The last time we saw Midnighter, he was trapped on a plane that was getting blown up by the Suicide Squad. Actually, I take that back. The last time we saw him was in the final issue of Batman & Robin Eternal, where he was beating the snot out of some junior Orphans. But yes, the last time we saw him in his own title, He was trapped on a plane, and Deadshot was having some “Fourth of July” type fun.
Everything that leads to this point, in some respects, ties back to the first issue of Midnighter. M, for a lack of better words, was created at the God Garden by the Gardener and a man named Bendix. Believed to be dead, Midnighter learns that Bendix is still alive after he partners with Helena Bertinelli and Spyral to retrieve the Perdition Pistol, from one of the Squad’s secret facility. If M thought that Waller having the pistol was bad on its own, the discovery that she is working with Bendix to create enhanced humans is ten times worse.
Midnighter’s search for Bendix brought him face to face with the Squad on a number of occasions, and each battle was tougher than he expected. On one occasion, he encountered one of Waller’s new, enhanced agents, Afterthought. Essentially the perfect foil to Midnighter, Afterthought’s enhancements trump Midnighter’s. Where M can process multiple different outcomes in a matter of seconds, Afterthought can predict people’s actions. I wasn’t a fan of this antagonist initially, because it was another enhanced person that served as M’s foil, and that formula was getting a little old. Regardless of my opinion, Afterthought beat the snot out of him.
Midnighter was captured by Waller and held captive, while Marina – now working for Spyral – worked with Helena to find him. In case you’ve forgotten though, M is a total badass and managed just fine on his own… until he finally came face to face with Bendix, Deadshot, Harley, and Parasite. The team managed to defeat him, and to ensure he wouldn’t continue to be a threat, Deadshot placed him on a plane, then detonated a bomb, killing him… Or so they would like us to think.
Coming into this issue, I knew Midnighter was going to be fine (it is his book afterall, and even though it’s ending, he still has a few issues left), but I wasn’t sure how. My initial thoughts were that we might learn the extent of his healing ability. I expected him to find a way to shield himself, be mistaken for dead, then come back with a vengeance with Apollo. Turns out, Apollo comes into the picture much sooner.
If you’ve been reading this title, then you may remember Midnighter leaving a picture of himself as a boy for Apollo after his battle with Prometheus. As it turns out, that picture is a distress beacon so Midnighter can reach Apollo. As the bomb is counting down, M sends a signal, and just like Superman, Apollo is there within seconds.
One of my biggest curiosities heading into this issue, was on how Orlando was going to portray Apollo. He’d barely been shown in Midnighter to date, and even when he was, the only dialogue he had was a flashback of the two breaking up. I loved the portrayal of these two in The Authority, but their debut in the “New 52” wasn’t nearly as good. You may not know this, but Midnighter appeared in the book Stormwatch with Apollo before he ever appeared in Grayson. To say that their chemistry in Stormwatch was lackluster would be an understatement… So for this installment, I was hoping Orlando would deliver some moments that are closer to the original material.
My hopes, thankfully, were granted. The first few pages of this issue “settle up” these two in a fantastic way. The last time they saw each other, they were breaking up. I’ve you’ve had breakups before, then I’m sure you can imagine the number of ways that this conversation could go. What I enjoyed though, was that there was no pettiness here. The approach was incredibly mature, and I loved every bit of it. If there’s one thing that’s certain, it’s that these two care for each other deeply. Seeing these two together felt right. It was almost as if Midnighter found himself again. If you’ve never read The Authority, I can’t guarantee that this will hit as strongly for you, but if you have, you should be quite happy.
And for those of you that are worried that this book is all sap, fear not! The action comes quickly, and it’s heavy. Waller and Bendix are putting their plan into motion, and that now includes taking out Midnighter and Spyral. Immediately, the Squad infiltrates Spyral headquarters, and we get to see the team in action. There’s some really interesting uses of the teleportation doors that mirrors the root idea of how they were used in Batman and Robin Eternal, but this time, they’re being operated by the “bad guys.” The issue and action continues to build on itself as Helena goes against Boomerang, and Midnighter comes face to face with Parasite and Afterthought yet again. As always, the fights are epic! Many times I’ve found myself reaching the climax of a book, and then feel disappointed when the plot ends up being completely anti-climactic. Orlando crafts his narrative in a way that you feel that energy building, and you’re just along for the ride. All of it leads to a great conclusion as Bendix puts his master plan in place, and I promise, it’s going to leave you desperately wanting the next issue!
The Art: ACO continues to create great layouts. As I’ve mentioned before, having so much crammed onto one page can be a little much for some people. I’ve personally gotten used to it, and on top of that, I believe ACO has improved on his craft by learning how to flex and soften these techniques for a better end result. I can’t help but feel that he manages to make most of each page better than most artists I’ve seen.
I will callout that his pencils did feel a little rushed. ACO always has rougher lines, but his work looked a little sloppier in some areas than what I’ve come to expect from him. He’s also sharing art duties on this book with Hugo Petrus – who I’m not that crazy about. The two have similar styles, and I do feel like Petrus has improved his craft as well, but overall he just falls short of what I’ve come to expect from this
Breakdowns can be found in the spoiler tag.
The Good: Apollo. I was a little excited to see Apollo, but I think the interpretation of these two during Stormwatch nulled my excitement a little. Honestly, I’m kind of glad that it did, because the moment I saw him in the narrative, and saw how he was handled, I immediately became excited for what was to come.
Damaged goods and a shining light. The relationship between these two is written really well, so kudos to Orlando! I mentioned this earlier, but the level that these two care for each other is extremely apparent, it’s raw, and it’s honest. At the beginning of this issue, the two characters have a bit of a heart to heart, and M opens up in a way that we’ve yet to really see. Before, it was almost as if he were open with people because he was in search of something. Here, he opens up because he had an epiphany that he’d always had that something. It’s relatable, and something that personally hit home with me in some ways.
These two also work well outside of the emotional aspect as well though. The depth that they know one another really enhances their teamwork in the field, and it’s fun to watch them in action! I’d honestly forgotten how good of a team they could be! Batman and Superman better watch out
The doors. As I mentioned, the doors are used really well here. In Batman and Robin Eternal, they were used in a fun way, and here, Bendix uses them in a very dangerous way. When he opens a door in Spyral sending a number of agents and equipment to their death in a volcano, I was pretty shocked. That’s some twisted stuff. I hadn’t completely taken Bendix seriously, but this made me realize that he’s more than just a mad scientist, he’s legitimately dangerous…
Midnighter is still a badass. I knew the Squad was going to attack Spyral, but I assumed that M was going to tag in Apollo to deal with Parasite and Afterthought… the only problem, Apollo was off saving Spyral agents from falling into a volcano! But Midnighter learns from his mistakes, and delivered another “Oh $#!&” moment.
[caption id="attachment_28457" align="aligncenter" width="768"] Shot through the heart, and you’re to blame! You give love a bad name![/caption]
He freaking impales Parasite… through the heart! He learned his lesson last time, and wasn’t going to risk toying around with the guy. Then Afterthought shows up, and yet again, Midnighter learned his lesson from their first encounter, and showed Afterthought how much of a joke he really is.
Bendix master plan. This dude is a “Grade ‘A’” psycho. While Waller wants to create enhanced soldiers, Bendix wants to create the ultimate enhanced person… someone that could take on Superman and the Justice League… and it looks as though he’s done it.
I know Waller is working with him at the moment, but I can’t help but feel that she (or Deadshot) have something up their sleeve. She’s too prideful to just be a puppet under Bendix, and he’s already referenced he would’ve killed her and the team, but they proved useful… You know that’s not going to sit well with her… at all. The next issue should be the big battle, and I can’t help but think it’s going to be epic! I’m expecting to see it turn into a three-way battle: Midnighter and Apollo (potentially with Spyral) vs Bendix vs Waller and the Suicide Squad.
The Bad: Afterthought. I really don’t like this character, so I was extremely happy when Midnighter beat the snot out of him… Sooooo happy!
- You’ve been missing Apollo.
- You want Midnighter to feel as though it will receive a proper close.
- Midnighter kicks ass per usual.
Overall: Midnighter and Apollo are together again, and holy crap is this issue a pleasure to read! Orlando continues to build this character and world, and in doing so, cements Midnighter’s place in the DC Universe… so it’s an utter shame this book is coming to a close! Hopefully people continue to catch on to how amazing this character is, and that he’ll quickly re-emerge in Rebirth.
SCORE: 8.5/ 10