Written by Steve Orlando
Art by ACO and Romulo Fajardo, Jr.
Published by DC Comics
Release Date: November 4, 2015
In the aftermath of an attack by killer clones driven by unknown forces, Midnighter experiences a devastating blow to his inner circle, one that will lead him down a path he may soon regret. But what happens next, no one can see coming, even the Midnighter. And how can that be?
The thing that impresses me so much about this series, above all else, is Orlando’s seeming ease at blending the perfectly serene with the ultra violent without either feeling one bit out of place. To be frank, when Midnighter #1 launched, it was enough to see any kind of romantic action — and particularly sexual — between gay characters treated with this sense of mundane attitude. Now, six issues later, in the final chapter of the book that will be subtitled “Out” upon release, we have traipsed the landscape from casual sex and first dates, to oversharing and doing that nesting thing that gay guys do once they’re finally comfortable with each other (which for me, like M, was pretty much three days in. Eeek.).
And now we reach another perfectly picturesque milestone, albeit captured in-between beatings and sending a fork in flight through an opponent’s skull: meeting the parents. As M is brought to meet Matt’s father, the victim of an attack meant to strike at the heart of the dark gladiator, I have to sit back in awe of the kind of blending of realities Orlando is presenting us, and just how quintessentially normal it feels to be discussing a parent’s reaction to coming out pages after completing cityscape parkour moves 1000 feet above the pavement.
Orlando and ACO have blended these realities so seamlessly so as to render both hyperreal and pleasantly sedate all at once. It’s sort of like building a sense of zen on the page, as ACO captures Midnighter in motion — not just as multiple screens, a la an uberviolent homosexual Flash — but also in these flashes of synapse firings and quick glances that cascade across the page. Every panel is a mini shift door M is passing through from one to another, completing each task and moving on to the next gesture. And so, when we reach these quieter moments of stillness, they are no less precise or relaxing, because the emotional weight is equal to the physical weight of the preceding violence. It’s a substantial visual and narrative achievement combined.
And when we reach the pinnacle of the issue, THAT moment, Orlando takes me completely by surprise. So much so, I had to reread the previous pages just to make sure I understood what had happened. Because, like Midnighter, I couldn’t see it. I didn’t understand. And when it hit me, I went fetal. On the floor. Send help. That kind of narrative punch, delivered amid the strongest shorthand visualization of paranoia by ACO that I’ve seen in comics form yet, is hard to come by. But Orlando delivered it and more.
It’s clear to me that Midnighter is not just the gay hero I always wanted, but it’s the comic I’ve always wanted, period. Plus it’s the gay comic I’ve always wanted, with a world I recognize so deeply and naturally in the place I’ve been looking for it all my life. It’s all of it and more, none subsumed or accelerated over the other, all in perfect harmony. Until it all falls apart and you reduce a forty-year-old homosexual to shock and awe on the floor. Yes, I am a sucker for Midnighter’s charms. But admit it, so are you.
The Verdict: 10/10