Tuesday, July 22, 2014

30 Days of Fatale: Tom's Song and Hank's Book.

Fatale #19
released January 8, 2014
no preview available

The year opened with a bang  for Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips.  We had the conclusion of Book 4, "Pray for Rain;" the first deluxe hardcover was announced for March; and in the back pages of issue #19, Brubaker alluded to a big announcement for that very next day, at the 2014 Image Expo.  We covered the breaking news at length:  Brubaker and Phillips' five-year deal at Image, to produce whatever they want; the conclusion of Fatale with issue #24; and the first series under the five-year contract, The Fade Out.

Fatale #19 was eventful as well, with the Seattle story colliding head-on into Nicolas' present-day troubles.  The first time I read the arc in monthly issues, I missed some of the key details, misreading that the song for the violent video shoot was for the song Jo inspired Tom to write.  It wasn't:  the video was for another song entirely, evidently produced from old, remastered demos while Tom was lost in his own world. 

Amsterdam had a single hit, a song called "Flow My Tears."  A deal with a major record label, Sub-track Records (acquired by the Bishop), led to the band's purchasing a mansion with a detached garage, but by the time they encountered Jo, the band could barely afford the property taxes.  With the songwriter Tom lost in his own world and the band facing both bankruptcy and irrelevance as a one-hit wonder, Amsterdam fell back on old demos, being remastered for the next release.  Presumably the video is for one of the remastered demos.

The video never saw the light of day:  the Bishop got a hold of the video and killed everyone who had seen it, keeping the display of Jo's power to himself.

Tom's song also disappeared, for an entirely different reason:  Jo appears to have recovered the demo tape when she went back to the mansion and rescued Lance from the serial killer Wulf.

That song that Nicolas remembers Amsterdam for is probably "Flow My Tears," their one and only hit.  The song went back onto the charts after the massacre at the mansion, the "satanic sex murder" for which Lance was blamed.

(Presumably those remastered demos were released posthumously to capitalize on the scandal -- released, that is, without the demo for Jo's song and without Jo's video.)

In Nicolas' words, Amsterdam was notorious for being "the grunge band who worshipped the devil" and whose lead singer "murdered his friends and disappeared."  Like Tom's girlfriend Darcy, the Seattle police officer Wulf was probably considered a victim of the killing spree, and his numerous murders probably went unsolved.

Josephine probably recovered the demo tape to protect herself, so -- unlike the Bishop's eyes and the Bishop's book from the first two arcs -- this song is probably not central to the series' conclusion.  "Pray for Rain" differs from the first two arcs in other ways as well:  there's no direct encounter between Josephine and the Bishop, altering Jo's trajectory and disfiguring the Bishop further.

Clearly, the arc is still important to the overall story, not just because of where Nicolas begins in the final arc, but because Lance apparently has more of a role to play in the Bishop's plans for tracking and trapping Josephine.

This arc also probably revealed as much as we'll ever know about the fate of Hank Raines' early novel, "The Losing Side of Eternity."   Lance published the book, telling Nicolas that he removed the passages that echoed Tom's song, as a way to protect Josephine.

How did he get the manuscript?  Did he send the unnamed woman to find and seduce Dominic and take the manuscript, only to abduct him later?  That seems too convoluted and too much of a team effort for the loner that Lance had become, so I'm guessing the woman ripped off Dominic on her own, and Lance found her later, perhaps as she was trying to figure out what to do with the manuscript.  

Lance murdered the woman for the manuscript, and he apparently found out that Dominic was falsely accused of the woman's murder.  He edited the manuscript and had the book printed by a small publisher who would claim to have bought the book from Nicolas:  either Lance ran the publishing company or (more likely) he impersonated Nicolas, selling the manuscript and shipping copies of the book to fund and obscure his plan to find Josephine.

Pretending to be Nicolas helped ensure the open-and-shut case against the real Nicolas Lash, keeping him in custody until Lance broke him out for his own purposes.

The story arc ends with Nicolas in an even worse place than where he began:  facing torture in Lance's basement rather than facing prosecution for a murder he didn't commit.

Help will come in the next issue, but we still won't know until the series' end whether that was a true rescue or just a temporary reprieve.

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