Review: Manchette’s Fatale

Manchette_Fatale_CoverReading for me can be euphoric. Then there are times when I come across a body of work that causes me nothing but pain. I want to stop, but I suffer from a nerdy quirk that compels me to finish what I started, regardless of the mental anguish it causes.

Machette’s Fatale is a 137 page graphic novel adaptation, by Max Cabanes and Doug Headline, of Jean-Patrick Manchette’s same titled 90-page novella (who is also the original author behind the ‘The Gunman’ movie starring Sean Penn). I have never heard of Manchette before, but supposedly he is like a French Dashiell Hammett and famous for writing dark crime noir with nihilistic existentialist themes critical of the French Bourgeoisie during the 70s and 80s (unfortunately this adaptation has not inspired me in any way to read his work).

The back cover bragged that it was nominated at the prestigious Festival international de la bande dessine d’Angoulême (kind of like our American Comic Con, but a bit more literary and French, with a lot less cosplay), so I was expectant of a good read.

In excruciating detail—no hyperbole—I was introduced to Aimée Joubert, an extremely beautiful killer, with a chip on her shoulder against all men. Her modus operandi is to ingratiate herself into the current locale’s high society, to take advantage of private scandals, and drum up clients for her gun-for-hire business.

Fifty pages in, I couldn’t care less about her, or Baron Jules, or any of the other townsfolk. There was nothing in this story that stirred any kind of emotion in me. The characters were vile and repulsive; and Aimée, although attractive, was numbingly dull. The art was flat, no better than that of what I’ve seen in the past within the more dramatic Sunday dailies of Brenda Starr; and the written detail of no import was painful to work through.

Maybe it went over my head, but the only good moment I can recall was the relief I felt when I saw these two words: “The End.” This is at best a niche book for a limited audience of French Lit lovers of purposeless nihilistic violent endings.

If you’re not a member of this exclusive club, pass it by on the rack.

Story: Jean-Patrick Manchette Adapted: Doug Headline Art: Max Cabanes
Story: 6 Art: 6 Overall: 6 Recommendation: Pass

Titan Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review.