Written by Steve Orlando
Art by David Messina
Colors by Romulo Fajardo Jr
Well… It kills me to say this… But this issue is disappointing…
Last month’s issue of Midnighter wrapped up the first arc rather quickly. Arguably too quickly. I do believe that closure is just temporary though, and that the “big bad” will be back sooner rather than later. Last month’s issue also set up our new arc, with Amanda Waller sending Deadshot to infiltrate Spyral, and steal a weapon that was previously property of the God Garden. I’m sure you can easily connect the dots as to where this is going, and I’m willing to bet that it excites you as much as it excites me!
Now imagine my disappointment when I open this issue, and realize that Orlando is setting up a completely different story. Yes, there are references and focuses during the first five pages that transition from the last arc, but then instead of jumping into this new conflict with Spyral and the Suicide Squad – which, again, was set up in Midnighter #7 – we get some random, one-and-done story with chimeras (animals that have been combined together as one animal). I promise you, I’m not joking…
Midnighter is contacted by one of his informants about a chimera causing havoc in Boston. When he travels there to stop the threat, he’s opposed by not only the chimera, but by Dominic Mndawe as well. “Who is Dominic Mndawe?” I’m glad you asked! He’s an African man that likes to wear a colorful, orange and yellow costume, and he can apparently combine animals together to create chimeras. He can also communicate with animals… It turns out that he’s also known as Freedom Beast, and has ties to Animal Man. Or he had them in previous continuity… I’m not sure if he still does currently, but he does mention The Red, so I would assume so.
Anyway, Mndawe is actually a good guy, and isn’t behind the chimeras that are attacking Boston. Which naturally leads to… You guessed it! Mndawe and M teamming up to solve this problem. I’m sure there are people who saw Freedom Beast and became really excited. I, on the other hand, had no clue who he was, so it did nothing for me… and considering the plot of this issue is average at best, this chapter turned out to be a stinker.
The narrative eventually does shift back to address the plot concerning Spyral and the Suicide Squad, but it’s literally just three pages of this book. At this point, this arc almost feels like a B plot for a supporting character… That’s not the best way to describe the first issue of a new arc. And to make it a little worse, there were some character moments that were attempted, but all of them fell flat and were unmotivated. The shame is that one of these moments should have had a much bigger impact, but Orlando threw it away…
The Art: David Messina covered art for this issue. If the art, or the name, looks familiar, its because Messina was the artist for the second arc of Genevieve Valentine’s Catwoman (which I’m still mourning…). At first, I welcomed Messina’s cleaner take on this title. The characters are more distinct, and the look and feel of the book is more polished… but as I continued to read, it just didn’t sit well with me. Midnighter isn’t a polished character, so the art appeared to conflict with the nature and tone that this book should have. Messina’s art took an edge and grit away that ACO’s art brings to the table. The creativity in layouts and spreads that ACO is known for is also missing. Messina attempted something similar, but it wasn’t effective. As much as I love Messina – and I do, I swear I’ve been a fan since his work on Angel – his work felt incredibly generic here…
Breakdowns for this issue can be found in the spoiler tag.
The Good: There were good moments here and there, but overall, these moments are plagued with negatives. Thankfully, Midnighter was still Midnighter, delivering cheeky lines like, “That was disgusting, even by my imaginative standards.” after watching two animals un-splice from one another. He also had a moment early on where he jokes that he has “a reputation as an exhibitionist… of sort” when being questioned for a documentary. He’s smartass remarks were the most redeeming thing about this issue, but even that was a little unmotivated.
Spyral. Ever the spies that they are, Helena assigns one of her agents to find a way to infiltrate M’s network of informants. With this informant in place, Helena is able to lure Midnighter into a compromise, gaining his assistance due to leverage.
The Bad: The issue. It almost felt as though someone other than Orlando wrote this, or that Orlando was forced to do write this plot… Something about it just felt unmotivated, and it carried through to the reading experience.
The plot. So… crazy creatures that were experimented on are being hunted by some evil people, so Midnighter teams up with another hero to stop the bad guys from harming innocents… Hmm… What does this sound like? Oh yeah! Midnighter #4 & #5… except this version is the reject version that isn’t relatable in comparison to M’s outing in Russia with Dick. It’s the same plot, but worse.
Midnighter is doing a documentary. Ok… We just finished an arc where Midnighter was screwed over, and nearly killed because he let someone he didn’t know that well get close to him… Now he’s sharing his secrets with other people he doesn’t know for a documentary… He went from being a badass that made some bad decisions from time to time, to being a dumbass. Let’s correct that Orlando!
Marina. Whoa, whoa, whoa! We’ve been building to Marina’s release since issue #2, and not only are we getting it really early considering she murdered people, but the moment was completely ruined so the creative team could suddenly revert back to arc that should’ve been the main plot of this issue… What was building up to be the best, and only “good” moment of this issue, literally ends abruptly with a, “Oh, sorry, gotta go!” type of reaction… And Marina is left standing in the parking lot of a prison. Seriously? This scene:
Should have ended much better than it did…
Spyral/ Suicide Squad. What we received in this issue is the same thing we received at the end of the last issue: set-up. Except it wasn’t additional information we received, it was strictly a regurgitation, followed by a confirmation that we already knew was going to happen: Midnighter is going to team up with Spyral to go against the Suicide Squad.
- You’re a fan of Freedom Beast.
- You want to see Midnighter restrain himself from killing for almost the entire issue.
- You’re looking for a “monster of the week” type of story.
Overall: Between the paint-by-numbers plot that was regurgitated from recent issues, the lack of motivation in the characters and script, and Messina’s super clean art, this issue feels like a neutered, watered down version of Midnighter. There was hardly any crass behavior we’ve come to know and expect from our favorite antihero. There’s no killing or maiming. No smart ass remarks… What happened? This is easily the worst issue of the run, and could easily be skipped if not for a critical moment for Marina’s arc, and meeting between Midnighter and Spyral during the last three pages.