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Fatale vol 1: Death Chases Me


Fatale vol 1: Death Chases Me Fatale vol 1: Death Chases Me Fatale vol 1: Death Chases Me

Fatale vol 1: Death Chases Me back

Ed Brubaker & Sean Phillips

Price: 
10.99

Page 45 Review by Stephen

The Losing Side Of Eternity: an unpublished novel by Dominic H. Raines, 1957.

“So here’s how my entire life went off the tracks in one day.
“It started at Dominic Raines’ funeral… and of course the weather was as bad as most of the old man’s novels.
“I didn’t see her among the small crowd, which, looking back, is odd. But I was distracted by the engravings on the headstone. Raines wasn’t just an atheist… he hated all religions. So what the hell was this about?”

What the hell indeed. From the creators of CRIMINAL, more crime fiction with a Lovecraftian twist.

Nicolas Lash has inherited the estate of his father’s best friend, one Dominic H. Raines who published a string of bestselling detective novels beginning in 1960 before dying alone and bitter and broken. As Nicolas swiftly discovers, however, he’s also inherited a great many questions and a whole world of trouble in the form of an unpublished manuscript whose title speaks volumes and a woman he meets by the grave. She calls herself Jo and claims to be the granddaughter of a woman the novelist once loved. The symbol, she says, is a private piece of the past Raines and her grandmother simply couldn’t let go of.

“Later, I’d wonder why my head felt glued to the ground as she walked away. How with just a few words, she’d made me feel like some high school kid again. Dumbstruck. I didn’t know that could still happen.”

It’s been happening for years. Flashback to San Francisco during the mid-1950s and Dominic ‘Hank’ Raines is a happily married man with a wife and a kid on the way. A reporter determined to expose police corruption and in particular one Walt Booker, he lures Walt’s woman Josephine to a bar one night, and she warns him – she does try to warn him – but from that moment on he just can’t get her out of his head…

“She hates herself… For wanting to survive this badly. For the things she’s done and the things she’s willing to do. She can still feel Hanks’ hands on her. Still taste him on her lips. And she hates herself for that too.
“She thinks about his wife… pictures her waiting up… lying to herself that her husband is working late. Or out all night chasing a lead. And she wants to cry, for what she’s done to this woman. But she doesn’t… because it’s not just about survival.”

Ah, la femme fatale: beautiful, seductive, and disastrous for all who stray near. But Brubaker and Phillips have carved something far more interesting, especially in Josephine who can’t help each act of seduction just like you can’t control your own pheromones, while she sees all those around her paying the price. Also, I’ve deliberately said little about Walt himself – both his public and private investigations into a death cult – nor what happens to Nicolas back in the present, because although this is everything you love about the same team’s CRIMINAL, it’s also a horror comic: the less you know, the better. Indeed Brubaker’s hinted at so many unanswered questions, I can’t get it out of my head, either, and you wait until the next shift in both in scene and time period in volume two.

It’s another perfect fusion of genres, but the big change and one of the keys to its complexity lies in the multiple, third-person perspectives: Josephine’s, obviously, but also that of the men who find themselves stricken by the raven-haired beauty who appears to weather the ravages of time infinitely better than those who fixate. Each for their own reason feels they have no option but to forge forward in their different directions; each believes they are running out of time. All of them seem linked by and trapped in a web woven wider and wider across time, spanning, it seems, an entire century.

I love the way Sean Phillips draws gunshots – jagged flashes of fire – and there’s plenty of action and more gore to come as the tentacles first start to show. Almost all of this takes place indoors or at night, and I’ve long said that I never trust anyone drawn by Sean Phillips. The faces are constantly cast in shadow, masking their motives and making your fear the very worst – either of them or for them. Cigarette smoke is rendered with a very dry brush, while much of the violence is framed in expressionistically rendered and instinctively positioned darkness. It’s not something you notice until you, err, notice it, you’re so caught up in the action. But it’s his quietest moments set in beds, bars or out on the street that I relish even more. The opening pages in the bucolic graveyard are particularly sublime, and the covers – including their subsequent printings, so wittily re-rendered – have been the best designed this year. Each one is reprinted in the back of the book whilst the cover to the first issue’s fourth printing manifests itself on the title page.

This is Page 45’s biggest-selling periodical this year, by the way. Now let’s make it our best-selling book, please.

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