Page 45 Review by Stephen
"And so it went on for several years. Until it didn't."
From the creators of CRIMINAL and THE FADE OUT etc, the last two pages set on a shore still make me both well up and smile. It's a pretty neat trick, possible to pull off only if the writer, line artist and colour artist are working as one and all at the top of their games.
I don't think that constitutes a spoiler, more of a promise that this won't let you down. They're the last two pages of the series, so they're the last two pages of this book.
Or rather, they would be had you elected to read FATALE in softcover.
Sean never skimps on his deluxe editions' designs or back-matter and here he introduces the covers freed from their frames which is almost a shame, I grant you. FATALE boasted the best consistent cover design which I've ever seen in comics, which is why some of us bought the individual comics to read then decorate our halls with. But reproduced unfettered in a format which is almost A4 they take on a new life in all their grey-tone-wash glory, each with a single extra flourish of colour. And, of course, he explains why.
These are followed by extra finished art and process pieces (I love seeing how an artist develops his ideas from start to finish) while, in between, come the landscape paintings Phillips adorned the periodical's essays with (again, type-face-free) and just one of those essays, on Lovecraft.
For FATALE is crime with a Lovecraftian twist.
It is, as Brubaker explains in the brand-new afterword, about taking the cliché of the single-minded femme fatale and turning her into an individual human being cursed by the very dint of her persuasive powers which she cannot shut off to become, in its truest sense, tragic.
This hefty volume begins, quite unexpectedly, in 1936 before sweeping even further back to [redacted], thence to Seattle in 1995 before returning us to the present as events reach the climactic head which they have always threatened to.
The series itself begins in a graveyard.
Nicolas Lash is burying his godfather, one Dominic H. Raines who published a string of bestselling detective novels beginning in 1960 before dying alone, bitter and broken. He was also an avowed atheist, so when Nicolas spots three sigils on Dominic's gravestone, he is ever so slightly perplexed. At which point Jo, the most beautiful woman Nicolas has ever beheld, appears as if out of nowhere:
"My grandmother had them on her grave too
"She and Mr Raines were in love once. I think that symbol was something private between them
"Some piece of the past they couldn't let go of."
And immediately, like a kid in a school yard, Nicolas is irretrievably smitten.
Later that night he goes through his godfather's effects and discovers an unpublished manuscript dated 1957 called 'The Losing Side Of Eternity'.
At which point all hell breaks loose before we flash all the way back to San Francisco, 1956, when Dominic Raines was a happily married man with a kid on the way. He's not yet a writer, but a reporter determined to expose police corruption and in particular one Walt Booker who happens to be dating
oh, hello! She looks familiar!
Then there are tentacles and some heads explode.
For more, please see FATALE DELUXE HARDCOVER VOL 1 or indeed any of the five softcovers. They're each one reviewed because I loved them so much.