Around 25 years ago, a small California company named Malibu Comics shook up the industry, challenging giants like Marvel and DC. While they eventually lost the battle for supremacy, they did manage to squeeze into the archives of pop culture, primarily through a TV show called Night Man.
This series, which is now available to stream for free on Tubi, follows a superhero with insomnia and only lasted for two seasons, but in that time, it saw a slew of popular guest appearances, including Jerry Springer and Donald Trump.
Developed by Glen A. Larson, Night Man made his debut on the small screen, captivating audiences from 1997 to 1999 in a television series loosely based on the character from The Night Man comic book published by Malibu Comics.
Malibu’s creation of the Ultraverse introduced a host of unique superheroes, disrupting the status quo and giving Marvel and DC a run for their money. Malibu’s innovative digital printing technique and character-driven stories garnered attention, leading to success in various media, from video games to Saturday morning cartoons. The company grew to the point that a syndicated television show was produced featuring Night Man, a hero with insomnia-induced powers.
However, the mid-’90s comic industry crash led to Malibu’s downfall, and Marvel eventually acquired the company in 1994. Despite a revival attempt, the Ultraverse couldn’t survive within Marvel, and many of the heroes created by the small Californian company were forgotten. At least, until streaming was invented, and now Night Man is available to binge by a brand new generation of comic book lovers.
Between Marvel and DC alone, there are hundreds of superheroes that have pretty much claimed all the extra extraordinary powers and abilities. This means that new comic book companies have to think outside of the box and somehow create extraordinary characters with powers rooted in the mundane. Among these unique characters stands Night Man, a hero whose power is insomnia.
He loses the ability to sleep, a condition known as insomnia, but gains an extraordinary power — the ability to telepathically recognize evil.
Developed by Glen A. Larson, Night Man made his debut on the small screen, captivating audiences from 1997 to 1999 in a television series loosely based on the character from The Night Man comic book published by Malibu Comics. Created by Steve Englehart, who also contributed to the TV series, Night Man offered a fresh take on the superhero genre with its intriguing premise and remarkable cast.
The central character of Night Man is Johnny Domino, portrayed by Matt McColm, a San Franciscan jazz musician whose life takes a dramatic turn in a freak accident. Struck by lightning while inside a cable car, Johnny emerges from the incident with a unique set of abilities.
He loses the ability to sleep, a condition known as insomnia, but gains an extraordinary power — the ability to telepathically recognize evil. This newfound power allows Johnny to “hear” evil thoughts and identify wrongdoers wherever he goes.
While Night Man lacks the traditional superhuman abilities commonly associated with superheroes, he compensates with an array of high-tech gadgets — kind of like Batman. Donning a special blue-caped bulletproof black bodysuit, Night Man gains several remarkable abilities, including flight, holographic camouflage-style invisibility, and advanced sight functions through the round red lens over the left eye of his mask.
The lens grants him the ability to see in the dark and fire a laser beam, making him a formidable force against evildoers.
Night Man‘s supporting cast included Earl Holliman, who portrays Frank Dominus, Johnny’s father and a former police detective. Derek Webster (Season 1) and Derwin Jordon (Season 2) portray Raleigh Jordan, Johnny’s friend and the developer of Night Man’s high-tech armor. Felecia M. Bell takes on the role of Jessica Rodgers, the owner of the House of Soul, the club where Johnny performs saxophone.
Night Man also features notable guest appearances, including surprising celebrity cameos featuring Little Richard, Jerry Springer, and Donald Trump, who made special appearances as themselves in “Whole Lotta Shakin’,” “House of Soul,” and “Face to Face,” respectively.
While Night Man lacks the traditional superhuman abilities commonly associated with superheroes, he compensates with an array of high-tech gadgets — kind of like Batman.
The Night Man series garnered a dedicated fanbase during its two-season run. While it may not have reached the same level of mainstream recognition as some other superhero shows of the time, it left a lasting impact on those who appreciated its unique premise and character-driven storytelling.
Night Man, the insomniac superhero of the Ultraverse, remains an intriguing and unconventional addition to the world of comic book adaptations. With its memorable characters, celebrity cameos, and unique premise, the television series offered a fresh take on the superhero genre.
While it may not have achieved the same level of recognition as some of its contemporaries, Night Man continues to hold a special place in the archives of comic book history, especially for those who appreciate its distinct blend of storytelling, superheroics, and suspense.