Jo’s journey ends on a very fitting note in “Fatale” #24. Throughout the entire series, the pieces have been put into place and the grand finale is nothing short of excellent.
Written by Ed Brubaker
Illustrated by Sean Phillips & Elizabeth Breitweiser
IT ALL ENDS HERE! The final extra-length issue of FATALE! There’s so much story that we needed a lot more room. Will Josephine’s final secrets be revealed? Will there be much tragedy? Will Brubaker and Phillips fans love all the crazy extras jammed into this special final issue? Yes, yes, and yes.
“Fatale” has been a series that took two genres that didn’t seem to go together and gave us a memorable tale with a lead character that won’t be forgotten any time soon. Ed Brubaker, Sean Phillips and Elizabeth Breitweiser have crafted something so unique that it really is it’s own genre: Lovecraftian noir, a concept that definitely needs to revisited at some point by this creative team. They have taken Lovecraft notions and concepts and fit it into a world that is similar to our own. That’s a big part of what it made it so scary at times.
“Fatale” #24 wraps up one of the most consistently great series of the last ten years. Jo has spent much of the last few issues getting together her plan to take out Bishop and free herself from the curse. At this point in the series she has used Nick to help further her goal and while she does care about him, this does little to stop her from using him as another pawn. What follows is an action packed ending that wraps up every detail and concludes the series in a satisfactory manner.
“Fatale” #24 is a very well done ending. This story was Jo’s and Jo’s alone. While other characters played a part in her very long life it was in essence about her finding a meaning to life and a reason to be here. She wanted peace and spent much of her life trying to find it. Through all this there was this strong darkness that seemed to take up her whole life, despite the moments of happiness she was able to find.
The ending itself did not throw us for a loop. Brubaker did not write some insane twist just for the sake of it. He had a story to tell and told it. The last few pages are so fitting for this series; it’s emotional and bittersweet but you’ll no doubt be left feeling content with the whole thing. I can’t imagine another way for this series to have ended.
Something I had criticized at certain points during “Fatale” was the portrayal of Jo. I had a hard time getting behind her and in essence liking her; she felt just as evil as Bishop but was almost pretending that she wasn’t. As “Fatale” went on I began to appreciate Jo more as a character. I understood her more. The thing about the characters Brubaker creates is that they are not good or bad in a black and white sense. Even during his “Captain America” run, he created the Winter Soldier, a character to this day that still kills (something evil) but does it to save the world (something good).
Jo just does what every person on Earth does. She is concerned with self-preservation. At the end of “Fatale” #24 I felt the way many other fans felt — I felt more connected to her because I understood her actions more. I understood the different aspects to her and walked away feeling that she did not have many options in her long and tormented life. It made her come off as more of a victim that learned how to become stronger and takes matters into her own hands. That’s going to be the worst part of losing the series. We won’t get to see more of Jo.
Jo fits a lot of the basic characteristics of a classic femme fatale, but I think she came around at the right time in comics. Society has made some progress when it comes to gender roles but what’s interesting about Jo is that she behaves like many male characters have behaved in the past. She is out to protect herself and uses men as nothing more than a means to get what she wants. While she does do some awful things, it’s empowering; it proves that gender does not affect what a character does. People are going to do bad things. Being a woman does not mean those things will be worse and it sure doesn’t prove that you’ll be less wrong for doing them. She is a deeply layered character that is never once what she seems to be on the surface. It’s not easy to figure her out.Continued below
Artist Sean Phillips and colorist Elizabeth Breitweiser really bring their A game to the finale of this series. I particularly enjoyed the middle of the book where the action and final showdown against Bishop took place. There was such a fluid motion to the way the fighting played out. There was so much emotion on Jo’s face during these scenes it added to my own conflict with the character. Phillips’ work is so detailed; even Bishop’s minions’ robes were detailed perfectly. I have especially enjoyed Bishop’s design. Between Phillips’ pencils and Breitweiser’s coloring, he’s menacing and something straight out of my nightmares. Oddly enough for such a dark book they do a wonderful job in the last few pages. Without spoiling much there’s a lot more brightness in the last few pages and they do it in a way where it’s bright but still feels noir.
“Fatale” was a special comic that I feel will rank high in the list of the Brubaker/Phillips team. I don’t think it’s as high as “Criminal” but it’s definitely up there. It was a series that not only mashed up two very different genres but also gave us Josephine, one of the most unique and interesting characters in modern comics. Even better, I think this is a series that will read even better in one sitting. The plot was connected all the way throughout in such a way that it’ll be fun to re-read it and pick up on smaller details I may have missed before.
Sadly “Fatale” is over but this creative team is not going anywhere. In just a couple of weeks “The Fade Out” begins, and we’ll get to drool over their pages once again.
Final Verdict: 9.8 – Must buy. “Fatale” is a gem and deserves your attention. Or else face the wrath of Cthulhu