Nightwings review
  • North American Publisher / ISBN: DC - 0-930289-06-4
  • Release date: 1985
  • UPC: 9780930289065
  • Contains adult content?: no
  • Does this pass the Bechdel test?: no
  • Positive minority portrayal?: no

During the 1980s DC attempted to free comics narrative from previous constraints of size and format as well as content. To this end, legendary editor Julie Schwartz called upon contacts from his early days as a literary agent to convince major names from the prose fantasy genre to allow their early classics to be adapted into a line of Science Fiction Graphic Novels. Among them Robert Silverberg, whose deeply moving, Hugo Award winning story of faded glories and mistimed love was first published in Galaxy Magazine in 1968. It was followed by two sequel novellas, Perris Way and To Jorslem which were promptly edited together to form the novel Nightwings. This refined, stoic interpretation is welcomingly traditional in its delivery, allowing the tale to creep into your hearts

In the far future Earth has aged into a somnolent, semi-feudalistic place of fantastic creatures and shabby glories. An old man from the Guild of Watchers is making his way to the fabled city of Roum, accompanied by an innocent gamin and a sardonic lizard-man outcast. Watchers scan the heavens using portable technology and inherent psychic sensitivity, seeking the earliest inklings of a predicted alien invasion: this one has wandered the entire world and used up his life doing so. Impoverished and frail he makes his way to the greatest city on Earth with the beautiful Avluela, a creature who can fly like a butterfly – but only in darkness when the fierce solar winds have subsided. The old fool loves and yearns for the alluring nymph as does Gormon, their other companion. This reptilian goliath from the shunned guild of sub-humans carries with him a dark secret.

Disillusioned and at his lowest ebb the Watcher wonders if this world might actually benefit from the invasion he has wasted his life searching for. When heartbroken and vengeful Gormon reveals his own secret the Watcher’s equipment finally sounds the alarms he has waited all his life to hear…

Adaptors Cary Bates and Gene Colan, ably assisted by painter/colourist Neal McPheeters, perfectly capture the debilitating aura of inescapable, inexorable loss and dissolution, but as always, any adaptation – no matter how well executed – is absolutely no substitute for experiencing a creator’s work the way it was originally intended, so read the story too. However, as this is a place to review graphic novels, be assured this works excessively well; moody, portentous and beautifully realised.