Back in 1982 in the midst of the collapse of the “horror comic” market comic book writer Marv Wolfman got DC to try a new one, his own “Night Force.”
The comic centered around Baron Winters, a mysterious individual who could not leave Wingate Manner in Georgetown, a neighborhood in Washington DC. He arranges for others, individually or in groups to handle certain supernatural threats, and he is not above using manipulation or other dubious means to get his “operatives” into place. He is accompanied by a spotted big cat named Merlin with who he can apparently communicate although we never hear Merlin’s side of the conversations.
The operatives Baron Winters send out are generally deeply flawed, even broken, people. Their struggles with their own internal demons are as much a part of the story as the supernatural demons they fight and it can well be those internal demons that make it possible for them to fight the supernatural ones.
I found it delightfully dark at a time when I was just discovering my own inner appreciation of the “dark side” of life (and right before I got convinced by someone I had reason to trust that “you need to start wearing bright colors if you want…” and he wasn’t just talking about clothes. I’ve told that story elsewhere.)
The original comic ran for fourteen issues. I followed starting from issue two or three through issue ten. Somehow I’d missed the introduction in The New Teen Titans (which Marv Wolfman was also writing). I don’t understand how that happened since I was an avid fan and collector of TNTT back in the day.
In any case, the stories were gripping. And I found that I could appreciate endings that were not “happy ever after”. These endings left the main characters still struggling with problems, often serious ones. Yes, they beat the evil forces and stopped worldwide disaster but life continues and is a struggle. And beating the bad guys does not magically cure ones inner demons. Night Force showed me that, but it did it without the nihilism that turns me off of so much of what passes for “horror” elsewhere.
I’ll note that a passing reference in an early issue of Night Force, prompted me to first go check out Brahm Stoker’s Dracula (the novel, not one of the endless movies that purport to tell–badly–the story) which remains one of my favorites to this day.
Apparently the series has been revived twice, briefly each time, once in 1996 and once in 2012. I, unfortunately, have not seen these versions.
More recently I discovered that a graphic novel, including Kindle format, of the original fourteen issue run. The graphic novel includes the New Teen Titans introduction. I find it every bit as enjoyable as when I first discovered it thirty-seven years ago and am enjoying the parts I missed the first time.
Note: Click on the cover image to see the amazon listing.