Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Dominic Fortune: It Can Happen Here and Now

Howard Chaykin seems to have an endless number of projects in the works, and even after a decades long career I am always excited to see what he is writing and especially drawing. He's so damn prolific that I can't even keep up with everything he does. Primarily I have always been attracted to his art, but still have never been disappointed by his writing. And for whatever reason, Dominic Fortune is one of my favorite "non-heroes." The character's appearances were fleeting, but I attached myself to him nonetheless. Eventually set into relative obscurity, he was indeed the perfect candidate for a Marvel MAX revival, and I can't think of a better creative match than with Chaykin, who's ties go back to the character's earliest appearances.

The MAX line pretty much means anything goes as far as content is concerned, but the recent Dominic Fortune miniseries collected in the It Can Happen Here and Now trade simply gives readers old enough to remember Fortune an age-suitable story. It's a Rated R jaunt to be sure, but the story's time and settings seem to wrap themselves into that blanket fairly effortlessly, due in large part to Chaykin's equally effortless handling of the action-adventure genre.

This far-overdue spotlight on Fortune finds the original incarnation of the dashing raconteur globetrotting along the brink of a burgeoning World War II. Both in and out of uniform, Fortune skims over danger and dodges bullets, exposing dastardly plots and bedding beautiful women. Under the MAX banner this is of course all done with adult language, violence, and innuendo that's not innuendo at all. It's a perfect fit and it's great. Unlike other Marvel throwbacks that have been taken the MAX route, the mature approach wraps itself far better around Fortune's setting and attitude, and dare I say eclipses the originals. But I do say that now as an adult who enjoys adult stories, while still fondly remembering the yarns that introduced him those many years ago.

Chaykin's story blazes through events and keeps the action and intrigue center stage, and while the overall outcome is the inevitable crashing wave on the ocean of history, the characters he follows have more than enough to keep interest. And it's not even that they are deep or overly fleshed out, quite the opposite. It's trademark Chaykin spewing forth the brash and provocative in splattered brush strokes rather than fine lines. And speaking of brush strokes, Chaykin once again is in top form on art. Handsome and rugged heroes, slick villains, foppish hanger's-on, and... the women. Vicious, bitchy, drop dead sexy Chaykin women. There's no mistaking them on sight and any fan of his art will not be disappointed to add this book to their collection.

As an added bonus, this collection features reprints of some of the original Marvel stories, including the earliest that first captured my imagination as a young reader. Something about that cover to Marvel Premiere #56... so very different from the superhero offerings of the time. The character of course went through a few mix-ups through the years, none of which ever stuck, so it's a great treat to see Dominic Fortune in his true element once again.

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