This June, Midnighter gets a new ongoing series that takes the character out of his sheltered world as a secretive spy-hero and puts him face-to-face with his own humanity.
Spinning out of DC's successful Grayson series, Midnighter will be written by Steve Orlando with art by Aco. The comic joins a series of new faces in June's revamp of the DC line, a list of new titles that reflect the publisher's efforts toward diversity.
The traditionally ultra-violent character — who practices what the writer calls "caring, with sadism" — originated as part of the WildStorm universe in the Stormwatch and The Authority teams — characters DC absorbed into their regular superhero universe in 2011.
Known for his superhuman fighting ability, Midnighter will get plenty of action in his new title. Bbut according to Orlando, Midnighter also gets the chance to self-reflect and come to terms with his own humanity. Because he's always been part of a top-secret superhero team, he's got some important questions to answer — like what kind of food does Midnighter like? What kind of relationships is he capable of maintaining? And will he eat bagels?
Newsarama talked to Steve Orlando to find out more about the series — whether Midnighter's relationship with former Stormwatch teammate Apollo survives, and who else we'll see in the comic. That interview follows after the solicitation copy for June's issue #1.
"Spinning out of GRAYSON comes a solo series starring the man who can predict your every move… but no one will be able to predict what he’ll do next! A theft at the God Garden has unleashed a wave of dangerous biotech weapons on the world, and Midnighter intends to put that genie back in the bottle by any means necessary. But something else was stolen from the Garden as well…the secret history of Lucas Trent, the man Midnighter once was!:
Newsarama: So, Midnighter — what is it all about? What should readers expect, Steve?
Steve Orlando: Lots of punching. The first issue…numerous punches are thrown, lots of punching in 2015, but beyond that also lots of new faces, new experiences for him.
The idea of Midnighter is that he’s always been a fighter; in fact that’s all he can do, so as we see him move into his own series, certainly, you cant have Midnighter without fights, but he also learns how to be a normal person.
So as we move into this book, he’s given up on the idea of a secret identity. He’s out of the closet as a gay man and he’s out of the closet as a superhero, and whether he is fighting Dr. Polaris or he is sitting on a subway, he is always Midnighter, and so we have to see how this reflects with people of every-day life.
He’s so used to associating himself with super humans, but because of events in the series, he can’t do that anymore, and he has to learn how to have actual relationships — but he’s never had one. Every relationship he’s ever had, he’s had to look at as a fight because that’s all he knew, and so as we move into these insane crimes and these explosive Michael Bay/John Wu-type of scenarios, at the same time he has to find out how to deal with the day-to-day life as an adult man who’s not really throwing a piece of glass into someone’s brain.
It’s like a joke (to me), but when I was thinking of the character, I thought, he doesn’t even know if he likes bagels because he’s never even considered how to be like a normal person.
Nrama: You mentioned new faces; seems like he’s going to be a single man, so are Apollo and Jenny going to be around?
Orlando: Well, we’re going to examine that. He and Apollo…things between them surely lead into the series and they have a complex relationship, but it will be moving away from the other Authority characters and the other Stormwatch characters, I should say, but you know the fact is that it is something very true in the community. They’re physically adult men, but basically this is their first relationship, so there’s a lot to unpack about what’s going on in their lives, and even something that resonates with the queer community itself.
He’s a grown gay man but really, he doesn’t know how to define himself without Apollo, so really he has questions he’s going up against, which is new to him, because for a long time he wasn’t sure if he was human but he is. So you’ll see how things occur with him and Apollo.
There will be an exploration and balance with this insane helicopter-kicking life, and this need to sort of find a way to be a real person and translate his weirdness and tendencies into something that is palatable to him and the people around.
Nrama: So we’re definitely going to see a different side of him, cause he’s usually a leader and very macho-like.
Orlando: We’ll be seeing a different side of him, in that he will hopefully be more than a fight machine. And that will just be a part of his life.
Midnighter will be more than a guy who always knows how a fight's going to end, but I don’t think it means he’ll be any less of a leader or any less masculine. I think that there’s noting un-masculine about introspection or finding, becoming a more of a person.
Think of someone who’s done only one job their entire life, and they were tired, but they don’t know what to do, and in many ways this is what’s happening to him. He hasn’t stop being a bad-ass, but he’s looking into a way to create more for himself and that still makes him a leader.
The only reason he’s able to do this is because he has no secret identity and he’s 100 percent confident all the time. There’s no reason Midnighter would ever be in the closet.
I think of when they asked Henry Rollins if he’s gay or not, and his response was, “Oh well, if I were gay there would be no closet. I’d kick out the closet and I’d smash it with a hammer and then stab someone in the face."
That’s kind of how Midnighter is too. No matter what he’s doing, he’s 100 percent confident of what he is as a superhero, as a vigilante, as a gay man, and I think that very much makes him a leader in the community, inside and outside the continuity of the book, because that is something that is admirable, even if his actions are questionable, even if he is skirting the line and almost crossing the line of vigilantism.
His life, his viewpoint of life of not changing for anyone, living forcefully, I think is iconic for people. Everyone would want that confidence whether it’s being queer, or anything; I think it’s very powerful of the character.
Nrama: Do you think the LGBT community, who haven't seen much positive representation in superhero comics, need a character like this?
Orlando: I think it’s important. I think saying he has to be all things to all gay people would be taking a dangerous road, because were not skirting the fact that he is a killer and he does do some pretty messed up things, but I do think that the heart and the tone behind the character, the way he lives his life even if he’s making mistakes, is very important.
When I was 10 or 13, and I saw him for the first time, mid '90s I believe, the only way you would know (what it meant) being gay, bisexual, lesbian or transgender is basically from watching Will & Grace. You would think, “Oh. This is how I have to act.” And so seeing this character, that is totally unlike that — he is unquestionably a gay man but he’s also so revered, respected and feared by the community — I think that that is an important message, even if he’s sort of a hardlined character, even if he does engage in acts of violence.
Yes, I was saying, or as I think about the character, he cares a lot. I think it’s a mistake to say that Midnighter broods or that Midnighter doesn’t like people, I think Midnighter loves people but he also hates, with a rage greater than many other characters, when people hurt people, and I think it’s sort of very unique to the character.
He knows he has a problem, he knows he has, as I like to say, “violent citizens arrest,” but he funnels it through this intense caring for people.
As I said when I was originally talking to people about it, it’s caring by way of sadism. This idea that he would do anything to help this many people, even stepping over the line, is much worse. You wish it were Batman because maybe you’d get another shot, but he doesn’t really give rematches
Nrama: You said he’s definitely out of the closet, but does that mean there’s no costume? Is there a costume, and if so, how does his costume look like?
Orlando: There’s definitely a costume, I think in many ways we are getting back to the roots of the character. I don’t think it will be that different, I don’t know what I can and can’t say, what you see in Grayson… because to me that is the iconic part of the character.
As he said in one of his original lines, he is what kids think about when they first realize what death is like. The ability to frighten the frighteners is a large part of the character and I think it’s important for him to cut that profile.
You need to know when he appears that you’ve done something bad, that you’ve really stepped into a different world, and so I think he has to have that look. You have to have that trench coat. In a world where we’ve established that superheroes exist, you have to know that there are lines and that you’ve crossed one when you’ve run into someone like this.
His powers are definitely there and you’ll see for the first time how his powers really work. There are limits to them, obviously otherwise he’d never be able to lose, but also you’ll see how it’s affected his personal life due to who he is. Midnighter from his whole life until now looked at everything as a fight, and if you see every relationship you’re in as combat than you’re not going to have any lasting relationships.