Captain Midnight #1
Writer: Joshua Williamson
Artist: Fernando Dagnino
Letterer: Nate Piekos
Review by Joey Braccino
Captain Midnight soars again for Dark Horse Comics, except this time, he’s a man out of time!!! While other pulp-revival comics like IDW’s Rocketeer mini-series seek to capture the spirit and tone of those original runs, Joshua Williamson’s Captain Midnight capitalizes on the man-out-of-time trope, pulling our eponymous hero out of World War II and into the modern era, with particularly shocking results.
A bit of background on the character: Super genius inventor and World War I army pilot Jim Albright wanted to take to the skies again for his country in World War II. In the original radio serial, which often garnered audiences in the millions, Albright in his Captain Midnight guise led the Secret Squadron on missions in the European theater of the war. The serial was so successful that TV series, films, and comic strips followed. In the current run of Captain Midnight, which started last year in Dark Horse Presents #18 and Captain Midnight #0, Albright’s genius is deemed by the US government to be too valuable to risk in war, so he adopts the Captain Midnight cowl to serve his country incognito.
Williamson, of Masks & Mobsters fame, starts our story with a World War II set piece set in the North Pole, introducing our daredevil hero, Captain Midnight, his plucky sidekicks, Joyce & Chuck Ryan, and the Nazi supervillains starting trouble (naturally). The action is high-octane and the dialogue is delightfully pulpy, and the resolution to the first scene is shocking. Let’s just say there’s a polar bear involved.
From there, we are thrust into the present day. Captain Midnight went missing late in WWII and has recently resurfaced after flying out of the Bermuda Triangle time warp (this is all explained clearly for new readers; no worries!). The rest of the issue is spent showcasing our lead, Charlotte Ryan, and a group of Agents searching for Captain Midnight before the supervillainess, Fury Shark (who, interestingly, also appears in the WWII set piece…) finds him first.
The action escalates quickly and the characterization is spot-on. And, like I mentioned earlier, when Captain Midnight swoops on to the scene, the sequence is equal parts thrilling and jarring. The noble Captain America this is not, my friends!
While I do wish the artwork were a pit pulpier, particularly during the WWII sequence, Fernando Dagnino delivers a dynamic visual experience. His intense realism is reminiscent of Stefano Caselli’s moody aesthetic from books like Secret Warriors and Avenging Spider-Man. Ego’s colors certainly help maintain the suspense-thriller feel of Williamson’s narrative, with shadows and darker colors filling out Dagnino’s scope.
Worth a look for fans of both pulp throwbacks and hero-out-of-time comics storytelling. Joshua Williamson maintains just enough of the original tone and feel of Captain Midnight from the Golden Age radio and comics series to make the changeover to the modern, espionage-thriller genre of Captain Midnight #1 all the more effective. I was just as shocked as the characters were when Captain Midnight came swooping into action in the present day, and I was even more shocked when he actually “took action.” Check it!