Or, “In Praise of Midnighter And Why We Need More Damn Books Like This, Please”
The first thing I did when I got back from the comic book shop today was read the last issue (sniff) of Midnighter. Okay, that’s a lie. I tried to mow the lawn a bit before the rain started up. But right after that, I read Midnighter. I have many emotions. Too many to really capture in a series of tweets (as has been my main mode of communicating lately in regard to comics I read.) So, here we go. A proper post. Here are my emotions, in no particular order.
I guess it’s apropos to start with this one. I’ll admit, when I first heard DC was cancelling Midnighter, I was kind of angry at DC. But, after looking at the sales figures, this is unfair. In some ways, the fact that it made it to 12 issues is probably something of a miracle. The fact that DC tried this book (and put such a great team on it) is also to their credit. So then I got a bit angry at comic readers. Why aren’t my fellow comic readers picking this up? Are they threatened about reading about a gay superhero who could kick their asses? “What’s wrong with you people,” I cried! But, I thought, maybe that’s unfair too. I read a LOT (too many, probably) of comics, and there are still dozens of comics I’ve heard are amazing that I haven’t been able to get to. Comics are expensive, frankly, and getting anyone to sample anything knew can be an uphill battle.
I’m just proud, as a gay man, that this book exists. Look, we gays are responsible for all kinds of great art and writing. It’s true. But, being human beings we’re also responsible for a lot of crap, too. For every great attempt at making gay superheroes, there’s probably three not so great ones. I think it’s very easy when you’re part of any under-represented minority to “over correct” when you’re telling a story about that under-represented minority. Things can get preachy or twee or maudlin real quick. But even amongst the really good stuff, I feel like Midnighter stood out. Especially in this run of books. He’s not “pretty,” but he is sexy. He’s kind of an asshole, but you like him and totally root for him. And over the course of 12 issues the creative team on the book has put him through some brutal fights, but he never, ever stays down. Just to have this character in these stories… it just feels SO refreshing.
Which is why it’s REALLY hard to let go. This was one of those books that, even when I didn’t read many comic books for 4 months and saw my stack grow way overgrown to the point where I was slightly depressed by how large it’d gotten (it’s better now) I still made sure I read in a timely fashion. When I lost my job recently and had to hack down my pull list (that got better too, got a new job) this was definitely one of the titles I was never going to NOT order. Except, of course, that choice was taken away from me. I mean, I’m just really sad it’s ending. The “DC You” publishing push seems to have not gone over very well with the readership. But, honestly, as a fan of so many of the titles I really think it was more down to timing than the quality of the books. I feel like Convergence caused a lot of DC readers to find their stories elsewhere, so that even when DC came back with some quality books, a lot of people just weren’t paying attention. Which leads me to…
I’m excited by Rebirth. The redesigns of Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman all look great. There are some exciting new titles and creative teams on the books, too. And we know that there are more titles to be announced. I really hope readers flock to these books. I think if DC can recapture that audience, there will be more room to experiment with books like Midnighter again. And, in time, there will be more of an audience to sample books like it. And I’m really hopeful about the trades. Even though the series has ended, I know I’m going to be talking up the series to everyone I know. I feel like there are a lot of gays out there, certainly, who should have been reading this book. Of course, the brilliance of it is that there are a lot of human beings, period, that I know would love this book if they gave it a chance. I keep hoping, if nothing else, we might see this creative team reunited for an Authority or Apollo and Midnighter book some day. I know I’ll be there for it.
So, finally, to Steve Orlando, ACO, Hugo Petrus and Romulo Fajardo, Jr. and everyone else involved in these 12 issues… thank you. The writing was always stellar, of course. With some of my favorite dialogue in any comic book going. And it was always expertly accompanied by some absolutely gorgeous (and often brutal) artwork. I really hope it’s not too long before we see Midnighter pop up somewhere, and I hope this creative team might be able to come along for the ride again.