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.

Monday, March 29, 2010

New Comics

With my comics reporting so lax of late, the "Day" of my traditional New Comics Day posts has become arbitrary.

Green Lantern
Green Lantern Corps

So, so very near to the conclusion of Blackest Night, I can't say I was disappointed, but I wasn't exactly wowed either. But I will say it was more entertaining near the end after a lackluster buildup. In Green Lantern Corps there was more focus on the battle royale aspect of the Spectrum Corps, altho some of the more interesting points of the colors teaming up seemed to be glossed over in lieu of big fight scenes. Altho if anything that book had too much going on to keep up with. The current ish #46 may have jumped the shark with the introduction of Ice as a Black Lantern, considering for the life of me I don't know that she ever died... I mean, a second time. As with most things DCU, it's complicated. But as far as I know Ice was alive and well and awaiting Guy Gardner's return to Earth. Does this issue suggest-- nay, state-- that Ice had died "off screen?" Is this version of Ice as a Black Lantern the one from her original death? And if neither, does that give The Black re: Necron the power to just conjure up any 'ol Black Lantern he wants? Can you believe I have to type these kinds of questions? Also, Refrigerator.

The most ironic part of the Blackest Night storyline was that the most interesting stories didn't even happen in the Blackest Night books! They took place in Green Lantern Corps and Green Lantern proper, which is how it should have been from the get go. Looking back on the series, not a single piece of exclusive story or information came from the Blackest Night series. Now the argument there would be the reveal of Sinestro as White Lantern in Blackest Night #7. However, if one had not read that issue and instead read Green Lantern #52, you've really got it covered, and in far more detail. (same goes for the Alternate Spectrum Corps that preceded, as I see it). In fact I think GL #52 is actually the crux of Blackest Night, giving us not only Sinestro's self-imposed destiny, but the revelation that planet Earth is no less than the origin of life for the universe. Seriously, the last issue of Blackest Night better have some kind of doosie reveal or setup for it to have any relevance now.

This week sees Blackest Night #8-- the grand finale, and my self imposed target to discontinue regular comics buying. Not the end of the blog, or comics, or the reporting, mind you, more info to come.