Today, Andy and Mark are discussing Midnighter 4, originally released September 2nd, 2015.
Andy: Midnighter 4 continues the search for the stolen God Garden Tech with Midnighter enlisting the help of Spyral Agent Dick Grayson (of Robin/ Batman/ Nightwing fame) chasing a name associated with the stolen tech from the God Garden, Noi Akakyevich. Following a brawl in a Russian Banya, Midnighter and Grayson squeeze a potential hideout out of a trio of Russian Business Bros. A tech modded gangster is offering scummy businessmen the opportunity to slay their own vampire, bred out of lured bums from the nearby alleys. After taking out Polidorin, the big bad, Grayson’s attempt to save the remaining prisoners backfires, and they are burnt to a crisp.
From a story perspective, this conflict in the warehouse could have been excised. (What’s one more henchman goon in between Midnighter and his goal?) However, writer Steve Orlando uses this microcosm of a mission to introduce Midnighter and Grayson’s dynamic through action. Midnighter is almost flirting with Grayson the entire time, taunting and enjoying his completionist perspective on the mission. Grayson is distraught at the apparent failure of the mission, yet Midnighter is almost charmed that he is taking it so seriously.
This warped superhero/sidekick pairing brings me great joy as the typical Boy Wonder moves and teamwork ethic as almost entirely unnecessary and coyly mocked. Midnighter appears more than capable in this issue of being able to handle this entire mission alone, yet his wry joy from inviting along the Boy Scout is not to be missed.
From the past few issues, the reader has been bombarded with Midnighter’s overwhelming perspective. Dozens of panels splatter across each action page. The pieces of a conflict captured but the fight almost being forgotten in an indulgent bacchanal. Midnighter may be taking on a lot , but at the very least he takes joy in it. This story is driven more by a sense of absorption in process rather than desire for truth, which distinguishes him greatly from what we typically think of as a super-hero.
The stories and problems of the Bat Family, and Dick Grayson in particular, tie back into this sense of duty, responsibility, justice, even just getting the mission finished. Grayson’s fighting style has a swooping aerobatic movement to it, which illustrator Stephen Mooney brings out wonderfully through these simplified and elegant movement panels. Nothing here is unclear or scattered, there is a clear and considered goal with each kick.
This issue showed a “stop and smell the daisies” philosophy in Midnighter that was imperceptible in the breakneck pace prior to partnering with Grayson. After watching Grayson carry this simple mission through with such purpose Midnighter’s search for the stolen tech seems unfocused and almost undesired. I question whether Midnighter is even particularly interested in discovering his past, when the glut of the present is already so encompassing for him.
So Mark, how are you liking the issue? What do you think about Noi Akakyevich’s tease to create more Midnighters? Are you vibing with the team up fun times?
Mark: On an issue-to-issue basis Midnighter, has been a great series, but I haven’t been blown away by the serialized God Garden tech storyline. Maybe it’s the added presence of Dick Grayson, but this is my favorite issue so far. Midnigher is one of the few Wildstorm characters to successfully make the transition to the main DC universe. They’ve found his niche as a Batman-analog without the dour emotional baggage. So while at first glance it seems weird to have a computer-brained, genetically enhanced gay man rubbing elbows with members of the Bat Family, in practice it’s old hat for Dick who’s had plenty of practice as a sidekick.
Last week I mentioned how Grayson has been a series about honoring genre tropes while simultaneously poking holes in them, and in this issue Midnighter gets in on the fun. The steam room brawl is a well-worn action sequence at this point, probably peaking with Viggo Mortensen in Eastern Promises. And while this one doesn’t have the raw brutality of Cronenberg’s, it definitely has more raw sexuality. I mean, how much of a waste would this team-up had been if it didn’t lean hard into Midnighter flirting with the best ass in comics?
With an oversized personality like Dick Grayson it would be easy to let Midnighter take a backseat. How rare is it that someone gets to out cool Grayson? But Midnighter finds a way. His fight with the “vampire” leader is one of the best summations of Midnighter as a character:
And it ends with him slicing the top of the leader’s head off. So cool.
Is it too much to ask for a Batman/Superman-type monthly so we can see Midnighter and Grayson work together on a regular basis?
For a complete list of what we’re reading, head on over to our Pull List page. Whenever possible, buy your comics from your local mom and pop comic bookstore. If you want to rock digital copies, head on over to Comixology and download issues there. There’s no need to pirate, right?