by Ryan Rigley
“Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” may be the latest comic book series to hit the small screen, but it’s certainly not the first. Almost as old as comic books themselves, comic book TV series have become a mainstay of current popular culture. With a number of television shows based on both Marvel and DC comics, it’s hard to imagine a TV series based on any other comic book publishing company.
One might think that Malibu Comics’ “Night Man” didn’t fit the Marvel/DC bill when his TV series debuted in the late ’90s, but that was not the case! Marvel Comics acquired Malibu in 1994, and began crossing Night Man over with popular Marvel superheroes like Thor, Wolverine, and even Gambit. Surprisingly enough, Night Man even got his own TV series a year after his comic book was canceled!
Network: Broadcast Syndication
Broadcast Date: 1997 – 1999
Starring Malcolm McColm as Johnny Domino, a saxophonist turned supernatural superhero, “Night Man” is loosely based on a comic book created by Marvel Comics legend Steve Englehart. Airing in syndication from 1997 to 1999, this series sees Johnny transformed into Night Man after being struck by lightning in a freak cable car accident. This, in turn, grants Johnny the ability to telepathically sense evil and also renders sleep completely unnecessary.
In addition, Night Man sports a bulletproof full bodysuit that grants him the ability to fly, camouflage himself, and fire laser beams out of his left eye. Although Night Man is typically seen battling a new supervillain in each week’s episode, the main antagonist of the series is a tech-savy billionaire named Kieran Keyes who murders Johnny’s father in the season two premiere.
Still of the Night
After Night Man is infected with a mysterious virus, the nocturnal superhero must race the clock to find a cure while simultaneously defending the city from a monster from another dimension.
When Bay City is attacked by an evildoer named Chrome, Johnny discovers that the supervillain has received his special abilities via the same lightning bolt that granted him his superpowers.
It Came From Out of the Sky
An alien bounty hunter pays our planet a visit with the intentions of preventing an alien cult leader from brainwashing the youth of Bay City. In this episode, we get another hint as to the omnipotent nature of the mysterious lightning bolt that Johnny was struck with in the pilot episode.
Guest starring Glen Larson’s Manimal, Night Man is forced to join forces with a shapeshifting doctor and his daughter in an attempt to stop a time-traveling Jack the Ripper from murdering innocent people across time and space.
Book of the Dead
When an evil professor gets his hands on an ancient spell book, Night Man must stop him before he can unleash an ultimate evil upon our world.
Not entirely convinced that “Night Man” is worth a watch? Well then, check out this sultry clip of Johnny Domino transforming into Night Man and playing some sensual jazz music:
This is Comics On TV, the column that celebrates the classic comic book TV series that blazed the trail for modern day hits like “Arrow,” “The Walking Dead” and “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” If you have any favorite episodes of this week’s series, let us know in the comments below or hit us up on Twitter!