Book Three went way back, into the history of the Fatale, including women who fulfilled the role before Josephine, the Fatale of this series. This collection returns to the present, taking up the story of Nicolas Lash, who is in prison after losing everything after meeting Josephine. As the story opens he is trying to piece together the differences between Dominic’s manuscript and the published book he was shocked to discover when we last saw him. Before he can figure it out he is broken out of prison by a man named Nelson, who says that “she sent me.”
The story shifts to Seattle in 1995, where a member of a one-hit rock band is robbing a bank to finance the band’s new video, which they hope will revive their career. During his escape he encounters a woman on the road, bleeding and nearly naked. For some mysterious reason he takes her in. Of course it’s Jo, but she has lost her memory. She jokingly calls herself “Jane Doe” and becomes part of the house shared by the band members.
Before long her magnetic attraction to men becomes evident. She has sex with most of the band members–which causes the group’s songwriter to find his muse and begin writing again–and orders one who attempts to force himself on her to kill himself. Her power manifests itself completely when she dances for the band’s video, causing a violent orgy. The song and the video exert Jo’s mystical power, so both are suppressed before they receive general release. As usual Josephine’s influence results in many deaths, but Nelson escapes.
Which brings us back to the present. Nelson takes Nick into a cellar with runic markings on the floor, after explaining that he edited Dominic’s manuscript before publication to prevent it from having the fatale influence. He tells Nick that he knows the words that will lead him back to Josephine. As the book ends he knocks Nick unconscious. One more collection for the grand conclusion!
This series started out digitally; the double-sized debut print issue collected five digital issues, newly colored. The story opens with five college friends (Grady, Heidi, Natasha, Daniel, and Billy) who are about to graduate, heading out into the woods to bury a time capsule. When they start digging they are surprised to uncover a metal bunker. Inside there are letters addressed to each of them, purportedly from their future selves. Hard as that is to swallow, the letters claim that the group are going to be responsible for the destruction of the world. They also reveal some uncomfortable secrets about the group in the present. So they have a lot to deal with: can they trust each other; should they believe the predictions; and if they do believe, what can they do to change the outcome?
It’s a classic time travel theme (a bit like the Terminator films, minus the robotic apocalypse). The first issue is really packed, as it introduces all of the characters and the group dynamics, plus it includes numerous flash forwards to the future, both before and after the apocalypse. So the future reality is well established from the start. Post-apocalyptic dates are labelled AME, for “After Mass Extinction.” No fooling around, barring some future cheat like a dream or virtual reality.
The storytelling pace slows down to normal after that. But the second issue immediately introduces additional wrinkles. The friends are out in the world, and they start getting instructions from the future about actions they need to take, in the form of things like tomorrow’s newspaper. But will these actions create a new future, or just guarantee the one they were warned about?
As the story progresses Fialkov also includes childhood flashbacks, filling in the history that shaped these characters. And at the end of the fourth and final issue in the collection, one of them seems to be about to meet his future self: a direct bit of time travel that was only implied in the creation of the bunker. It’s a story with enough possibilities to run for many more issues.
When we last saw our young family they were in a lighthouse on the planet Quietus, hiding from the newly-arrived Prince Robot IV. Vaughan and Staples make us wait for it, by first taking the story line back to their earlier arrival on the planet. It had been a few weeks since Marko’s father died, and their space craft finally arrived at the home of novelist D. Oswald Heist. It was Heist’s book A Nighttime Smoke that convinced Marko and Alana to ignore the traditional rivalry between their species (which resulted in their military desertion and the birth of baby Hazel–basically, the beginning of this saga).
As Hazel’s narration points out, there were others hot on their heels. In addition to the Prince, bounty hunter The Will and Marko’s old flame Gwendolyn were also in pursuit. They were stuck on a nearby planet waiting to get their ship repaired. Turns out there’s a complication: a parasite on the planet called Heroine, which causes hallucinations. This explains some of the odd things the group has been seeing, but not in time to prevent The Will from being attacked and seriously injured.
And there are a couple of new players: journalists Upsher and Doff aren’t buying the official line that Alana was kidnapped. Their investigation leads them as far as Alana’s old military commander, Countess Robot X. Then their story is killed–almost literally–by a Freelancer who doses them with a poison called Embargon (clever name) which will kill them if they say another word about Alana and company. The journalists may be out of the picture from here on, but there are clearly powerful people extremely interested in their subject.
When the story finally returns to the scene of the previous collection’s climax, all hell breaks loose. And in the final pages the story jumps ahead. I’d say about two years, because baby Hazel is now standing up, looking like she has just learned to walk.