Yet Another Leather Enthusiast
Welcome to another article! This week, we’re taking on one final suggestion from the always awesome Zthe27th, author of the Xavier Files! Once again, if you enjoy these articles but wish they were focused on mutants/better overall, go check him out.
Midnighter is a pretty simple guy at heart. He just wants to beat on people with various blunt objects until they’re too dead to commit any more crime. However, beyond that, he’s actually a pretty complex character, having evolved from his creation as a sort of Batman analogue to one of the most prominent gay heroes in comic books. But with a backstory as dizzyingly vague and complicated as the ones people like Fantomex were created to make fun of, he can be a bit of a chore to read into. Luckily, I’m here to give you this article of questionable quality! So without further ado, let’s fake an education in comics!
Can’t Wait for the Inevitable Re-Re-Retcon of His Marriage
SCENARIO: Let me talk about something almost topical here this week. Let’s say you’re talking to someone about the issue of gay representation in comics. Now, there’s been a lot more of them (and a lot more good ones) then there have ever been lately, but there’s still the issue of a character coming across simply as a stereotype, or just insufferable. You’ve got characters of this poor caliber popping up for decades, from Extrano back in the day, to Barbara’s friend in the Killing Joke adaptation this year, and it’s easy to see how seeing any of them could sour someone on gay characters in comics as a whole. So, let’s give you enough knowledge on a character who is a much more positive representation. Let’s learn about Midnighter, shall we?
Step One: Two Minutes to Midnighter
Not all that much is known about Midnighter’s past. As far as we know, as soon as he was raised from a normal life to superhuman, his previous identity all but ceased to exist. You see, Midnighter was one of the original candidates for the superpowered peacekeeping task-force Stormwatch. Rebuilt from the ground up (no, like, literally rebuilt) as the ultimate warrior, Midnighter was given a wide array of implants designed to make him a close-combat machine. Enhanced physical attributes, environmental adaptability, total control of his pain receptors, a healing factor, the ability to immediately know an opponents abilities at a glance, enhanced senses, as well as the ability to run through every possible outcome of a fight before it starts… basically, he’s able to kick your ass in at least fifty different ways before you know it. Sort of like a Shake-N-Bake Batman.
The rest of the original team was built in a similar manner. However, somehow almost all of the team members died on their original mission, with only Apollo (Wildstorm’s analogue for Superman) and Midnighter surviving. After this, they spent the next five years as rogue operatives, fighting crime undercover. They had adventures all over America, eventually being forced to cross the pond and fight a battle in England to stop their creator, Henry Bendix, from using children for cybernetic research subjects, where they developed connections with MI5. Throughout all of this, Stormwatch itself had reformed under new leadership, and eventually, the new team and the last survivors of the old would have to come to blows. While on a mission to retrieve some weapons created by the original Engineer (there’s going to be a lot of characters you may not have heard of in this article, by the way), Midnighter and Apollo eventually met up with this new Stormwatch and, thinking they were still run by the same dirtbag who though kids were suitable test subjects for cyborg warfare, immediate started a fight. However, things ended pretty quickly as soon as the new Stormwatch let them know that Bendix was dead, and Apollo and Midnighter gladly assisted the team on their current mission, with the promise that as soon as the assignment was complete, they would finally be able to live their lives away from Stormwatch and any other superhuman combat.
Of course, this wasn’t meant to be, and eventually, Midnighter (and also Apollo, but this article isn’t about him) would be called out of retirement to fight for a new team: The Authority.
Step Two: Respect my Authoritah
Midnighter proved to be the backbone of the Authority, as expected of a Batman-type characters. Being the perfect tactician, an amazing fighter, and a pretty funny guy, Midnighter essentially became the team leader, masterminding the team’s first major victory against a dictator named Kaizen Gamorra. Granted, his master plan amounted to dropping the Authority’s mobile base, the Carrier, on top of Gamorra’s island home, but hey, whatever works, right?
Midnighter continued to serve on the team for the majority of it’s lifespan, even helping restore it to it’s former glory when the US government attacked them and replaced members with easily manipulated substitutes. During this time, Midnighter also had a hand in rescuing and raising Jenny Quantum, the Century Baby born after Jenny Sparks’ time was over (look, it’s a whole thing, I’ll get into it another time), and after he had saved both the Authority and Apollo, the two were married, adopting Jenny as their child and living out a couple of months in happiness before comic book storytelling came back to ruin Midnighter’s life in the form of a future version of Apollo, who claimed that if Midnighter continued down his current path (he was, at the time, instrumental in the Authority’s brief reign over the USA), he would end up as one of the violent dictators he so despised. This drove Midnighter to quit the team, as well as bail on his husband, because Midnighter isn’t super great at dealing with his emotions in a healthy and rational way.
Midnighter’s departure caused the Authority to break up, leaving it’s members in disarray. However, while Apollo was raising Jenny alone, she wound up using her powers to rapidly age herself to young adulthood, giving her the intelligence and fine motor control she would need to reform the Authority. This quest led her to Midnighter, who had disappeared fairly quickly after leaving the team. Turns out that not only was Henry Bendix not dead, but he had taken control over Midnighter. Thankfully, Midnighter would be freed relatively quickly, giving him the perfect opportunity to do that sick Fatality seen above.
Of course, once again, victory was short lived, as Captain Atom would end up being displaced into the Wildstorm universe, resulting in its destruction and rebirth. Of course, there was a whole bunch of death and carnage before the end result, but the only thing of significance that Midnighter did during the event was die, so… you know.
Step Three: From Reboot to Threeboot
I was going to try and make a Doctor Who joke bout that picture, but I couldn’t really squeeze anything out of the fact that Midnighter has a secondary heart and that the image reminds me of that one episode where the kid’s face turned into a gas mask, so… so here we are, I guess.
Midnighter had some pretty cool solo adventures after the Wildstorm reboot, most notably when a time traveler named Anton Paulus started fucking with Midnighter’s abilities in order to force him to travel back in time and kill Hitler. The plan was to travel back to Hitler’s service in WWI and kill him in the trenches before he could ever ascend to power, however, the plan failed when time police from the 95th century (I love comic books) showed up in an attempt to apprehend Midnighter. Then, after crashing the time police’s time-paddywagon in 1945, shortly before Hitler’s suicide, Midnighter was forced to work together with his would-be captors in order to make it back to his own time. Arriving back in his present, Midnighter killed Paulus, having discovered that the real reason he had been sent back to kill Hitler was so that Paulus’ Nazi official father could become a more effective ruler than Hitler would ever be. It’s worth mentioning that Midnighter was originally threatened Paulus by kidnapping his younger self with the intent to kill the child and erase Paulus from the timeline, but instead decapitated the man.
Shortly thereafter, while attempting to connect better with regular humans, Midnighter stumbled across a mad scientist who was kidnapping neighborhood pets and turning them into cyborgs. After a brief fight, Midnighter employed the man to try and reprogram criminals that he brings in, as well as adopting a cyborg dog, because cyborg dogs are fucking radical.
Eventually, Midnighter managed to get his hands on all the information on his former life, sending him on a journey of self discovery to his home town of Harmon, Indiana. Turns out he used to be named Lucas Trent, he was 40 years old, and his town was the current base of operations for a paramilitary group known as Anthem. But actually, no, it didn’t. See, Midnighter had gotten his information from Jenny Quarx, but it turned out she had falsified the information, meaning that absolutely nothing about Midnighter’s past had been revealed, and that the readers had just had a couple weeks of their time wasted. Midnighter decided to stay in Harmony anyways though, because he had almost nowhere else to go.
Eventually, the World’s End event kicked off, and operating once more with the Authority, Midnighter went through hell. Moving through the ruins of London, which were renamed Unlondon, because of course they were, Midnighter almost singlehandedly defended those who still lived there. After this, Apollo would become infected by Incubites, and while trying to burn the infection out of his body with the Sun, the infection took over his body, turning him into the Burn. Midnighter set off to find the cure, journeying to Scotland, fighting a dragon, and eventually coming across a being known as the Green Man, who is actually the Authority’s missing doctor. Having gone insane, Green Man tortures Midnighter until Century Baby Gaia Rothstein manages to contact the Authority to help save him. After beating the Green man, Gaia gives Midnighter an apple with the cure to Apollo’s infection as thanks, and all is well, with one of the best couples in comics reunited after a long, long time of separation.
Midnighter and Apollo would later choose to stay on Earth after many of its heroes left in a mass exodus, partially out of faith in the planet, but also partially because Apollo needed to stay near the Sun so that he could survive. Helping oversee the next three months of Earth’s reconstruction, Midnighter aided the leftover heroes of Earth in various struggles, including a war against the Knights of Khera, and stopping a less than ideal plan made by Zealot that involved using alien technology to farm clone soldiers in human women. Overall, things were going okay. But then something happened. Something big. Something that you’ve probably seen me shit all over before.
You see, when the New 52 burst onto the scene in the most unwelcome of ways, the Wildstorm universe was folded into the main DCU. Now, I don’t really have a problem with this itself, in fact, I wound up enjoying it. It just didn’t have the same charm of the Wildstorm things of yore. Instead of being a sort of lovable pastiche of 90s tropes and superhero deconstruction, we got a gaggle of one note edgelords. Midnighter first made an appearance as part of the new Stormwatch, led by Martian Manhunter, who was forced to outsource himself as the Zordon of another team when the Justice League decided that god damned Cyborg was a more interesting character than a sick alien man.
This was short lived, however, as basically no one gave enough of a shit about the book, and Midnighter fell back into relative obscurity until the DCYou appeared to get people’s hopes up, where Midnighter both got a recurring supporting role in the fantastic Grayson and his own solo. Plus, he was wearing a nicer looking fetish get up instead of the above, an inferior quality fetish get up.
During this time, Midnighter was an agent of the Garden, directly opposing Spyral. After helping Dick Grayson orchestrate the fall of the corrupt elements of the organization, he continued to work for the Garden intermittently, until his solo was canceled due to low sales. It’s okay though! He’s getting a book about him and Apollo as part of Rebirth, as well as a return to his old imprint, so hopefully things will go a bit better for him in the future.
Well, that about covers it. I left out a decent amount of his stuff following his introduction to the main DCU, but nothing that you really need to know. Plus I couldn’t find my issues of Midnighter from DCYou, so specifics were not available to me. Also, I thought about doing a character study between him and Batman, but they really are too different beyond their superficial similarities, if anything, Midnighter is closer to a gay love child of the Punisher and Wolverine than Batman.
Well, thanks for reading folks! I’ll see you all next week, where we’ll finally be talking about a non-DC related character! See you then!