Wednesday, July 16, 2014

30 Days of Fatale: The Convergence of 1943.

Fatale #14 features the story "Just a Glance Away," and it was released on May 15th, 2013, with a five-page preview. It completes the series of four stand-alone stories that comprise the third trade paperback, "West of Hell," stories that fill out some of the history of the curse and the cult that are the focus of this Lovecraftian horror-noir.

Just a month prior, the series was nominated for a stunning six Eisner awards, including Best New Series, Best Continuing Series, and individual awards for Brubaker, Phillips, and colorist Dave Stewart.  In July, the series was all but shut out, as Stewart won an Eisner while the other categories were dominated by Hawkeye and Saga.  Still, it's easy to see why the series received so many nominations, and this latest issue provides the fullest treatment of one of the key events in the story.

Set largely in Romania in 1943 -- the year of the Normandy invasion and a year before the two atomic bombs were dropped in Japan -- "Just a Glance Away" connects the dots from Jo's earliest story in issue #11 to "Death Chases Me," set in San Francisco in the 1950's.  We see Jo's first direct encounter with the Bishop, her realization that he has been hunting her for about a decade, and her meeting Walt Booker as he rescues her from the Bishop's ceremony.

(We'll revisit these events once more in issue #22, as we learn a few important details about the story from the Bishop's point of view.)

We see how Booker got the ancient stone knife and the fragment of parchment seen in the first arc, and how Jo met a gypsy woman named Mirela, who taught her the occult secrets that would serve to keep her safe for most of the next sixty years -- "symbols that would keep her hidden... words that would help her see the gears of the universe."

In the sixth panel on page 8, we also see an example of the other people who shared Jo's ability to see into the dark world beneath the surface, people like Booker and Mirela.  Reading some arcane book in front of a crammed bookshelf, wearing some familiar horn-rimmed glasses, the man may well be Otto the Librarian in his youth, introduced more fully in issue #21.

Perhaps the most important thing is confirmation that the Bishop's ceremony would result in a fate much worse than the Consort's merely physical death.   He told Josephine that death isn't exactly the right word for what happened to her predecessor, who we know is "Black" Bonnie from the previous issue.

"Devoured is more accurate."

The stakes couldn't be higher for Jo in the upcoming final issue, and since another "convergence" is approaching like the one that occurred on the night of the failed ceremony in Romania, we should not be surprised if issue #24 echoes issue #14 -- if each issue informs the other and reveals more about the ritual and the reason for which Josephine has been hunted for decades.

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