As far as superheroes go, the original Captain Midnight was nothing special. I reviewed a collection of his adventures from the 1940s not long ago, and, while they were mildly entertaining, I was generally less than impressed. This new version, however, succeeds on all the levels where the original failed, and it got me invested in Captain Midnight and his adventures in a way that the original comic couldn’t.
The new comic from Dark Horse sees the classic hero and hotshot WWII pilot disappear over the Bermuda Triangle during a secret mission, only to emerge some 70 years later in the present. Of course, the current military wants to bring him in for questioning, but they fail to realize that Captain Midnight practically made an entire career out of not being caught by those pursuing him. Suspicious of their motives, he escapes their custody and goes on the run. They then need to bring him back, with the help of Midnight’s old flame Joyce Ryan, her granddaughter Charlotte, and Charlotte’s ex-husband Richard, who learned all the old war stories about the hero from Joyce and is now somewhere between a Captain Midnight expert and a fanboy.
But, it turns out that Captain Midnight wasn’t the only one displaced in time. Also at large is Fury Shark, daughter of Midnight’s old Nazi nemesis Ivan Shark. Fury is beautiful, brilliant, ruthless, bloodthirsty, and bent on destroying Captain Midnight at all costs. She’s also the head of an enormously powerful tech corporation with the resources to cause quite a bit of trouble for our hero.
There are a lot of things that I like about this comic. First of all, it’s well written—considerably better than the original. It’s also action packed and exciting, with a concept that, while not exactly unique, feels fresh and interesting.
It also manages to remain true to the original 1940s characters and tone and merge them well with the modern setting. And, it doesn’t fall into any of the typical clichés that “man out of time” stories often do. Captain Midnight doesn’t spend all his time wandering around in a daze, wondering, “What is this strange place?” and asking for an explanation of every modern reference that’s made in his presence. I think he does that one time in four issues, which is just about the perfect amount. I like characters who are able to roll with the punches. The more time they spend asking, “What’s going on?” the less time we have to advance the plot.
The original Captain Midnight was brilliant, well trained, well equipped, and capable of just about anything. As the dashing, perfect hero, that made his character somewhat two-dimensional, but as a fish out of water, it gives him depth and makes him interesting. We get to see him use those talents to adapt to our world.
The other characters are compelling and well developed, as well. I especially like how many strong female characters we have. Joyce is shown as being smart, capable, and independent in the 1940s flashbacks, even though most female characters at the time were little more than just window dressing. Her granddaughter is likewise smart, capable, and independent in today’s world. And, Fury Shark is proving to be a really cool villain and a definite match for Captain Midnight.
The whole concept of taking a popular character from the 1940s and transplanting him directly into the current era is somewhat postmodern, and the comic plays to that. It has a very self-aware quality to it, which makes for some unique moments, including, at one point, a spot-on parody of the original comic, placed smack dab in the middle of the story. They even have fun with the numbering of the issues. It begins with “Chapter 0,” which is likely another midnight reference.
This is a fun, exciting, unique, and worthwhile comic. It helps if you’re at least basically familiar with the original source material (which is no doubt why Dark Horse released the volume of classic adventures), but it’s not entirely necessary. Like I said, the original is so-so at best. This new one is fantastic.
On a scale of Noon to Midnight, I definitely give this comic at least an 11:45 p.m.