By Jeff Jensen
Updated March 30, 2001 at 05:00 AM EST

It’s 1949, America is baby booming, and WWII vet-turned-airline pilot Harry Block is realizing that maybe pervasive racism, spiritually dead suburbs, and boozy, boorish friends weren’t worth fighting for in Howard Chaykin’s American Century (Vertigo/DC Comics, $2.50 monthly). When he’s recalled to serve in the Korean War, Block steals some cash, fakes his death, and skips off to Guatemala to begin an expat life — only to find the dark side of that American dream casts a long shadow. Nearly 20 years ago, Chaykin helped make comics safe for adults with his landmark series American Flagg!, a wickedly smart satire about the American dream gone rotten in a post-economic crash digital dystopia. Now, with Century, Chaykin has begun crafting an equally brilliant thematic companion piece steeped in his rich blend of ribald dialogue, epic narrative, and political intrigue. (The only disappointment here is he didn’t draw it.) Thanks to Chaykin, now we know what would happen if James Ellroy and Graham Greene hooked up and wrote comics. A-