Shiny Shelf

Nightjar #1

By Mark Clapham on 07 April 2004

If you recall, the pitch for Moore and artist Bryan Talbot’s ‘Nightjar’ serial was reprinted in an issue of Avatar’s ‘Yuggoth Cultures and Other Growths’, along with the first, fully scripted episode. The response to this long-dead project was presumably good, as Avatar have pushed ahead with a full series by frequent Moore story adapter Antony Johnston and artist Max Fiumara. To avoid direct comparisons, and to allow the new series to stand on its own, issue #1 of this series doesn’t include the Moore/Talbot episode, instead recapping the premise in dialogue as Mirrigan Demdyke visits her mother, then some friends, while elsewhere her enemies mass against her.

In the twenty years since it was conceived, ‘Nightjar’ has gone from being a contemporary story to a period piece, and Johnston and Fiumara have done an excellent job of recreating the feel of old British black and white comics. This first issue ‘fits’ with Moore and Talbot’s work, and is a clear continuation of the single instalment they produced, without being a slavish imitation. Yes, there’s something of a ‘female John Constantine’ about Mirrigan, but ‘Nightjar’ is more than a ‘Hellblazer’ clone. Mirrigan’s magical world is a different, more hierarchical one than Constantine’s, and the settings are rural rather than John’s urban London haunts.

(Nonetheless, in spite of the differences between the two series, ‘Nightjar’ should make Johnston a shoe-in for the post of new ‘Hellblazer’ writer when Mike Carey decides to leave.)

This first issue does little more than expand upon the premise set out in Moore’s initial eight pages, but its an intriguing start to the series. While there will doubtless be many who will regret the absence of Moore and Talbot – and who can blame them? – Johnston and Fiumara are a good team in their own right, and there are worse places to start from than Moore’s work. Johnston’s writing yet again shows that he can adapt to virtually any genre, while Fiumara proves to be one of the few artists working for Avatar capable of drawing women as anything other than feverish male fantasies (a problem that has blighted ‘Frank Miller’s Robocop’).

With a premise from the finest writer in comics, and a solid creative team to expand upon it, ‘Nightjar’ has everything in its favour. One to pick up.

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By Mark Clapham

Mark Clapham is a Devon-based writer and editor. You can find out more about him at the egotistically named

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