In “Captain Midnight” #14, writer Joshua Williamson and artist Manuel Garcia deliver what appears to be a standard “hero fights for hostages” tale, but they throw a twist on the end and shoo predictability out the door. Nightshade, Nevada is taken hostage by the “technocriminal,” Tempus, who wants Midnight to surrender and divulge “all the secrets and inventions trapped inside his head.”
Tempus is a by-the-numbers bad guy, emphasizing the “bad,” and mixing in a healthy dose of unpredictable, just to keep the story churning. As by-the-numbers bad guys go, Tempus fits the mold, right down the expository monologue he dumps on his hostages. While Williamson most likely included that bit for the readers’ sake, it comes across as heavy-handed, even from a foe like Tempus who is quite confident he has found the best way to defeat his foe. The biggest foible in that plot, however, is that Midnight should have triggered the trap with his attack, at least it seems so, given the nature of the attack and the “unpredictability” of the trap.
The writer keeps Midnight on the righteous path, which leads to the hero setting himself up as a sacrificial lamb. This is nearly telegraphed from the outset of “Captain Midnight” #14, but the end result of Midnight’s move is surprising — both to the character and readers.
Manuel Garcia fills “Captain Midnight” #14 with serviceable art that unfortunately lacks sparkle and flash. Instead, Bit’s inks soak into the artwork, making the dark-toned story visually dark as well. It works for the confrontation between Midnight and Tempus, but it also aids in draining this comic of sparkle and flash. Garcia employs some nice camera angles, but it’s awkward in places, such as when Tempus stands under a streetlamp. That streetlamp is lost in the effort to make the shot more spectacular than dramatic and the final image requires some studying to decipher the components, which could easily be mistaken for an exotic weapon of some degree.
“Captain Midnight” #14 is unspectacular, but technically sound. Williamson and Garcia give readers plenty to digest, but stop short of making any of the characters dynamic or engaging. Tempus is propped up as a major league threat to Midnight and acts as such, but the rivalry just doesn’t feel deep, and the impact of Tempus’ actions lack scope. Some of this may be that the most important supporting characters in Captain Midnight’s cast are geographically removed from the event site, but part of it comes (once again) from the lack of sparkle and flash. This is a decent comic geared towards dedicated fans of Captain Midnight, but there’s very little here for those not already familiar.