With all the characters and concepts Marv Wolfman has created during his writing career, it's hard to believe that he'd prefer one of them over the others.
"Night Force has always been my favorite creation," Wolfman admitted to Newsarama.
In March, Wolfman returns to that favorite concept with a new, seven-issue Night Force mini-series with art by Tom Mandrake. The horror comic is the latest in DC's approach to add various mini-series to its existing line-up of "New 52" ongoing DCU titles.
"When Dan DiDio asked if I'd be interested in doing a new mini-series, I jumped at the chance," Wolfman said of his new Night Force mini-series. "It allows me to do the kind of plotting and character writing that I can't do on any other book."
What makes the book so unique for Wolfman?
"Night Force isn't so much about the characters as the concept," he said. "Only Baron Winters and his leopard, Merlin, are regulars. Everyone else is new to the story which allows me to do what's best for the story and not be forced to keep characters around solely so they can be in the next issue."
Wolfman first introduced the concept behind Night Force in 1982 with artist Gene Colan. The story revolves around a sorcerer named Baron Winters, who lives in a mansion called Wintersgate Manor with his pet leopard, Merlin.
Of course, Wintersgate Manor isn't your average mansion. The home functions as a gateway to different locations and time periods, which allows Wolfman's story to span generations.
"The story [of the new Night Force mini-series] takes place in the present but goes back to the night George Washington died. It also involves multiple generations of different families. Oh, and a presidential election. That's the A-plot. There's a lot more, too," Wolfman said.
The concept behind Night Force has always been very dark and twisted — even "before dark was in," Wolfman laughed. And he promises this new incarnation of the comic will keep that dark approach.
"I remember Frank Miller, before Dark Knight, commenting favorably on [Night Force]'s tone. It allows me to write at a different level," Wolfman said. "That said, I tend to be a very optimistic person who sees things pessimistically. I think one has to fight through a lot of darkness but that there can be a light at the end of the tunnel."
In past Night Force stories, Baron Winters merely sent recruits out to solve the mysteries he encounters. But in this new DC mini-series, the concept is somewhat revamped to center specifically on the character, Wolfman said.
"This particular story, although it features other characters and is about them, could not exist if Baron Winters didn't exist," the writer said. "He is inextricably involved with everything that is going on. This story is extremely personal.
"I love writing Baron Winters; he's acerbic, nasty, and not your typical protagonist in that he does what he needs to even if it hurts or kills the people he recruits," Wolfman said. "Baron Winters has been updated visually by Tom Mandrake who did an incredible job. He kept the essence of what Gene Colan had conceived but completely revamped him at the same time. I love the look."
The story revolves around a young woman who's been attacked and is saved by a policeman on the verge of retirement,
"She learns she had been pregnant and had a baby. Only she doesn't remember any of it," Wolfman said. "He learns she has a connection to his father who was in the FBI."
The writer said the comic also introduces a group of people knows as "Harvesters," "Gatherers," "Dormants" and "Nurses." "I could say the main villains are the Harvesters and company, and that's true, but there's a lot more to it than just them. The rest has to stay secret," Wolfman said.
With the recent relaunch of the DC Universe, Night Force actually isn't rebooting. But Wolfman said Night Force still fits with the publisher's goal of targeting new readers, because almost all the characters are new.
"One does not have to have read any previous issue to understand the story or what's going on; you pick it right up with issue #1," he said. "If you have read the old issues, when one old character comes back, briefly, it will resonate more, but if I wrote it right, and I think I did, a new reader will quickly know the back-story, which would have been the same even if you had never seen the character before but I said they once worked together — I'm trying not to say he or she here. Night Force stories are like novels and are independent from each other, although certain characters can return."
Wolfman said he was a little nervous about working with someone other than Gene Colan on a Night Force story, but he's been pleasantly surprised by the work of Tom Mandrake.
"Tom is creating a truly macabre and creepy feel to the story. Knowing his work, I knew I could play to those aspects and went further in that direction. He was able to take concepts and make them chilling as hell in ways I hadn't imagined," Wolfman said "I can't tell you how nervous I was working with someone other than Gene on this; I compared the second run of the title to his work which was unfair to really great talent. But Tom's work stands side by side and apart from Gene's and that makes it powerful as hell."
The writer, who is currently finishing up the bi-weekly DC Universe Online Legends title, said he's been keeping busy lately by working on scripts for several video games and an animated movie for China. But he's been interested in the relaunch of the DC Universe because it was an action he suggested to DC years ago.
"I recommended the idea of ending continuity and starting with all new #1s back in the early '80s to follow Crisis on Infinite Earths, so I completely back the [current New 52] concept," Wolfman said. "But that is a vehicle to take us to a new place and is only a beginning of the trip and not the end. DC now has to make each book special, and so far so good."
But within those new 52 titles, Wolfman also hopes Night Force doesn't get lost in all those different comics. "We're not part of the DCU mainstream so it's a tough battle to get recognized," he said. "And since we're not superheroes, we tend to get put in different sections of the bookstores. It'll make it a bit harder to find, but I think it's worth it."