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Fatale: “The Devil’s Business” (Image Comics, 2012; #6-10)

Grass is green.  Water is wet.  Brubaker and Phillips make great noir comics.

A woman named Josephine has the ability to enthrall men.  She can’t control it, though, so men who get close to her become obsessed and wind up dead, insane, or in prison.  Also, she might have been touched by a Great Old One*.  And a hedonistic, woman-abusing cult leader believes she is his consort and won’t stop until he finds her.  As is so often the case with Ed Brubaker’s writing, impending doom hangs over everything that happens.  And his characteristic inevitability and clearness of voice drive the story.

If you’ve read other collaborations between Brubaker and Sean Phillips, then you know what to expect of the artist’s line-work—tight, dramatic framing; deep shadows; expressive faces.  He leans into a scratchier look for Fatale.  That choice works well for the book, especially in its most anxious moments.  And unlike some of the pair’s less fantastical work, this gives Phillips a chance to draw stylized moments—a hellish nightmare, for example.  Or in one case, a figure floating among stars, eyes, and tentacles.  Dave Stewart colors Fatale.  I’m used to seeing Bettie Breitweiser work with Brubaker and Phillips, but Stewart is also a powerhouse.  His palette here is muted most of the time, but when it makes sense to do so, he slips in some richer colors.

Fatale is an excellent book, and I recommend it.  It has more supernatural elements than Panelology favorite The Fade Out (which has none); and it lacks the dramatic ambiguity (or nihilism) of Kill or Be Killed.  Each is its own flavor of noir—Fatale’s is horror epic.  If you’ve never read any of Brubaker and Phillips’s collaborations, Fatale is as a good place to start as any.  

*Or similar.

Collected in

  • Fatale, Book Two: The Devil’s Business (#6-10)
  • Fatale Deluxe Edition, Vol. 1 (#1-10)


Writer: Ed Brubaker | Artist: Sean Phillips | Colorist: Dave Stewart

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