Jun 18, 2011

Who Watches the Nightwatch Part 1: Respawn

4thletter! is a great comics blog.  As a Venom aficionado, I've especially enjoyed Gavok's We Care a Lot feature, a series of articles which chronicles the character's "lethal protector" escapades through the '90s and beyond.  For the next little while, I'd like to shamelessly rip him off emulate him, and run a similar series about a character's obscure '90s adventures.  But here's the twist.  I'm not going to write the article about a character like Venom, who's been featured in movies, TV shows, and made into innumerable action figures.  That would be too easy.  Too enjoyable for both me and this blog's tens of readers.  Instead, I'm going to write about a character nobody likes.  A character that nobody ever liked.  Not even me - and I like Cardiac.

"Where's my mini-series?  Annex got one!  Annex!"
(Web of Spider-Man Annual #10, art by Mark Tenney and Keith Williams)
Stop me if you've heard this one; our hero gets betrayed and left for dead.  He lives again, only to be cursed with a bizarre costume (which includes a living cape) and powers; these powers come at a terrible price, and have a terrifying origin.  He tries to resume his old life, only to find the woman he loved has married and had a child with another man, and that the people who betrayed him are more powerful than ever.

You wish.
No, not that guy.  Well, kind of that guy.

"Michael Jai who?  Never heard of him."
(Web of Spider-Man #100, written by Terry Kavanagh, art by Derek Yaniger) 
Nightwatch!  Marvel's greatest new character find of 1993...by which I mean they found him in another company's comics.  Because come on, there's no getting around it, this guy is blatantly Spawn.

I will say this, though.  Alex Saviuk (who, even though he didn't draw his first appearance, is credited with co-creating the character with Terry Kavanagh, and thus presumably designed the costume) did a pretty nice job with the task he was given (that task being "draw Spawn, but different so Todd McFarlane doesn't sue us").  I like the mask, especially.

Okay, remember when I said that nobody ever liked Nightwatch?  That's a lie.  One person did - his creator, Terry Kavanagh.  After introducing him in Web of Spider-Man, in the run-up to that book's landmark (by which I mean foil-covered) 100th issue, he then featured him in the Maximum Carnage crossover, a series of backups in Web of Spider-Man, and then, somehow, possibly by acquiring compromising photographs of Danny Fingeroth, got him his own 12-issue miniseries.  By the time that wrapped up, Kavanagh was not long for the Spider-books, and that was the end of Nightwatch - except for one last appearance that we'll get to later.

So join me next time, as we explore Nightwatch's first appearances and origin (kind of) in Web of Spider-Man.

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