Nicholas Lash continues his investigations into the strange and seemingly ageless woman, Josephine, in Image Comics’ stellar horror noir hybrid Fatale Book 2: The Devil’s Business by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips
Book 2 centers around Miles, a flash in the pan film star in the 1970s and his relationship with Josephine. Lash’s investigations from the present comprise a lesser role, however they are still intricate to the overarching narrative. The Devil’s Business is a book of pay-offs. While I miss the ‘50s detective elements from the first collection, Death Chases Me, Book 2 starts to reveal who Josephine is as well as what her involvement with the mysterious cult is. Just the right amount is revealed as I’m left wanting to know more about her. Brubaker and Phillips tease details out at a perfect pace that never overshadows the immediate danger their characters are facing.
Fatale’s artwork is still strong, with each frame awash in detail and emotion. With the same art team there is no adjustment from Book 1. Small nods to the previous volume, such as a paperback novel by Dominic Raines are common throughout. Where the first collection truly captures the feel of an old noir flick, this volume’s use of color and design capture the feel an old ‘70s exploitation film.
Brubaker and Phillips leave the reader to spend most of their time with Miles, who narrates the events in first person, and as such his name is rarely used. This allows the reader to truly be caught up in his world and see it as Miles does. The hardboiled prose is a true successor to the pulp masters of a bygone era.
The Devil’s Business unravels at a deliberate pace that never lags, and slowly builds up steam to a series of satisfying and cathartic moments. The supernatural elements, while ever present, always linger at the edge of each page allowing the necessary grit for the story to be effective.
If you enjoy gritty detective fiction and Lovecraft-style horror you will not find a more effective merging. Click here for more on Fatale Book 1: Death Chases Me.