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Midnighter #1

midnighterartpage1Steve Orlando, writer
ACO, artist/ inker
Hugo Petrus, inker
Romulo Fajardo Jr, colorist
DC/ $2.99

“And don’t tease me with a good time.”

The news earlier in the year of a new Midnighter series simultaneously stunned, excited, and concerned me a little. Midnighter has fascinated me since I first read the character written by Warren Ellis in the pages of The Authority. In Ellis’ capable hands, Midnighter, along with Apollo, was ultra powerful and super cool. The pair, whose memories had been wiped of their pasts, were inseparable and intensely secretive until that extraordinary panel in which they kissed. Once Ellis left the course of their fate and the series in general was choppy as various writers came and went. Midnighter’s first foray with a solo comic was back in 2007 and 2008. It was a little problematic too. Well, maybe a lot. The first half dozen isses were memorably done by Garth Ennis and Chris Sprouse, followed by one offs from Brian K Vaughn, Christos Gage, and Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti. Then somehow Keith Giffen got the writing assignment and the series ended at issue #20, some might say mercifully. Paul Cornell’s scripts for Stormwatch gave me hope until Jim Starlin took over by delivering squarely pedestrian scripts based on ho hum plots as the series nosedived into cancellation.

Then Tim Seeley and Tom King started to use Midnighter as a guest star in their smart and sexy Grayson and suddenly Midnighter was fun again!

This is not Keith Giffen’s Midnighter.

Now here we have the first issue of the second solo venture, courtesy of writer Steve Orlando and artist Aco, joined by inker Hugo Petrus, and colorist Romulo Fajardo Jr. First issues are typically about being all action or all set up and rarely in my humble opinion a combination of the two. Not so here. Orlando captures the wide screen feel so reminiscent of Ellis’ scripts and adds character filled scenes. On the action side is the mystery of the intruder into the ultra tech, outer space Garden, an element new to Midnighter that was introduced in the Grayson series. I thought we might have seen the last of the Gardener, an elderly woman who has a penchant for collecting alien devices like Durlan bio grenades and something called a Hermes Harness, but Orlando recognizes a character with good story potential when he sees one. The other action sequence involves a militant group from the country of Modora hell bent on taking some shock and awe style revenge on some alleged traitors. What they didn’t count on was interrupting Midnighter on a first date (see the following paragraph). You just don’t do that and expect Midnighter not to react.

Two supporting cast members are introduced. Tony is the no nonsense cook/ bartender in Midnighter’s favorite hole in the wall type pool hall. He’s straight and to quote Tony: “Women? Men? The parts don’t matter. Ask me, they’re all crazy, brother.” Wait. Or is this something a bisexual person would think? Hmmm. In any case, he seems likable and I’m intrigued by the character. Plus, he’s a little sassy in his own way. Jason is the new love interest. One of the biggest disappointments for me with the first series was that, aside from a few instances, Midnighter was separated from Apollo and neutered. Yes, the two are separated again. Yes, their marriage was – and is – an important milestone in comics. Yes, I enjoyed them as a couple and want to seem them as a couple again. I think Orlando could write interesting stories with the two of them. Until that happens, I’ll look forward to discovering what Orlando has in mind for the character sexually and romantically. There’s also that “special treatment” jason receives from Midnighter and I don’t mean just that sweaty bodies, lips mashed together, pants unzipping kind of treatment that made my eyes pop when I turned the page!

About the art…..This is my first exposure to Aco’s art and I wish I’d come across their work sooner. Their faces are distinct and the figures on every page show hey have ample knowledge of skill in drawing anatomy. Aco understands that part of the tension that exists with Midnighter as arguably the most dangerous fighter in DC relies on the character appearance as a normal human, admittedly a really fit human, instead of an overblown, steroidal caricature. There is a nice variety of angles and close and medium shots. Wide angle long shots such as page three are kept to a minimum to heighten the effect (here a lone, unconscious figure floating in space) instead of being a page filling device that a few writers tend to over use. Panel layouts tend to be rectangular and livened up from a boring grid formation by varying placement, dimensions, and smaller panels within larger panels without feeling crowded. It’s one trick that helps make for an energetic composition, and is a it challenging if a person wants to make a simple scan of a panel. I don’t recall any past artist drawing how Midnighter perceives some things on occasion. I like the concept and the ways Aco visualizes on pages 8, 18, and 19. If it’s a deliberate choice on Orlando and Aco’s part then it also serves as a clue to the mystery and that’s all I’ll say about that. Petrus’ inks sharpen the look without fussiness while Fajardo’s coloring create vibrancy and depth to enhance Aco’s pencils. These three make for an exceptionally good team. You may be a reader who detests Midnighter being so violent (I won’t try to dissuade you from your opinion) but please just take a look at the art some time and marvel at it.

Orlando, Aco, and the rest of the creative team delivered a comic that met and exceeded my expectations! The first Wednesday of the month is going to be really exciting from now on!

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