Howard Chaykin’s hellraising adventurer Dominic Fortune find himself stuck babysitting three drunken movie stars as they wander from Hollywood to New York to Berlin circa the notorious 1936 Olympics in which Hitler attempted to display Aryan racial superiority.
I’m really tempted to jump into a history of my love affair for Howard Chaykin’s comics here, but my fellow reviewer Paul Brian McCoy did a wonderful job last month of tracing the history of this character and Howard Chaykin’s comics. So go I’ll just say this: this is one goddamn fun comic book. Even if you haven’t followed Howard Chaykin’s career over the years, this is exactly the sort of comic book that the industry needs these days.
Every once in awhile I pick up a comic that reminds me of just how limited many mainstream comics feel. While some comics are getting more and more inbred with their stories of Wolverine’s son, evil villains dressed as Avengers, and a whole crossover event at DC based on the resurrection of old characters as zombies, here comes Howard Chaykin with a comic that feels tremendously fresh.
Dominic Fortune is full of life and energy and a certain kind of joy in storytelling that so few comics feature these days. The title character isn’t haunted or angst-ridden. Dom Fortune is a hedonist, living the heroic life just to make a few bucks and meet a few beautiful girls. He goes about his quest for both physical pleasures and financial gain with a lustful joy that feels tremendously charming these days.
Chaykin’s characters scheme and dream and disseminate like men and women who really, truly live their lives. These are characters with quirks and idiosyncracies that all seem to have their own quirky complexities that make them feel so real.
Dominic Fortune is a Jew – and when is the last time, outside of a Chaykin comic, that a characters ethnic attributes matter in a comic? We see Fortune comment on understanding Yiddish and see his ethnicity come to the fore in a scene where a beautiful Nazi babe talks about her love for the forbidden fruit that Fortune represents. Through this sense of complexity, Chaykin makes Fortune and his fellow characters feel like real people rather than empty costumes. Thus, the events that happen to them really matter. Those events seem important and life-threatening and thus really engage the reader in a deep way.
And Chaykin’s art has seldom looked better. His art has grown and evolved all throughout his career, but Chaykin has always been a master at presenting people who really look like people, whose lives seem always to be enormously complex and intense but who wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s hard to overstate how wonderful Chaykin is at creating characters that look like real individuals. His characters really inhabit their scenes; they always seem to be in the moment as they inhabit their scenes.
Man, this is one fun adult comic book, with a definite emphasis on the word adult. While there’s no nudity in this issue, in contrast with several eyepopping scenes in issue #1, but there are plenty of adult situations in this issue, as well as quite a bit of nasty language and such. In other words, this comic truly deserves its status as a MAX comic. That means that this comic gives us Howard Chaykin unfiltered and uncensored. And because we’re getting pure Chaykin, we’re also getting a sort of pure joy and fun in comics storytelling that we find all too rarely these days.