In November, the Shadowpact characters get a one-shot straight from the DC vault with Nightmaster: Monsters of Rock.
Featuring a cover by Bernie Wrightson, the one-shot is a story written a few years ago by Adam Beechen and drawn by Kieron Dwyer. It features Shadowpact, the group of magical heroes who fight against the evils of DC's supernatural world.
Newsarama talked with Beechen to find out more about the one-shot and its focus on Nightmaster.
Newsarama: Adam, where did this story come from? Did you pitch it, or were you asked to write something like this?
Adam Beechen: It goes all the way back to the much-missed Shadowpact series. Editor Joey Cavalieri asked me to write a one-off story for the book, and gave me free rein to pitch ideas. I gravitated toward Nightmaster, came up with the basic idea based on my earliest memories of the character, ran it by Joey, and he sent me a bunch of reference material.
I wrote up the script, Kieron drew it, Joey liked it a lot, but Shadowpact first changed writers, then was
cancelled, so there never really was a place for it. Years passed, and then I heard from Joey out of the blue that DC planned to publish it as a one-shot special with a Bernie Wrightson cover, no less! It came as a very
pleasant surprise, and I'm grateful to Joey for never forgetting about that story!
Nrama: Are you a fan of these Shadowpact characters in particular?
Beechen: I loved the Shadowpact book, and still think it's a great idea for a team. I love almost any team of "misfit" characters who haven't quite found a home elsewhere, and the notion of centering such a team around magic is a terrific one. Also, groupings of characters that wouldn't normally, necessarily hang out together make for great opportunities for conflict and humor.
Nrama: It's interesting to see a one-shot that focused on Nightmaster. What do you think is appealing about Nightmaster in particular?
Beechen: I have a dim memory from my childhood of a tattered Nightmaster comic lying in one of my grade school classrooms, and reading it over and over. It had fantastic, surreal artwork, and it just mesmerized me. I particularly remember lots of moody, ominous darkness, the flaming sword, and his very 1960s rock and roll origin. When Joey sent me all the reference stuff, it brought a huge smile to my face. There was, and remains, so much of
Nightmaster's history that's unexplored, it felt like there could be lots of material to mine from it.
Nrama: What's the overall premise of the story? Do we learn more about Nightmaster?
Beechen: Well, Jim Rook started out as a very groovy Dylan-like frontman for a rock group that was just hitting it big in the swingin' coffee houses of the 1960s when Jim got swept up into this life of mystic superheroism and became
Nightmaster. There's a great panel in his origin story of Jim in concert, with adoring fans all around him. Much like with my graphic novel Hench, where I explored the life of a character in the background of superhero battles, I got to wondering who those rock fans were at that particular show, and decided to explore one of them a little more. So the idea was a pretty simple one: What if Jim Rook met his biggest fan from back in the day today... at the absolute worst possible time? Throw in the kooky mysticism Nightmaster faces on an everyday basis with the fate of dimensions, not to mention his teammates, at stake, add in a '60s burnout who's still living in that era 40 years-plus down the road, and the potential for action-comedy was off the charts.
Nrama: Do we get to see Detective Chimp and all the other Shadowpact characters?
Beechen: The entirety of Shadowpact shows up and plays a very important, albeit brief, role in the story.
Nrama: We're pretty familiar with the way the Shadowpact series injected comedy into its story. But what's the overall tone of this one-shot's story?
Beechen: It's comedy, with lots of punch-kick mystic-zap action thrown in. The stakes are huge, but not everyone involved in the story really grasps that, if you catch my drift.
Nrama: How does Kieron Dwyer contribute to the style of the comic?
Beechen: In addition to being a brilliant straight-ahead superhero artist, Kieron Dwyer can draw comedy like few others. He strikes a perfect balance between the gritty-yet-spectacular danger Nightmaster faces, and the absurdity of this whacked-out fan following him around. Kieron really let his imagination go with this story, and the results are spectacular.
Nrama: Then to finish up, Adam, is there anything else you want to tell fans about the Nightmaster comic?
Beechen: Yeah, you don't really have to know a ton about the history of the character, about the history and particulars of the Shadowpact, or even much about the 1960s to enjoy this book. It really does stand alone, and it's a story that entertains for 22 pages, gives the reader a lot of laughs, and provides fans with plenty of mystic combat, thrills and surprises to satisfy their jones. Plus, it's a chance to spend some time with some well-loved, not-forgotten characters, keeping the Shadowpact alive for all their many fans, of which I am one. And did I mention it's got a gorgeous cover by comics’ legend Bernie Wrightson? Now that rocks.