Midnighter #2
Written by Steve Orlando
Art by Alec Morgan
Colors by Romulo Fajaroo Jr and Allen Passalaqua

It’s our second installment of my new favorite, trash-talking, badass, Midnighter! I’ve been reading a lot of this character lately to become more familiar with him, and it’s been an enjoyable experience so far. Last month we received the debut of a Midnighter series under DC, and it was a solid introduction! If you had any questions about who Midnighter is, what he’s like, or his thoughts on being called a “hero,” they were pretty much answered for you. And to make it even better, it contained one dramatic set-up for the book, as the Gardener was almost killed.

I was hoping this issue would pick-up where it left off because we were given such a good set-up – and it did to an extent – but I felt like there should’ve been something in-between the first issue and this issue. This issue kicks off by introducing us to Marina. It was clear before reading the issue that she’s going to play a large role in this book. For one, she’s on the cover. But beyond that, there was a tweet about how exciting it was to introduce her… well, I didn’t find it that exciting. It wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t great.

The first page is a five-panel spread that quickly (perhaps too quickly) gives us a rundown of who Marina is. And within those five panels, we learn that Marina has encountered tragedy, has a martial arts background, and has received some of the equipment that was stolen from the God Garden. I understand what Orlando was doing, but it ultimately felt rushed, and in my opinion, was a wasted opportunity. Months, maybe even a year or more, could’ve passed between the first panel and the fifth panel, and those character moments were essentially summed up in a page.

Regardless, it set her up, and jumped straight into Marina’s streak of vengeance with her new enhanced abilities – provided to her by the equipment stolen from the God Garden. And keeping with the trend, it’s another issue full of brutality. As brutal as the reality of these events are though, the art doesn’t manage to capture it with as much detail or creativity, preventing the issue from reaching its full potential. Midnighter learns of the incident, and quickly confronts Marina in hopes that it will lead him closer to whoever attacked the Gardner. As expected, the two fight, and we’re given another example of Midnighter crossing into that anti-hero territory. But sadly, there’s not nearly enough trash talking… Well, not as much as I would’ve liked anyway.

As entertaining as this book is, what makes it is the character himself. Midnighter/ Lucas is an interesting guy, and is incredibly intriguing in his own right. When operating as Midnighter, he’s a foul mouthed, punch first, ask questions later, cynical asshole – which is really fun and entertaining for those of us that don’t mind a little edge or grit in our comics. But Lucas -while maintaining a lot of consistencies in the two “identities,” – is a little more grounded, and open. It’s honestly hard not to like him. Yes, upon first glance he might seem a little shallow and arrogant, but you can’t completely fault him for that because he knows how things are going to turn out. But when you look deeper, you see more. I definitely wouldn’t call it a desperation, but he has a sense “yearning,” and it’s clear he’s just looking for a connection. Sometimes physical, and sometimes emotional, but not always a relationship. I don’t think he needs it (yet), but I think it balances him. It’s a good juxtaposition, and nice to see someone like Midnighter not get so hung up on secret identities, or the weight of being a vigilante. He just is. It’s who is. It’s what he does. And every day is just another day. I find that refreshing.

Be warned, there are spoilers below.

The Art: I touched on this briefly already, but I thought that the art took a major drop in quality this month. I know some people thought ACO’s art was cluttered – and I can understand why they would feel that way – but I loved it. I thought his work was solid, and helped give the book a sense of identity that felt unique to Midnighter. Unfortunately, Alec Morgan’s art didn’t come close… There were rare moments when it looked decent, but most of the time it just looked like a mess. To me, his art kind of reminded me of Georges Jeanty (and if you read my reviews of Batwoman, then you know I’m not a fan), but with a Frank Quitely-esque type of texture… just not as good. The characters were “blobby” at times, and the details almost felt nonexistent.

For comparison, look at a page of Al’s Masse by ACO, and then look at Morgan’s interpretation of the bar. Beyond that, look at the differences between Lucas and Tony. They’re almost unrecognizable in Morgan’s art. I didn’t even realize that was Tony in this issue until my second read through. I went from thinking, “I’d totally grab a beer at this bar.” to “That place probably smells like stale cigarettes and pee.”

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The bad thing, is that it was such a drastic difference that it actually distracted me from the narrative. The art didn’t aid the story like this book’s debut, it hindered it… and that’s a shame.

To see some of the internal art, check out the spoiler tag below.

Spoiler

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The Good:

Lucas/ Midnighter. Orlando’s writing is strong, and he has a good sense of the character. He’s able to intertwine yet separate the personalities of Lucas and Midnighter so well, that it really makes this book. I’m a character driven writer, and that’s also what I like to read. It’s not an easy job, but he’s proven more the capable so far.

Who is Lucas Trent? This “bombshell” was definitely an interesting twist. When I read the first issue of Midnighter, I hadn’t finished the New 52’s Stormwatch yet. Both Apollo and Midnighter were featured in that book, and they were a couple. Considering Midnighter has been single during his run on Grayson, and this title, I assumed the two would break up at the end of Stormwatch. That isn’t the case. So I wondered when and how they would address this issue. Well, in this issue, we learn that everything we know about Lucas Trent is fabricated, and always has been. And we learn this during a flashback that serves as the breakup between Midnighter and Apollo that – if you have any history with these characters – is pretty powerful.

Living in the gray. While I was disappointed with the introduction to Marina, I did enjoy the relationship that she and Midnighter had started building by the end of the issue. It was not only a realistic progression for Marina, but it was also her most-realized moment within the issue. It’s also a testament to Midnighter’s character. Unlike other heroes (even Batman), he lives in the gray. He understands that fine line that people can be pushed to, and he understands that humans sometimes cross that line. It doesn’t necessarily make them a bad person. It just means they made a bad decision.

The Bad: I already bashed on the art, and touched on my disappointment around Marina’s introduction, but there isn’t much else that’s bad. The art really impacted my enjoyment, mainly because I know what it could’ve been.

Recommended If:

  • You were a fan of The Authority or Stormwatch.
  • You’re curious to see some of the aftermath of what happened on the God Garden
  • You agree that Midnighter is awesome.

Overall: Midnighter dips in quality for its second issue, but it still a solid book with endless potential… potential that I can’t wait to see unfold over time.

SCORE: 7.0/10