Monday, February 24

Captain Midnight, Volume 1: On the Run (Dark Horse, 2014)

Collects story from Dark Horse's Free Comic Book Day 2013 offering and Captain Midnight #0 and 1-3 (2013)

I've been aware of the name “Captain Midnight” all my life. It confused me somewhat when I was a kid, but already familiar with the DC Comics Golden Age character “Doctor Midnite” from the annual Justice League/Justice Society cross-overs as well as reprints featuring the “Earth Two” heroes, that my father would occasionally make reference to “Captaaaaaiiiinnn Midniiiiiight!!!” All I knew then was that he was an old radio serial character from Daddy's youth, and until just the last few years that remained all I knew.

In my rediscovery and exploration of the wondrous world of pulps a few years ago, I found that many of those old closely-related radio serials are now available free on the Internet in various places, including iTunes. The Internet is a wonderful thing!! At the time, I was doing a lot of driving, and over the course of a few months I listened to a fair number of old shows, including Captain Midnight. I also came upon a copy of Moonstone's Captain Midnight Chronicles at a book store, a collection of modern prose short stories by various comic-book and neopulp authors, which I greatly enjoyed while observing that there are significant differences between the classic audio and modern prose stories – the latter are, I believe, more in line with Fawcett's Golden Age Captain Midnight comic-book adventures (of which I've only read a couple, although they are available for free from the Digital Comic Museum [link]); I presume the same to be true of this new series from Dark Horse Comics.

Although I'm generally not a big fan of taking a vintage character out of their native milieu via the time-worn (pardon the pun) clichĂ© of their being displaced through time to the present, where they are a “fish out of water” – or, as on a pin-up at the end of this volume, a “Man Out of Time” – I have to admit that the execution here is well-done. At least they don't try to "reconceive" him as a modern character! The story thus far is engaging, and the art – although somewhat inconsistent, from four different artists in just the five parts contained herein – is well-done. There are appearances and allusions, including the cliffhanger ending, to members of the World War II-era Secret Squadron, as well as new characters, all of them fleshed out and immediately presented as more than just stock two-dimensional supporting characters.  I definitely intend to continue to follow the adventures of Captain Midnight in the strange new world of the 21st century in which he finds himself confronting one of his old World War Two enemies once more. And I particularly like the twist that said adversary's strategy against the Captain depends on the conviction that he will indeed overcome any and all threats that are thrown against him! Too often does the villain's downfall arise from underestimating the hero's ability – and it may indeed turn out to be the case here, but for now it's providing an intriguing difference from your run-of-the-mill super-hero tale.

Cheers!, and Thanks for reading!
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Note:  When I noticed there was already a label for "Captain Midnight," I followed it and discovered my write-up of about six months past of the #0 issue that is collected here, published there as part of a periodic "Comics Other Than DC" post.  It has a bit more detail on my scanty history with the Captain.  [link]

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