The first time I read a book with Midnighter in it, he wasn’t even the star. It didn’t matter. He stole the show (repeatedly) in the DC superspy series Grayson, a tough feat considering Dick Grayson is flat-out one of my favorite characters.
At a glance, he looks and sounds exactly like Batman without the ears or the “no killing” code. The resemblance was intentional; originally part of the separate WildStorm comics universe, Midnighter and his husband Apollo were created to parallel Batman and Superman as part of their world’s premier superteam, the Authority.
Despite being created in the late 1990s, their relationship and identities are never trivialized, and the fact that Midnighter and Apollo are openly gay and the most unstoppable superheroes in the world still feels incredibly refreshing. While superhero comics at large were heavily influenced by The Authority’s visual style, tone, and approach to storytelling, direct descendants of its approach like Ultimate Marvel and the MCU largely failed to carry the torch of groundbreaking queer characters.
A while after DC acquired WildStorm and folded its characters into the mainline universe, Midnighter resurfaced in Grayson as the ex-superhero’s rival / foil / frenemy / ”nemesister.” His manic joy in combat, his relentless swagger, and his unique moral compass all come together to make him one of the best characters in a book full of all-timer characterizations.
Also, it would be a crime not to mention that Midnighter and Apollo begins with the couple fighting an evil god of subway trains.
Midnighter is fantastic for a dozen other reasons, but the one that still really gets me is that he gets to be the unstoppable badass in a way that’s almost always reserved for cis dudes, and he’s living for it. It doesn’t hurt that he’s better written and more nuanced than most hyper-violent action icons, easily earning his place among the best of the best.
“Gay Batman” is a hell of an elevator pitch, but that’s selling him short, because Batman isn’t having half as much fun. Midnighter never feels constrained by the limits of what straight people think gay characters should or could be. He just revels in being violence incarnate, and goddamn, it feels good to be along for the ride.
- Midnighter (2015-2016) – By Steve Orlando and ACO
- Midnighter and Apollo (2016-2017) – By Steve Orlando and Fernando Blanco
- The Authority (1999-2002) – By Warren Ellis, Bryan Hitch and Paul Neary
- Grayson (2014-2016) – By Tim Seeley and Mikel Janin
- The Wild Storm (2017-2019) – By Warren Ellis and Jon Davis-Hunt