In this chapter of the greatest comic ever, the Wolf comes upon one of the men he left behind, a former samurai still living in the exact place where he last saw the Wolf: the day the Wolf seconded the samurai's former lord's seppuku. There's no hatred or ill feelings to be found on either side, and while the conclusion is totally foregone, it's delivered with a sense of respect for the ideals the story promotes. It isn't the first time that Koike plays a scene with that kind of emotion, but that doesn't make it any less lovely. The action is, of coruse, a demented pleasure to witness, with the most graphic violence handed off to the Wolf's shadow. The opening ten pages--silent but for a few cries of death--is a masterful depiction of slaughter that introduces the man far better than any dialog ever could.
While this volume has some of the best covers you'll see (if you're reading these things in order, which is totally pointless but probably the only way people are reading them, because they have numbers on them, see: assholes like me), there's a limit to how long you can stare at Woozy WInks believing an Eskimo woman is pawing at him when, in reality, he's being sexually harassed by a lusty polar bear, and that limit is probably the same amount of time it's taking you to parse this description. If you hold out until the last story--that's 180 pages of holding out, by the way--you'll be rewarded by the sight of Plastic Man turning into a gigantic whale for the purposes of seduction. Your mileage may vary, or whatever that asshole phrase is, but it's a sight that is totally worth your time. He turns into a horny red whale!
There's no better statement on the question of whether super-hero comics is in a weird, stupid place regarding their business state of affairs then the fourth page of this comic, which is an advertisement for a goddamned wax museum in Hollywood. Deal with that one for a second: an advertisement for something that's only interesting to the most antisocial deviant tourists on God's green Earth, a location that has no appeal other than the fact that, if it burned down to the ground, absolutely every warring group on the planet could come together and hold hands under the banner of not giving the remotest fuck. That's the absolute best thing that somebody at Marvel Comics--which is owned by a gigantic multinational entertainment conglomerate--could come up with to plaster into this comic. Spin some huckster positivity out of that, Sergeant Pepper. (The comic is excellent, if that still matters.)
Containing some of Philips finest panels yet--first up that car flip, second the street scene--and adding another accomplished notch in the belt of the best colorist working, Fatale is a reward on a purely visual front. But the area where it might be even more interesting is on the writing front. Horror--if that's what you call the dreck currently ladled out by the shit merchants at IDW--is the prize pet of the low rent High Concept Kids, a loosely descriptive term I just came up with to define people who come up with 4 to 6 issue mini-series that are usually based around plot construction methods learned from Lego, i.e. taking Jack Bauer or Dexter clones and shuffling them together with bang up ideas like "zombies with ties" or "vampires with clits", plus a heaping dash of BBC references, cuz it's classy. Brubaker's the first real writer in a while to fuck with this stuff, unless you count Alan Moore's really weird rape sequel to Fish Police.
-Tucker Stone, 2012