Sunday, April 15, 2012

Spring Vacation Reading, part 1: Night Raven

"Where brooding darkness spreads its evil wings
the Night Raven stings"

I've been off all week, with very little to do (exactly as I wanted it) so I devoted a fair amount of my free time to this little hobby in particular.  I got lucky in that some of the reading material I ordered by mail arrived early in the week.

The first of those is Night Raven: The Collected Stories.

This book came out in 1990.  I used to see it on the shelf all the time, wondering where this character came from and how he earned, for lack of a better term, a graphic novel.

Well, the literal answer is that he came from England.  He appeared in 3-page installments Marvel UK's Hulk Magazine.  This is a compilation of 20 such installments.

I thought it would be awkward to read in that format, but that is not the case at all.  The book contains seven chapters.  The first two are three pages each.  The other five vary in page count (in multiples of three, obviously), but even though they were originally told three pages at a time, the flow of the stories is still perfectly smooth.

Credit for that goes to British writer Steve Parkhouse.  The bulk of the art was handled by David Lloyd (including the cover painting) with John Bolton contributing his own considerable talents for chapter seven.

So...How is any of this Canadian?  From reading this book, you'd have no idea.  In fact, you'd have no idea who he is or why he does what he does.

He appeared on a Google search for Canadian comic book characters, which led me to this oustanding fan page, which in turn states "The man who would become known as Night Raven was born in southern Alberta, Canada in 1900."

I want to avoid reading too much about him from that page because I fully intend to get my hands on the other graphic novel, House of Cards.  Presumably his background is detailed in that book.  There have been Night Raven text stories written as well but that I know of, they have not been collected in one volume so acquiring them may prove to be tricky.

In 1995, Night Raven appeared as a supporting character in the Black Widow / Nick Fury graphic Novel called Death Duty, indicating that he is a part of the "mainstream" Marvel Universe.

A four issue mini-series called "Nocturne" came out later that same year involving this character but from what little I've been able to piece together without potentially spoiling it for myself, it seems like a re-write of the character that shows no indication of being a part of the Marvel Universe.

These books are very much worthwhile if you are a fan of characters like The Shadow, The Spider and/or The Green Hornet.  I wouldn't recommend Night Raven on a "Can-con" basis, and there's no real cause to assume that we'll be seeing new adventures from him any time soon, but I would definitely recommend him to anyone who enjoys good "noir" stories.

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