Brubaker and Phillips come up with a great conclusion. Not so much for the present day part–Brubaker’s cheap with the present day stuff–but the flashback story closes beautifully.
While there’s a lot of good action, the issue excels because of the characters. Brubaker provides deeper insight into his protagonists during the issue’s busyness. They’re little insights, very quiet, but Brubaker gives them significance without too much emphasis. If that description makes any sense at all. It’s neat.
There’s not much explaining. Not in the present or the past, which gives Fatale an otherworldly tone even though there’s nothing fantastic in this issue. Even with the seventies cult resolution, there’s nothing uncanny either. It’s a very grounded finish to the arc.
Except for the present day stuff. Brubaker rushes it because it’s a cute resolution for the modern protagonist–whose name I have, in fact, forgotten.
Still, great comic.
The Devil’s Business, Chapter Five; writer, Ed Brubaker; artist and letterer, Sean Phillips; colorist, Dave Stewart; publisher, Image Comics.
Hansel, the cult leader, again gets his own scene juxtaposed against the regular action. Once again, it doesn’t work. Everything else this issue works–except one flashback panel requiring the reader to remember minutiae from the arc’s first issue and a revelation scene–but the cult leader is a constant problem.
Brubaker can’t make him interesting. He’s scary, he’s disturbing, but he’s not interesting. He’s just a bad guy. There’s nothing else to him. If he were addicted to Big League Chew, Fatale would work much better.
Anyway, the issue’s successes. Miles and Jo have a nice chemistry to them as they navigate the issue. It’s occasionally domestic, sometimes nearly cute. Brubaker makes Jo extremely sympathetic. The guy a little too, but nowhere near as much. It’s a damsel in distress story, even if there are a lot of damsels and the distress isn’t clear.
It’s a good, fast read.
The Devil’s Business, Chapter Four; writer, Ed Brubaker; artist and letterer, Sean Phillips; colorist, Dave Stewart; publisher, Image Comics.
There’s not a lot of seventies L.A. scenery this issue; there are a couple good moments though, a couple great panels from Phillips. Instead, most of the issue is spent indoors, whether present or past.
Brubaker gives the modern protagonist–Lash, I think (Brubaker makes his name less important every issue)–a little story. There’s some mystery, of course. A flashback in the present tense set after the regular flashback. And then there’s a cliffhanger in the present.
There’s a cliffhanger in the past too, but Brubaker’s so successful in splitting the two, it’s hard to see the cliffhanger as consequential. All these events occurred forty years before the present action. There’s nothing anyone can do to change them.
It’s an excellent issue. Brubaker’s got a few plots running and he’s writing great characters for all of them. Well, except the evil cult leader’s tone-deaf interlude. It’s weak.
The Devil’s Business, Interlude and Chapter Three; writer, Ed Brubaker; artist and letterer, Sean Phillips; colorist, Dave Stewart; publisher, Image Comics.
There are so many new supporting characters this issue, I really hope Brubaker isn’t expecting me to remember them all. He opens the issue revealing a little of Jo’s new ground situation. She’s in the house, there are more secrets (physical indications abound), but probably none relevant to this storyline. It’s mood. Phillips’s great at mood.
Then the arc’s protagonist–Miles–heads out to see what kind of trouble he’s gotten himself into. Page after page of Phillips seventies L.A. The art more than makes up for what seems like Brubaker treading water. He’s trying to get the day out of the way so Miles and Jo can go to a cult ceremony.
At this cult ceremony, Brubaker reveals (to the characters, not the reader) some of the connections to the previous Fatale story arc.
Brubaker has a fair amount of artificiality to his plotting, but it’s a good comic.
The Devil’s Business, Chapter Two; writer, Ed Brubaker; artist and letterer, Sean Phillips; colorist, Dave Stewart; publisher, Image Comics.
Brubaker introduces a lot of little mysteries this issue. Some happen in the present, most happen in the past; the big one is how the past and present are connected.
The present day mystery isn’t particularly intriguing, not when compared to the ones in the flashback. It’s set in seventies Hollywood, with a b-actor the apparent protagonist. Brubaker does spend a little time from Jo’s point of view, but she’s such a sympathetic character here it’s hard to recognize her.
The protagonist stumbles into a few of the big mysteries and serendipitously ends up at Jo’s house in the hills. Brubaker makes it feel completely reasonable, never contrived.
Phillips excels at the time period. The art’s more interesting with just the mundane–the fantastic or horror elements are nothing compared to Phillips’s seventies street scenes.
It’s a good comic and gets one interested, even if there’s nothing particularly sensational.
The Devil’s Business, Prologue and Chapter One; writer, Ed Brubaker; artist and letterer, Sean Phillips; colorist, Dave Stewart; publisher, Image Comics.
Brubaker recovers very nicely. And he lets Phillips go outside. Phillips’s outdoors art is always lovely.
There’s a surprise in the issue–or two, but the second one is somewhat immaterial–and Brubaker did a great job setting it up. It makes perfect sense and is only possible because he kept switching the perspective around through the last few issues. Can’t get too close when one of your characters is completely different than you’ve set him or her up.
The issue ends the first arc and has frame set in the modern day. It’s a mistake. Brubaker reminds the reader he never set up the modern ground situation in the flashback. Actually, he did everything he could to make it seem totally impossible for the characters to move into these new positions on the board.
Still, Fatale succeeds big time.
Brubaker just needs to justify the framing character a bit.
Death Chases Me, Chapter Five; writer, Ed Brubaker; artist, Sean Phillips; colorist, Dave Stewart; publisher, Image Comics.
Yeah, the impulse is gone now. Brubaker’s initial excitement and the creative force of Fatale has petered out. It’s still a good comic book, it’s just not exciting. There’s not a single surprise this issue.
Brubaker changes gears a lot. The bad cop is now not only one of the protagonists, he’s also not quite as bad a cop as he could be. Sure, he makes deals with demons… but he still does his job.
And Hank–whose manuscript is based, potentially, on these events–ceases to be a protagonist for most of the issue. Brubaker instead treats him as a subject, which does make a lot of sense. Getting into his head after a literal monster kills his pregnant wife… it might be too much of a downer even for Fatale.
Conversely, Phillips excels with issue’s relative quiet. Both creators have gotten comfortable, but Phillips doesn’t become less exciting.
Death Chases Me, Chapter Four; writer, Ed Brubaker; artist, Sean Phillips; colorist, Dave Stewart; publisher, Image Comics.
Fatale all of a sudden becomes very small and predictable. Brubaker moves the action, for a bit, to Fresno (in the fifties), which gives Phillips a lot to draw. Except when it comes time for the big reveal scene–when Hank gets his first clue about being in over his head–it’s an exceptionally small scene.
I get Brubaker not wanting to show the shark or whatnot, but come on. Fatale is in its third issue, there have been teases before. Another tease just leaves the finish of the book empty.
The modern day protagonist returns for a bit this issue at the beginning. It’s unclear why Brubaker’s including him, except to confirm the manuscript from the first issue isn’t the flashbacks. Not exactly. It’s embellished.
But otherwise? Including the modern day stuff doesn’t make any difference to the issue.
As for the predictability… hopefully Brubaker can recover his footing.
Death Chases Me, Interlude and Chapter Three; writer, Ed Brubaker; artist, Sean Phillips; colorist, Dave Stewart; publisher, Image Comics.
No framing this issue–and no immediate resolution to the previous cliffhanger. Instead, Brubaker does what he can to keep the reader on unsteady ground. The titular fatale, Josephine, opens the issue (I think) and Brubaker sticks close to her in terms of third person narration.
Everyone gets close third person, actually. Brubaker follows four characters around, the same number as last time, though the final one this issue is just for effect. He’s got to make the reader immediately sympathetic, since he’s got to do harm to the character.
Phillip’s artwork is outstanding. It’s a brighter issue, even though the supernatural elements become fully visible here.
Fatale isn’t exactly predictable, but it’s familiar. Brubaker and Phillips are cutting a new path through traditional terrain, regardless of how they accessorize.
That observation isn’t a slight. The comic’s an abject success, with Brubaker expertly pacing out the issue’s plot once again.
Death Chases Me, Chapter Two; writer, Ed Brubaker; artist, Sean Phillips; colorist, Dave Stewart; publisher, Image Comics.
Fatale‘s first issue has some extra pages, but not so many it’s totally different from a regular comic. Brubaker does wonders with the pacing. He opens with a modern story, then flashes back into something. It’s unclear if it’s the manuscript the protagonist found or just a flashback.
But in that flashback, Brubaker moves between three characters. So it’s a less than thirty-page comic with four characters and all the time well spent. The pacing’s so great, Fatale being compelling is just a bonus.
The cliffhanger’s a little soft though. It doesn’t have enough impact since the reader has just meant that particular protagonist.
Sean Phillips’s artwork is fantastic, whether it’s the action scenes or the fifties stuff. The fifties art is a lot more static; it’s calm, even though it’s rather violent.
Brubaker and Phillips turn in such a strong, but singular, first issue, Fatale‘s hard to anticipate.
Death Chases Me, Prologue and Chapter One; writer, Ed Brubaker; artist, Sean Phillips; colorist, Dave Stewart; publisher, Image Comics.