With “Fatale” slated to end next month, it would be a fair assumption that we wouldn’t have any huge revelations left aside from the complete nature of Josephine, lurking around the corner. But of course, if there’s one thing that this series is good at, it’s surprising readers. Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips unveil a whopper of a surprise in “Fatale” #23, as Nic learns about a new connection between Jo and his family, all while learning more about what it’s really like to be Jo.
The most memorable part of “Fatale” #23 is easily when we get to see the events that changed Jo through her eyes. It’s not graphic, but it’s horribly disturbing; there’s something just instantly wrong about the way that we see the tear in the world with all of the teeth and eyes and tendrils snaking and licking their way through. Phillips’s skill to come up with disturbing visuals is spot-on here, once again, and it’ll make you want to jump more than just a bit.
But there’s more to “Fatale” #23 than just that. Brubaker’s revelation of young, doomed Willie is the sort of news that is awful and hard to handle, even as it unfortunately fits in with everything else that we’ve learned about Jo, her curse, and the world of “Fatale” in general. This is a book that focuses a lot on uncontrolled desire and lust, so it makes perfect sense that eventually a child would have entered the picture… and the awful, awful consequences of such an action.
There are some readers who will probably be a little turned off — not by anything described up until now, but by the fact that there is some nudity and yes, some sex in “Fatale” #23. The thing is, though, this is a book where sex has been a part of the series since day one; it’s just a little more visually explicit here (but without ever being graphic or titillating). It’s taking what’s been slightly shadowed and putting it in the front of the page, but no one who’s made it this far should be surprised. If anything, having Nic’s experiences brought to the page makes not only the revelations that follow fit in that much more (they’re somehow less jarring and awful by adding the sexual framework), but it also in some ways just rams home the overall sense of desire that characters have for Jo. When Nic finally gets his wish, it’s such a cosmic, mind-exploding experience (thanks to Brubaker and Phillips) that you can almost see why it’s on everyone’s minds.
“Fatale” has been a great book, one that’s disturbing and nasty, even as it’s enthralling and clever. Whatever the final issue has waiting for us, I feel like I’m ready. It’s been a fun ride, and this issue is no exception.