Archive for Fatale

All Hail the Lizard King

The Amazing Spider-Man #688

Morbius the Living Vampire thinks he’s finally figured out a way to change the Lizard back into Dr. Curt Connors permanently — Spider-Man has his doubts, because after his last transformation, the Lizard had declared that he’d finally killed Connors’ personality, and capped off that claim by murdering his own son, Billy. And Spidey isn’t real happy with Morbius anyway, because he discovered that the vampire discovered his potential cure by digging up and experimenting on Billy Connors’ corpse. But the Wall-Crawler is also upset with himself for letting Silver Sable die last issue, and the Lizard has killed too many people while hiding out in New York’s sewers. Can Spider-Man and Morbius really cure the Lizard once and for all?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Excellent action, plenty of Spider-Angst — it’s been a while since Peter Parker was as unhappy as he’s traditionally been — and a nice little twist to wrap things up.

Fatale #6

In the present day, Nicolas Lash wonders what happened to the beautiful Jo, he meets up with a private eye who tells him there’s a safe deposit box with his name on it. If Lash claims it, the private eye wants a ten percent finders fee. But when they check out the box, it’s empty — and the bank manager remembers the private eye being here before with Jo. And then the supernatural hitman comes after Lash. And people, that’s just the prologue!

In the main story, our timeline is focused on Los Angeles in 1978, where our protagonist is Miles, a B-movie actor hoping to score some coke and an invite to a hot party that may get him some better roles. He goes looking for one of his dealers, a girl named Suzy Scream, at a sleazy party sponsored by a sleazy debauchery cult. And when he finds Suzy, she’s just killed the cult leader because he’d been trying to stab her to death — and there’s some oddly horrific home movie playing in the basement, too. Miles sneaks Suzy out of the party and crosses paths with Josephine, now living as a recluse to avoid accidentally ensnaring the innocent with her supernatural powers. But what is Josephine going to say when she sees the movie Miles smuggled out of the party?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Outstandingly creepy, especially the sequence from the ’70s. I mean, everything from the ’70s. I think sometimes we forget what a very unusual decade the 1970s were — cults were out and proud, sex was kinky, drugs were everywhere, sideburns were long, fashion was awful, film was brilliant, and Marvel Comics had multiple comics for sale that had the awesomeness of Satanism as a selling point. The violence and supernatural elements added on here merely increase the creepiness of the setting by a few degrees…

Today’s Cool Links:

  • A friend of mine wrote this, and he’s a really great guy. And I think it’s worth asking ourselves: Why do our soldiers need to rely on a guy working on his off-time to get them the counseling help many of them need?
  • Short video on what probably happened when DC told Alan Moore about “Before Watchmen.”
  • Sometimes, you have to feed the trolls. Sometimes, you have to feed them the barrel of a gun.

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Blade of Frankenstein

Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E. #9

Frankenstein and Nina Mazursky get sent out on a missing persons case connected to Animal Man — the last person to see Buddy Baker has gone missing. It’s not long before Frank and  Nina locate their quarry, and he’s dead — in fact, he’s been taken over by the Rot, the dead counterpart to the Green and the Red, as seen in “Animal Man” and “Swamp Thing.” Frankenstein at least seems to be immune to the contaminating death-touch of the Rot, but the undead horrors are spreading faster, and neither swords nor flamethrowers do anything to slow them down. Does S.H.A.D.E. have anything in its arsenal that can stop the Rot?

Verdict: Ehhh, I don’t know. The story is **okay** but no great shakes. I wasn’t any kind of a fan of “Swamp Thing,” which was just infested with crap about the Rot. I hope we’re not going to start seeing this stuff in more than just a few isolated comics…

Alabaster: Wolves #2

Dancy Flammarion has just finished killing a werewolf — and now she’s worried she’s gotten a fever from her injuries. Not lycanthropy — as far as she knows, you can only catch werewolfery from a bite. Nevertheless, she’s stuck in a deserted town, having fever dreams, talking to birds, worried that she could die from her fever. She breaks into an old drugstore to find some medicine and goes off to find a nice, safe church where she can rest and recuperate. Too bad it’s been taken over by all the local monsters…

Verdict: Thumbs up. Very fun story, fantastic character work, too. Dancy is a great character, and that’s all there is to it. Excellent action, and pretty good mood, too. I’m enjoying this quite a bit.

Fatale #5

Walt Booker, desperate to get his cure for cancer, betrays Josephine, knocks her out, and takes her to the demonic crime boss, Bishop, who plans to sacrifice Jo and Hank Raines — and likely, to stiff Booker on his cancer cure. But Booker may not be as utterly untrustworthy as he looks. Does he have a chance to strike a blow against the immortal Bishop, save Jo and Hank, and come out of all this smelling like a rose?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Hard-boiled action and magic-charged horror. I am so glad I was able to get this series — it took a few weeks for my local shop to get this in stock — because it has been so much fun to read. Great writing, great art, can’t wait for more.

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For Those about to Rock

iZombie #24

Our focus in this issue is on Kennedy, the field leader of the Dead Presidents, a bunch of government monsters who go out to fight other monsters. Everyone in Eugene, Oregon is dealing with the problem of an elder god called Xitalu, who is about to come to Earth and kill everyone, and Kennedy notices a new player on the scene — a green-skinned, green-haired combat monster who looks just like Gwen’s boyfriend, Horatio. And Kennedy realizes that this reminds her of something from her past — after a short origin story, the flashback reveals that a mission a few decades ago had her meeting up with a rock band called Ghost Dance that, thanks to lyrics assistance from a trippy novelist named Adam Morlock, was performing concerts where the band and everyone in the audience had mass hallucinations. What’s the connection between an old rock band and the end of the world?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Nice to see a little background on the Dead Presidents’ leader. Great character work, too, particularly for the band members. And a really nice cliffhanger. It’s depressing that this title will be ending in another four issues, though…

Fatale #4

The supernatural gangsters are running amok. They’ve already butchered the wife of reporter Hank Raines and have now turned their evil attentions on a mob boss named “Mayday” Luccarelli and his stooges. Hank Raines has gone a little bit crazy after being accused of killing his wife — especially after he sees the gory crime scene photos. Corrupt cop Walt Booker and his partner insist they had nothing to do with the murder, though their superiors still suspect them. Josephine catches up with Booker, and she convinces him that he should help her escape from the demon mobsters. We also learn that Booker has been able to see through the world’s mundane veil to the otherworldly horrors that actually run things. And Hank, released from jail because the cops don’t believe he really committed the murder, gets trailed by Booker’s partner, and they both land in a world of trouble.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Super-stylish noir-horror. Great atmosphere, killer art, everything else about it rocks. Don’t know what else I can tell you about it — it’s grand fun to read.

Avengers Academy #28

The Runaways have got Old Lace back, but they’ve learned that Giant-Man and Tigra plan to betray them so they can get Molly Hayes and Klara Prast into normal families and normal schools. This leads to a fight… but not a very long fight — most of the Avengers Academy kids are entirely sympathetic to the Runaways. They all realize that part of the problem is that none of them understand the other side’s point-of-view, but Nico Minoru can cast a spell that will make that possible. So everyone gets a peek into the brains of someone else on the other squad so they can get some perspective on their lives. Will that be enough to clear up the two teams’ disagreements?

Verdict: Thumbs up. So amazing to have a comic where problems are solved through brainpower instead of a bunch of people slugging each other.

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Noir Pigs

Fatale #3

We start with a flash-forward back to the modern day where Nicolas Lash has had a leg amputated after a car accident where a mysterious woman named Josephine helped him escape from some murderous thugs. He learns that the home of Hank Raines, his late godfather, has been ransacked, and his godfather’s secret novel is bizarre almost to the point of incoherence. His research into Raines’ life soon leads Lash to horrifying news…

And at that point, we jump back to the 1950s, where crooked cop Walt Booker is getting bawled out by his supervisor because he’s been busted taking bribes under the table. Booker discovers that his former lover, Jo, who he’s just sold out to supernatural hitmen in exchange for a cure for his cancer, has skipped out on him, and if he can’t find her soon, something worse than cancer is going to kill him. And Raines is hanging out with Jo, and she takes him for a walk to an old boarded-up house where she claims she once died — and where they’re accosted by a cultist who wants to kill them both. How will they survive, and what horrible things are on the horizon?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Outstanding art and great retro-noir storytelling. And the supernatural/horror elements are starting to creep up there in significance, too. It’ll be interesting to see how this noir-horror stuff works out…

Justice League International #7

The UN has been bombed in an attack designed to strike at the JLI. Much of the team is injured — Fire is in a coma, Ice’s legs have been shattered, Vixen may never walk again. Booster, Batman, Guy Gardner, August General, and Godiva try to rescue as many people as they can, but things are pretty bad, and there’s an enemy out there waiting to ambush them.

Verdict: Ehh, I dunno. The writing is overall pretty good, even though the dialogue is, as always, a bit clunky. I’ve got issues with the idea that so many female characters are in the hospital with serious injuries — looks a lot like they’re getting fridged, at least temporarily, to give Booster and Guy something to angst about. There’s too dang much angst in the New 52 already — why can’t there be a team comic dedicated to good old fashioned superheroics?

The Defenders #4

This issue focuses almost entirely on Dr. Strange and Molly, his one-night-stand from the first issue. She’s a grad student working on her thesis, and she needs a book from Strange’s library to complete her research. Strange loans it to her, and an unscrupulous magician finds out about it and manages to slip his lucky magic coin into the book, allowing him to astrally project himself into any house containing the coin. He tries to blackmail Strange into letting him have access to anything in his house that he wants — but smart people don’t try to blackmail Dr. Strange. Meanwhile, Strange has been studying the magical machine that the team took from Wundagore Mountain last issue and inadvertently wishes an old girlfriend named Martha back to life.

Verdict: Thumbs up. The last issue was not very good, but this one is a lot better focusing on just a few people and their weird semi-magical relationship issues. I’m a bit bummed that apparently neither Molly nor Martha had last names. That’s really the sort of thing that should be mentioned — if they’ve been mentioned before, you can’t expect the readers to just remember that sort of trivia, and if they’ve never had last names… well, you should give ’em last names, ya know? It’s just good character work.

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Fatale Frame

Fatale #1

My local store ran out of these fast, and it took a few weeks to get replacement issues, so we get late reviews of this.

When Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips get together, it usually means they’re working on stylish, noir-influenced crime comics. They’re switching it up a bit this time — this is a stylish, noir-influenced crime/horror comic.

We start out meeting Nicolas Lash, a man attending the funeral of Dominic Raines, his godfather and one of his father’s only friends — Nicolas has been named executor of Raines’ estate, and at the funeral, he meets a beautiful woman named Jo. Later that night, while looking through his godfather’s papers, he realizes that gunmen are coming to kill him — and Jo shows up to save his life. But after that, we take a trip to 1956 San Francisco, a city full of crooked cops, naive reporters, deranged cultists — and Jo, calling herself Josephine, no older and no younger than she’ll be a half-century later…

Verdict: Thumbs up. Beautiful art and gritty neo-noir storytelling. Not a lot yet that’s truly horrific, but I don’t expect the first issue of a new series to drown us in monsters and gore…

Fatale #2

This issue is set entirely in ’56, as Josephine tries to see two different men — one a corrupt, cancer-ridden cop named Walt Booker, the other an idealistic reporter named Hank Raines who is investigating Booker. Raines wants Josephine to leave Booker — neglecting to realize that his pregnant wife is sure to find out about his infidelity. Booker, meanwhile, has contacted supernatural powers to help him get rid of his cancer. And what does the diabolical Bishop want in return? Booker just has to deliver Josephine. But that might be hard to do when his corruption is exposed by Hank’s reporting…

Verdict: Another thumbs up. Again, great art and excellent crime storytelling. And the supernatural elements that finally make their appearance here are excellently creepy.

iZombie #22

Gwen is rescued from captivity by Horatio, who has quit the Fossor Corporation because he realized he loved Gwen, even if she was a zombie. Gavin discovers that Spot’s grandfather is a chimpanzee, while Spot learns that Amon and Ubasti definitely plan to kill him as a sacrifice. The Fossors and the Dead Presidents make a very uneasy truce over the need to stop the end of the world, and Gwen remembers how Amon recently convinced her she had to… kill herself? But how can a zombie kill herself?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Nice to see so many plotlines coming together all at once — even minor ones, like Dixie the waitress being revealed as the model for the old Dixie Mason dolls that Spot collects.

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