"Never lose faith in yourself, and never lose hope; remember, even when this world throws its worst and then turns its back, there is still always hope." - Pittacus Lore, The Power of Six
lice Roosevelt Longworth, by her own admission, never let nicety get in the way of speaking her mind and being less than flattering to the targets of her ire. "If you can't say something good about someone, sit right here by me."
she is quoted as saying. And in digesting a particularly mixed bag of comicbook reading this week that sentiment sat particularly uneasy as the negativity and venom such poor material can leave within me is not at all pleasant or conductive to balanced reviewing of said material.
So rather than indulge bad rubbish and waste energy on speaking of it I look instead to more positive efforts, which means unsurprisingly the Independent publishers win out here as their creative mandate is refreshingly free of the demands and bad practices of the DC/Marvel sausage factory. So forget the plummeting depths of Superman and his ilk and look instead to the apple-pie philosophy of that golden-age anochronism - Captain Midnight.
Regrets at the passing of the years, of old friends lost... the concept of Dark Horse's Captain Midnight
is science-fiction, but the themes playing in the displaced life of Jim Albright might well be familiar to anyone reaching past middle age and facing the meetings and regrets of old friends one left behind.
Jim Albright's lot in life is far beyond typical of the ordinary man. Or even Super man for that matter. A scientific aand physical prodigy Albright straddles the line between Doc Savage and Captain America, a war hero thrown through time from the second world war to the presentday. On the face of it this is all very familiar comicbook fodder, the far past and rose tinted World War II perceived heroism and jolly crusading of young men off to war, doing the right thing, is a powerful grounding for any superhero fable. The decades since the War ended left that feeling of pride and self confidence slowly behind, as solidarity gave way to more selfish, violent outcomes in social order and attitudes. But what if one of these heroes, from the golden-age of heroes, were to step forward to the present day...? How would America respond to him?
Writer Joshua Williamson uses these questions to tell what is on the face of it atypical superhero yarns, of demons from the other
side, of super-villains out to conquer the world, of damsels in distress, and a square jawed all-Amrican hero punching his way through it all. Yes, Captain Midnight is unashamed superhero candy on the surface, but as this latest issue shows so well it is also something with a message, a throwback Jim Albright may be but this more moral positive attitude to life and people is also fine grounding for actually saying something worth
saying. And this time out the moral is about friendship, of drifting apart in life, and finding in the end you still haven't lost faith in the value of that long lost dear friend...
Opening in 1940 and the workshop hanger of Jim Albright Captain Midnight #19 is the story of Chuck Ramsey, of his first meeting with his engineering idol Albright and his descent into a moral abyss in the years between then and now. Striking it off straight away these are scenes with which we see the idealism and genuine nature of these two gifted humanitarians.
The past then represents an ideal, a sunnier better place where grass was greener and things were uncomplicated by the pressures of the wider world. In the present however black skies, oppressive rainfall and storms, and a wretched man once called Chuck. The pressures and demands of a world without his best friend and inspiration proven too much.
The story is atypical superhero versus Supervillain, the underlying theme however is a touching and honest one of rejection and redemtion. Chuck Ramsey's own moral decline was entirely of his own doing, a responce and effect of the pressures of trying to hinder the development of the Archon, but what the tale Joshua Williamson reveals is a touching honest one about the power of redemption via love. The effect one person, at the right time, can have on even the most lost of souls. For despite all of his apparent infallibility and seemingly effortless ability to do no wrong Jim Albright is, and its a simple truth, an uncomplicated man at heart. From another era, with a different set of values to the modern man, Albrights view of the world and what people should aspire to is as simplistic as it is inspiring.
The lost soul of Chuck Ramsey may well have seen through his mad scheme with The Archon, but with the right words of support, some much needed compassion, and just the simple gesture that he matters
to someone, this bitterest of souls can restore anyone's faith in human nature...
The best comics, especially in the superhero genre, are the ones that are actually about
something. That have something to say. And so Captain Midnight - old fashioned, but still relevant.
As seen here Fernando Dagnino's crisp artwork is complemented by superb colouring from the ever reliable Javier Mena. The journey of Chuck Ramsey and Jim Albright from idyllic carefree youth to he bitter apocalyptic present is made both tragic and believable or th reader thanks to these two artists considerable talents and being ideally suited to the others work....