Ed Brubaker got the idea for Fatale from having rats (or some other kind of vermin) in the wall, and got the idea for a crime story with horror elements creeping in from the sides, and I think this issue is perhaps the best expression of this idea. Throughout this whole issue, there’s a creepy sense of unease, as Jo/Jane’s abilities manipulate everyone without them knowing it, and even without her knowing it.
The opening few pages, told from the point of view of Darcy, who, as a woman, is the only person living in the house who’s not under Jo’s spell, are brilliant, as she’s the only one who can see how crazy all of her friends are acting. When they discover Skip’s corpse, they don’t call the cops, and they all take Jo, a stranger’s, side over Skips. Instead, they hide the body in the basement and plot a way to make him disappear. I love how Darcy was going slightly hysterical at all of her friends, how only she could see how weird this was. That’s the thing about horror, everything’s normal, except that one thing and it’s terrifying. Jon even goes so far as to slam a cleaver into Skip’s head so she won’t call the cops. All the men have been driven to extremes by Jo, and it’s here that you see how a supernatural femme fatale just works, how her presence has turned these stoner losers into doomed Noir characters.
In the aftermath of this fevered opening scene, Tom decides to play his new song to the rest of this band. Because this song was inspired by Jo, it seems to have some kind of supernatural properties, as it causes both Lance and Jo to have flashbacks. Lance sees his past, and there’s some dark stuff in there, I’m guessing his dad killed himself. But more importantly, Jo gets a glimpse of her past, and learns some of her nature. She immediately rushes to a mirror and draws a strange, somewhat vaginal symbol on it in lipstick, and this protects her, blocking Sommerset/Bishop from finding out where she is.
After this, it’s finally time for the band to record their new music video, with Jo as a dancer, and when she does, it has catastrophic results. The other people in the video, are put into a sexual frenzy, and a sort of orgy/fight breaks out. Think the ‘Take My Hand’ scene from Walk Hard, but creepy and not played for laughs. Jo’s dancing reaches beyond just the room she’s in, as Sommerset is able to sense her again, and Wulf, the psycho cop is driven to murdering a prostitute he’s in the middle of arresting, without even realising it. Sommerset reaches through the astral plane or some shit, and ‘touches’ Jo, and this causes her to stop, and see the damage she’s wrought. Her memories properly return now, as she sees images of both Miles and Walt from previous arcs, and even… her child? Or her as a child and her mother? Hmm. Jo runs off into the night, but in the meantime, the band have more problems, as one of the extras in the video has been killed in the fight/orgy, and the cops are on their way.
This was another fantastic issue of a fantastic comic, especially because, for the first time in a long time, Sean Phillips burst away from the grid, and delivered some bigger, splashier pages, that really got across the impact of these flashback/memory scenes. Phillips is just a master, and in this issue he did everything, managing to make Jo and the orgy she caused be both sexy, and scary at the same time. Next issue is the final chapter of this story, and I can’t wait to see just how fucked up it can get.