Wow, what a fun comic book. Night Stalker is the tale of a beautiful woman sent from Hell to kill demons in San Francisco. The creators bring us an intriguing heroine (and her best friend), her demon best friend, some nasty mystic baddies, and even a trip through time back to circa 1977 New York. There's plenty of action and adventure and a little bit of mystic craziness, amounting to a full 64 pages of cover-to-cover color comics at a bargain price of $2.99.
I honestly had way more fun reading this comic than I expected to have. Mystic horror superhero comics are kind of a dime a dozen these days, and it seems like this sort of "unknown hero in our midst" stories are a common motif for small press indy comics in particular. There's something about these sorts of characters that make them easy and intriguing for new creators — perhaps it's the fact that they can have these characters exist in a parallel fictional world to our real world, experiencing events that exist just outside of our reality while we continue living our quiet, happy lives. That setting hits kind of a sweet spot for lots of creators — it allows an artist to use as many references as they want while also being able to use their imagination at the same time.
This comic does use that trope, and it does that effectively. Of course there's nothing wrong with that. There's an extended scene on a San Francisco bus that cleverly blends reality, a mystic menace and a CSI-style special effect to expose a demon on the bus. David Miller really does help the reader feel like he's on that bus, experiencing the strangeness and horror of everything that happens around him, wondering just why this beautiful, statuesque black woman who looks like a refugee from the Matrix films wants to kill a wino. I got kind of caught up in that scene, and I liked the way it pays off both in a joke and in a story element that appears later in the story.
Another aspect of this story I enjoyed are the long silent sequences where writer Orlando Harding allows artist Miller to tell the story without extraneous captions of dialogue. There's a fun chase scene in the first half of this issue that works well because it's silent and intense — we can almost hear the musical score for the film rise as the events take place.
This is still an early comic for these creators, and their inexperience shows in places. Miller's anatomy is a bit awkward and his placement of characters in space is strange — why are the heroines completely alone when they eat at the Ghiradelli shop? And I really wanted the big scene of the issue, the events at Studio 54, to take much longer since it really was the most outlandishly silly scene in the comic. I wanted to be able to glory in obscure nostalgia, watch more goofy '70s folks disco dance and make fools of themselves, but the scene isn't either log or outlandish enough to be totally entertaining.
I also wish we'd had more about the background of these characters. There are allusions and small moments with the women in hell confronting their boss, who may or may not be the devil. But hopefully those details will come in future issues and we'll get to get more depth at that point.
For more Night Stalker, check out nightstalkercomic.com