Stop The Night, Stop the Dawn, Jo’s Gone
Sometimes a woman is such an utter femme fatale, the very name is in the title of the book she stars in. Sometimes she’s just so ageless, literally, that her powers span over decades, just like her life. Sometimes she’s just gotta get herself in trouble and light a cigarette after.
Her name is Jo, and she’s the star of the supernatural crime noir Fatale. The series was created by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips serves as both creator and artist, with colors by David Stewart. Jo’s so damn good that her series got extended from the original planned 12 issue series to 24. People, and men especially, just couldn’t get enough.
Now, some more about Jo. She is essentially immortal, and the series takes us on a journey from the 1930’s to modern times, with no end to her life in sight. She also has a very powerful weapon and sometimes curse: the power over men to lure them, even without her trying, until they become completely infatuated, most of them instantly. This leads them to get wrapped up in all her adventures, good and bad.
Eluded to the notion that Jo was “created” by the leader of a cult who is set on capturing her, she sees the members of the faction everywhere. Even when she believes them to be dead, they spring up again out of nowhere, distinctive sunglasses mirroring whatever setting they catch her in. This cult and its members are involved in spells of the supernatural kind, and the leader isn’t exactly a pretty guy in his true form. Think tentacles. And teeth. And ick.
She is set on ending and getting away from the cult, but they find her much too valuable a prize. One of her lovers gets in on some of the craft and spells they perform, and this makes him pretty much immortal too. Though with everything comes a price, and poor Walter Booker almost trades Jo in for a chance to keep his ever-present death at bay. He being a crooked cop seen in Book One, this wouldn’t have normally been such a difficult task for him. But Jo has her vicious lure staked in his heart, and it’s one that is simply too strong to break.
Fatale is divided up into several Books, and the setting changes from San Francisco, to Los Angeles, etc. No matter where Jo goes, trouble and evil is sure to follow. She even keeps herself shut away from the world in Hollywood, having only her movies and a female housekeeper to have as company. Jo knows she is dangerous, and it seems that no matter where she goes, heartbreak and death follow her. Men always get caught up in her seductive spell, and knowing how, uh, foolish men can be, she mainly keeps herself away from the world to avoid luring men into the eventual trap her life turns into.
Now, this isn’t exactly something she can turn on and off, and sometimes Jo wishes she could just be a normal woman. But she remains young through the years, never aging a day. It seems that no matter how careful she tries to be, characters throughout the years have seen photographs of her, though they have to dig deep to find evidence. This makes keeping up a front very difficult, as she looks like a normal woman on the outside. Lusty and alluring, yes, but normal and very human nonetheless. After a while, running from a cult will make you a pro at staying hidden.
Jo isn’t a bad person by any means, though she may have done bad things in her life. We all have, so don’t get all high-and-might-tee here. She is an angel compared to the leader of the cult, and goes out of her way to save people. However, being able to basically control the minds of powerful men does come in handy when she wants to get her succubus paws on something valuable. She’s like a cat burglar, but doesn’t smear her makeup when getting what she wants.
Another great thing about this crime noir are its covers. They capture the supernatural aspect perfectly while still keeping the story in perspective. Issues number 1, 18, 19, 20, and 21 are my favorites. It’s like something from an old black-and-white movie with a twist, and Jo is the perfect femme fatale. She’s not afraid to wield weapons, take charge, and expose the truth.
Being a classic fatale with a twisted evil edge is a delicate thing to balance. But Jo does it perfectly, and is the perfect center in this criminally delicious series. See what I did there? Because it’s a crime noir and um…yeah. The femme fatale archetype never gets old, it just evolves. Jo shows that perfectly throughout the many timelines in the series, and she does it flawlessly. Though she may get some blood on her heels now and then, it’s a small price to pay for being such a definitely elegant kitten in heels.