Thursday, 17 December 2009

Where brooding darkness spreads its jealous wings...

Just a quickie blog, today...

A couple of months ago I was doing a few Marvel UK searches online, and came across the work of Jonathan Wyke. He posts over at DeviantART as drdestiny. The image itself really grabbed my attention, and took me back to a much forgotten character I have thus far kind of neglected on this blog.

Night Raven.

I've not posted the image in full.

But You can find it Here.

I think that Jonathan has really captured the essence of the character.

Night Raven was created by Dez Skin, Richard Burton and David Lloyd, and went on to appear in many strips and later prose stories in a the pages of Marvel UK's Hulk Comic, The Daredevils and Savage Sword of Conan. Steve Parkhouse wrote the early stories, with David Lloyd and John Bolton on art. Later prose stories were written by Alan Moore and Jamie Delano.

Night Raven is really the unsung Pulp Hero of Marvel UK. Initially set in the 1930s the character's story went right to the other end of the 20th Century, via a stay in suspended animation. It was a pulp detective story of the very finest kind, and was even revived during the Imprint Years, through a Marvel UK graphic novel "Night Raven: House of Card" by Jamie Delano and David Lloyd.

Sadly we've not truly seen Night Raven in quite some time. He had a supporting role in a mini series in the mid 90s graphic novel Fury/Black Widdow: Death Duty, but since then his only glimpse in continuity has been in a splash page of Allied heroes invading Berlin, in JMS and Chris Weston's (Yet to be concluded) The Twelve (Click to Enlarge)

There on the left. An appearance which actually doesn't fit with continuity. Night Raven was supposed to be frozen in suspended animation that year...

Still, I suppose it's better than being forgotten.

There were two collections of Night Raven stories collected, both now out of print. Although the prose stories were not. I actually asked some of the guys from Panini about Night Raven. They had said they had considered trying to do a collection, but the issue of creator ownership was preventing it from happening at that point. A similar issue exists with The Special Executive's appearances in Doctor Who magazine. Alan Moore kinda owns them. While a fair number of Doctor Who strips have been collected in paperback form their appearances have not been collected in trade for that reason.

Although at least in Night Raven's case it does seem that new material is possible, if somebody wanted to use him. Who knows. Maybe some day.

Great work, Mr Wyke. I love what you've done there, and I'm glad to see that Night Raven has not been forgotten.


  1. Oh god, this character is screaming for a revival, isn't he?

  2. Absolutely. Noir is timeless. But I could see this guy fitting in pretty well for a guest appearance in Secret Warriors or similar.

    He already knows Fury.

  3. If he were modernized though, there would be the obvious risk of cliche. The House Of Ideas is already doing some noir-spin minis for some of their properties. Why not a pulpy hard-boiled tale involving characters who are already in that appropriate period?

  4. The Nick Fury/Black Widdow mini brought him forward into the present. But, apart from those years frozen, the world's your oyster for Night Raven. He's the kind of character whose past within the history of the Marvel Universe could easily be woven further, with a little time and research.

    A modern revamp though, would be counter-productive. It's already been tried once in the form of a limited series called 'Nocturne,'by Dan Abnett,where a newcomer took on Night Raven's legacy. It didn't work quite so well. Nothing specifically wrong with it, but it didn't mesh with established history.

    It has since been established that this story was set outside of regular Marvel continuity.

    Night Raven is the kind of guy who shouldn't change, to me. He's part detective, part spy. Of the 1930s, but in a timeless way. He should kind of stick out, but he should also manage to hide himself well, and escape in spectacular ways.

    I'd love to see him interact with some of The Twelve, presuming that series ever finishes and that some of the cast survive. They are kind of heroes from the same age. Night Raven having been shown in that page above shows that some of the cast encountered somebody wearing his likeness, even if it wasn't actually him.

  5. Peter David could do something interesting with him - he could out-noir Madrox.

  6. I would LOVE to see a complete collection of the text stories - surely this must be possible , we eventually saw a collection of the Jaspers Warp series after intial resistance from some of the creators - so please?

  7. Hate to correct your Sword, but he wasn't actually frozen at any point. He doesn't age and he's undying (heals any injury, though not without scars or pain), and he was an amnesiac down-and-out during from 1941 into the 1950s, which is why he couldn't be present in costume during the invasion of Berlin in 1945.

  8. Hi Loki,

    Cheers for dropping by.

    And yes. I think you're right. I'm not 100% certain where the idea of suspended animation came from. Possibly my fevered brain and the introduction of The Twelve to it.

    Night Raven is a character of who I am missing several chunks of continuity, for. And while a fair chunk of it HAS been collected during the 90s it was from a complete article.

    A shame that all parties can't be persuaded to do a more complete collection, really.

    And I've been hunting for a copy of Fury/Black Widdow: Death Duty for years.

  9. Night Raven, brings back a lot of memories, the good ol' days of black n' white british comics.
    I then remembered a comic strip called 'Nocturne', which ran for 4 issues, and featured a character based around Night Raven. Gray Poldark discovers that the 30s pulp hero Night Raven actually has a hideout with a costume in it. He dons the suit and becomes the crimefighter known as Nocturne.
    It was a really good storyline, but like all things Marvel, if it's not mainstream it ends up as history, 1995 history to be precise.

  10. Nocturne was actually a pretty good little series. It was another Dan Abnett project which, yes, sadly was not set in mainstream Marvel continuity. A shame in some ways, because the design of Nocturne was kinda cool.

    Although the other part of me was glad, because it would have meant an end to Night Raven if it had been set in 616 continuity. At least he is still free to be used. Even if Marvel don't seem to be interested in using him right now.

  11. Thanks for posting my take on this old favorite. I'd love to see Marvel pick him up again, but no updating! I loved his 1930s setting - it seemed to lend a civilsed air to the often extreme brutality of his world.