A Hero’s Return – Captain Midnight #0-5

When it comes to the average super-hero comic book there is not a lot of things that can be done much differently than what has come before.  You can modernize and you can innovate, but when it comes right down to it, most stories have been told before just from different viewpoints.  The only thing that can happen when writing a Superman-type book is to write it better than the original.  When putting out a book that is similar to Batman, or even doing one of his many spinoff books, your job is to make it better than the rest.  So when we are introduced to Captain Midnight, a hero out of time and a concept that has been done many times over, there was only one thing for Dark Horse to do and that was to make it the best man-out-of-time book they possibly could.

And they did.

But it could not have happened without a top creative team in place and we received that in Joshua Williamson, fantastic writer and creator of Ghosted, and Fernando Dagnino who has worked on various DC books.  Together they have brought the good Captain back to the present and have done so in grand fashion.  In the first issue they have him racing out of a storm near the Bermuda Triangle atop a plane that is about to crash and from there it is Captain America-style theatrics as he tries to save himself by landing on another fighter jet from the nearby USS Ronald Reagan.  A smart move to start the book off in full-out action as it is one that will instantly hook any reader and have them on the edge of their seats.

The book continues with the government not knowing what to do with our hero as he possibly has some information on some classified operations from the past.  And because it is classified, he cannot say what it is and they are unwilling to accept the situation.  But when Captain Midnight learns that his old enemy Fury Shark is alive, and seemingly ageless, he realizes that his mission is far from over.  Coming to terms with the government and trying to catch up to this modern age, Jim Albright, the Tony Stark of his time, is going to do whatever he can to finally put an end to the Nazi threat once and for all.

For the second time in a row this year, Joshua Williamson has hit a home run.  The man knows how to write and he does it well.  Every issue is compelling and full of intrigue, action and suspense.  He keeps the reader wanting more, probably the most important thing when it comes to any type of written word and he does it from the very first pages of the very first issue.  As we learn about Midnight’s origins through his old flame’s recount as well as his own, we are drawn further into his story and we feel for the man and the frustration he feels at having his whole world turned upside down.  Another great conception that works really well was merging the traditional super-hero genre with that of a spy thriller and a little bit of corporate espionage and science fiction thrown in for good measure.  It adds to our various protagonist’s paranoia and ramps up the tension for the reader.  Not knowing where the next threat will emerge makes it almost Machiavellian on Williamson’s part.
But Williamson does not achieve all of this on his own.  The man who pencils these beautiful images is Fernando Dagnino, a perfect choice to chronicle Captain Midnight’s return to the printed page.  The book is packed with action and Dagnino just lets it loose creating wonderfully dynamic scenes.  Whether Cap is battling high in the skies aboard a plane or whether it is against a bunch of thugs, it looks almost frenzied and Midnight all but seems to be unstable at times, like his anger is getting the better of him, though to be fair, realizing Nazi’s are still around in the present could make anyone a little unsettled.  And this is the second book to feature a beautiful blonde who also happens to be a member of the Reich, the other being Uber published by Avatar.  It is nice to see that Dagnino has a firm hand on the ladies, so to speak.  But it is simply just not action and beautiful women that he has a grasp on, he can also do the quiet aspects that books require.  The scenes between Charlotte and her ex-husband for example, are quite humorous being expressed not only through the dialogue but body and facial expressions, and done so expertly.  He has a good grasp of the human form, as well as everything else, and it makes him a nice fit for the title.  Not having read the DC books he had previously illustrated, finding him on this title was a nice introduction to his work.

With Dark Horse bringing back and refurbishing their super-hero line of comics both through their original properties and the reclamation of older characters that have fallen into disuse under their Project Black Sky banner, Captain Midnight is a welcome addition.  The book may not come to be as widely known as those that come from the Big Two, but it is a written and drawn a fair bit better than most.  If Williamson, Dagnino and Dark Horse can keep it up, the title will surely be regarded as one of the best books put out by any publisher.

5 out of 5

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