Comic Book Review: Midnighter #1

Midnighter #1 is the latest of all the new Wildstorm titles that The Revolution is sampling. Wildstorm has had a tough go at it impressing The Revolution. So far, Wildstorm’s record is 0-2-2. Can Midnighter #1 finally register one in the win column for Wildstorm? I don’t know.

I know absolutely nothing about Midnighter. All I know is that he is a part of the group called The Authority. And I was told by the guy who runs my local comic book store that Midnighter is gay and his partner is Apollo. They both adopted another young hero named Jenny Quantum. Apollo is Wildstorm’s version of Superman. Midnighter is basically a super powered Batman. Huh, a gay Batman and Superman couple. This should be interesting. I dig Ennis and usually enjoy any title that he writes, so Midnighter #1 just may be a good read. Let’s hit this review.

Creative Team
Writer: Garth Ennis
Penciler: Chris Sprouse
Inker: Karl Story

Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Story Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10

Synopsis: We see Midnighter walk past Apollo painting and think to himself that he is not a love. Midnighter walks past Jenny Quantum in her room and thinks to himself that he is not a father. Midnighter then walk past his teammates socializing and thinks to himself that he is not a friend. Midnighter thinks to himself that he is what he was bread to me. And that is the problem. Midnighter then uses the Authority’s transporter to transport himself to Afghanistan.

We cut to Afghanistan where we see three tanks speeding toward a small village. The soldier see a small figure running at them. The figure gets larger and they see that it is Midnighter. The soldiers panic. One of the tanks fires at Midnighter who kicks the shell toward one of the other tanks and blows it up. Midnight proceeds to open up one unholy can of whoop ass on the soldiers. Kicking off heads. Midnighter destroys the other two tanks. Midnighter then approaches the only soldier still alive. Midnighter asks him who’s bright idea was it to give main battle tanks to the Mujahs? The soldier says it promotes stability in the region. The soldier then calls Midnighter a “fag.” Midnighter brutally kills the soldier by ramming his staff through the guy’s mouth and out of his skull.

We cut to Midnighter inside of the Carrier’s teleportation stream at the Authority’s headquarters. There he is attacked by several armored figures that are inside the Carrier’s teleportation stream. Midnighter is knocked out and then wakes up later in a blank white room. A man in a white suit introduces himself as Paulus. Paulus informs Midnighter that the building is equipped with technology that jams Midnighter’s ability to guess an opponent’s first move.

Paulus goes on about how The Authority’s whole grand agenda seems to have fallen by the wayside. Paulus says that he knows that Midnighter’s teammates drive him almost insane with frustration. Paulus asks Midnighter if he ever gets sick of pretending to be a human being. We then see the six armored men that Paulus sent into the Carrier’s transportation stream to attack Midnighter. The armored “shimmer suits” allow them to survive between teleportation doors without the protection of a mother system like the Carrier.

Paulus tells Midnighter than he will be working him doing what Midnighter does best: killing. The armored soldiers proceed to beat down Midnighter. Paulus instructs them to take Midnighter back to his room when they are done.

We cut to Midnighter waking up and seeing a masked man tell him that he was hired to rescue him. Midnighter follows the masked rescuer out of his room. Suddenly, the masked rescuer’s entire torso blows up. Paulus then appears and tells Midnighter that he hired the masked rescuer. That the rescuer had been drugged a week ago and they put a small but powerful bomb inside of him. Paulus continued that he just used a remote detonator to set it off. Paulus tells Midnighter that this was just a demonstration. That he placed one of these bombs inside of Midnighter. Midnighter responds by saying “Crap.” Paulus tells Midnighter that he will kill for him because he is the one many who can do the job. Paulus shows Midnighter the picture of his target: Adolph Hitler.

Comments
The Good: And the crowd goes wild as Wildstorm finally crushes one out of the park! Midnighter #1 was a great read that registered Wildstorm its first title in the win column here at The Revolution. I’ve always been a fan of Garth Ennis and he definitely didn’t disappoint with Midnighter #1. Ennis delivered a well paced issue with a perfect blend of action and dialogue. Ennis wastes no time getting his story moving and quickly lays the foundation for what should be an exciting ride.

I found this issue to be rather new reader friendly. Ennis was able to quickly establish Midnighter’s personality and his relationship with those around him. Plus, when you stick with a bare knuckled action story that doesn’t rely on years of back story and drama, it is easier for the story to be new reader friendly.

Midnighter is a very intriguing character. He is much more than your typical one-dimensional “ass-kicker” character that you see in other grim and gritty titles. Ennis did a nice job showing Midnighter’s multi-layered personality in the very beginning of this issue. Ennis gets the reader to immediately feel Midnighter’s feelings of being out of place with all the different people around him. This was a nicely done subtle scene.

I dig how Ennis writes Midnighter. I like that Midnighter uses an economy of words and talks in a direct no-nonsense style. Midnighter’s reaction to learning that he has a bomb planted in him was great! He simply mutters one word: “Crap.” That’s it. Classic.

Then Ennis contrasts the subtle opening scene with a wicked fight scene that rocked from start to finish. Midnighter definitely comes across as a total bad-ass in this scene.

The remainder of the issue serves to set up the current story arc. Midnighter will be working for Paulus and whatever unknown organization he works for to take down a very unlikely target. Adolph Hitler. Now, as loyal followers of the Revolution know, I have something called the Nazi Rule. I despise it when authors fail to be creative and fall back on the standard and stereotypical Nazi villain for a storyline. However, I don’t think that this move by Ennis falls in that category. This is a neat little historical twist. What if Adolph Hitler didn’t die. I’m willing to give this plotline the benefit of the doubt before I sound the alarm for a violation of the Nazi Rule.

The revelation of Adolph Hitler as the target was a great hook that was definitely unexpected. That was enough of a surprise ending to get the reader interested in coming back for the next issue to see just where in the world Ennis is going with this story arc.

Now, let’s go ahead and address the elephant sitting in the room with us. Midnighter is gay. I think that Midnighter is the only gay male in comics that has his own ongoing monthly. I know you have Northstar over in Marvel, but that is pretty much a dead story. And you have Colossus over in Ultimate X-Men, but that is a team title and not a solo title. There was the Rawhide Kid mini-series by Marvel. I think that is about it.

Now, I think Ennis did a great job handling the fact that Midnighter is gay. Ennis doesn’t make Midnighter’s sexuality a part of his character. Midnighter is a specially designed killing machine. That is his character. Now, he happens to be gay. This isn’t like the Rawhide Kid where they played up him being gay as a central aspect of his personality and character. Midnighter isn’t kitschy like Rawhide Kid was where they would pose the Rawhide Kid blowing the barrel of a gun suggestively while nuzzling the other gun up on his crotch. Nor is Midnighter a title where they completely bury the fact that he is gay much like how Marvel handles Northstar. No, you know Midnighter is gay because his adversaries make a couple of jokes about him being gay. That is about it.

I don’t care about Midnighter’s sexuality as long as it doesn’t define who he is as a character. Just like I don’t care about the race of a character as long as it doesn’t define who that character is. However, let’s be honest, comic books mainly target males between the ages of 18-35. THis is the majority of comic book readers. That segment of the population is the most mature or open-minded group when it comes to homosexuality. I say this because when I went up to the counter at my local comic book store, the owner was surprised that I was getting Midnighter. I asked him why. He responded because Midnighter is gay. Two other guys at the comic book shop chimed in saying that they would never buy a comic book about “some dude who kisses guys.”

I then realized that there is a good chance that no matter how good Midnighter is that there is going to be a certain percentage of comic book readers that will simply refuse to read it because he is gay. That it wouldn’t be “cool” or “manly” to buy a comic book about a gay superhero. That because Midnighter is gay then this comic book must be a “gay” comic book that centers all on gay rights and gay culture. And really, what is a “gay” comic book? Not all gay men are hairdressers or walk around like Nathan Lane from the “Birdcage” singing show tunes all day.

That is a tough bias that this comic book is going to face. I can certainly say that Midnighter is not a “gay” comic and I don’t think that Ennis is going to turn this title into a platform for gay rights or anything like that. I’m quite confident that Ennis is going to treat Midnighter like he does any other character that he writes. I really hope that comic book readers give Midnighter a chance. It is well worth it.

Sprouse and Story serve up some solid artwork. Sprouse’s style works well on gritty and “realistic” title like Midnighter.

The Bad: No complaints.

Overall: Midnighter #1 was a well written and exciting read. Midnighter scores the elusive first “win” for Wildstorm here at The Revolution. Ennis delivers an intriguing character in Midnighter and a story that is full of some serious violence. If you like ass-kicking action, but actually want quality writing to go along with it then Midnighter is definitely your title. Give it a try.

2 Comments

  1. I don’t think its that Hitler has survived.
    I think they’re gonna send Midnighter back in time to kill Hitler.
    Thats probably because I read the solcits for issue 3 and it pretty much says it.
    and then theres this cover with a cop car saying Temporal Police.
    http://www.comicscontinuum.com/stories/0610/16/midnighter3.jpg

    Its kinda sad that people won’t buy a comic just because the character is gay.

  2. Yeah, but what if the comic book is ghey? I mean, as noted on another blog, what the hell is up with the gay-bashing through the entire comic book? What year is it, anyway, 1994? Seriously, adversaries calling Midnighter a fag was obnoxious back during Millar’s run on the Authority. (Ellis was right–if it’s obvious they’re a couple, you don’t have to make a big issue of it, or resort to name-calling.)

    The art is just horrible. It makes Midnighter look about 20 years old–younger than he was when Henry Bendix turned him into the Midnighter in the first place. Good grief, the man is pushing 40! (This reminds me of how Spock looks about 15 years younger in The Animated Series than he should actually look.)

    And anyway, although I think Ennis is absolutely right that Midnighter feels alienated because of the computer in his brain running fight scenarios 24/7 (how must it feel to sit next to Apollo and have some part of your consciousness running kill scenarios endlessly?) I think he sometimes misses the emotional core of the character. I’ve got the entire run from his origin story in Stormwatch v.2 and I’m convinced that Apollo and Midnighter are so close because of Midnighter, not vice versa. Apollo’s a very live-in-the-moment, carefree kind of person. Midnighter is never in the moment, always stuck on the past or trying to figure out the future. But whether or not I’m right about the Apollo/Midnighter relationship, it’s pretty indisputable that Midnighter and Jenny Q have a much greater empathy and stronger bond than Apollo and Jenny. I’ll never forget that image from Authority: Human on the Inside where Jenny has fallen asleep on Midnighter’s shoulder.

    I’m actually a little surprised that Ennis put Jenny Q in the story at all, since he completely glosses over her existence in the Kev miniseries. (With good reason–she’s too damn powerful.)

    Since I actually liked the Kev books I will probably be buying Midnighter too, though I might wait for the trades (kill Hitler? ugh, what a lame-o plot that is). Still, TERRIBLE choice on artist. At some points Midnighter has this expression that makes him look like a veritable babe in the woods. This is so out of character (and continuity) that I don’t even know where to begin. In all honesty, Mid should be pretty deadened to outcome of his actions at this point. It makes him less sympathetic, but logically, he should be there at this point.

Comments are closed.