Wolfman splits the issue–an “epilogue” to the first arc (which is really just the last chapter) and then the beginning of a new arc.
None of the regular cast appear in the second story, except Baron Winters, and it seems like Wolfman made the readers suffer through his bad characterizations for nothing. It’s additionally frustrating because second story is engaging. The writing isn’t great–Wolfman overcooks the narration–but it’s okay.
Actually, even the first story isn’t too bad. There’s still Winters and his fear of big government (it’s amazing how seriously Wolfman takes himself), but the storyline wraps up with a nice tidy bow and an amusing finish.
Colan’s art is a lot stronger on the second story than the first, maybe because there’s actual mood and action. The art’s decidedly okay.
I wonder if Wolfman split the issue to force readers to buy into the next arc.
Marv Wolfman’s understanding of the American legal system is amazing. Baron Winters escapes arrest because his lawyer says they have a restraining order against the cops who are questioning him.
Not sure that tactic is possible.
It’s a really lazy issue of Night Force, both for Wolfman and Colan. Wolfman has a bunch of terrible dialogue exchanges from a demon and then his protagonist reporter guy. But the demon’s dialogue is almost all monologue, which takes up a lot of pages. And the demon is just a shadowy red figure in an otherwise yellow sky. So Colan didn’t have to do any work and the colorist did it all.
The issue’s action is often incomprehensible. Wolfman writes some more James Bond action scenes and Colan’s lost illustrating them.
It’s not just the action, however. The art is often poorly paced or confusing.
The series’s dearth of quality resumes.
Night Force quickly plummets from its high point last issue. Wolfman splits the story into two parts–one in Russia, which plays like Raiders of the Lost Ark again, and the other in Maryland, with Baron Winters playing hide and seek in his house.
Now, Wolfman clearly thinks he’s being subtle in his writing–though his bad English is sometimes hilarious, since he’s trying to be so writerly–but it’s pretty obvious Baron Winters can’t leave the house. Wolfman’s been hinting at it for maybe three issues (maybe six) and he’s never just explained it. It’s not an interesting detail. The idea Winters might strand all the cops in medieval France so they get the Plague? More interesting.
Colan puts some work into the art this issue. The first four pages have better art, technically, than the rest of the series so far in total.
At least it reads fast.
This issue of Night Force should be the pits. I mean, it opens with a Russian science fortress. Why Wolfman–who’d been working with Colan for almost ten years at that point–would give him a boring Russian fortress to draw is beyond understanding. Colan and Smith do a competent job, but it’s excruciatingly dull.
And then there’s more stuff with Baron Winters being scared of the cops and Wolfman relies heavily on evil Soviets so he doesn’t have to write actual characters….
And there’s a lengthy bromance sequence between the white guy and the Blade stand-in as they cross the Siberian wastes.
But it’s somehow the best issue of the series. Wolfman doesn’t try to hide anything. The bad Soviet scientist just explains it all and then action plays out. There’s no work for the reader, which is good, because Night Force isn’t worth it.
It’s nearly okay.
Between the evil German guy and the light show at the end of the issue, it’s like Wolfman doesn’t even care he’s being obvious in a Raiders of the Lost Ark rip-off. Maybe, at the time, being so obvious was meant as homage.
There’s actually one really cool idea, easily the best of the series so far. The good guys have this book to help them on their quest and it changes to fill in details. Or something. Whatever it does, it’s the best thing Wolfman’s come up with.
On the stupid side, Baron Winters is scared of cops. Wolfman really doesn’t think anything through.
At least he doesn’t bother with a bad hard cliffhanger this issue. It’s a soft, dumb one, which is a–in Night Force terms–far better.
Colan’s got some fabulous artwork though, as there’s a lot of supernatural nonsense. He excels at drawing it.
Well, Wolfman certainly didn’t try too hard with this issue’s cliffhanger. The good guys are about to be run over by a boat, or whatever that situation is called. For a comic book about the supernatural, most of Wolfman’s Night Force action is pedestrian. And when it is supernatural… the scenes never last very long.
This issue opens with Baron Winters talking to his pet tiger. The tiger (or leopard) doesn’t respond, which makes Winters sound like some kind of a lunatic. The comic would have been a lot better if the pet were just some doped up wild animal and Winters was a rich nutcase.
Sadly, that turn of events is unlikely.
The only amusing part of the comic is the black guy looking different than in the last couple issues.
Wolfman’s recycling the action set pieces (this issue ends with the first issue’s opening one). It’s a bore.
The second issue is a little better. Colan’s art isn’t as concentrated on creating Tomb of Dracula stand-ins and Wolfman doesn’t have anywhere near as much exposition. Plus, Baron Winter has a far reduced presence, which seems to help.
But Wolfman does have his “hero,” reporter Jack Gold, knock boots with a twenty year-old girl whose spent her life in institutions. Sure, the “Blade as college professor” guy is upset about it for those reasons, but the reader’s supposed to sympathize with Gold.
Hey, wait a second, if Wolfman’s got me remembering characters names, I guess he’s doing something right.
Something, but not a lot.
There’s still a lot of undefined supernatural nonsense and a mystery villain or two. Wolfman’s trying too hard and flopping, which seems like a shame given the Colan art.
But it’s possible the series could improve… But it’s got a steep climb ahead.
It’s all so mysterious! Marv Wolfman finishes the issue with a letter to readers, maybe to convince them they haven’t just read a knock-off of Tomb of Dracula. Damage control, I guess.
Wolfman isn’t doing too much of a rip-off, I suppose, he’s just setting Gene Colan up with Dracula-like situations and characters. Whether it’s the white dude or Blade or Dracula himself, there are visual analogs galore in The Night Force. There just isn’t a lot of content. The issue goes on forever setting up the characters, but they’re all weak. Whether it’s the divorced reporter who’s down on his luck (but drives a Porsche) or the scientist working for the Pentagon, Wolfman doesn’t introduce anything original. He does try to be grown-up–the issue opens with talk of open marriages–but it comes off desperate.
It’s a cash grab and not a good one.
Some weirdness this issue. First off, Moench reveals Jason Todd doesn’t want to be called Robin either. It’s peculiar enough it doesn’t feel like more padding from Moench on the subject, even though it probably is just more fluff.
Then there’s Commissioner Gordon. He’s back at work and he’s a complete jerk. Moench shows the legal aftermath of Batman apprehending a suspect and it gives the impression no one Batman apprehends ever ends up in jail for a long time. Moench’s trying to be realistic, which sort of works. The scene’s good as long as one doesn’t think too hard.
Colan doesn’t spend a lot of time on the layouts–some pages are really spare–but with Alcala back, the art’s great.
The Green Arrow backup gets worse, with Cavalieri introducing a lame biker gang. The McManus inks aren’t interesting this time around, he’s barely visible. It’s embarrassingly bad stuff.
It’s an issue of inappropriate inking. Smith is so reductive on Colan’s Batman inks, the story loses any visceral impact. Instead, it becomes almost academic–seeing where Colan’s pencils have been too diluted for a page to work. The layouts are still fantastic, but not the finished art.
Moench resolves his Gordon storyline–while still stoking the Jason and Bruce one (and no one misses Alfred, which is strange)–and it’s a flop. It’s like no one told Moench Barbara Gordon was also Batgirl. And Moench attempts at inspirational flop painfully. It doesn’t help he’s got a bunch of hackneyed thugs out of a forties comic.
Still, great Colan layouts.
Then there’s the Green Arrow backup. Truly lame writing from Cavalieri can’t overshadow the odd art. Chuck Patton is a boring, superhero penciller. But Shawn McManus inks him, adding a lot of McManus lines. The story’s artistically interesting, if terrible.
Bob Smith is not the best inker for Colan. He reigns him in way too much. There’s still some great Colan panel layouts this issue though and his Joker has to be seen. Colan’s Joker is hideous with insanity, an awkwardly lump figure, not the usual anorexic. Every Joker panel is great in some way or another.
Moench’s story involves the Joker wanting to start a rival to Disneyland. It’s too absurd and contrived, but the art sells it and Moench’s writing of Batman and the Joker is strong. The humor’s good too. Moench has some good jokes here, especially those involving the Joker.
Alfred’s subplot is revealed and, once again, Moench seems to be rehabbing Harvey Bullock. Both are still too undeveloped to make much impression.
The Green Arrow back-up again has decent enough Moore art, but Cavalieri’s banter is terrible. The seven pages can’t end soon enough.
One could just read this issue for the art. Alcala beautifully complements Gene Colan. He sort of brings out the lusciousness, but reigns it in just enough. Colan’s never too lush; Alcala is never reductive.
The story’s not bad, but Moench doesn’t quite sell Jason Todd, detective. He investigates, but without any finesse. The scenes where Jason’s talking to potential witnesses flop; no one would talk freely considering Jason’s suspicious behavior.
For the finish, Moench makes an incredibly odd choice–he doesn’t reveal the villain’s face. I had to reread it to make sure I wasn’t missing it.
Moench’s ambition outpaces his skill on the difficult Bruce and Jason character drama.
The Green Arrow backup has decent, if strangely constrained art from Jerome Moore and Mike DeCarlo. Joey Cavalieri makes a funny Superman peanut butter joke. It’s nowhere near as bad as usual.
This issue is weird. It’s great too–I wonder if Moench created Nocturna with Colan in mind, since she basically looks like a vampire–but it’s weird.
There’s some action at the end, but the most striking parts of the comic aren’t the action scenes. Moench is serious about his rumination on darkness and he follows through with it at the end. It’s unexpected, but quite good.
The other striking scene is when Nocturna talks to Jason Todd. It’s a contrived encounter, but Moench sublimely makes the scene work. It’s also interesting to just hear Jason Todd try to explain his living situation. It pairs well with Bruce’s later order to Alfred–Alfred’s not allowed to report Jason missing.
The art from Colan and Giordano is fantastic. Moench’s securely in his stride now.
Cavalieri’s Green Arrow is, once again, incredibly lame. New penciller Adrian Gonzales has big problems with perspective.
I try to be open-minded about Cavalieri and Cullins’s Green Arrow back-ups, but this one peeved me. Moench doesn’t get enough time with his Batman story–which is his fault for not pacing it out right–but come on. Who carries about Green Arrow’s lame villain? Though inker Frank Giacoia does ruin Cullins’s pencils in sometimes amusing ways.
Moench and Colan (joined by Dick Giordano on inks), on the other hand, do a fabulous Batman story about Bruce losing. He loses in a fight (the bad guy has better costume material), he loses Vicki Vale and he’s about to lose Jason Todd. His life, as much as a billionaire’s life can, is falling apart.
And Moench and Colan nail it. There’s a slick noir tone–Colan excels–with Moench expounding on the idea of nighttime habits as they relates to Batman.
It’s great. Shame it runs too short.