Frantic as a cardiograph scratching out the lines, Day 237: <i>Fatale</i> #1

Every day this year, I will be examining the first pages of random comics. This month I will be looking at four writer/artist duos, as voted on by you, the readers! This week features Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips! Today's page is from Fatale #1, which was published by Image and is cover dated January 2012. Enjoy!

Our last page of the Brubillips "week" is from eight months ago, when Fatale #1 came out. Obviously, Brubaker and Phillips know how to construct a comic book page, so we're not seeing anything too different from what we've seen before. We even get a wasted panel so that we can find out this is a prologue, and then Brubaker launches into his first-person narration. Nicolas Lash is our narrator, and while, unlike other Brubaker first pages we've seen this week, we don't drop into the middle of action, Lash still tells us that his life has turned to shit and that it all happened on one day. We do get quite a bit of information about Nicolas and his situation - Dominic Raines was a writer (and, in Lash's opinion, not a good one), Nicolas' dad was Raines' only friend, Nicolas' dad has been institutionalized for a long time, Nicolas is Raines' executor, and Raines was an atheist. There's quite a bit that we get from this page.

Phillips is still inking himself, but Dave Stewart is the new colorist on this book, and I wonder how much influence Stewart has on Phillips' art. You'll notice that despite the inks still being quite thick, the coloring on the page is a bit softer than what we've been seeing, and it appears it's not just because of the weather (it continues throughout the issue). The shadow over Nicolas' face in Panel 3, for instance, is softer than we've seen, with Stewart simply shading Nicolas' face slightly instead of Phillips suggesting it with inks. The colors on the faces seem less severe than we've seen with Staples over the past few days - the tans are more soothing, and I imagine it's partly because this is all natural lighting and also because we're at a funeral. Notice, too, that in Panel 2, the people around the grave are not quite as harshly delineated as we've seen the past few days. Is this because of Stewart? Beats me. Phillips uses a lot of black on the page, which helps obliterate holding lines, so that the suits and umbrellas are just black splotches that blend into each other. The lack of holding lines always smooths art out a bit, so that Nicolas' collar in Panel 3 vanishes into the rest of his shirt, for instance, and the priest's robe in Panel 2 is a white, almost formless mass. Despite the thick inking lines, Phillips is still able to make this page smoother than we've seen over the past few days.

As usual, the design is fine. Phillips doesn't do much fancy work with the layouts, but he gives us a good shot of Nicolas in Panel 5, when his name is spoken, and the priest's shift from ... what is that expression, in Panel 6? to peevishness in Panel 7, when he finds out that Raines was an atheist, is handled well. It's a nice, somber page, and Phillips doesn't really have much to do except draw people standing around. Oh well.

So that's our Sean Phillips/Ed Brubaker "Week." Tomorrow, we'll start our last writer/artist duo that you guys voted on. Who could it be? Well, I'll give you a hint: Expect a LOT more Batman. IT CAN'T BE HELPED!!!!! Find way too much Caped Crusader Comix in the archives!

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