Fatale Book Five: Curse The Demon (Story: Ed Brubaker; Art: Sean Phillips) completes the series, containing Issues #20-24. We get a lot of history of femme fatale Josephine, including numerous suicide attempts, and the tragedy that ensued when she had a son. For the main action in the present she has reunited with Nicholas Lash, her doomed lover from the beginning of the series. Another confluence is approaching, and she has a serious plan to escape the ancient god and his followers. The suspense is maintained right to the end. It’s not exactly a happy ending, but Nicholas survives (although not with his sanity intact), and Jo has escaped her fate. The main unanswered question is the fate of the hooded cult, but the book’s title is “Fatale” after all.
The Sixth Gun Book 8: Hell And High Water (Writer: Cullen Bunn; Artist: Brian Hurtt; Colorist: Bill Crabtree) is the penultimate collection in the series. Tons of action here, as the promise of the Six seems to be coming true. The cursed pistols each has its own magical power, but together they are capable of destroying and recreating reality. In the beginning of the series this threat was only hinted at, but it soon became the driving force of the action, as several competing groups fought for control of the guns. One of the strengths of a self-contained story like this is the possibility of anything happening, from the death of a major character to the end of the world. Like the song says, it’s the end of the world as we know it. Whatever happens in Book 9’s conclusion, it’s guaranteed to be really big.
Deadly Class Volume 2: Kids of the Black Hole (Story: Rick Remender; Art: Wes Craig & Lee Loughridge) finds protagonist Marcus in all sorts of sh*t–at one point literally, a horrific scene of life spiraling out of control which ends with him losing his cool comic shop job. By the end of the collection he’s also lost his girlfriend, and things aren’t looking too good for his longevity. A lot of the action revolves around the gang helping him take revenge on the evil figure from his orphanage past who popped up in the first volume, so there’s also a lengthy flashback that reveals a lot about that part of his past. Even more intense than the first volume, which is saying something.
East of West, Vol. 4: Who Wants War? (Jonathan Hickman, writer ; Nick Dragotta, artist ; Frank Martin, colors) reprints the guidebook one-shot East of West: The World, along with Issues #16-19 of the series. The guidebook gives the history of the East of West world–the players, and how things came to such a dire pass–while in the present, it’s still the Apocalypse, full of dire events and dire predictions. The most interesting development involves young Babylon, the child being raised to be the Beast of the Apocalypse. As he and his AI protector are making their way through the world, the Prophet Orion shows up and reprograms the AI. At first I though that Babylon might be allowed to see the world as it is, instead of the apocalyptic vision presented by the AI. But instead, the distorted vision remains, with Babylon being given the power to make his own choices. It will be interesting to see where this goes.