Midnighter #5
Written by Steve Orlando
Art by Stephen Mooney
Colors by Romulo Fajaroo Jr and Jeremy Cox

Midnighter and Dick are back together again, and this time, they’re holding hands! Well… kind of…

This issue continues Midnighter’s hunt for the man who stole equipment from the God Garden. Along the way, he picked up – or kidnapped if you want to be technical – his favorite super spy, Dick Grayson. Together, they’ve followed leads to Russia, where they found more God Garden tech, as well as a number of under privileged Russian citizens that are being experimented on with Martian DNA. The Martian DNA has been transforming its recipients into monsters similar to vampires, and other things that go bump in the night. After making quite a bit of headway, the two learn who actually is running this operation, which is where we pick up.

With a name and target ahead of him, Midnighter plans his attack on Akakyevich, and once he and Dick start their mission, it’s non-stop action. Surprisingly though, it’s not the plot, or even the action, that is driving this book for me. The hunt for who infiltrated the God Garden is interesting and holds my attention, but it’s not why I look forward to this book each month. Nor is the mystery around Midnighter’s true identity. Instead, it’s the characters. Midnighter is a captivating character that you just want to watch no matter what he’s doing. He’s charming. He’s funny. He’s an asshole. And he’s a top-notch, justice serving badass. Throw Dick into that mix, and it’s even better!

These two create the buddy cop partnership we’ve been waiting years for! I love Dick Grayson, and I love Midnighter, but there’s a magic that happens when the two are together that’s hard to beat. Concerning personalities, we know Dick is fun, sarcastic, accepting, and an all-around nice guy. We also know that Midnighter is essentially the opposite. But Midnighter can be quite the flirt, and tends to open up when he likes someone or is attracted to them, and that’s very evident here. He loves testing Dick’s limits, and Dick is a pretty comfortable guy, so he lets it happen. It’s fun to watch, but it also does a really nice job of establishing the trust these two have quickly grown to have with one another once these two enter the battlefield together… Especially when Midnighter handcuffs himself to Dick before starting this crazy mission.

As if hunting down the mastermind behind the God Garden heist and facing genetically modified monsters weren’t enough, these two are doing it handcuffed to one another. The risk is heightened. The thrill is amped up. And the skill and trust of these two are tested… except for Midnighter who already knows what’s going to happen… or does he?

Be warned, there are spoilers below.

The Art: Mooney took on art duties again, and much like last month, he presents a solid effort. While he isn’t as good as ACO, his style is very similar, so it makes for an easy transition. The lack of finesse in his art adds to the grittiness of the story, and works hand in hand with Orlando’s script to deliver every step of the way. If they’re going to insist on rotating ACO out each month, I hope they stick with Mooney.

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

Spoiler

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The Good: As mentioned previously, the best thing about this book are the characters. And considering the plot itself isn’t bad at all, that’s saying quite a bit! Particularly in this issue, the relationship between  Midnighter and Dick. Yes we get more of the fun, bromance elements, but we also get a better understanding of their respect and trust. Midnighter wouldn’t handcuff the two of them together – putting both of them at greater risk – if he didn’t know they would be fine. In the same respect, Dick wouldn’t let this continue if he didn’t have faith in Midnighter.

My favorite part of their relationship was at the end though. Dick thinks Midnighter is about to kill Akakyevich, so he stops in from doing so… or so he thinks. It eventually leads to a conversation between Dick and Midnighter where M states, “I know all about your adorable rules. You’re not me. Hell, I wouldn’t wish that on anyone. I don’t like your rules, but I respect you. So if we’re working, you can trust me to respect them. I am always in control of the situation.” It’s a nice moment, and sums up everything that you need to know about Midnighter and his character. Dick ultimately questions his control depending on the situation though.

Another aspect that I really liked about this issue was Midnighter’s plan. While reading I began to become perturbed by how careless Midnighter was just rushing into this situation. I know he always appears to be careless, but this time felt especially different due to the stakes and the fact that Akakyevich was loaded up with God Garden tech. But in the end, the joke was on me because every moment of what took place was planned by Midnighter: the initial attack, the destruction of the door inhibitor, and Dick stopping his killing blow. Every single moment played out as planned… but what will happen when Dick is right, and Midnighter doesn’t have everything under control?

I also enjoyed the reveal at the end that Akakyevich wasn’t the actual thief, and was just a buyer/ dealer. It keeps some mystery to drive the plot, but I really hope Orlando continues to build supporting characters for Midnighter. Dick won’t be around anymore, or even frequently enough to help draw people in, and Midnighter needs a little more than his bastardly charm if this book wants to succeed.

The Bad: There’s hardly any bad here. I did feel like the pacing of this issue was a little off, and there was a lot of action so the issue itself read pretty quickly. Other than that, my only comment is that I’m glad (I hope anyway) that we’re moving past this Martian DNA experiments/ monster of the week thing. I like my stories grounded, so vampires and werewolves kind of overdo it for me. Granted, the explanation of what these creatures really are, and how they came to be was incredibly well done!

Recommended If:

  • You enjoy when Dick and Midnighter team up.
  • You need a bit of a badass in your life.
  • You like monsters.

Overall: Orlando completely nails Midnighter, and like his character, proves that he has everything under control. Midnighter is exciting, dramatic, fun, and heartfelt, but with a side of doesn’t give a #&%*!

SCORE: 8.0/10