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Fatale vol 3: West Of Hell

Fatale vol 3: West Of Hell

Fatale vol 3: West Of Hell back

Ed Brubaker & Sean Phillips


Page 45 Review by Stephen

“And so it went on for several years. Until it didn’t.”

Noir with a Lovecraftian twist, FATALE is our best-selling series matched only by SAGA.

Here the horror comes to the fore in different places, different years – 1936, Texas; 1286, France; 1883, Colorado; 1943, Romania – because, yes, the story is older than we thought.

The bookends find the first two volumes’ Josephine beginning to understand what she might be, having tracked down a writer whose mother succumbed to a cult while they travelled out west. Aged twelve, he saw things that no boy should see – and probably nor should you. His mother’s still there in the attic, as mothers are wont to be. Now Jo sees things differently, which leads her to Mirela in occupied Paris and thence to Romania and Walter, which all pulls back beautifully to FATALE VOL 1. You’ll know the scenes I mean when you get there.

In between these chapters we meet Mathilde and Bonnie, both of whom bear an uncanny resemblance to Jo, and you will discover why the ancient tome which played such a big part in FATALE VOL 2 is so desperately important. ‘A Lovely Sort Of Death’ set in France in 1286 is particularly horrific for they were cruel enough times without Mathilde’s involuntary sorcery triggering the worst in men. And the shame of it all is she could have been happy, for she met a man of honour and no threat to her at all…

There, I do hope I’ve been vague enough. You can then move straight on to FATALE #15 which returns us to the present and the plight of Nicholas Lash which – improbably enough – is about to get even more precarious! Also, someone’s doing something horrible to Josephine yet again, and you’ll meet a band struggling to fund their next album and video in a highly unorthodox manner.

Bettie Breitweiser has arrived as new colour artists and brings some very neat tricks with her, first during the 1286 episode like the exquisite lighting on an early morning as Mathilde negotiates the snow-swept banks of a narrow, woodland river. It’s but one tiny panel, but such is Breitweiser’s attention to detail.

Sean Phillips, meanwhile, lets rip with sharp teeth, tentacles and several bloodbaths which would put any modern washing powder to the test. His eye for design has given this series the best covers in the business, and here he turns his attention to four stunning, scene-setting first pages for each of the four chapters. Also, the eyes: over and over again here there are eyes which see more than the minds behind them can cope with, and I don’t think I’ve seen “petrified” ever conveyed quite so startlingly.

So here’s how it all opens, with Josephine having left her customary mark:

“Texas – 1936.
“Officer Nelson has been drinking for a few hours when he realises she isn’t coming back for him.
“He breaks out in a cold sweat…
“And his hands start to shake…
“As the world collapses in on him.”

Oh, Jo!