There are at least four distinct versions of the character called Captain Midnight.
All were named Captain Jim “Red” Albright, and all got their code name during World War I from a general who had sent him on a suicide mission calling him Captain Midnight when, to everyone’s surprise, he survived it returning at the stroke of midnight.
After that the different versions of Capt. Midnight vary.
The Radio Captain Midnight
The original version of the character was the leader of the Secret Squadron, a paramilitary organization made up of ace pilots, both male and female, along with mechanics, and even a few scientists fighting sabotage and espionage during the period prior to the United States' entry into World War II.
Once World War II started the stories shifted to Europe, the Pacific and Asia and dealt mainly with Axis villains trying to steal the newest weapons and airplanes of the Allied Forces. After the war the Capt. and the Secret Squadron switched to fighting criminals.
Running from 1938 until 1949 Capt. Midnight was one of the most popular radio dramas in America with several million listeners, almost half of whom it is said were adults, and a large percentage members of the military, particularly the Army Air Corp.
The radio series, which had a fairly large cast of regular characters was also noted as having one of the most popular giveaways, the Captain Midnight Decoder.
As would be expected with such a popular character it was not long before he showed up in the comics.
The First Comic Book Capt. Midnight
Dell, the home of many newspaper comic strip characters, were also the first ones to produce a version of the Captain.
Cutting out most of the secondary characters for their 8 and 10 page stories in The Funnies they kept Midnight as an extremely competent pilot, but otherwise normal (for the comics) human being.
The Dell version only lasted for 7 issues of The Funnies, which became New Funnies and dropped all their heroes for Andy Panda and friends. While the good Captain flew over to
Fawcett’s Capt. Midnight
Instead of a mere 8 pages the Fawcett Captain Midnight was given a whole comic, as well as being introduced in issue # 1 by Captain Marvel himself. (perhaps they met in the officers club?)
The Fawcett Capt. Midnight however resembled the radio Midnight even less. With there being no Secret Squadron at all. And only one of the secondary character showed up at as comedy relief.
They also gave their Captain Midnight a bright red super-suit, the ability to fly without using a plane, and a huge roster of super-science gadgets.
The Fawcett series ran for over 5 years, by the end of which the idea of Captain Midnight as a pilot was all but forgotten as they turned him into a spaceman battling flying saucers, and weird aliens from Saturn, Mars and the other planets.
By the time the Fawcett series ended the radio series was also gone and Captain Midnight, at one time one of America’s most popular fiction heroes, soon flew from the public’s imagination.
Oh… and there was a television version of Captain Midnight for a short while as well, but this was after Fawcett’s and never showed up in the comics.
Captain Midnight Returns!
Not seen since the 50's Moonstone, which recently published a collection of Captain Midnight short stories, will be publishing a new Captain Midnight comic sometime in the summer of 2010.
Dark Horse Comics
Dark Horse took the reigns and has brought Captain Midnight into the 21st Century. Captain Midnight's supporting cast returns, but not in the same roles during World War II.