Night Force, the comic that Marv Wolfman calls his "favorite creation," gets a revamp this week as part of DC's New 52.
As a horror story, Night Force is the latest addition to DC's line-up that gives play to a genre that doesn't usually get a lot of attention from the big superhero publisher. Beginning with the company's relaunch of its superhero properties, everything from Westerns to war comics have been given a chance.
With this week's issue #1, Wolfman launches a new version of one of his fan-favorite concepts, kicking off a new, seven-issue Night Force mini-series with art by Tom Mandrake.
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.
We caught up with the writer to find out more about the updates we'll see to the concept of Night Force as the new series begins this week.
Newsarama: Marv, we talked in detail about the return of Night Force before, but now that you're well into writing the series, how has it evolved? And what can readers expect from the series overall?
Marv Wolfman: I worked out all seven issues of the Night Force story before I full scripted the first issue, so the story was set. What evolved is the pacing and the approach. Also, whether you've read Night Force before or not I wanted to make certain you understood what was going on and who the old characters, as well as the new ones, are. In terms of this story, the plot moves through time, beginning hundreds of years ago, then proceeds through the 1700s, 1800s, 1900s and to today. It also introduces a menace that has been able to cross time for reasons not even Baron Winters understands. He is usually someone who understands the threat he's sending his newly recruited Night Force to deal with, but for once he's operating totally in the dark.
Nrama: This comic always told a darker story, which was pretty groundbreaking for its time. Now that it's coming out, would you say it fits in the genre "horror?" Or is there more to it? How would you describe the overall tone and premise?
Wolfman: This is definitely a horror story, but like all Night Force stories there's more to it than just that. Night Force has always been about the merging of science and the paranormal. It's always about characters, recruited by Baron Winters for reasons they don't understand, who are then put into situations they've never imagined before. And because each Night Force story features a new cast, one never knows what's going to happen to anyone. Unlike most comics the fate of our characters is always in question.
Nrama: For people who aren't familiar with your previous Night Force stuff, what the story about?
Wolfman: Baron Winters is a character of undetermined age. His job, so to speak, is to maintain balance. That means he is as much a force for evil as he is for good and that means the outcome of each Night Force mission is not predictable, or even pleasant. When he is put into a situation he has to deal with, he recruits seemingly unconnected people to deal with it for him. Although the people may never have met before, during the story you learn exactly why he chose each one of them and why they are all necessary to achieve whatever is Winters' goal. Winters lives in Wintersgate, a mansion in Georgetown, Washington. The house is filled with rooms decorated in the many different fashions. Each room somehow leads to the time period the decoration indicates. For example, a room decorated with Victorian furniture might lead him to 1885 London, and so forth. Winters himself can go through any of these doors into the past but he can never exit the front door into the present.
Nrama: For those who are familiar with the past incarnation, how are you updating the concept for modern day?
Wolfman: The concept of Night Force didn't need updating, but the look did. Winters himself is more striking and powerful looking than before but he's still the nasty bastard he always was. I've given Merlin, his "pet" leopard, more of a central role, although one that I always had intended for him. There is a reason he's with the Baron and we learn a bit more about it. But Night Force stories are always about recruiting a new cast of characters to deal with the forces of the supernatural, and that has remained the same.
Nrama: Are you enjoying getting to revisit Baron Winters? Anything you can tell us about his character in the story?
Wolfman: I've always said Night Force is my favorite creation because it allows me to do any kind of intensely realistic and dark story I can come up with. Having a chance to come back to the world of Baron Winters is just perfect for me. I love writing these stories. And artist Tom Mandrake has done an incredible job not just walking in the footsteps of Gene Colan but in taking the book in his own visual direction.
Nrama: What can you tell us about other main characters that are driving the story of the mini-series?
Wolfman: There are many new characters introduced in the story including a young woman named Zoe Davis who is being hunted by a creature called a Gatherer. Zoe is told she had a daughter but she has no memory of ever being pregnant. She meets a police officer named James Duffy. Amazingly, it turns out that Duffy's late father, an FBI agent, had investigated Zoe's grandmother's disappearance. There's also Senator Brian Greene who is being groomed to run for President of the U.S. There are many other characters introduced and also the return of a former Night Force member.
Nrama: Now that Night Force has returned to the DCU, what are your hopes for the property? Do you think it would work in another medium? Or are you just hoping for more comics?
Wolfman: I believe you should do a comic because the story you want to tell works best in the comics medium, but in the case of Night Force, created back in the 80s when transmedia wasn't even a glimmer of an idea, I always thought it would make a great TV show, too. I thought the idea of being able to tell horror stories in any time period would allow for a great series. And these days, with cable TV, you can actually do the kind of dark horror I'd love to see. I'd also love to write Night Force novels where I can spend all the pages necessary to tell my story. But that said, Night Force has always been a very personal series for me and I hope this version does well and I can do more Night Force comics.
Nrama: Then to finish up, is there anything else you want to tell fans about Night Force and this week's #1?
Wolfman: Buy it and take a look. It's not your standard comic, so all I can hope for is that people give it a try.Got a comment? There's lots of conversation on Newsarama's FACEBOOK and TWITTER!