Monday, July 28, 2014

30 Days of Fatale: The Timeline.

Reviewing Fatale, I drew up the following timeline, piecing together all the events that I could.  The timeline omits important events that couldn't be traced to a particular timeframe, such as the Bishop's birth, and it passes over otherwise important characters whose stories were limited to a single arc, such as Miles, Walt's crooked partner Lannie Dalton, and the mobster "Mayday" Lucarelli.

I tried to cite my sources, with issue numbers in parentheses, and I give a few unproven conjectures in brackets.

Our hope is that your reading this timeline is as helpful in seeing the big picture of this horror-noir comic as I found constructing it.


c. AD 1244 – Josephine’s predecessor Mathilda is cursed with immortality  and no memory of her previous life. (12)

1286 – In the Languedoc region of France, Mathilda is burned at the stake by the inquisitors of the White Brotherhood, for her curse and the effects it has on the townspeople nearby.  Immortal, she survives and finds sanctuary with a hermit named Ganix, whose fairy tales include a reference to the owl with the thread of the world.   Several years later, both are found by an order known for the yellow cross on its tunic.  The order is led by a predecessor of the Bishop Sommerset, and he kills the watchman Ganix for betraying them. and evidently “devours” Mathilda,  Mathilda kills the Bishop and his men, but their dark gods "devour" her, resulting in a fire that consumed the forest.  Afterwards, a mysterious book is discovered in an abandoned shack. (12)

[UPDATE: Brubaker has kindly corrected our garbled summary, that it is the Bishop's dark gods and not the Bishop himself who "devours" the Consort.  The Bishop sacrifices the cursed woman, and his gods feast on that sacrifice.]

[We suspect that this book is the Bishop’s “bible.”]

c. 1822 – Josephine’s immediate predecessor Bonnie Smith dies and becomes cursed, after a party on a boat in New York. (13)

1883 – In Colorado, the  outlaw “Black” Bonnie is apprehended by Professor Waldo Smythe’s half-Indian son Milkfed.  Bonnie was being pursued by the cult’s inhuman henchmen, and Milkfed kills them so that the professor can locate their church tower and steal their “bible,” using Bonnie as bait.  The professor is killed, but Milkfed continues to protect Bonnie. (13)

c. 1886 – Alfred Ravenscroft is born. (11)

1898 – Twelve-year-old Alfred Ravenscroft is taken on a trip through Mexico, on an expedition with a rich man named McVicar and  servants that are more like religious devotees.  McVicar is evidently seeking “the doorway to the gods,” and Ravenscroft stumbles across an ancient occult book in McVicar’s tent and flees back home in terror. (11)

[We suspect that McVicar is the Bishop’s predecessor, or perhaps his “rival.”]

c. 1905 – Milkfed dies, evidently of natural causes. (13).

1906 – Having been captured by the cult, Bonnie is “devoured” in the catacombs beneath San Francisco, and the merely human Sommerset becomes the monster known as the Bishop.  Evidently a result from the bizarre ritual, the Great San Francisco Earthquake occurs on May 18th. (5, 13, 22)

c. 1913 - Josephine is born. (23)

c. 1914 - The Bishop serves as a German officer in World War I. (22)

c. 1935 – In Fresno, Josephine dies at age 22 in a bizarre ritual and is resurrected.  Cursed, she slowly discovers her usually irresistible power over men, and she confirms her immortality by attempting to commit suicide at least 17 times.  Early in the discovery of her powers over men, she  finds an eerily familiar pulp story that echoes her experiences (3, 11, 20,  23).

1936 – In Texas, Jo seduces and abandons the police officer Nelson en route to tracking down the author of the eerily familiar pulp story originally titled, “To the Unseen Eyes.”  She finds the writer Alfred Ravenscroft and forces him to take her to his mother, and after seeing his mother’s spectral form, she learns that there really is an unseen world visible to a small number of people.  After the ghost of his mother leaves him in anger, Ravenscroft commits suicide.  Elsewhere, the Bishop finds and interrogates Nelson, learning that his quarry’s name is Josephine but not reaching Ravenscroft in time to question him. (11, 14)

c. 1940-1943 – Jo finds the wise old woman Mirela in occupied Paris and, over the course of a few months, she learns enough magic to keep herself safe.  Mirela tells her about the “followers and fanatics” hiding among the Nazis, and Jo ignores her warning not to seek them out. (14)

1943 – In Romania around November, Josephine is captured and nearly “devoured” sacrificed by the Bishop, working as an officer of the SS. She is rescued by Sgt. Walter Booker, who takes from the ceremony an ancient stone knife and a page fragment from the Bishop’s “bible.” (5, 14)

Frightened by the near-miss in Romania, Jo seeks safety in her relationship with Booker, teaching him everything Mirela had taught her.  In Paris around the time of the city’s liberation in August 1944, Mirela tells both of them about the ribbon around the world.  After the war, the two move to San Francisco, where Booker joins the police. (2, 5, 14)

1945 – In Japan and probably in August, corresponding with the two atomic bombings, the Bishop’s mysterious rival takes the victory that he thinks should have been his with the ritual in Romania. (22)

1955 – Writer Dominic Henry “Hank” Raines marries Sylvia Maria Bernley. (3)

1956 – The Bishop’s cult finds and murders Jo’s friend Leroy Kressler, in a ritual designed to draw out the now crooked cop Walt Booker.  Jo betrays Booker to the investigative reporter Hank Raines to escape her life as a kept woman, and Booker almost betrays Jo to the Bishop to find a cure for his cancer. Booker has a change of heart and attacks the Bishop and his cult in their catacombs, dying in the ensuing chaos but not before cutting out the Bishop’s eyes and giving them to Jo.  Jo and Hank leave San Francisco, and the Bishop is reborn in the body of Hank’s son, who was presumed dead, ripped from the womb of his murdered wife, eight months pregnant. (1-5)

1957 – In June, Hank Raines writes “The Losing Side of Eternity,” a surreal story and possibly the best work he ever wrote.  Influenced by Josephine and the events in 1956, he mentions the owl with the thread of the world, and the story’s only mundane detail is the accidental death of the wife of the narrator, a stand-in for Hank. (1, 3)

1959 – Hank opens a safe deposit box at the Santa Barbara Savings and Loan. (6)

[Our theory is that Hank uses this box to keep the Bishop’s eyes for safekeeping.]

1960 – After Jo had helped sell his novel by influencing the literary agent Alan Marshal, Hank Raines publishes his first detective novel, on the way to becoming a bestselling writer of works such as “Hatchet Job.” (1, 6)

c. 1960 – Hank and Josephine have had a son Willie. Hank eventually realizes Jo’s effect on him, and in denial and anger, she forces him out of her life.  Hank leaves LA, having lived there briefly “in the late ‘50s.”  (6, 8, 23)

At age 13, Willie attempts to rape his mother, is institutionalized, and commits suicide a week later.  (23)

c. 1970 – The Bishop, going by the name of Hansel, leads a version of the cult called the Method Church.  His charisma notoriously had got the attention of Charles Manson, who in 1971 was convicted of conspiracy to murder.

c. 1970-1972 – The photographer Johnny Lash has a son, Nicolas.  Johnny’s friend Hank Raines will become Nicolas’ godfather. (8)

1978 – In the summer, Jo discovers that the Bishop is alive, leading the Method Church.  After “nearly 20 years” of being out of her life, Hank Raines visits Jo to warn her that the cult is looking for her; Hank’s friend Johnny Lash has brought his son Nicolas on their road trip to LA, and at age six or seven he meets Jo for the first time.  Jo obtains the Bishop’s “bible” but, following an attack on her house by the Method Church, she abandons her life as a recluse in Los Angeles. (6-10)

After leaving LA, Jo haunts occult book stores and auctions and looks for an ally who shares Mirela and Walt Booker’s awareness of the darker world in the shadows.  She finds Otto the librarian, Milkfed’s grandson. (21)

[In email, Ed Brubaker has confirmed our theory that Milkfed is Otto’s half-Indian grandfather.]

1995 – Otto sends Jo and her friend Gavin to Seattle to locate some occult literature, and the serial killer Wulf finds her and tries to kill her.  Traumatized into a state of amnesia, Jo stumbles upon the rock singer Lance Hickok, wreaks havoc with his band Amsterdam, and reveals her location to the Bishop and to Wulf.  In his continued hunt for Jo, Wulf kills Gavin and all of Lance’s bandmates, but Jo kills him in turn when she rescues Lance.  Lance is blamed for the multiple murders at his band’s house, and Jo soon leaves him after teaching him the basics of a fugitive life.  Lance becomes a serial killer in his attempt to find Josephine. (15-19)

c. 2000 – Nicolas Lash finds his father Johnny raving like a madman and has him institutionalized. (1, 20)

2011 –Hank Raines dies, and his godson Nicolas is made the executor of his estate.  Jo talks with Nicolas after the funeral, and she rescues him from the Bishop’s goons, who invade Hank’s house near the coast of northern California.  The goons chase them in a small private plane, and Nicolas loses a leg in the resulting car crash, but Jo ensures that he still has Hank’s unpublished manuscript, “The Losing Side of Eternity.” (1)

One month later, Nicolas researches the wife he never knew Dominic had and discovers her grisly murder.  Suspecting that Jo doesn’t age, he visits Wingate Asylum and asks his father Johnny about a picture he probably took, of Hank Raines and Jo’s supposed grandmother.  Johnny begins laughing maniacally. (3, 5)

c. 2012 – Hank has abandoned his old life seeking out Josephine, on the pretense of researching Hank’s life for his godfather’s old publisher.  An investigator Mark Garvin informs him of Hank’s safe deposit box in Santa Barbara, but Jo has already emptied the box; Garvin then dies helping Hank escape from one of the Bishop’s goons, confirming that Hank hasn’t been paranoid about men following him. (6)

After being on the run for two months, Nicolas is seduced by a woman who steals Hank’s manuscript.  She finally tracks her down, but she had been murdered, and the manuscript had been taken.  Nicolas is arrested for the woman’s death, and eight months later he discovers that Hank’s manuscript had been published. (8, 10)

Soon after, a man calling himself Nelson breaks Nicolas out of the courthouse.  On the run for a week, the two return to California, where Nicolas discovers that Nelson had printed an abridged version of Hank’s manuscript.  He realizes that “Nelson” is really Lance Hickok, who drags Nicolas to his basement, to torture him and draw Josephine to him. (15, 17, 19)

2014 – In January, in northern California, Josephine begins enacting her plan to end her battle with the Bishop, first rescuing Nicolas from Nelson/Lance, driving the latter to madness.  The Bishop picks up on her trail of destruction and finds the now lunatic Lance.  Jo retrieves the Bishop’s eyes from the sadist Nathan, whom Nicolas kills, unwittingly completing the requirements of a ritual for Jo.  Jo makes love to Nicolas in a kind of bizarre ceremony in Otto’s house, sharing her pain and tragedy.  Nicolas truly falls in love with Josephine, but he next finds himself in a strange forest, stumbling upon the Bishop and his men. (20-23).

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Blogger Unknown said...

Thank you for putting this together! Has Brubaker ever stated why exactly Alfred Ravenscroft was immune to McVicar's influence? Thanks.

11:33 AM  
Blogger Bubba said...

I pretty sure he hasn't in the story itself, and I haven't seen him do so in any interviews.

Today I'm putting together a post on the most important unanswered questions going into the Fatale finale, and I hadn't thought of including your question, but it's a doozy.

(I'll be sure to include your question in my post, giving you do credit.)

It's a question that comes up more than once.

Issue #11 mentions that Ravenscroft had figured out why he was immune but didn't have a chance to tell Josephine.

In issue #5, the Bishop taunts Booker about some unstated reason why Booker didn't go insane like his squad's communications officer, but Booker dismissed the question.

That immunity might have something to do with the ability to see the world as it really is, but that's probably just the symptom of some deeper root cause.

Throughout the series, we've seen lots of people who weren't cursed like Jo but who were nevertheless able to see the world of the Bishop's dark gods:

- Professor Waldo Smythe
- Mirela
- Otto, going by what appears to be a cameo in issue #14.
- Walter Booker
- possibly Suzy Scream, as I believe issue #8 ends with a hint that she's seen some dark things
- Wulf

What made these people different? We don't know.

At least not yet.

2:12 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I came on to Fatale extremely late (with issue 22), but have since gotten the 4 trades and have devoured it.
There are a lot of unanswered questions and I have the feeling that, keeping with Lovecraft, Brubaker is going to only hint at the answers and let us readers fill in most of the blanks.
I hope we do find out how Ravenscroft was immune, as well as who (or what) the Bishop's rival was/is.
I would also like to know why Milkfed called the Professor "mother," but I'm not holding my breath that that will be touched upon.
Guess we'll find out tomorrow.

4:17 PM  
Blogger Bubba said...

About the Professor, the curse only affects men, not women, and the reason the Professor was immune to Bonnie wasn't because of tattoos like Milkfed: it was that she was really a woman posing as a man, presumably because it made it easier for her to be an independent scientist and investigator in the nineteenth century.

The professor actually was Milkfed's literal, biological mother: he was a half-Indian whose grandson was Otto the librarian.

4:59 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Okay, that makes sense. Looking back at the issue, I see that the Professor's torso was all taped up, so this would help to hide her gender.

6:05 PM  
Blogger Bubba said...

You're very welcome!

8:52 PM  
Blogger Bubba said...

Correction, it was issue #2 where Bishop taunted Booker about his immunity -- anyway, I've listed your question among a few of my own, and I'm interested to see what answers we find.

11:28 PM  

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