JOE KELLY AND MAX FIUMARA'S comic Four Eyes is set in Queens in 1934. The economy is shit, people are out of work, and Roosevelt's New Deal has yet to deliver on promises of economic recovery. Sounds a lot like history, right? But a variable's been added to Four Eyes' historical milieu: Its long-limbed, sly-eyed protagonist lost his father not to drink or war or TB, but to that single element that distinguishes Four Eyes' world from ours: dragons.
Enrico's dad is killed after a disastrous raid on a dragon's cave, and Enrico spends much of Four Eyes' first four issues—collected in a just-released trade paperback from Image Comics—seeking revenge. He discovers the existence of an underground dragon-fighting ring, and determines to exact justice on dragonkind by helping capture them for these often-fatal fights.
Soon, though, Enrico realizes that his loyalty shouldn't lie with the bosses. Black market industry leads to the exploitation of desperate workers; the head of the dragon fighting ring gets rich sending his workers to death or mutilation. This background of injustice and exploitation keeps Four Eyes from reading like a grittified version of Pete's Dragon, as do Nestor Pereyra's moody colors, which render the Depression's gloom in browns, grays, and olives, punctuated by jolts of color from the dragons' eyes and breath. Historical dragon fiction may be a genre unto itself—but as a comic book that's not set in medieval times, Four Eyes makes an intriguing entry.