NIGHT FORCEMedium: Comic books
Published by: DC Comics
First Appeared: 1982
Creators: Marv Wolfman (writer) and Gene Colan (artist)
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In the 1970s, the team of Marv Wolfman, writer, and Gene Colan, artist, achieved both critical and commercial success for Marvel Comics with their work on Marvel's Tomb of Dracula. Not long after their
run on that title ended, they tried another collaboration in the horror genre for Marvel's chief rival, DC. Night Force was introduced by DC as a 16-page insert in New Teen Titans #21 (July, 1982), and moved out into its own title the following month.
This time, Wolfman (whose other credits include Nova and the original Teen Titans) and Colan (Daredevil, Sub-Mariner) opted for a completely new set of characters, rather than adapt and add to a classic. The main one in the new series was Baron Winters, cold and aloof, who lives in an old mansion whose front door opens into the Georgetown section of Washington, DC, and (probably in defiance of zoning regulations) who keeps a pet leopard named Merlin.
The mansion's back doors open into whatever time and place the baron pleases, offering great scope for adventure. Nonetheless, he seldom ventures outside, preferring to send his Night Force out to do whatever hands-on work he deems necessary. This group is hazy and loosely defined, consisting of whoever the baron chooses to perform a particular mission, usually, but not always, chosen from a group of regular associates. They include scientists, psychics, petty crooks and a wide variety of other human types. The missions themselves are chosen by various criteria — sometimes the baron is motivated by curiosity, sometimes by a desire to vanquish evil, sometimes by payment of a fee.
Baron Winters and his outfit continued adventuring only 14 issues, the last dated September, 1983. Just as it did with their contemporary, Captain Carrot & His Amazing Zoo Crew, DC promised further adventures in the form of mini-series and specials, but it wasn't until the next decade that they actually delivered one. That was a 12-issue series running December, 1996 through November, 1997.
After that, they went back to being background characters, turning up only as occasional guest stars. They aren't seen as often as The Phantom Stranger, The Demon and DC's other supernatural stars without ongoing series, but often enough to keep readers aware of their existence.