Graphic Reviews: Fatale

This we we are sating a new segment called Graphic Reviews, written by our new writer Caitlin Roberts. Here is a brief introduction, also written by her:

Hello! My name’s Cait and the Aeither has invited me to write a graphic novel review segment here. I’m an avid gamer (both video games and tabletop) and a voracious reader. I work at a library in order to feed my insatiable book lust but will shortly be going to grad school (yay student debt!). I read most genres but fell in love with graphic novels about ten years ago and now cannot…stop…reading. Without further ado, onto the review…


I’ve been a fan of Ed Brubaker since picking up Gotham Central so when I heard he had a great new noir series, I had to check out Fatale. The five volumes of this series blend a femme fatale noir story with Lovecraftian horror so skillfully that I was left speechless. The story follows a young woman named Josephine who has experienced horrors at the hands of a dark cult and as a result she is both ageless and constantly on the run. Most of the story follows two separate plotlines before they merge in the final volume. The first plotline involves a young man named Nicolas Lash who meets Josephine in the present day and whose life is irrevocably altered by the interaction. The second plotline follows Jo through the decades in her attempts to battle the cult for control over her fate. Starting in San Francisco in the 1950’s, each volume brings her closer to the present day, Nicolas Lash and her final confrontation with the leader of the cult which destroyed her life.

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Josephine is easily one of the best written femme fatale characters I’ve ever seen in a graphic novel series. The rituals which the cult performed on her in the 1930’s resulted in a supernatural ability to control men. Any man not protected against her will naturally seek to serve her will and will become obsessed to a violent degree with possessing her. Rather than using her natural seductive wiles as a femme fatale, Jo struggles with wanting protection from the men chasing her, her own desires and the knowledge that any man who becomes involved with her can only end in insanity and possibly even death. For all her vulnerabilities, Jo is no delicate damsel and over and over again is all too willing to get her hands dirty to accomplish her goals. She draws the reader in as much as she draws in the men around her, often to their doom.

This is the second series in which Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips have collaborated, the previous being the strict noir story Criminal. Phillips masterfully matches Brubaker’s tone as they move from the gritty, dark noir style to an otherworldly, Lovecraftian horror story by the end of the series. Brubaker excels at creating that sense of overwhelming horror and brutal elder gods, knowledge of whom can only bring madness. As befits this type of horror story, he never fully answers your questions and constantly leaves you wanting more.

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If you enjoy noir and horror, Brubaker and Phillips’ impressive blend of the two genres makes Fatale an absolute must-read series!


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