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Before I start this retro comic book review, if you are a fan of comic book veteran Jim Shooter or if you are interested in his past works, check out my reviews of Warriors of Plasm issues #1, #2 and #3.
Have you ever heard about Broadway Comics? That was a short-lived comic book publisher that was established by Jim Shooter (former editor-in-chief of Marvel Comics and Valiant Comics) in the mid-1990s not so long after the closure of Defiant Comics (a certain lawsuit filed by Marvel Comics drained the company’s funds by means of legal fees). Broadway Comics published a few properties and among them is Fatale which was actually a spin-off of the company’s main series Powers That Be.
Fatale was not just another new project to help a new publisher make a splash in what was back then a lucrative comic book market. There was some inspiration from it as Shooter confirmed in his message in Fatale’s debut issue.
“As we developed Fatale, each person in our group recalled the strong women in their lives,” Shooter recalled.
“I told about my grandmothers, both whose husbands died young, both of whom raised their children alone, struggled and worked into their late eighties. Usually, there were no good jobs to be had (by women), but both did whatever they could, including dishwashing, door-to-door sales, and cleaning hotel rooms. They persevered against all odds, heroically. They taught me that self-reliance and honest work of any kind are the foundation of self-respect,” he added.
With those details laid down, here is a look back at Fatale #1, published by Broadway Comics in 1996 with a story written by Jim Shooter, Janet Jackson, Joseph A. James and Pauline Weiss with art done by J.G. Jones.
The story begins inside a casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey in September 1995. A very pretty lady walks down and attracts the attention of a few people. Her name is Desiree Hopewell and it turns out she is a gambler and she thinks luck will come to her that night. Just as she makes positive impact on a struggling gambler and starts socializing with a guy who is so attracted to her, a group of men wearing gloves and masks appeared which compels Desiree leave. She happens to be their target.
Just after exiting the casino, Desiree suddenly finds herself completely surrounded by armed people composed of those carrying shields and weapons. Even as a blast blanket successfully landed on her, Desiree finds a way to tear through it causing the armed personnel to use a drum lift on her.
Even so, Desiree continues to be hard for them to restrain and manages to move away from them…
To start with, this comic book has a really intriguing plot laced with twists. Essentially this is the story of Desiree who is a very unusual lady with the ability to absorb something from men she kisses with on their lips (the Fatale thing). More than that, she is caught in the middle of a conflict between the Brotherhood and the Utah Faction, and she is allied with a few people trying to evade the two conflicting groups.
While the very nature of the conflict was not fully emphasized in this launch issue, Jim Shooter and his co-writers successfully defined Desiree’s nature clearly as well as her association with a man named Bill (a former Brotherhood member). That being said, this comic book is character-focused and it went to great lengths to connect readers with Desiree and the supporting cast.
When it comes to spectacle, there is a lot to enjoy here. On face value, Desiree’s uncanny ability evade the Brotherhood’s attempt to capture her was presented with superhero-inspired spectacle but never reaching the point of defining her as a superhero-type of protagonist.
Fatale #1 (1996) is a rather unusual comic book that has some literary stuff to sell to superhero enthusiasts, and at the same time it has a protagonist who supposedly got presented as a strong-willed figure for women (while showing her personal interests and views that were supposed to be relatable to women). Within the pages of this comic book, Desiree is glamorous and attractive visually. Apart from helping a lady by physically stopping the man troubling her, Desiree has not done anything genuinely heroic and is truly more of an attraction of trouble makers.
As far as storytelling goes, you have a conflict between two groups and Desiree is a target for a reason that was not clearly defined (note: saving the answers for later issues obviously). While Bill is an interesting supporting character, the others are just not too interesting. If you are looking for intrigue, entertainment and mystery, you will find some of those here.
If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Fatale #1 (1996), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $79 while the near-mint copies of the black-and-white Jim Shooter-signed edition, the black-and-white promo edition, and the Jim Shooter-signed edition cost $79, $53 and $70 respectively.
Overall, Fatale #1 (1996) is satisfactory.
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