DC Comics Presents Night Force 100-Page Spectacular #1
by Marv Wolfman, Gene Colan, and Bob Smith
So DC recently put out this reprint book of one of my favorite early-80s funnybook series. The team behind Tomb of Dracula, reunited on a new horror series? That was like getting a new Sex Pistols album or something! My young mind reeled! I HAD to have that, and I bought all 14 issues of the series, hanging on right through to the bitter (bitter!) end. Fast-forward 29 years, and this thing comes out. And, since I can't re-read the original comics anymore due to an unfortunate allergy to decaying newsprint, I picked it up.
The story holds up pretty well. Far better than I expected, in fact, especially after reading Wolfman's really kind of dreadful early Tomb of Dracula work last year. Sure. There's still some achingly bad dialogue here and there, and the story's emphasis on the Soviet occult/parapsychology program does make it a bit dated. But Gene Colan's artwork is (as always) just gorgeous. And on the whole, it's a neat little supernatural mystery with interestingly flawed heroes. And it stars maybe my favorite of the corporate spandex magical mystery men: Baron Winters. Part Phantom Stranger, part Barnabas Collins, and part con man, Baron Winters has a pet leopard and a house with doors that open onto other times and places. He's mysterious and cool and just sleazy enough to keep him relatable.
The story concerns an attempt to summon up and harness Evil itself, at the cost of the sanity of a young woman who's serving as an unwitting psychic conduit to the experiments. But a pair of Soviet spies want her, too, and lead Our Heroes (the doctor conducting the experiments, and a washed-up alcoholic hack reporter) on a merry chase back to Russia, where...
Well, this collection doesn't reveal what happens once the story gets to Russia. Because for some reason, DC decided to only collect the first four issues here, and it leaves off with everyone packing off for Commieland, the story an issue or two away from its conclusion. That's right. They collected the first Night Force arc, and didn't reprint the whole thing!
What the fuck, man?! Who thought THAT was a good idea?! If I thought that this was the first of a series of these "100-Page Spectaculars" collecting the series, I'd be fine with it. But the big "One-Shot" logo on the cover says pretty decisively that it's not gonna happen. So again... What the fuck?! I paid eight bucks for this shit, and you're not even gonna give me the whole story?! I can't decide if this is a case of gross editorial incompetence or very poorly thought-out corporate hucksterism. But whatever's going on... I don't cotton to it! Not one damn bit!
Grade for the Story: B
Grade for the Publication: F. Minus.