Written by Steve Orlando
Art by Stephen Mooney, Romulo Fajardo, Jr., and Jeromy Cox
Published by DC Comics
Release Date: October 7, 2015
Midnighter and Grayson are narrowing in on the source of Russia’s hybrid, black science creatures, but it’s going to take more than a few fisticuffs to fight off bear men, horse-wolves, and a fleet of giant manhawks. Especially once M handcuffs himself to Dick. Va va voom.
But seriously. If you had told me a year ago that I’d be getting a monthly title starring a kickass — dare I say it — A-list gay hero and that he’d spend an entire issue handcuffed to the most eligible bachelor in the DC Universe, I’d be on the floor in the sweats. It still floors me, but I’m able to take what Steve Orlando and company are doing with Midnighter a little more in stride five issues in. A little.
It’s still a glourious thing to read the exploits of a man with a computer brain and the finest physicality this side of Batman teamed up with… this side of Batman. Well, his best mate, that is. It’s like a match made in heaven that no one could have predicted. And this issue brings them into a kind of symbiosis (both physical and intellectual) that makes their ongoing friendship — if you can call it that — seem absolutely perfect. Dick gets who M is. M understands and respects who Dick is. And yet Orlando doesn’t forget the nuanced chatter between them that makes for a fun and engaging adventure throughout.
Like, we all know Dick Grayson is known for his fight chat. He’s not exactly the strong, silent type. But seeing how Midnighter plays into that dynamic, even more than when he’s solo, is really compelling. It’s like watching two friends who make each other better, even if they’re not always on the same page. It has this cast of reality to it, without losing sight of how insane their world really is.
But ultimately, my greatest appreciation is for Midnighter’s development as a leading man who is dating another man, young, white-haired — as if that’s not a red flag for unresolved issues — man named Matt (I’m going to assume he’s named after me and move on. MOVE ON, I said.). As the issue starts and ends with moments between M and Matt, it’s stunning how natural the dialogue is between them, and yet also how revealing of who they each are and where they are in the grand scheme of M’s romantic development.
[Take note, critics of gay representation. This is how you craft real gay characters into being. You call for it to be “organic,” and while this flows naturally on the page, clearly Orlando is putting in the work. It’s work. It doesn’t just happen.]
Stephen Mooney wraps up the second part of this mini-arc with some strong action scenes and the robust physicality that these two characters deserve. It’s quite the challenge to visually choreograph two men fighting in handcuffs across nearly 20 pages of action, but Mooney pulls it off without a hitch (no pun intended, Authority fans). You feel the weight of each man pulling against each other, sometimes acting like a fulcrum and at other times like a pulley. While the facial expressions can feel a bit underserviced in places, I’m finding some lovely moments throughout, particularly in the shape of hands and how bodies move when untethered by handcuff or ground.
The visual flow of the issue is nicely done in parts, with some unique page divisions breaking up the otherwise standard stacked panels. I particularly love the climactic scene between M and Akakyevich, as it makes Midnighter even more impressive for his accuracy and ability to predict behavior — an element not immediately obvious, but all the more interesting in retrospect.
Another fantastic issue of my newest favorite gentleman hero, Midnighter #5 gives new meaning to the phrase, “The Spy Who Loved Me.” And I can’t stop giggling just thinking about how awesome that is. Orlando and Mooney have brought another great tale home, balancing the sweet with the kickass, and as always, is leaving me wanting more.
The Verdict: 9.0/10