Tuesday, September 4, 2012


I read another Marvel trade paperback featuring the work of Howard Chaykin the other day. This time around it was DOMINIC FORTUNE: IT CAN HAPPEN HERE AND NOW. It's published under the MAX Comics imprint which means it contains explicit content (does it ever!). The stories all feature Dominic Fortune and most of the work is by Chaykin. For those of you unfamiliar with this minor Marvel character, Dominic Fortune is an adventurer, a "brigand-for-hire" as he refers to himself, a solider of "fortune" if you will who operates in the Marvel Universe in the 1930s and 1940s. He's a swashbuckling rogue of a fellow and his adventures combine heavy doses of sex, humor and violent action.

The first story in the collection is a recent four-parter written and illustrated by Chaykin in which Fortune runs afoul of an assassination attempt upon FDR. It's breezy, funny and fast-paced. The second story is a reprint of Fortune's very first appearance from the 1975 black-and-white magazine, MARVEL PREVIEW #2. Chaykin's work was raw and rough-edged at this early stage in his career but it still packed a punch. Also reprinted is the Fortune story from MARVEL PREMIERE #56 (1980), a full-color romp with pencils by Chaykin and inks by Terry Austin. This story has, in my opinion, the best artwork in the entire collection. It's a fun story to boot.

The wild card here is a six part Fortune story that was originally published as a digital comic. ASTONISHING TALES: DOMINIC FORTUNE is written by Dean Motter and illustrated by Greg Scott and it's one ugly piece of work. The artwork is incredibly dark and muddy looking and the characters are almost all "off-model" with their facial features varying from panel to panel. The story itself is a travelogue through the proto-Marvel Universe and serves to touch base with the progenitors of many later major players. Involved in this story are (in order of appearance): Howard Stark (father of Tony (Iron Man) Stark), Baron Strucker and Baron Zemo (in pre-war Berlin), Johann Shmidt (before he became the Red Skull), the parents of Victor Von Doom (Dr. Doom), T'Chaka, father of T'Challa (The Black Panther) and a name drop of both Robert Plunder (father of Lord Kevin Plunder, aka Ka-Zar) and one Rick Blaine of Casablanca, Morocco. The action moves from one locale to the other before abruptly ending back in Hollywood where the story began. It's a trip that's not worth taking.

I can't say that other creators should never be allowed to play with someone else's toys but when it comes to Dominic Fortune, if a story doesn't say Howard Chaykin in the credit box, don't bother with it. Other than the one stinker, this book is highly recommended if you like light adventure and don't mind some adult sexual content.

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