Review: Captain Midnight #1

22880Here at Graphic Policy, we’re pretty excited about Captain Midnight #1, a comic that’s been the benefactor of one of Dark Horse’s larger advertising campaigns. Mostly because he’s a big damn hero, in more ways than one. Last month we got the chance to take a look at the prequel, Captain Midnight #0 (my review actually got quoted by Dark Horse on their Facebook advertisement!) and I was immediately hooked. It promised in those 28 pages to be a great pulp superhero, and a classic one actually reborn from the pulp age, too!

With Nazis, a nemesis named Fury Shark, time travel, a castle in the North Pole, and, y’know, Captain Midnight, this book is sure to catch some buzz among the comic reviewing elites. Joshua Williamson and Fernando Dagnino, aided by colorist Ego, provide a fascinating follow-up to the zero-issue from June, developing the intrigue of the Fury-Midnight dispute and following-up on the pursuit by the U.S. military of a time-travelling genius!

Williamson’s narrative moves along at a steady pace, bouncing back and forth through time and space quite appropriately, and we get a number of diverse scenes that move along rapidly and tell a rather robust story. Despite this, Captain Midnight #1 suffers from some awkward turns of dialogue. This is maybe a result of characters that are unmotivating, or perhaps there is an unestablished status quo for the tone of this new series. I certainly didn’t recognize anything off-putting in the zero-issue, but I caught myself thinking, “Well that’s cheesy dialogue,” while reading #1. Then again, I guess one might expect cheesy dialogue from a so-called pulp hero book, but the Captain Midnight narrative seems to take itself more seriously than glorified bad writing.

I may have only had one itty-bitty brush with this guy in his zero-issue, but already I’m a fan, and Captain Midnight, for me, is a story made in the 1940s pulp scene of big American heroes and Nazis, not usually something I’m interested in; but transplanting to the story to the present, outside of the WWII setting from which Captain Midnight emerged, is a little strange. Sadly, very little gets seen of Captain Midnight, but he’s instead discussed ominously by various characters to drive home the point that the dude is a freaking genius.

Reading this issue, I started to get the feeling that Williamson may have taken advantage of the Captain Midnight story to insert mocking jabs at Captain America in just the slightest way, after all they keep calling  him “Cap'” and *spoiler* the bad guys at the end are glowing, green-skull-headed dudes in the employ of ageless Nazi Ms. Shark (uh, Hydra, anyone, albeit not red?). Maybe I just read too much into things…

Dagnino’s artistry is the saving grace of Captain Midnight #1, lending an almost mainstream tone to the Dark Horse style, which gives this book credibility as a major superhero undertaking while still retaining its independence from the Big Two (don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing at all wrong with Big Two styles, I would just hate to see Dark Horse trying to reproduce this; they work best at their own thing!).  Dagnino even utilizes what appears to be two subtly different styles between the 1942 timeline and the contemporary one. In fact, the opening bleed panel sets a high tone for the book, and would definitely be my pick for a panel of the week. It’s beautiful and complex, and Ego does some magnificent work on the colors!

Captain Midnight #1 is worth a try, because maybe your sensibilities are different; but I was rather let down. There was a lot to live up to following the zero-issue, and while Dagnino delivered exceptional page layouts overflowing with great art, Williamson’s script detracted from the overall atmosphere of what we got a month ago in Captain Midnight #0. But don’t let this stop you from taking a look yourself. This book could easily become one of the best new series of the year. I’m looking forward to seeing where Williamson and Dagnino take us next!

Oh, and that Felipe Massafera cover is amazing.

Story: Joshua Williamson Art: Fernando Dagnino
Story: 6 Art: 8 Overall: 7 Recommendation: Read

Dark Horse provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

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  • Agreed, great promise with unfortunate dialogue. I couldn’t believe the line, “You misunderstand, major. The man came through a time vortex of unknown origin in the Bermuda Triangle after chasing a nazi who stole top secret Albright Industries Tech.” I’m no genius, but I don’t need the entire plot spelled out for me in a word ballon.

    • Yeah, an incredible disappointment. I wanted the whole issue in the style of the first few pages, because there’s already plenty of contemporary superheroes. It’s starting to sound more and more like G.I. Joe to me, though I (stubbornly?) refuse to read that series.

      • The second volume of G.I. Joe is actually really good. Not at all what I expected. It was updated to modern times in a good way. This latest volume is very hit or miss.