By: Ed Brubaker (script), Sean Phillips (art), and Dave Stewart (colors)

The Story: Nick realizes that he met Jo a lot earlier than he thought, Suzy discovers Jo’s secret, and apparently Jo’s enemies are just as enduring and tenacious as she is.

The Review:  Fatale is a very unique Brubaker/Phillips joint.  It’s not only the generic question, with that heavy element of Lovecraftian horror (and boy, we get a heavy dose of that this month) but also the way the narration is structured.  With a lot more issues to work with, Fatale is in many ways a more leisurely read, one that takes its time and sets a very controlled pace.   What keeps this from being decompressed and boring, however, is that this pace allows Brubaker to insert a lot of moving parts, so much so that it can be difficult to keep track of everything if you’re reading the book monthly; it’s a book that really makes you think as it immerses you in its world.

As such, when you get an issue like this that starts making connections, it’s an extremely satisfying experience.  With this story-arc taking place in a different time period from arc prior, it’s really a lot of fun seeing Brubaker make strong connections and links between them.  There’s a strong sense that everything is related and nothing in the comic happens or is present “just cuz.”

As a result, you just end up watching Brubaker’s craft and marvelling at the connections he makes and the sense in which everything is coming together and the circle closing.  Nick is shown to have a strong tie to this arc, no longer forgotten on the wayside.  Meanwhile, Hansel’s true nature is revealed in wonderfully Lovecraftian/Mignola-esque form – Jo’s situation just seems all the more dangerous when it’s not only her that endures across time periods and storyarcs.

Sean Phillips’ artwork meanwhile does it’s thing, for the most part.  It’s shadows, paranoia, and horror lurking just below the mundane noir surface.  Phillips has slowly showed that his style of artwork lends itself just as well to creeping horror as it does to sweaty noir desperation, provided he has the right script.  I also got a thrill in seeing Phillips stretch his legs and do something different, giving us a couple of awe-inspiring “cosmic” type panels that really allow him to show his range.  The same goes for a dream sequence, which actually reminded me a bit of Mike Mignola, of all people.

All-told, Fatale is a book that’s becoming increasingly difficult to review.  More often than not, it’s not a jaw-dropping read that absolutely floors and shocks you.  That’s really, I think, because of it’s pace and its reliance on creeping horror over shocks and cliffhangers.  That said, there’s no mistaking that this is a high-quality comic with two masters of the medium giving us a highly polished narrative machine.

Conclusion: Another excellent issue of Fatale.  What a shocker.

Grade: A-

– Alex Evans

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