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Midnighter Vol. 2: Hard Review

Comic Books

Midnighter Vol. 2: Hard Review

The trick of a comic like Midnighter is pitting him against foes that can actually go toe to toe with him. This second volume, collecting issues #8-12 (plus three stories from the Wildstorm days), certainly gives him formidable enemies to punch. One is a Superman wannabe and the other? Oh, a little team known as the Suicide Squad. Question is, is it good?

Midnighter Vol. 2: Hard (DC Comics)

Midnighter Vol. 2: Hard Review

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So what’s it about? The DC summary reads:

Midnighter’s accepted Spyral’s job offer…unfortunately, that’s put him in the sights of the Suicide Squad! Collects issues #8-12, plus issue #7 and 8 of the WildStorm MIDNIGHTER series and a story from YOUNG ROMANCE: A NEW 52 VALENTINE’S DAY SPECIAL #1!

Why does this book matter?

When done successfully, Midnighter is possibly one of the coolest characters as he validates incredibly graphic violence for the greater good. Our culture loves the stuff, but we also detest it, so he walks a fine line that’s incredibly compelling.

Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?

Midnighter Vol. 2: Hard Review
Layouts like this make me wonder how many hours it took to draw it.

If you’re like me, you get bored of seeing the same sort of layouts in every comic. Why not spruce things up much like Brett Booth does with his kinetic cascading panels, or like Aco does in this work, with tons of smaller panels breaking up and speeding up the action. Aco has a knack for building up, or slowing down the action and it’s done by inserting reaction panels, say, over the main larger panel. Or in other instances he practically creates a collage of panels which enhances the chaos and at the same time increases the value of a page. There’s plenty of that in this volume and it’s at once exciting and unique to see. This clever use of layouts enhances the reading experience, making it feel more cinematic and energized.

There are also some neat techno tricks to visualize Midnighter’s computer brain (a digital dial of sorts points to his head from time to time to let the reader know he’s calculating his options) or his rather cool looking teleport door. There’s also a nice use of almost psychedelic spiral panels used here and there to highlight the action in a trippy sort of way. It’s these types of visuals that remind us Midnighter fights so quickly most folks can’t keep up.

This volume looks great, but it also does some great things with the character too. Steve Orlando writes Apollo back into his life and in an inspired page displays Midnighter’s regret over breaking up with Apollo. The characters lust for each other sure, that comes with the high octane lifestyle, but they also care and Orlando does well to mend that relationship. Midnighter’s customary attitude and bravado shine through quite well too. There really isn’t a character like Midnighter, one who revels in the pain he can inflict so easily.

The two backup stories are a nice surprise too, reminding us what it was like back in the old days when Wildstorm was around. Brian K. Vaughan writes one story (with pencils by Darick Robertson) which reminds us how sadistic the character can be. In the second, written by Christos Gage with art by John Paul Leon, reminds the reader how calculated Midnighter can be. In the third, written by Peter Milligan with art by Simon Bisley, we get an early scene when Apollo and Midnighter were not a serious couple. All together these stories are nice addition that remind us of the characters’ roots.

It can’t be perfect can it?

The art sometimes takes too many stylistic liberties making it difficult to understand what is happening. It occurs especially in the later portion of the story in the climactic battle with too many close ups and not enough establishing shots to understand who is where.

Outside of vicious, gay, and a bit of caring for Apollo, Midnighter continues to be rather weak as far as character. Don’t get me wrong, I love the personality, but he seems to mostly run on one setting with very little character work throughout this book. Maybe he’s a Wolverine type in that the more you reveal the worse he gets as his complexity is in the unknown. Much of this book is fighting–it’s a fight comic after all, but it does leave one wishing they knew the man under the mask a bit more than we do.

Midnighter Vol. 2: Hard Review
Get out of my head!

Is It Good?

Midnighter is the hero of the 21st century. He’s smart with a computerized mind, brutal, and doesn’t care what anyone thinks. The comic itself feels modern and it takes visual chances you wouldn’t have seen even ten years ago. Check this book out to see how it might influence comics from here on out.

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