So, I bought and read Midnighter—all six issues. The first time a DC book ended up on my ComiXology since Batman #40, way back in April. Hard to believe it’s been that long but, hey, DC Comics was not for me. Long story short, the creative issues, the seeming lack of direction, whatever the hell Convergence was… it was too much and I needed out. Frankly, Marvel was just out performing them by leaps and bounds and between them and Valiant Entertainment, I didn’t need a convoluted, shared universe that really wasn’t working.
But along comes Midnighter. Created by the great Warren Ellis and Bryan Hitch in 1998 in the pages of Stormwatch, Midnighter, as a character, is explosive, passionate, violent and enjoys his job more than almost all of the other characters that come to mind. Steve Orlando (writer), ACO (pencils) and Romulo Fajardo Jr. (colors) have created something instantly special with this iteration of Midnighter in a way that hasn’t happened very often in the last several years.
Lots of people have been talking about this book; quietly at first, but the noise has begun to grow louder. It’s one of those things that has been hard to ignore, even if you’re not particularly interested in DC Comics’ overall product right now. For the recent sixth issue, our very own Ron Watson has called Midnighter “…comic book perfection.” and you know what? He’s right. Well, Midnighter is as close to perfect as you’re likely to get these days inside the Big Two, but that’s neither here nor there. The point is that this book is a book that demands to be read.
Without getting too political about it, because some people are just bananas about this kind of thing, yes, Midnighter, or M as he’s referred to, is gay. He is a gay superhero that will kick your teeth your of your ass just because he can, and he’ll enjoy it the entire time. The part of that sentence that you actually should be paying attention to is the latter half, because who fucking cares if he’s gay or straight or only likes green, female aliens. M has to be the proud owner of a brown, leather wallet that reads “Bad Mother Fucker” because that’s exactly what he is. Steve Orlando does a good job of not making the “gay superhero” thing, at least in my view, the focus on this book.. He’s not trying to sell you on the fact that he’s gay, or make headlines by writing a gay superhero. He’s writing a badass book with a superhero that just happens to be gay and in 2015 it’s a little tidbit of information that just shouldn’t make that much of a difference. So if that’s what’s been holding you back from picking this up, you fail at comics (and probably life).
Some of the scenes in Midnighter were shocking; not for the level of violence or level of giddiness from M, but simply because it was coming from a DC book. At times, it feels like it should have a MARVEL MAX decal on the cover, it’s that level of brutal. But it’s awesome. I wouldn’t say it’s violent just to be shocking or violent either, it seems to ride that fine line beautifully which really makes those moments of a good face crushing more enjoyable. I mean… memorable. Impactful. Shut up.
I love me some Stephen Mooney, and he did a great job during the little Grayson crossover, but for my money ACO needs to be the guy on this title on a more permanent basis. His panel style and just overall look and feel that started the series was stunning, beautiful and great. It felt like a step up for DC Comics in terms of art. It made the second issue absolutely jarring, because to have an artist miss out on only the second issue of a series is brutal. In fact, out of the six issues currently out as of writing this editorial, ACO has only done half of them. I don’t know if DC needs to give him more time, or it needs to take a break for a month to let him catch up or what, but that’s not a very good ratio for an artist on a series. You know what, even if we had Mooney fill in on one or two issues, then bring ACO back for four or five, it’s something that people should be able to live with. Mooney is a helluva talent and his two issues seemed to fit in better than the issue that Alec Morgan did.
Art is a big deal for me, and flip-flopping artists is the bane of my comic existence. I can’t stand it and it has, on more than one occasion, driven me off a book. Hopefully DC can get ACO back into a good groove and we can keep the art more consistent, otherwise it’s only going to hurt this book in the long run.
Artist issues aside, Midnighter is a safe bet to make it to everybody’s top of 2015 lists and it more than deserves to be there. I feel like it’s taking risks with some of the more brutal scenes. I feel like Orlando has written a book about an interesting superhero you can’t help but like and to me it feels like there’s still tons of things Orlando and crew can do with this character—i.e. let’s not end this series any time soon—well still keeping it interesting and in the upper echelons of DC with the likes of Batman proper.
At the end of the day, Midnighter is so good that I’ve already found myself wanting to go back and read previous versions and stories with this character–particularly from Ellis because, well, it’s Warren Ellis–and whether or not the older books measure up is irrelevant. What matters is that this creative team has made me want to read more books and what could be better than that?