Fatale by Jean-Patrick Manchette, Max Cabanes and Doug Headline

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Fatale by Jean-Patrick Manchette, Max Cabanes and Doug Headline

Category: Graphic Novels
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: John Lloyd
Reviewed by John Lloyd
Summary: In a genre where someone else has everything wrapped up with his name on the bow, this book would always struggle; but the novelty it provides, along with its bluntness, do give it some small qualities.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 136 Date: February 2016
Publisher: Titan Comics
ISBN: 9781782766827

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Play. It's a weird verb – it can mean many different things. Aimee intends to play – she's already put paid to several men playing at being hunters, but she has a different game in mind. Arriving at a very insular little town she scopes the big-wigs out, watching them over the bridge table and across the golf tees, and, seeing them bicker about each other at both play and work, she knows she can play with them. But what might happen, given these undefined rules, if they chose to play as a team against her?

Let's be blunt. Graphic novels trying the noir shtick have one handicap before they even start. He's called Ed Brubaker, and at his best he does it like cinema's noir never had a heyday and he was practically the genre's inventor. The text of this story certainly reads like a mediocre translation, technically speaking – which certainly means the book has a different flavour to Brubaker's. But does that work? Well, yes and no. I actually found, in amongst the slightly awkward dialogue, grammar and descriptions, that the slightly off-kilter narration panels, given in wordy, typewriter-styled font, were giving us something quite different.

Jean-Patrick Manchette should know what he is doing, after all – he wrote several noir thrillers, including the basis for Sean Penn's The Gunman movie of 2015, and one of the adaptors here is the author's own son. There is a definite arc to this book, and a proper story for his titular femme, which was competent enough that I cannot put my finger on any parallels, or say 'this looks like x meets y'. It has a certain, Gallic frankness – the girl involved often seen with her boobs showing in the privacy of her hotel room, her willingness to get involved (asexually, at least) with several greasy older men connected to the insular town, and so on. But in the end the story has to try too hard to disguise how little agency she has, pretending she was not inventing the rules of the game as she went along, and in the end putting her in a particularly unusual game where the rules, as I say, certainly come in one of those multi-language booklets where you're not completely sure any reader in any language has got the full nuance. There's little nuance involved in the artwork, which is suitably dark, mature and intelligent, but with the abruptness and slightly awkward English of those typewritten narrative blocks I was left with the feeling that the original novel was the best way to approach this story – that the game was, say, petanque, where Brubaker is football.

I must thank the publishers for my review copy.

Obviously there are more examples of noir in sequential art – the series containing Sin City 2: A Dame to Kill For by Frank Miller being a quite notable case in point.

Buy Fatale by Jean-Patrick Manchette, Max Cabanes and Doug Headline at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Fatale by Jean-Patrick Manchette, Max Cabanes and Doug Headline at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy Fatale by Jean-Patrick Manchette, Max Cabanes and Doug Headline at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Fatale by Jean-Patrick Manchette, Max Cabanes and Doug Headline at Amazon.com.


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