Friday, August 31, 2012

Fatale Volume 1: Death Chases Me

Fatale Volume 1: Death Chases MeFatale Volume 1: Death Chases Me by Ed Brubaker
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A couple of months ago I had a sudden hankering for noir. Now this isn't a subgenre I have much experience with. I've read a few short stories in the genre, but if I've read a noir novel, I can't remember (well, in the case of one, I don't want to remember it - see my previous reviews). Still, I had the fever, the fever for more noir. So I poked around the interwebs to do some research and stumbled on a few very positive reviews of Brubaker's Fatale that I felt I had to investigate (no pun intended, really).

I knew, from both the reviews and the cover art, that there was something Cthulhoid going on here, which is almost never a bad thing. I like tentacles and red cowls, they're just my thing. So I figured that this had potential.

Still, I was a bit hesitant. I don't like to read bad books. Really can't stand my time and money being wasted on what I consider to be trite or poorly written. But I gambled on this one, a hedged bet, yes, but still a gamble. I put my money and my time out on a limb for this.

And I WON! I won BIG! I feel like I cheated the house, I won so big!

I'm in literary/graphic novel love. I cannot wait for the next collection to come out. I'm sold.

Even without any deep history in noir, I knew some of the main tropes. Damsel in distress, investigator being played by his client, crooked cops, etc. And, yes, Fatale has all of this, and more. But the way Brubaker and Philips introduce and develop the plot and characters is sheer genius. They've taken what could have been trite and made it a thing of utter, horrific beauty.

There's a certain darkness, a fog or mist, that overlays the mood of this graphic novel. It's like walking on the edge of a slow-motion nightmare of conspiracy and entrapment. And, just when you are about to sink and give in to the gritty depression of the story, you are awakened only to discover that the reality behind the dream is more terrifying than you had imagined. There's also a certain complexity to the characters that I don't often see in graphic novels. Their motives are believable, even if their stories are fantastic. I am amazed that the writers could pack this much complexity and subtlety into a book of this size. Pound for pound, this is the best deal on criminals and tentacles that money can buy. Don't say I didn't warn you.

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