masters of noir comics but with Fatale, they step up their game to include Lovecraftian horror and suspense. In fact, the first trade, Death Chases Me is a writer’s workshop in the building of suspense and how not to fall prey to modern tropes of starting a book with a peek at the money-shot. Fatale is a book about a man that falls in love, makes difficult choices and eventually drives headlong into a dark, previously hidden world of human and supernatural terrors.
While Fatale is a horror book, it is a noir title first and foremost and it is that formula that drives most of the action in the book with a huge pay off in the end. From the cover, Brubaker and Phillips tell the reader that there is some chance that there might be something more sinister to their shadows than just the bad-love and big thugs of most noir. The story of Fatale starts in a world that the reader knows and lives in but slowly, throughout the book, there are shadowed teases at something bigger, something with a whole lot more potential – it’s really sexy.
It’s not until the third or fourth issue of Fatale that the reader is certain that there really are things that go bump in the night of this book. And when at the same time that the reader is given a glance of the monster in the closet, Brubaker and Phillips also turns the story on its head by showing that one of the main characters is in fact one of these creatures of the dark. Because the suspense has been building from the start, a body piece at a time, this reveal is nether trite or false when it happens. If anything, there is a wonderful “ah-ha!” moment that makes the story all that more rich and savory. Fatale is an excellent read with a great story for readers and an excellent lesson for writers.