Title: Midnighter TP
Publisher: DC Comics
Writer: Steve Orlando
Artist: ACO, Stephen Mooney, Alec Morgan, Romulo Fajardo Jr.
Release Date: 17th Feb 2016
Aside from having the opportunity to preview and review comics, one of the best things about this ‘job’ is learning more about the medium from your peers and discovering series that might otherwise have slipped your notice. Midnighter is another shining example of this, the character’s recent reboot under the pen of Steve Orlando quickly becoming a favourite, and ending up on my ‘best of’ list for 2015.
His appearance in the pages of the highly enjoyable Grayson introduced a different dynamic with that particular character; someone who was uncomfortably self-confident, and willing to cross lines Dick’s former partner and mentor would not, and that is perhaps the crux of what makes the character so appealing. Steve Orlando gives us an anti-hero who is free to express himself both sexually, and through insanely creative violence. He pulls no punches on either front, and nor should he, taking a few well-aimed jabs at those who would stifle such creative freedom.
The story itself concerns the theft of black science from the ‘God Garden’, including a file containing Midnighter’s pre-enhancement identity. The tech has been distributed to a variety of ne’er-do-wells, and includes a necklace that can transmit six killing sounds, a machine that can transfer life-force from one person to another, and modified Martian genes that mimic folkloric characters.
Over the course of this book, Orlando presents a multi-layered character we can engage with on an emotional level, aside from his fight-computer-enhanced bad-assery. Beneath the braggadocio, there is a man who desperately wants to keep the innocent safe, especially those he loves, even if it means encroaching on personal liberties. Regret at the breakup of his relationship with Apollo is the beating heart of the book, highlighting a crippling predilection for falling in love with the wrong person (something we can all relate to), elevating him above the redundant chatter regarding his sexuality.
One of the defining characteristics of the series has been the art of ACO, whose wonderfully disorienting visual narrative gives us an insight into how someone with a computerised brain might see the world. Action sequences are challenging and place you square in the character’s shoes, and you can almost feel the impact when skulls are shattered and limbs are snapped. Stephen Mooney also features heavily in this first arc, providing art for two of the issues, his dynamic action sequences and strong storytelling being no less impressive. Alec Morgan is the final artist to contribute, his issue leaving an indelible mark thanks to Midnighter’s solution to the killing sounds (really, it’s ingenious!), and colourist Romulo Fajardo Jr.’s sterling work in accenting the story’s major beats completes the package, bringing a suitably vibrant energy to the book.
For me, the creative team on this title have captured lighting in a bottle, and it would be a real shame if the rumours of the series’ cancellation turn out to be true. This first volume is a heady concoction of action, sci-fi, mystery, and horror, liberally sprinkled with snappy, eminently quotable dialogue, and a brilliantly disguised twist ending. Seriously, what more could you ask for?
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The Writer of this piece was: Martin Doyle
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