Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips turning “Fatale” into an ongoing series has given them a lot more room and space for the occasional side story or flashback. That’s what readers get in “Fatale” #11, the first one-off set further into the mysterious Josephine’s past.
Set in 1936, the structure for this issue is perfect. It opens and closes with Officer Nelson, another man who’s been enthralled by Josephine’s presence and is ready to die now that she’s gone. As he stumbles towards the tracks and ready to step onto them, though, we get to see what Josephine is up to as she meets the mysterious Alfred Ravenscroft. That’s when things get going even more so than normal.
Brubaker’s script has stories within stories, something apt for a comic where Josephine meets a horror writer. This glimpse into the dark and horrific side of “Fatale” is intriguing, as we start to see a bit more of just what the monstrous thing is that is somehow connected to Josephine. Pulp-meets-Lovecraft has never been more apparent in this series than “Fatale” #11, with the 19th century trip to Mexico, and the many-eyed creature lurking just behind Alfred as he gets drawn towards the book with its strange, arcane writing. This is the sort of story that “Fatale” as a whole is perfect for telling, and this issue brings all of those influences into a perfect configuration.
It doesn’t hurt that Phillips draws these dark ideas with much expertise. When tentacles start crawling over Alfred’s head, it’s hard to keep from jumping. But at the same time, I appreciate that Phillips understands just how much (or rather, how little) we should be able to see. There’s just enough to bring the menace home, but not so much that our imaginations can’t run rampant and make it worse. Something as simple as a person with painted lines on them ends up eerie under Phillips’ hands, and when we finally see Alfred’s mother? Well, Brubaker’s idea is enough to make you surprised, but Phillips sells it with its bizarre and not-right visual.
It’s easy to forget about hit series when they’ve been around for a year or so now, but trust me: don’t miss “Fatale” #11. This is a great way to kick off 2013 if you haven’t been reading the series up until now; truly a jumping-on point, I can’t imagine not wanting to read more of this series once you experience this wonderfully evil little comic. Check it out.