Wednesday, October 7, 2009

1980's Flashback: Night Force

Night Force was originally introduced as a 16-page insert in New Teen Titans #21 (July, 1982), and moved into its own DC Comics title the following month. The main character was Baron Winters, a cold and aloof sorcerer who would assemble a team of chosen individuals to fight supernatural threats. This group was hazy and loosely defined, consisting of whomever the Baron chose to perform a particular mission, usually, but not always, chosen from a group of regular associates. They included scientists, psychics, petty crooks and a wide variety of other types. The missions themselves were chosen by various criteria — sometimes the Baron was motivated by curiosity, sometimes by a desire to vanquish evil, sometimes by payment of a fee.

While the team had a rotating membership, notable members included: Vanessa Van Helsing - granddaughter of Abraham Van Helsing and a powerful psychic; Jack Gold - Vanessa's husband, a reporter; Donovan Caine - a professor of parapsychology who lost an arm and a leg on one of the missions; and Zadok Grimm - apparently, an ancient warrior from the time of King David (he had an unexplained connection to Baron Winters). The Baron himself did not participate in these missions and would often manipulate, sometimes unethically, the others into doing so for him. For reasons that were unrevealed, he could not leave Wintersgate Manor, the labyrinthine mansion in Washington, D.C., where he lived. The mansion was located in a special juncture of time and space, which allowed him to send his team to different places and times.

Deliberately affecting a blunt demeanor, the Baron has sent some agents to their deaths and aroused a deep resentment in others who've been maimed as a consequence of their missions. The Baron's closest companion is the centuries-old Merlin, a leopard who possesses a degree of sentience unsuspected by most who encounter the big cat. Baron Winters and his outfit continued adventuring for 14 issues, the last original series issue was dated September, 1983.

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