Image Expo this week revealed that "Fatale" #24 will be the conclusion of the series, and that makes sense. Even as Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips's "Fatale" #19 wraps up the fifth story arc, it feels like all the pieces are now in place for the grand finale just around the corner. And so while there's certainly some pauses to shuffle and set things up, there are also a few nice surprises in store.
Not only does the grunge story come to a grisly conclusion, but readers finally see exactly how it connects with the present day and Nicolas. I appreciate that some answers (like why pieces of the book were removed) are finally revealed, even as there's still enough left unanswered that the remaining five issues can still pack a wallop. The story in the '90s is a tiny bit more predictable -- after all we already know that Jo survives to the present day -- but there's some imagery in the issue that reminds us how dangerous and bizarre it can be to have your path cross with hers. Brubaker keeps the story moving at a good pace, and I feel like he's right on track.
Phillips is par for the course, and I mean that in a good way. He's one of the most consistent artists comics, always turning out a sharp, squiggly line to bring his characters' bodies together. He never seems to skim on detail; the wooden planks of the shack at the conclusion of the issue are all drawn carefully, as with every single blade of grass. Phillips and Breitweiser work well together on integrating the colors, too. She's got a strong sense of when to use a muted palette, and when something brighter would work better. It's a comic that has a lot of depth to every panel, and when those spikes of colors (or absence thereof) appear, it grabs your attention immediately.
"Fatale" #19 is unsurprising in that it's rock solid and good. I'm going to be quite sad to see it go away later this year -- it's a great series -- but at the same time it feels like the book is poised to conclude on a high note. So far, so good.