Saturday, March 26, 2016

Book Review: Midnighter, Volume 1: Out (DC Comix)

Midnighter, Volume 1: Out
I’ve long found Midnighter to be one of the most interesting characters in the DC Comics universe. While some have dismissed him as a mere Batman doppelganger, there’s a lot more to this rough ‘n’ tumble creature of the night than Bruce Wayne could imagine. Created by one of my favorite writers, Warren Ellis, and artist Bryan Hitch (no slouch himself!) for the WildStorm Comics series Stormwatch, Midnighter earned some degree of notoriety for his status as an openly homosexual anti-hero character.

Unlike the Caped Crusader, Midnighter displays supernatural skills courtesy of bioengineered enhancements that were performed on him at some undetermined point in his youth. Super strength and speed, combined with a souped-up healing factor that places him somewhere on the spectrum between Marvel’s Wolverine and DC’s Lobo, help make Midnighter a force to be reckoned with. Throw in his fighting skills and a preternatural ability (either via a computer chip or supernaturally) to predict the outcome of nearly any close quarters combat he engages in, and Midnighter is nearly unbeatable.

Midnighter, Volume 1: Out

Also different from Bruce Wayne/Batman is Midnighter’s capacity for interpersonal relationships. Throughout his portrayal in Stormwatch and, later, The Authority series, Midnighter was linked romantically with the Superman-like character Apollo. In the recent Midnighter solo series from DC, though, Midnighter has split from his long-time partner and is living the life of a free-wheeling bachelor, suffering the ups and downs of single life. As compared to his previous incarnation in the aforementioned series, this new portrayal of Midnighter takes him out of his once-ubiquitous battle gear and frequently shows him in “civilian” clothes.   

Out is the first graphic novel from the recent Midnighter series, collecting issues one through seven, all originally published in 2015. The book includes a complete story arc that, while going a little ‘arty’ at times with its jumpy plotting and story-telling, nevertheless tells a fine tale of the hero’s attempts to gather up dangerous super-tech that had been stolen from his creator. Fans of gratuitous violence will be rewarded, as Midnighter is possibly the most deadly creation in the DCU short of Lobo, the character reveling in the battle without thinking much at all about the consequences. A character of such extreme power and abilities as Midnighter is difficult to write, but Steve Orlando does a strong job in balancing Midnighter’s alter-ego with his private life, and even manages to throw an unseen plot twist in at the end of the story arc.

Midnighter is an interesting, if controversial character, and I hope that DC continues to support the book and allow the series’ writers and artists to develop the character. Midnighter is an adult-oriented book, not just for the overt violence but also for sexual situations, but in the end it’s an entertaining outing by one of DC’s lesser-known heroes. Grade: B (DC Comics, published February 23, 2016)

Buy or Die, Bucko!

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