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Review: Fatale #2 Not Even God Can See You When You Sin.

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Written by:  Ed Brubaker
Art by: Sean Phillips
Cover by: Sean Phillips
Publisher: Image 

Fatale #2Still white-hot from the hype-machine of the interweb, Fatale has once again sold out at the distribution level. Luckily I was able to snag a copy at my local shop this time around. From what I understand this comic is still flying off the stands. Check out my review of issue #1 if you missed out on all the action last time around. Layers of Lovecraftian-esque lore are woven around this mystery as we dive deeper in to the quest for some ancient heirloom. The McGuffin plot device set’s this one up for another round immersive cult drama.

Brubaker doesn’t beat around the bush and ditches some speculation baggage straight away for the sake of clarity. In the “Story Thus Far” opening section in Fatale #2 we are given some new information about the characters and a reveal about the back story. Josephine from present day is also the mystery girl from the 50’s in the lost manuscript (and from the what I gathered from the sub-text it is a true story). Apparently Josephine is some kind of succubus ala Hellraiser, because she hasn’t aged a day since the ’50’s (it was visually hinted, but now I definitely know). Also Nicolas’s god-father, Dominic Reign (also known as Hank Reign), is the main reporter character in this apparently autobiographical manuscript. Things that were clues are just straight up spelled out for you. Now I can just concentrate on the 1950’s back story at hand. Thank god, because it’s a tangled one.

 Josephine is searching for an heirloom that Detective Walter Brookes has hidden in his home somewhere. That triangular cult marking from the first issue is scratched on the floorboard, but it turns out o be a dead-end revealing military medals and old war photos. Meanwhile Brookes is investigating an occult murder/suicide that was discovered last issue. They’ve stumbled cult members who’ve sliced off their own eyelids so they can stare at the sun. A chase and a beat down later, the cult member tell’s Brooke’s cryptically that the “Bishop will meet with you”. The next thing you know Hank Reigns is being chewed out by someone in a bar about an article he wrote to stir-some shit up about police corruption. Then he’s deep in his affair with Josephine. She used to be Brookes’ lover and talks about what a bastard he is and how she has to make his life hell. There’s a juicy bit about the cult symbol and it’s meaning is revealed “no one, not even god, can see you when you sin”. It gets a bit convoluted after that. A slit throat, adultery discovered, and a guy with razor-sharp teeth.
With all this cross-cutting the web of this story seems like it is getting out of hand. Ed started us off with some clean-up in the summary, but muddied the rest of the chapter. Plots and subplots are not defined enough for me to really understand what is going on. I get the general character motivations but not much beyond that. Which is a shame because I really love the subject matter. Brubaker’s narrative writing style flows great and Sean Phillips gritty noir art is in top-form. Just explain some shit, because I’m stuck in quagmire of loose-ends and don’t know which way is up. I need a character to hang my hat on. Who’s the lead, Nicolas Lash or Dominic “Hank” Reign? Or are they supposed to be the same character and just not know it? Also Josephine or the cult need some details revealed to get this one back on track. Sadly I find myself not really caring about any or the characters because everything is so shrouded in mystery. It’s only issue 2 though, so I’m going to give Brubaker the benefit of the doubt. He’s rarely steers off-course for long.

The second installment of Fatale is a slow intricate burn of what the fuck. The plot is dense; much in the same way The Girl WIth a Dragon Tattoo is complicated: A shit-ton of characters, WWII back story, Nazi deviants and morally ambiguous behavior.There’s a lot going on, however there’s such a genuine draw to the writing style and subject that you can help but being sucked in. It’s obvious that more pieces of the puzzle need to be put in place order to appreciate the full picture here. I would say that this is exactly the kind of comic that you wait for the trade to come out, but then you wouldn’t get the awesome bonus features that Brubaker and Phillips give you at the end. Jess Nevin writes an essay on Edgar Allen Poe and Phillips illustrates a gorgeous 2-page portrait to accompany it. Never the less, I worry that the difficult and inaccessible nature of this tale will eventually scare off readers. That would suck, because despite my criticisms I really want this to do well

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Story: 6.5/10
Art: 8/10

Jerry Nelson

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Matthew Sardo
As the founder of Monkeys Fighting Robots, I'm currently training for my next job as an astronaut cowboy. Reformed hockey goon, comic book store owner, video store clerk, an extra in 'Transformers: Dark of the Moon,' 'Welcome Back Freshman,' and for one special day, I was a Ghostbuster.