It's not that the review was a negative one that bugged me, but that his expectations of what the book was going to be were considerably different from what he got. I genuinely felt bad about that, and I didn't want anyone else to be caught off-guard by our "take" on the character, so I posted this over on the product page:
As the editor of the Captain Midnight Chronicles, and the author of the character "bible" that the contributing writers used in writing their stories, I would like to respond to the review written by Mr. Kallis, who was sorely disappointed that we did not provide him with the flight back to the days of the original Captain Midnight radio show - which he considers the "definitive" version of the character. The fact that our stories incorporated elements from later incarnations of the character seems deeply offensive to him, and I genuinely regret that. I understand his affection for the radio show; it was a classic.
But which radio show does he consider the "definitive" one, I wonder? The original Skelly Oil-sponsored series? Or the more well-known version of the program famously sponsored by Ovaltine? The two shows had some notable differences in the portrayal of the character and his supporting cast, after all.
The point I'm clumsily attempting to make is that for fans of any classic fictional character - especially one that has had as long and successful run as the dear Captain - the "definitive version" is usually the one a person is exposed to first. For some people, James Bond is Sean Connery, for others it's Daniel Craig. For me, it's the guy that Ian Fleming wrote about.
Whereas Mr. Kallis clearly first encountered the heroic aviator's adventures over the air, other fans first met the Captain in the comic book series published by Fawcett Comics in the early 1940's where he was portrayed as a scarlet-clad superhero who battled alien invaders like Yog from Saturn, or the 1942 Columbia movie serial starring Dave O'Brien. Many Captain Midnight fans - apparently a bit younger than our Mr. Kallis - know the character only from the early Fifties television series starring square-jawed Richard Webb, who piloted the sleek jet plane, the Silver Dart.
When we started the process of reviving this classic but long-dormant character, a great many creative and commercial choices needed to be made. If we stuck religiously to any one specific version of the character, we risked disappointing those who favored another. And as several decades had passed since the last time the Captain had taken flight in the public eye, we had to also acknowledge that a great many of today's readers had no idea whatsoever who Captain Midnight was. If we had decided to target, say, only the fans of the radio version (not a particularly large audience, these days, I'm afraid), it was unlikely that we would sell enough copies of the book to make the effort worthwhile. If bringing the character back was worth doing at all, we needed to at least try to make him appealing to as many readers as possible - young and old and in-between.
So, I tried to pick what I thought were the most interesting and unique elements of all of the character's various incarnations and created an amalgamated Captain Midnight. I listened to all the surviving radio episodes, read the comics, Big Little books and watched the serial and TV series. I consulted with several well-known Captain Midnight fans and started drinking Ovaltine. And, in the end, I put together a new version of the character that incorporated the best (I hope) elements of all his incarnations. It was suggested by several people that we simply update the character and bring him into the modern day, but being a fan of the Captain and his Secret Squadron myself, I rejected that idea outright. It may have been necessary to make some alterations to the concept to make it viable for contemporary audiences, but I didn't want us to lose the essence of the character.
I can't speak for every author who contributed to the book, but I wouldn't have spent - literally - the last five years of my life working on this volume if I didn't love and respect the character.
I'm posting this not solely to address Mr. Kallis' criticisms - he paid his money, and he's entitled to his opinion, after all - but to try and let other readers know exactly what the book contains, so that they can make their decisions about whether or not to buy the book based on what the book actually is, and not what their expectations might be. I am quite sincerely saddened that he could not enjoy our efforts, and would like to help make sure that no one else is taken by surprise by what we've done with the character.
The Captain Midnight Chronicles portrays a version of the classic aviation hero that, we hope, is recognizable to existing fans and also relevant for new, 21st Century readers who have never encountered him before. The stories are varied - some are gritty war stories, some are fantasies, some are two-fisted pulp adventures - but all of them feature a Captain Midnight of great personal strength, integrity, and idealism. He exists in a fictional universe where history is somewhat different from our own, a world where one man - and his Secret Squadron - can stand against the forces of global tyranny and injustice and keep the peace through the wise application of strength and intelligence.
I suppose one could say, "This isn't your grandfather's Captain Midnight!" - but I think he is. He dresses a little differently, his equipment, aircraft and relationships may be somewhat altered, but he's still a champion of peace and protector of freedom.
Those kinds of heroes are kinda hard to find these days... and we thought it was time to bring one back.