Enjoy this Monday with Mildred!
I love noir films and have watched quite a few of them over the years. Not sure why because they’re typically such a downer and you all know I’m all about the comedy. One of the main features of noir stories is the femme fatale, defined as “an attractive and seductive woman, especially one who will ultimately bring disaster to a man who becomes involved with her. She uses cunning and sexual attractiveness to circumvent the ‘traditional’ place of women in society”. This of course makes her both alluring and dangerous to men. She inevitably dies or loses in a big way in the films, but not so much in Fatale Book 1: Death Chases Me, by Ed Brubaker and Dave Stewart.
Fatales are always the center of the story, though the tale is generally told by the man, with lots of voice over narration and soft focus, shadowy action. Jo has the long hair, ruby red lips and provocatively dressed great shape of the classic femme fatale, but in forty years she hasn’t changed her looks and her way of dragging men into her orbit and ruining them as they try to help her. Jo not only hasn’t aged a day in decades, she can also make men do whatever she wants simply by looking them in the eye. She’s a more literal, supernatural interpretation of the classic femme fatale.
The story is nicely convoluted, involving the immortal fatale and the dangers posed to her and those around her from guns, fast cars careening off a cliff, and pinstriped Lovecraftian thugs. Now and then a missing word or incorrect tense will yank you out of the story, which is too bad. Though short, the book is greatly involved in unsolved mystery and murky backstory.
After opening the book and finding the interesting splash panel that made me hum ♪Cthulhu’s got a…a gun ♪ the first thing I noticed was the overall noir affect of the book that mostly looks like a novice Photoshop effort with an occasional great panel. Dull and muted browns, blacks and greens with shocking red highlights hold the voice over narration interrupted by cut scenes acted out by the main characters. Everything stays safely inside the panels that are always rectangular and neatly arranged on the page. This flat paneling leaves the action monotone, and the flat colors – which I do understand is supposed to evoke a classic noir film – is also monotone. I would love to see this filmed if it looks anything like the book, but you can’t read this expecting to be wowed by the art, because it’s too even and, well, noirish.
I kept wanting to enjoy the art cause I’m weird that way but beyond those occasional nifty panels the overall effect of the art is not enjoyable, and sometimes confusing. On one page I was confused about a character appearing in several panels, wondering, is this the same guy? Is he old? Is he young? Is he thin? Is he fat? He’s all of those things on that page and I had to figure it out from the dialogue.
The story in Fatale was interesting to me but I didn’t love the art. If you love noir and would like to see it seamlessly mashed up with supernatural badness, you will enjoy Fatale.
- Fatale Book 1: Death Chases Me – Wikipedia
- Review | Fatale Book One: Death Chases Me – From Comic Book Daily
- Image Comics – Wikipedia
- Fan Doodle of Cthulhu’s Got A Gun