Image Comics 2016
Written & Illustrated by Howard Chaykin
Coloured by Jesus Aburtov
Lettered by Ken Bruzenak
It's 1950, and Joel Breakstone, former GI and liberator of Auschwitz, is seriously damaged goods. He hasn't exhaled a sober breath in five years—until the sheltered life he's created for himself unravels and he begins the long night that will change his life forever.
I have to say there’s something about the way that Howard tells a story. This goes from what would appear to be one thing and suddenly it turns into something else entirely. The opening was really leading to me one area and in a way he kept it there but diverted it in a nice way. I love period pieces and let’s face it somehow Howard excels at them, something about the way he’s able to bring the people, their dress and just the look and feel of the time to life.
That Joel is a man who can’t cope with life after seeing what he as in The War and has a wife and brother-in-law who are pretty much douchebags doesn’t help. You’d think that a wife would be more understanding of the trauma her husband faced but then as you read this story you begin to see just what kind of people she and her brother are. So I was torn between feeling sorry for Joel and then as angry as he was. Why would he be angry well you’ll have to read the story but suffice it to say he’s got a heck of a reason.
Though in hindsight it’s not a terrible thing that he gets out of stupor long enough to realize the situation he’s in. There really is some surprisingly strong and powerful characterization that goes on here. Such a damaged guy who is confronted with his own demons as well as those of his wife and her brother actions just seemed to be almost more than I could bear as a reader. How he manages to pull himself together and where I see this going has me both incredibly intrigued and excited.
I don’t know if it’s just me but the way Howard’s men look with that black hair, square jaw and rugged demeanor like a cross between Rock Hudson and James Dean is such an attraction for me. His women are always sexy, curvacious and oh so dangerous make no mistakes but the way he can you draw you with how these characters look always amazes me. There’s such adventure and life that you get from his work and the colouring here is phenomenal by Jesus.
I think this was one of those I almost missed and I’d kick myself if I had. There’s a great personal story that’ll get tied up into something much bigger than any of these characters are prepared for, This just reinforces why Howard is still one of the industry’s most respected individuals.