Once upon a time, masked aviators were all the rage in comic books. And if Dark Horse has its way, they will be again.
Revealed this week in its October solicitations, Golden Age hero Skyman will reappear in "Captain Midnight" #4 by Joshua Williamson with new artist Eduardo Francisco. Created by Gardner Fox and Ogden Whitney in 1940's "Big Shot Comics" #1, Skyman was the anchor for small Golden Age publisher Columbia Comics, appearing in over 100 issues during his original run.
And while many modern day fans may be unaware of the character's pedigree, the Dark Horse's creators are eyeing the hero for a reintroduction that puts his role in context. "My knowledge of pulp characters is vast!" laughed Williamson of his own background with the character. "I’d see Skyman in a few other comics over the years, and thought he was a fun character. A bit cheesy at times, but cool. I wasn’t sure how he’d fit in, and then [Dark Horse Publisher] Mike Richardson came up with a twist on his character. A way to introduce him to our world. A new take that got me really excited to use Skyman."
Editor Jim Gibbons revealed that the caped hero will serve as a foil to the time-lost Captain as he continues to find his place in the 21st Century. "In issues #4 and 5, we delve into how Skyman is very directly related to Captain Midnight," he said. "It's fun juxtaposing Cap against a similar yet totally opposing force and seeing how they go head-to-head. It develops both characters nicely, and there's also a lot of flying and punching and explosions."
"I’m a sucker for the 'negative man' concept, and enjoy showing two sides of the same coin," Williamson added. "With Skyman we got to do that. Captain Midnight and Skyman are at odds, but you know the saying, 'You only hate what you see in yourself?' Midnight still has this black and white view of the world, and Skyman takes that same idea to a new level of obsession."
While they were published by different companies in their original run, the two classic heroes do have a historical connection Dark Horse looks to exploit in their own way. "At a certain point, Mike Richardson wanted to bring in Skyman because the original Skyman character was put out there by Columbia Comics because Captain Midnight was so popular. He was basically the Shazam to Captain Midnight's Superman," Gibbons explained. "Mike loved that idea for our universe. At first, I was thinking, 'Mike, he's kind of the same guy!' But as I thought about it with Josh, we started to realize that he wasn't the same, and it became a fun story idea that was a through the looking glass/man in the mirror thing. Here's a guy who could come from the same circumstances, but because he's so different, you see through Skyman who Captain Midnight really is."
Williamson used that idea as fuel for the two characters relationships. "Skyman’s appearance as a Captain Midnight…homage…allowed us to go deeper with certain concepts we explored with Midnight and couldn’t do," he said, adding that the new character will be "a bit more…cynical. Meaning Skyman has a few lines that we could never get away with having Midnight say.
"With Skyman, we did the same thing we did with Captain Midnight. We took a look at that continuity and tried to see how we could twist it after tossing it into modern day. It’s one of the more exciting aspects of the new Captain Midnight series: How do these old ideas work today?"
"With Captain Midnight, the fun aspect of it is that there is a lot of old, weird stuff we can go back and grab," Gibbons agreed. "It's always been one of my favorite things when reading a superhero comic when you see a writer use some crazy idea and go, 'Oh wait, that's actually based on something another writer did in the '70s.' I think Skyman has some of those ideas. These characters are a blank slate to many, so the challenge for Josh is how to make him fun."
Skyman debuts in October's "Captain Midnight" #4. Stay tuned for more Dark Horse news from Comic-Con International in San Diego.