We have reached the end… Midnighter’s run comes to a close with this issue, and it genuinely makes me sad. When this title was announced, my knowledge of Midnighter was strictly compiled from his appearances in Grayson. Andrew pitched the book my way to review, and I was honestly hesitant. I didn’t dislike M as a character, but I wasn’t blown away by him, mainly because I didn’t understand him. So to prepare myself, I started reading The Authority and previous runs of Midnighter, and that’s where I found my appreciation for the character.
As the release of the first issue moved closer, I found myself growing concerned that DC was going to completely water the character down, and in some ways castrate Midnighter of all of his badassery… Yes, that is a technical term. Thankfully, Orlando’s book debuted, and it was good. Really good. The tone felt right, Midnighter’s voice felt true to his previous interpretations, and I found myself slowly becoming more invested in this title with each passing month.
But considering where we are in the narrative at the moment, I feared this issue would fall short of the standard I’ve come to expect from Orlando and ACO. That’s not a discredit to this team, it’s just that there’s so much ground to cover within a mere twenty pages or so. I knew that if everything was going to get wrapped up properly, we would have to end the current battle, find closure with Amanda Waller and the Suicide Squad, part ways Helena Bertinelli, Marina, and Spyral, and deal with the relationship between Midnighter and Apollo… Oh, and then there are all of those civilians as well, but honestly, the only one I care to see is the bar tender. As I said, it’s A LOT, and quite frankly too much narrative to cover justly within one issue
The question now, is whether or not I’d be right with my predictions. I mean, for all I know, DC has some secret plans to continue Midnighter’s story in another title as a supporting character. Given his push in recent issues of Batman & Robin Eternal and his continued involvement in Grayson, I think it’s fair to say he’s built a foundation in the universe, and that this possibility isn’t too farfetched. Then again, maybe that’s just me hoping that ends up being the case.
Regardless, I get my books for this week, and read this issue first (of course). And in many ways, my predictions are correct. Everything in this issue feels rushed – which I had prepared myself for – but what caught me off guard was the dialogue itself. Orlando has consistently provided sharp wit, and a natural voice for his characters throughout the entire run, but this issue felt forced and heavy handed in some areas. There were times when Midnighter’s digs didn’t really have the impact they usually have, and to make matters worse, Orlando appeared to go on and on in those instances. Verbal punches were being thrown right and left, but they weren’t landing as hard as they usually do.
The same could be said about the relationships here as well. Between, Apollo, Helena, and Waller, Orlando had an amazing opportunity to throw down some great dialogue… but nearly all of the conversations felt less natural. It honestly came across as some cheap, less talented, writer was trying to imitate Orlando’s style, but fell short. Maybe it was because this issue needed to cram so much in. Maybe it was because the team had made peace with this project coming to an end, and needed to focus more on their new projects… I can’t say for certain, but the typical “zing” isn’t as strong here.
That being said, you still get some key elements that we’ve come to expect with this title. ACO’s stylized art continues to give this book its own identity, and Midnight does get a “creative kill” despite sharing action sequences with a slew of other characters: Apollo, Helena, Waller, Deadshot, Harley, etc. And when Midnighter’s quips do land, they are good. I personally love when Midnighter tries to be “cute.” Not because he’s actually trying to be cute, it’s just that his form of playfully teasing or flirting is actually him being an asshole. He just happens to think it’s cute, as he follows each line with a smirk. Unfortunately, none of the good moments really had the chance to sink in, because the book quickly shifts to the next point.
The best way I can describe this issue, is to say that it feels like a checklist of moments, that are then executed as basic and brief as possible. It’s almost as if someone said, “Ok, here’s everything we need to cover. Touch on it to make the point, then move on.” Naratively, everything that happens is essentially what you want to see happen, but it really should have occurred over the course of, at least, two issues instead of one. I know it wouldn’t have wrapped up as nicely from an issue count, and I realize that DC’s priority is Rebirth, but I really wish they would have given Midnighter a 13 issue run. If Orlando and ACO would’ve had one full issue to wrap up this arc, and another full issue to close out the book, the end result would’ve been increasingly better.
But alas, that didn’t happen, and the creative team’s odds were stacked against them with only one issue, so I don’t blame them for the short comings found here. I view this issue much like I viewed Valentine’s final issue of Catwoman. If you’ve been reading this title, it’s a must-read, simply for the sake of closure. But ultimately, this is a slight let-down compared to the trend of Midnighter. I wouldn’t consider anything about the script or story terrible, but it’s definitely not the greatness we’ve come to expect.
The Art: ACO continues to impress me, but I feel like you HAVE to read this book with a guided view (if you read digitally). For me, the reading experience changes drastically when you do. In my opinion, it drastically changes the way the story reads, and without, I typically find myself wondering where I should focus. Some might consider that a negative since this is a comic book, and there are traditionalists that refuse to read digitally. I don’t count this against him because I get the impression that he designs his comics to be read this way.
The layouts are so interesting, and he manages to pack in so much detail, that when you use a tool like the guided view, each panel plays out beautifully. Orlando’s script then looks and feels elevated, and the book plays out like watching a film. And the best part, all of those shocking and surprising moments, remain a shock and a surprise. Nothing is ruined by turning the page and having a critical moment revealed prematurely.
So I’m giving accolades of praise to ACO for his run on this book. It’s hard to create a distinct style that gives a book a particular voice, but he managed to do so. Unfortunately, he shares credits with Petrus in this issue, and I’m less fond of him… His work just doesn’t have the finesse or vision that ACO’s does.
Breakdowns can be found in the spoiler tag.
The Good: Nothing beats the originals. I thought this was great for one specific reason. When DC acquired the rights to Midnighter and Apollo, there was apparently a discussion about them not fitting because they didn’t stand out from Superman and Batman, and that there wasn’t much of a point of having two of the same characters. In a nutshell, they weren’t the original sun warrior or dark vigilante. I can’t help but think that this is Orlando’s way of saying Midnighter and Apollo (mainly Midnighter) have proven that they can stand on their own two feet, and as characters are original.
Midnighter is still a badass. With everything that happens in this issue, we still get glorious moments like a man’s head exploding!
Are you flirting? I’ve grown to be a huge fan of Midnighter as a character, and a lot of it has to do with is sense of humor. Let’s face it, the guy is a prick, but I constantly find myself smirking at his one-liners. During Orlando’s run, most of these moments stemmed from fights, so it’s nice to see Midnighter’s version of flirting.
The God Garden. I’m disappointed the narrative never managed to fully explore Midnighter’s history and civilian life, but Orlando did an amazing job with bringing M’s relationship with the Gardner to a close. This is the one relationship that actually felt fully realized overall, and it’s only fitting that this book end where it started.
Helena. First off, I’m a huge fan of Bertinelli/ Huntress, so I’m going to be a little biased. But what really excites me here, is that Midnighter is completely set-up as a potential support for Helena as we move into Rebirth… Please let that happen somewhere down the road!
The Bad: Waller and Bendix. This is probably one of my least favorite moments in this issue. It’s been clear for a while now that Bendix has been serving his own agenda, so I don’t know why Waller thought anything else would happen. I just didn’t buy it. And based on how this confrontation ended, it almost feels like Bendix will pop up as a threat against Waller in Rebirth.
Multiplex. Look, I love watching Midnighter pummel Multiplex, and Orlando kind of made it the gag of this run, but I could’ve done without him popping up here. There are enough soldiers as it is, I didn’t need this element. Use those pages to focus on what’s already in play.
Midnighter’s quips. Some of his insults fell short here… It’s like he didn’t have his Wheaties. And then they just went on and on… In the picture below, the insult keeps going, but it isn’t a good insult… This just sounds technical, and that’s not cool… or fun… or intimidating. Stick to the quick one-liners.
The civilians. I can’t keep up with these people, and quite frankly, I didn’t care to. The ONLY civilian relationship that I found interesting was the one M had with the bartender. There was no infatuation from either end, they were just friends and I wish we could’ve seen more of that.
Midnighter and Apollo – Together again. Ok, this is a tricky one. I’m actually extremely happy to see these two together again, so in that respect, this is good. However, I thought the dialogue between the two was less than stellar, especially considering how good their conversation was in the previous issue.
- You think Midnighter kicks ass!
- You’ve been waiting to see Midnighter and Apollo in action together.
Overall: Midnighter attempts to manage some nice moments, but this issue ends up being a “set‘em up, and knock’em down” narrative as Orlando and ACO try to resolve all of their loose ends in one issue. There are some shortcomings here, but there’s also enough good to satisfy fans of the run, as well. Ultimately, I’m hoping to see Midnighter pop up in other books, even if it’s as a supporting character. He deserves that much, at least.
SCORE: 7.0/ 10