By Steve Orlando, ACO, and Romulo Fajardo Jr.
This. Book. Is. Brilliant. Steve Orlando has taken a tertiary DC (well, Wildstorm) character and pushed him to the forefront of everything that is cool about comic books. This book throws violent action, emotional beats, funny moments, and sexiness right in your face. All of which is possible because of the gorgeous art (but more on that later) and superbly crisp, compelling dialogue.
Orlando seems to be at ease walking the high wire between ultra violence and completely tranquil scenes of domestication. He and ACO blend realities here, to utmost delight. When this book began back in June, Midnighter had several casual sexual encounters. And now just six issues later, he’s depicted doing that thing that most people do in a relationship . . . nesting. It’s something that most people experience in their life, gaining that level of comfort with a significant other quite quickly. But here, it creates this illusion of normalcy that has no place in superhero comics.
This sets up the guttural twist at the end of the book. Before we get there, Midnighter (or M as he’s affectionately known by his boyfriend Matt) meets Matt’s father. A huge step in any relationship, but this encounter is superbly used by Orlando for a crucial plot point. In the build up to this big moment, Orlando and ACO fill the pages with heart pounding action, including Midnighter’s always violent and almost comical, if such a thing can be, creative kills. This month’s include the use of a fork, a grill brush, a school bus and a butcher shop.
Orlando, ACO, and Fajardo all work together brilliantly to mix together scenes that are polar opposites, blending the hyper real and the serene.The art is tight and well-choreographed. The movements are crisp, clear, and realistic. Not only that, but they’re presented in such a way that you can almost feel the physicality of each character’s movements. ACO and Fajardo capture Midnighter in action, on a level of minute detail. We see these quick glances from M, showing us how he thinks in battle and how he gains his upper hand. It’s not just the action though; the moments of stillness carry an emotional weight and precision that are divine. This entire team achieves visual and narrative bliss.
When the creative team finally gets to that twist, that fateful moment, the surprise is overwhelming. It’s a twist that actually carries weight. M, who points out how whoever the villain is blinded him using stolen tech from the God Garden. In reality, Midnighter is blinded by the normalcy and nesting mentioned above. This narrative step is why the twist has such weight. Then, one page later, the reveal of just who is behind this comes from out of the blue. Not in a “it wasn’t earned” way, but in a “this is perfect storytelling” way.
Simply put, this is comic book perfection. Kudos to the entire creative team.