Today, Mark and Spencer are discussing Midnighter 7, originally released December 2nd, 2015.
Mark: Well, shit. After complaining about the anti-climactic fight between Frankenstein and Superman in Action Comics 47, writer Steve Orlando does not make the same mistake in Midnighter 7′s climactic matchup between Midnighter and Prometheus. This is a knock down, drag out battle that serves as an appropriate follow-up to last issue’s shocking reveal.
In hindsight, it seems obvious that Prometheus should be Midnighter’s big bad. Orlando leaves Grant Morrison’s origin of the character pretty much intact, and, like Midnighter beginning his comic life as a Batman riff, Prometheus is basically the reverse Batman. His parents (criminals) were gunned down in front of him. Using his parent’s cash cache, Prometheus traveled the world developing his fighting and tactical skills.
It’s not entirely clear why Prometheus/Matt chose Midnighter as his target, but when Prometheus wants to ruin your life he doesn’t mess around. While we previously took Matt at his word that they were visiting his father’s home, it’s revealed to actually be a faithful recreation of Midnighter’s childhood home. In fact, Prometheus has Midnighter’s entire Origin File. And if that weren’t enough, he downloaded the Origin File’s contents to his brain and then destroyed the original like a total dick. If Midnighter ever wants to know his past, he can’t kill Prometheus.
But that doesn’t mean they can’t beat the everliving crap out of each other! ACO, with an assist from Hugo Petrus, stages the centerpiece confrontation with his usual dense style. It’s sometimes a lot to try and take in at once, and I wonder if Comixology’s Guided View isn’t the easiest way to experience Midnighter at large. Midnighter’s final crushing blow against Prometheus is a beautiful two-page spread, but I admit it took me a few minutes to puzzle out exactly what was being conveyed here.
Prometheus being dispensed with (for now!), the rest of the issue deals with Midnighter trying to piece his life back together, even reaching out to Apollo. Apparently Midnighter’s a pretty serial monogamist, incapable of not being in a relationship for more than a few days (and even though this guy’s name is Jason, this is definitely a different Jason from the one we met in Midnighter 1, right?).
There are a lot of doors open for Midnighter to continue, but my understanding is that this isn’t a book that’s flying off the shelves. The amount of care put into each issue makes this feel like one of DC’s marquee titles, and I hope we get to see a lot more of Midnighter in the future. Spencer, what’d you think?
Spencer: I’m pretty satisfied by this final brawl myself, Mark, although I admit that it took me a little while to get to that point. So much of Prometheus’ long-term plan involved fooling Midnighter, taking out his fight computer, and bringing him down to “normal,” that I couldn’t help but to be ever so slightly disappointed that Midnighter’s impairment didn’t play a larger role in the outcome of the fight. Even at a disadvantage, even when facing one of the more over-powered villains around, Midnighter never lost his cool or even seemed in danger of losing the battle.
But I suppose that’s Midnighter in a nutshell. He’s not a character who’ll lose focus during a fight, and whenever he does feel insecure, his answer is always to double down on the violence. The violence in Midnighter 7 is visceral and brutal enough to make this a satisfying installment all on its own, but what’s most important here is that it is an answer to Prometheus’ taunts. Mark, you were unsure why Prometheus specifically targeted Midnighter, but I thought Orlando made it rather clear.
While Prometheus finds all heroics and justice repulsive, he particularly despises those who kill murderers, finding it hypocritical. Midnighter lives and thrives on this particular brand of anti-heroism, and that, combined with the primo technology in Midnighter’s brain Prometheus would love to steal, makes him the perfect first target for Prometheus. This is even why Prometheus recreates Midnighter’s childhood home: to show him what it’s like to “lose [his] family to justice” the way he did as a child.
To me, that’s why Midnighter’s hyper-focused, relentless violence is such a powerful response. In prior issues we’ve seen the way his lost past haunts him, but he doesn’t let it be used as leverage against him — he doesn’t allow himself to become consumed in his past the way Prometheus has, and more than anything, I think that’s what grants Midnighter the victory.
In fact, this may just be a major turning point for Midnighter — even with potential knowledge of his past dangled in front of him, Midnighter is only concerned with the present, showing exactly which one means more to him. Midnighter’s concern for the here-and-now isn’t just demonstrated by his hyper-vigilant response to Prometheus — it’s also represented by his concerns and worries. It’s telling that once Prometheus is defeated, Midnighter never says another word about his lost past — he’s only worried about the damage that may have been done to the new life he’s been building since Midnighter‘s genesis.
You know Mark, I’m pretty sure that this is the same Jason that Midnighter went out with in the first few issues — we’ve seen them hang out as “just friends” even after their relationship didn’t work out, and I think that a few “just friends” may be just what the doctor ordered. Midnighter’s been in one relationship or another for literally as long as he can remember, and his desire to throw himself back into a romance after his relationship with Apollo crumbled is what eventually led him into Prometheus’ clutches in the first place.
What these closing scenes show, then, is that whatever Midnighter’s looking for won’t be found through romance alone. Where his latest boyfriend let him down, Jason, Marina, and Tony the Bartender come through, giving him the kind of support he’ll need to do whatever work on himself is necessary. Midnighter doesn’t need to rediscover his past in order to build a better future — all he needs is people who will stand by his side and help him find his way, and one bad relationship isn’t going to change that.
Even with its powerful exploration of the relationships in Midnighter’s life, though, this issue wouldn’t be even half as successful without the work of ACO. His use of numerous tiny panels to accentuate every minute detail of a scene continues to put readers into Midnighter’s head, and this month I was especially impressed by the use of sound effects, which function as backgrounds and even as full panels at various points throughout the issue!
I think what I like best about ACO’s interpretations of these fights, though, is how off-kilter some of his staging is. Take our first look at Prometheus and Midnigher, for example.
Here ACO alternates between focusing on Prometheus and on the details of the house, establishing both the background (which becomes an important plot point down the line) and the danger Midnighter finds himself in. Yet, ACO never allows the camera to get a clear shot of either combatant, keeping the reader feeling as off-kilter as Midnighter himself likely is. If the tiny panels usually serve as a peek into the way Midnighter’s computers enhance his perspective, than this issue takes a different approach, using oddly positioned shots and far more standard layouts to represent what it’s like for Midnighter to tackle this fight like a normal, powerless human being.
The fact that Orlando and ACO can so effortlessly tap into Midnighter’s perspective when even Midnighter himself barely understands where he’s coming from and what he’s looking for is just evidence of how good this book is. I agree with Mark; this is one of DC’s stronger titles at the moment, and it’s a shame it isn’t getting more attention. Here’s hoping that Midnighter keeps going strong — I want to see how this “work in progress” of a character shapes up.
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?