Any book that has a Polar Bear eating a dudes head is a “win” in my book. Seriously though, this book was a fantastic read. Dark Horse has been promoting the series and to an extent hyping it which can set a series up for failure if it doesn’t deliver. For me that wasn’t the case here. This book delivers in spades and finds a balance between the campy bygone era of comics and the gritty darker modern age. The two parallels may not be 100% transparent to everyone, but they are there and it’s a great experiment in storytelling that pays off. The issue begins in the past, 1942 to be exact, as we find the Secret Squadron attacking Hitler’s North Pole base. One of his best men Herr Shark says that he’ll stay behind and buy them time as long as his daughter is taken away. SPOILER, Herr Shark is the dude that meets his end at the… mouth of a polar bear. It’s pretty rad.
In the present, we find the continuation of the zero issue as Joyce’s granddaughter climbs a cliff in Nevada and discovers the Secret Squadron’s secret headquarters. The headquarters are amazing looking, but they’ve been forgotten about and time has not been kind. It made me wish that we were following the story from Captain Midnight’s point of view because I’m sure it was a heart breaking scene for him to discover. A base that he built and maintained with his friends and companions left to rot. Even without his point of view it’s still a strangely tragic splash page to behold.
After Joyce’s granddaughter Charlotte gets inside of the base, the story cuts to 24 hours earlier with Charlotte and Joyce talking. Joyce basically guilt’s her granddaughter into finding Captain Midnight and after their conversation we discover the Feds storming the base just behind her. They’re about to secure her when Rick vouches for Charlotte… because she’s his ex-wife and all. They begin to look in the base all the while Captain Midnight is listening in on them.
The writing was very strong for a first issue and while it’s kind of not the first issue, it was still good. First issues can be kind of weird because they’re trying to set up the world and explain everything it possibly can in one issue so that readers want to come back. With this issue it’s kind of assumed that you bought the zero issue or read the zero issue in its broken up form in Dark Horse Presents. If you didn’t you won’t be lost, but because of that this issue doesn’t spend the entire time explaining the world to you just the goal of the issue: find Captain Midnight.
As I said, the issue captures the bygone era of comics with the opening. The overall campy feeling of comics then, but still maintains the maturity of modern comics i.e. deaths being brutal. While the modern time line is mostly gritty and realistic it also has a level of campiness to it as well; Rick and Charlotte’s banter being the best example. Also it’s clear that Charlotte and Rick are destined to replace Captain Midnight’s former partners since they’re already filling the roles without even knowing it.
The art also plays an important role in the split era of comics. Aside from the art style changing slightly between the two era’s, the biggest change being the increased use of shadowing in the modern timeline, there is the coloring. In the past the coloring has a faded newspaper print look to it that is very intentional, while the modern era is of course the modern standard of coloring. Its helps play to the two timelines very well. Overall the book is beautiful regardless of which era it’s representing.
I’m very interested in this series. There are some indicators of where the story is going, but the biggest thing that has me interested is Captain Midnight’s limited role in the story thus far. I don’t know what he’s thinking or planning, just that he’s a super fucking genius and stubborn as hell. I mean he had a day and he improved upon a modern jet that he’s never seen before. That’s cool. I think this story is awesome and I’m looking forward to more for sure. It’s easy to compare it to Captain America, but there’s something new and exciting about this. I would recommend it to someone that likes Captain America and I wouldn’t be surprised if they ended up liking it more.
Writer: Joshua Williamson
Artist: Fernando Dagnino
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Release Date: 7/31/13