One would think that with a bevy of hits produced over the course of the last ten years Ed Brubaker would be content to sit back and rest on his laurels. However the opposite seems to be the case as he works to expand to his pulp inspired subgenre which already includes the two volume “Science Hero/Villain” tale Incognito (inspired by such classic pulps like The Shadow and Doc Savage) and the gritty multivolume crime drama Criminal (inspired by pulps which appeared in publications like Two Fisted Tales and Detective Story) with his new offering from Image Comics Fatale.
The first arc of Fatale contains all the necessary components of a classic pulp mystery (a beautiful femme fatale in crisis, creepy villains with an evil plot and an unlikely hero when an average Joe becomes an ill prepared investigator after the death of his Godfather.) mixed with an overarching mystery that seems almost Lovecraftian at its heart (complete with immortals, evil creatures seemingly inspired by Lovecraft’s Elder Gods and dark and gruesome ritualistic sacrifices).
Fatale successfully bridges the gap between the true to life grit of Criminal and the swashbuckling heights and daring do of Incognito and should satisfy fans of both as it exists both within those worlds and seemingly apart from them at the same time. Like any good mystery I won’t really know if I love it until it is done and light has been shined into every dark corner revealing every single evil plot, dark sin and human failing. But if we are judging mysteries based on their ability to dangle clues just out of the audiences reach and keep them coming back every month then Fatale is a very good mystery.
Returning to aid Brubaker in this series is artist Sean Phillips (Marvel Zombies) whose pencils gave such a distinct visual character to both Incognito and Criminal. What separates his art from so many of the comics we read today is that he doesn’t feel an apparent need to make every character in his series appear as one of the “beautiful” people like so many other books out there today. This serves to make you feel like you are seeing real life rather than a bad CW TV show where even the extras look like they should be models.
What stands out as different from Incognito and Criminal in this series is all the knife wounds and ritual killings which add panel after panel of brilliant vibrant reds. All in all Fatale has a very visceral visual look which more than makes up for its occasion slow issue as the mystery develops and I can happily recommend it for anyone who likes comics, even those who don’t routinely read comics which lack super heroes.
Fatale is available monthly and in trade paperback from Image Comics and can be purchased for digital download on Comixology.
Incognito and Criminal are available in trade paperback from Marvel’s Icon imprint and both can be purchased in digital format via Comixology for your iPad and android tablet.