“Midnighter” #1 is the second attempt to give the “Stormwatch” and “The Authority” character his own series (and the first one in the current continuity at DC Comics). So far, it’s off to a good start. Steve Orlando and ACO aren’t assuming that new readers know who this character is, and the care taken to appeal to both new and older readers is appreciated.
Orlando’s script assumes that the readership is coming in fresh, and that’s a good tactic for this series. The heyday of “The Authority” has come and gone, so having a fresh start — but not a reboot — works well for this title. Orlando introduces his readers both to Midnighter (out on a first date, which is the quintessence of getting to know someone) and the Garden from “Grayson.” We quickly understand the setup (Midnighter having left Apollo, still working for the Garden) and, from there, Orlando gets down to business.
In many ways, this issue is a primer for how to bring in a new audience without losing your existing one. Midnighter’s fight in the restaurant is exciting and fun for older readers, while explaining how his powers work and just how dangerous he is to the newer ones. Similarly, the Garden is presented in a way where those who never read “Grayson” will know just enough to get up and going without scratching their heads, but there aren’t huge blocks of exposition to make the eyes of readers already in the know start to glaze over. As a result, it gives Orlando a lot of time to start building up his new material, like his burgeoning relationship with Jason. What’s nice is that it doesn’t feel like Orlando is rushing it; while they’re clearly attracted to one another, this isn’t a case of the two promptly being an instant match. Instead, this feels like the start of a burgeoning relationship with two men, provided that one of them is a “crazed, scientifically enhanced vigilante.” The book isn’t shying away from there being a gay character here, while it also isn’t any more overly emphasized than you’d see in a book with a straight character with a new love interest. It’s nice for this to essentially be the new normal.
With some ink assists from Hugo Petrus, ACO’s art in “Midnighter” #1 is attention grabbing. I love that ACO uses tiny panels scattered across the page to provide visual emphasis points; think of them almost as the artistic equivalent of bolding or italics. ACO gives us lots of little zoom-ins, from seeing all of the balls on a pool table being sunk simultaneously to flashes of all the villains being struck in a big fight. It’s a form that you don’t see many artists use — although Andrea Sorrentino’s recent run on “Green Arrow” is a good example — probably because it’s very difficult and time-consuming. ACO knocks it out of the park here.
I also like how ACO draws the characters in general. Midnighter — appearing a little drab and defeated in the pool hall — looks great, a real change from how out-of-uniform superheroes come across. Little details like Christmas lights on a bar pillar are given just as much care here as dazzling page layouts when bad guys teleport into the restaurant early on in the issue. This is a sharp looking comic.
I picked up “Midnighter” #1 because of a past fondness for the character, but I’ll admit that I wasn’t expecting to do much more than like it. The more I look at “Midnighter” #1, though, the more I actually love it. This is a comic that has taken a great deal of care to be inviting, and it’s paid off. Orlando and ACO’s comic is a strong debut, one that has the voice of its characters evident and which promises fun things to come. I’m definitely, absolutely back for issue #2.