Midnighter #3
Written by Steve Orlando
Pencils by ACO
Inks by ACO and Hugo Petrus
Colors by Romulo Fajaroo Jr

Oh Midnighter, you psychotic, yet soft-hearted bastard… I know you’re completely insane, but I think I love you… Ok, ok, I’m kidding… Kind of…

No, seriously, I’m so glad I’ve been introduced to this character. In many ways, he broadens my comic book reading experience. I’m used to only reading books from the “big two,” so getting the chance to read this type of anti-hero is refreshing, and isn’t completely common for DC. Yeah there are characters like Deadshot and Deathstroke that are antiheroes to a degree, but there’s just something different about Midnighter. And before some wise guy chimes-in down in the comments section, it’s not that he’s gay. As a crime fighter, there is something fundamentally different about him.

This issue kicks off with Midnighter chasing down leads on what was stolen from the God Garden back in issue #1. For those of you that didn’t read that issue (Why haven’t you?), someone made their way onto the God Garden, attempted to kill the Gardener, and stole nearly all of the tech that was there. The same type of tech that gives Midnighter his specific abilities: foresight, enhanced strength, advanced healing, etc… Having it loose and in the wrong hands is definitely not a good situation. Typically, I feel like most writers would focus on driving this plot, and push for a high energy, thrilling chase to find out who stole the tech and why. Orlando doesn’t. Thankfully, he has such a good grasp on Midnighter as a character that he’s taking his time.

Midnighter does things his way, on his time. Why? Because he can. He knows what’s going to happen, and how it will happen. To clarify, he’s not psychic, he’s just enhanced in a way that lets him work through a number of scenarios to assess how it will end. He doesn’t need to rush into action. He knows he’s going to catch this person within time, and when he does, he’s going to beat the (insert curse word of choice) out of him. It’s a fine line of confidence and arrogance that Midnighter straddles. There is no extreme urgency. There is no uncertainty. There is just absolution. So like the previous issue, Orlando focuses on Midnighter as a character as much as he does on driving the plot – a writing balance that I tend to prefer – slowly adding more details of what was actually stolen, and the dangers they present.

Here, Midnighter is after a local thug who has managed to get his hands on some of the stolen tech, and is kidnapping children to use the tech on them to test the preventive qualities of aging. He follows various leads to track down the right guy, and once he does, all hell breaks loose. But Midnighter might be in for more than he bargained for. Literally. Multiplex ends up between him and his mission, and the numbers aren’t in Midnighter’s favor. But what does Midnighter do? He SMILES! He even adds a quip or two. And then he throws down… which ends up being incredibly violent, and ultimately led to an “oh $#!^” from me. I don’t want to give anything away, but the final page of the fight is definitely a statement.

One of the aspects that intrigues me the most about Midnighter though, is the extreme range in his character. More often than not, he’s foul mouthed and brutally vicious. And I like that. He’s the type that punches first, then asks questions later – but not in a brash, ignorant manner. And he does it because he takes joy in it. He actually enjoys crippling people who are morally inept… Which is somewhat interesting because a number of people could question Midnighter’s morals – something that isn’t lost on him. But past that, there’s an extremely caring guy beneath all of the anger and violence. I love that dichotomy. I find it fascinating.

This mission in particular was already personal for him. He had personal reasons for stopping these people, but it wasn’t enough. He needed to make it more personal… So he visited the home and the mother of a little girl who had been kidnapped, and it was one of my favorite moments that I’ve read in comics in a long time!

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But think about it… This is a guy that is used to dealing with planetary issues. He was a part of Stormwatch. He’s always been connected to the God Garden. Yet he chooses to be “grassroots.” Why? Because it fuels him. Enrages him. And I like that. It honestly reminds me of me. Do whatever you want to me. I can take it. But if you do something to harm an innocent person, we’re going to have serious problems… and some people in this book do, in fact, end up having serious problems.

On top of all of this you have Midnighter’s personal life. I’d call it Lucas Trent’s life, but Lucas Trent doesn’t really exist. He’s just Midnighter. Unlike Batman/ Bruce Wayne, there isn’t an active need to live two different lives. Midnighter is Midnighter, even when he’s Lucas Trent. There is no difference. It’s an intriguing thing to watch his friends relate to him outside of his costume, as Midnighter, or “M” as they call him. But it helps identify a desire that he has. In every aspect of his life, he is Midnighter. There is nothing else. Yes, he has friends, and he goes to bars and clubs, but he’s still Midnighter. So far, he hasn’t fully connected with anyone outside of that. He enjoys them. He likes them. But he’s ultimately living in a world that he doesn’t connect with. I love this theme because many people – not just the gay community – live with this feeling every day of their life.

Oh… and I forgot to mention, some fan favorite characters show up at the end!

Be warned, there are spoilers below.

The Art: Thank God ACO is back! The art last month was a little below par for me, so I was extremely excited to see ACO return to art duties. For me, he’s put a distinct, yet subtle signature to his work that helps give this book a “voice.” I love his multi-panel spreads. Yes, they can be a little disjointing at first, but it’s a great representation of how Midnighter processes events, and is a great tool to progress the narrative.

He also draws brutality very well. There are times when reading a comic that I don’t feel the energy of the fight scenes. ACO doesn’t have that problem. You see some of his panels and you want to wince because it’s that graphic. This might be vulgar for some people, but in a book that is this violent, I think it fits like a glove.

If I have one complaint (ok… two), it’s how he draws teeth. I don’t like people’s teeth in his art… it kind of grosses me out and looks awkward. The second thing actually concerns me quite a bit… I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a rendering of Dick Grayson that looked so unattractive…

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

Spoiler

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The Good: Most of this book is great, so if you want details, just look at everything above. But to go into detail about some of that… seeing Midnighter standing over all of the mutilated bodies of Multiplex was badass! Disturbing, but badass. And how can you not smile when watching the interaction between Midnighter and the little girl. I like this guy.

We’re also already starting to see payoff for character development that Orlando has put into place. I liked how he kept the relationship with Marina going by referencing the “phone call” he had with her at the end of issue #2. It’s a great way to progress the plot without drawing too much of a focus.

The Bad: There were times in this issue where the dialogue felt a little awkward to me. I wasn’t sure if Orlando was trying to give the characters more of a distinct voice, but there seemed to be a lot of fragmented sentences. It wasn’t too distracting, but it did catch me every now and then.

Also, I’m not crazy about Midnighter’s new interest. I don’t trust him. He’s too cool with everything too easily. I don’t care who you are, or how accepting you are, there’s no way you’d be this ok with everything this fast.
Recommended If:

  • You’re a fan of Midnighter prior to DC.
  • You need a trash-talking, ruthlessly violent anti-hero in your life.
  • You want to know what Batman would be like if he lost it and started killing his enemies.

Overall: Mirroring real life with many of its themes, Midnighter balances brutal violence with extreme heart to create one of the best books in comics today!

SCORE: 8.5/10