Review: Midnighter #12
All excellent things must eventually wrap up, and this includes Midnighter, one of two mainstream comics with an LGBT male lead, and one that also happened to be a monthly exercise in writer Steve Orlando writing clever and occasionally tear jerking dialogue while weaving together action thriller plots that artists Aco and Hugo Petrus and colorist Romulo Fajardo Jr. turned into exercises in brutality. In Midnighter #12, Apollo and Midnighter with the kind of, sort of help of Spyral and Amanda Waller’s Suicide Squad fight the Unified, a superhuman with the abilities of both Apollo and Midnighter, who was crafted by Midnighter’s “father” Bendix to be the ultimate soldier only dedicated to the mission and not caring about civilian casualties. A character who has both Midnighter’s fight computer and is on the same power level seems insurmountable, but Orlando, Aco, and Petrus show the truth behind Sidney Prescott’s anti-remake quote from Scream 4, “Don’t fuck with the originals.” as Midnighter comes to a close.
The much anticipated team up between Apollo and Midnighter that was set up in the previous gets a scintillating payoff thanks to the efforts of the art team of Aco, Petrus, and Fajardo. They draw Apollo as a pure powerhouse with power that can’t really be fathomed as Fajardo uses plenty of yellow to show all culminating in a huge solar blast before Petrus/Apollo send the Unified off to Aco/Midnighter for one last four page battle royale of layouts, one-liners, and bone rattling sound effects.
In the tradition of Batman vs. Superman in The Dark Knight Returns and other battles between basically gods and superheroes, Midnighter uses a sonic device to get the drop on the Unified, and Aco depicts this in his art by having his usual grid set-up woozily wobble before cutting to his trademark “X-ray panels” (Think Mortal Kombat) of the effect that it’s having on the Unified’s non-empathy having, soldier brain. And the killing blow is spectacular as Aco and Fajardo turn gore into poetry by turning the Unified’s brain matter into a sound effect. One of the highlights of Midnighter as a whole was its creative, no holds barred fight sequences, and Aco makes sure that issue 12’s big battle is worthy of its predecessors while Orlando keeps Midnighter’s character consistent.
Midnighter hates the Unified so much because he is hurting innocent civilians in some misguided crusade to provide retribution for a terrorist attack on American soil. He might be a killer, but he’s not a cold-blooded one like the Unified, who is the metahuman embodiment of destruction porn in the first few pages of the comics. For example, Midnighter takes a break from beating up various Multiplexes to help a Modoran child find shelter and safety when a Modoran soldier points a gun at the kid and calls him a coward. Even in his most violent moments, Midnighter is always there to protect those being exploited by powerful forces just like he was with the Gardener.
This is because he is a human being and not a weapon or a lab experiment, and Orlando, Aco, and Petrus spend plenty of time at the end of the issue reinforcing that with his friends in Boston throwing him a nice party after he tells Gardener about Bendix’s return because that relationship is always going to be super complicated. Even though he was betrayed by Prometheus, Midnighter has come to trust some people, and he even begins to repair his relationship with Apollo. Along with their skill laying out action sequences, Aco and Petrus draw really sexy men, which makes Apollo and Midnighter’s flirty banter and make-outs extra flaming hot. But Orlando wisely keeps their relationship ambiguous with dialogue like “Who said he’s my man?” even though it’s clear from their body language that they still love each other. However, their kiss and makeup scene is a huge progression from the beginning of the series when they wanted nothing to do with each other.
Another relationship that Orlando leaves open for other writers to explore in the future (Hopefully, Rob Williams in Suicide Squad and definitely Tim Seeley in Nightwing.) is Midnighter’s place in the black ops, espionage world of the DC Universe. Spinning out of his work with them in Grayson, Midnighter started by backing Helena Bertinelli and Spyral, but by the end of Midnighter #12, it seems like he’s more on Amanda Waller’s side, especially when she tells him that Bertinelli is reverse engineering Afterthought, a superhuman with precognitive power that beat Midnighter up a few issues back. And even if they never meet again, Orlando gives them a relationship of mutual respect as Waller isn’t afraid to correct her mistakes, like the Unified, or get her hands dirty. (She throws down with Bendix a little bit.) Midnighter definitely sees her as a worthy opponent, who can occasionally get the drop on him with her brilliant tactical mind, despite her not having any special powers or abilities.
Midnighter #12 is a wonderful capper on Steve Orlando, Aco, Hugo Petrus, Romulo Fajardo, and other wonderful artists’ story of a man trying to maneuver through the world and find his identity as both an open gay man and science experiment turned violent, yet altruistic anti-hero. The final two pages of him kissing and talking to Apollo about his uncertainty for the future and leaping into action perfectly encapsulate the character of Midnighter, who is a total badass that struggles to navigate the minefields of romantic relationships.
Story: Steve Orlando Art: Aco and Hugo Petrus Colors: Romulo Fajardo Jr.
Story: 9 Art: 9.5 Overall: 9.3 Recommendation: Buy
DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review.