Sunday, July 27, 2014

30 Days of Fatale: Jo's Greatest Loss.

Fatale #23
released June 18, 2014
following a six-page preview

It was just last month that the penultimate issue of Fatale was released.  Ed Brubaker describes it as the "all sex issue," but the most important aspect is neither the physical intimacy between Nicolas and Josephine nor the increasingly psychedelic mindscape of their love-making:  what matters most is the emotional intimacy resulting from Josephine's complete (or nearly complete) self-disclosure.

Nicolas sees her losses and her hurt, and the AV Club astutely observes that  his empathy for her is what transforms his infatuation into affection, his lust into love.  As Nicolas himself narrates:
"It is the white-hot center of her.  The broken center.  And I understand finally... That that's where love is found, in our broken places.  In our sympathy.  And I know how she does what she does... because my heart will never stop breaking for her."
As The Passengers put it, sex is "a different kind of conversation," and this particular conversation begins immediately after the events of issue #21 -- the debauched party where Nicolas killed the sadist Nathan and Jo retrieved and opened the box containing the Bishop's eyes -- and afterward all this, Nicolas wakes to find himself in a strange forest, and he immediately stumbles upon the Bishop and his cult.

When Jo rescued Nicolas from Lance the rock singer turned murderous drifter, Nicolas realized that she probably drove his father to a madness from which he never recovered.  In the midst of their intimate conversation, Jo tells him that she needs her help to end the battle with the Bishop -- to end it, not to win it -- and she warns that it's going to hurt.  Even with the intimacy that permits Nicolas to know and love her truly, it's not clear that Josephine has revealed everything, and it's not clear that she isn't simply using Nicolas to accomplish her goals.

Earlier, we wrote about how Hank Raines' sons have proven to be crucial to the story.  His son through his murdered wife Sylvia was taken from her womb and became the host for the reincarnated Bishop, and his godson Nicolas Lash is proving to be central to Josephine's final battle with the Bishop.  But it's his son with Josephine who causes that great loss from which she'll never recover:  her curse corrupted him, and at age thirteen he attempted to rape her and then committed suicide shortly after being committed to an insane asylum.

In the excellent, lengthy podcast interview with Brubaker, 3 Chicks Review Comics notes some of the subtle foreshadowing that point to this tragedy.  In "The Devil's Business," we discover that Josephine is no longer with Hank, and her great secret is that she has had a son whose fate was not yet revealed to the reader.

After that, we repeatedly see her curse's effect on even young boys.  In issue #16, we discover that Wulf became a serial killer after a brief encounter with Jo when he was a injured child lost in Disneyland; and as recently as issue #20, we see the immediate obsession that seizes a small boy in footed pajamas, as he had been in the back seat of the cultist's car that Josephine hijacked.

What may have thrown the reader off the scent is Bonnie's story, in issue #13.  We see that Bonnie had a child without any apparent incident, though the child was murdered when natives kidnapped the two of them, but Bonnie had a daughter, and the curse evidently only affects men.

It's not mentioned at all, but careful readers might realize that Josephine's loss may be even more tragic, in that it was entirely preventable.

If Josephine had met the librarian Otto before giving birth to a son, she could have known about the tattooed markings that would have inoculated him from the effects of her curse -- the markings that Otto was given as a boy, like his grandfather Milkfed before him.  I've already noted that Otto appears to have an unnamed cameo in issue #13, set in Europe in 1943, but he and Josephine evidently didn't cross paths until she left Los Angeles in the late 70's, long after Willie's birth and death.

If Josephine had been more proactive in seeking out knowledge about her curse, the cult, and the dark gods that lay behind both, she could have learned how to protect her son, but her fear may have led to his madness and suicide.

That's another layer of tragedy to her greatest loss, and I believe she is made even more real and more sympathetic by the likelihood that her personal failings had a hand in an otherwise avoidable tragedy.

She is much more than a femme fatale, and we'll see if the sympathetic and immortal but all-too-human Josephine can find a happy ending in the grand finale.

Fatale #24 reaches stores this Wednesday, July 30th.

Labels: ,


Post a Comment

<< Home

Newer Posts Older Posts