Dominic Fortune has been around for a few decades, first going by “The Scorpion” in a comic of the same name from the Larry Leiber-led Atlas group, then hopping over to Marvel under the name “Dominic Fortune.” The character has appeared a few times since his jump to Marvel, but he’s only been interesting when written and drawn by his creator: Howard Chaykin.
And here comes Chaykin, with a series devoted to the hard-livin’, hard-lovin’ pulp adventurer. And it’s classic Chaykin through and through.
“Dominic Fortune” #1, set mostly in Los Angeles circa the late 1930s, is like a tour through Chaykin’s signature tropes: femme fatales, fornication, fighting, and fellatio. It’s a Marvel MAX book, so Chaykin doesn’t have to cover up the women with skimpy lingerie and he doesn’t have to soften the language one bit.
It’s not unrestrained debauchery, but it is Los Angeles, so things get messy and sexy in equal proportions. And Dominic Fortune, a soldier of fortune who makes no qualms about his Jewish heritage or his willingness to take any job for the easy money, gets quickly embroiled in a Raymond Chandleresque tale of murder and mystery.
Someone is gunning down whores, and someone’s crashing a party with a knife and a cyanide capsule, and a mysterious lapel emblem offers a clue that might link them together, even if Dominic Fortune doesn’t know how deeply he’s already been drawn into the trouble.
Between the gorgeously-textured period detail, the acerbic dialogue, and the grotesquely beautiful inhabitants of his cruel world, this may be Chaykin’s best work in years, at least as a writer/artist. It’s certainly a return to his roots, and longtime Chaykin fans — and unprudish neophytes — will find a lot to enjoy in “Dominic Fortune.”