Dominic Fortune

Created by Howard Chaykin

Poor Marvel.

Try as they might, they can’t seem to lose the spandex.

Whereas eternal rivals DC seem to have the sleuthing gene built right in their corporate DNA (DC, after all, stands for “Detective Comics“), Marvel has always struggled to come up with a credible crime or detective comic.

Like, take Dakota North. Please.

Okay Jessica Jones is pretty fantastic, and some incarnations of Luke Cage are pretty good, but I keep hoping Marvel will come up with a viable, private eye series.

Ladies and gentlemen, the much-ballyhooed at the time Sable and Fortune mini-series from 2006 ain’t it.

Okay, I admit I was suckered into it — the very first issue of this six-part series (soon whittled down to four) breathlessly boasted the heroes’ credentials right on the cover.

SILVER SABLE: The World’s Most Deadly Mercenary! DOMINIC FORTUNE: Fast-Talking P.I.”

How bad could it be? I thought, and plunked down my dough.

The answer, it turned out, was pretty bad.

I shouldn’t have believed the cover, I guess. Dominic, the alleged P.I. half of the team, was decked out in some cheesy uniform straight out of Sky King and the World of Tomorrow, which should have been my first clue, and Silver Sable looked even goofier, stuffed into what looked like a cleavage-spilling, silver leather jump suit and an Elizabeth Taylor fright wig.

Sable, created by Tom DeFalco and Ron Frenz, made her debut in Spider-Man #265, the creation of Tom DeFalco and Ron Frenz. She was introduced as the head honcho of a mercenary outfit called The Wild Pack, and proved popular enough to become a recurring figure in the Marvel Universe, eventually even scoring her own series, Silver Sable and the Wild Pack, which ran from 1992-95.

Fortune, meanwhile, first saw light of day in Marvel Preview #2 way back in 1975, the creation of comics legend Howard Chaykin. He was a sort of swashbuckling, 1930s-style daredevil adventurer, up for almost anything, and appeared in assorted Marvel anthologies and magazines. Several years later, he re-appeared, very much older, and became involved with Spider-Man in a story arc that eventually cost him his adult son, Davey, who had also for a while “taken on the mantle” of Dominic Fortune.

According to Marvel editor John Barber, in the intro to the new series (scripted by Brendan Cahill), “Where Dominic has been since then — and what relationship, if any, the man… has to him — remains to be revealed.”

In other words, just accept that he’s been “de-aged.”

Alas, the series turned out to be a mess of coulda-beens. The promised “Moonlighting-style” relationship between the two principals never materialized, Fortune was more bland and smarmy than glib, and Silver was just not all that likable — no wonder her own guys tried to kill her. Instead of Moonlighting or even Mr. and Mrs. Smith, we were treated to some over-boiled globetrotting nonsense about Silver Sable losing control of The Wild Pack and teaming up with Fortune to stop six “sleeper” assassins before they reach their targets and save the world (naturally).

It’s mostly an excuse for firing a lot of over-sized guns and high-flying hokum, such as Sable diving out of a fifty story window in pursuit of a laptop. And you have to wonder about Fortune: what kinda private eye wears a bright orange leather “uniform”?

Such over-the-top shenanigans erased any sense of credibility the series might have had, although at least art-wise it looked good for three of its four issues, which were painted (yes, painted) by John Burns. Okay, Silver on more than one occasion looked more than a little frumpy, more Butterfield 8 than Goldfinger. In the last issue, unfortunately, the Art Deco-ish artwork (by newcomer Laureen McCubbin) was so radically different in style (and just plain wrong for an action comic) as to look just plain amateurish. That it looks like Marvel gave her about an afternoon to do the whole issue didn’t help…

Still, as far as the story went, Cahill did manage to wrap up the truncated series in a satisfying, if slightly rushed fashion in the last issue. Less superhero histronics and more attention to the characters, and a clearer artistic vision might have helped. Or pull out the stops and just make ’em superheroes.

So I had (slightly) higher hopes when they announced Fortune would return in June 2009, in a digital-only six-parter, Astonishing Tales: Dominic Fortune, written by Dean Motter, with art by Greg Scott, and featuring Fortune in adventures set during the 1930s, hus natural stomping grounds. And I was even  more pleased when later that year, Chaykin himself would be writing and drawing a new, four-part mini-series, Dominic Fortune, for Marvel’s MAX imprint (the same “adult” imprint that gave us Jessica Jones), and that this one would feature his creation as he originally intended — a 1930s adventurer. Initially charged with acting as bodyguarding — and keeping an eye on — three party-loving Hollywood starlets, Fortune soon finds himself pitted against various gangsters, Nazis and other period miscreants.

Is he a private eye in this one? Nope, not really. More like a bodyguard. But it’s a welcome return to his, er, grittier, pulpier roots, and far preferable to the goofy buffoon in his previous appearance. When asked about what he liked best about revisiting the character he had created over thirty years previously, Chaykin replied “I’m guessing his sense of humor, his sense of irony, and the fact that he’s not entirely honest.”


  • SABLE & FORTUNE | Kindle/ComiXology it!
    (2006, Marvel Comics)
    Dominic Fortune created by Howard Chaykin
    Silver Sable created by Tom DeFalco and Ron Frenz
    Written by Brendan Cahill
    Art by John Burns, Laureen McCubbin

    • “Sable & Fortune, Part One” (March 2006, #1)
    • “Sable & Fortune, Part Two” (April 2006, #2)
    • “Sable & Fortune, Part Three” (May 2006, #3)
    • “Sable & Fortune, Part Four” (June 2006, #4)
    (2009, Marvel Comics)
    Digital only
    Six parts
    Dominic Fortune created by Howard Chaykin
    Written by Dean Motte
    Art by Greg Scott
  • DOMINIC FORTUNE | Buy the graphic novel | Kindle/ComiXology it!
    (2009, Marvel Comics/MAX)
    4 issues
    Dominic Fortune created by Howard Chaykin
    Written and drawn by Howard Chaykin

    • (October 2009; #1)
    • (November 2009; #2)
    • (December 2009; #3)
    • (January 2010; #4)


Report respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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