Join Us / Login

Why Midnighter Is So Important For Queer Fans

Magen Cubed Magen Cubed
Member
August 19th, 2015

Magen Cubed is a novelist and comics critic. Her superhero/SFF series THE CRASHERS is coming soon from Booktrope.

Why Midnighter Is So Important For Queer Fans
Opinion
30 Comments

Midnighter is an important comic for the LGBT community. Our Magen Cubed is here to explain why.

My relationship with queer superheroes has always been a little complicated.

As a child growing up in the 1990s, I came into my own reading Marvel Comics and watching DC Saturday morning cartoons. Back then openly queer characters were hard to come by. There was the heavy queer implications of Mystique's relationship with Destiny, the more-than-friends flirtation of Rictor and Shatterstar, and the thinly veiled romantic attachment shared by Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn in Batman: The Animated Series, but nothing concrete. (Both Rictor/Shatterstar and Ivy/Harley have been confirmed as canon, but when I was a kid, no such luck.) Even Northstar, Marvel's first openly gay character, was tiptoed around, his sexuality rarely mentioned for several years after coming out in 1992. For most of my life as a comics fan, queer representation was most often found in meaningful looks and lingering touches, leaving readers to fill in the details. That left queer fans like me feeling left behind.

MORE NEWS FROM THE WEB

MIDNIGHTER4

During my late teens and early 20s, characters like Marvel's Wiccan and Hulking and DC's Batwoman began normalizing queer relationships and experiences in mainstream comics. For the first time, I was able to easily find comics that attempted to develop and explore queer lives. These comics, at least on face value, reflected some of my own experiences as a queer woman. Some of the most important of these comics were Stormwatch and The Authority, and the characters Apollo and Midnighter. Created by Warren Ellis and Bryan Hitch, Apollo and Midnighter (analogs for Superman and Batman respectively) were probably of the most visible queer heroes in all of comics for many years, eventually marrying and adopting a daughter. After spending my formative years with few openly queer characters to latch onto, Apollo and Midnighter were a comfort to have.

Titles and characters such as these took strides to veer away from the typical melodrama of coming out stories, homophobic violence, and AIDS cautionary tales that were so often the norm. However, while certainly progressive for the time, they weren't perfect by any means. Homophobic violence still plagued queer characters, along with fairly routine sexual assaults. Too often queer characters were still couched deep within the rosters of team books, their stories rarely developed, their relationships treated with kid gloves. While their straight counterparts were usually afforded the chance for deeper, more nuanced relationships, queer characters were paired off immediately, dropped into marriages or tidy monogamous living arrangements.

Queer relationships are often too polished and perfect to reflect the realities shared by many queer comics fans. As endearing as these pairings tend to be, they're usually shiny, unrealistic, and almost totally platonic fantasies where the nitty gritty of human sexuality and interpersonal dynamics are sugarcoated and brushed aside. Straight characters can have deep, rich, complicated romances; queer characters often seem to require too much time and effort from their respective publishers to be worth the trouble.

This is why DC's new ongoing Midnighter series is so important. It's not only the return of one of comics' most beloved openly gay characters, but it's almost one of the most realistic, honest, and necessary portrayals to date.

MIDNIGHTER1

Story continues below

This version sees a younger Midnighter split from longtime canon husband Apollo. While not married in this continuity, he and Apollo are on the outs, trying to figure out their relationship and who they are apart from one another. Now Midnighter's single, dating, and trying to balance work with his personal life. Work just happens to involve finding new and creative ways to rip out spines and beat bad guys into pulp; sometimes that makes for some awkward dinner conversations. He goes to gay clubs, uses dating apps, and as of the third issue, is pursuing a remarkably healthy relationship with his love interest Matt.

Midnighter is single, sexually active, and getting used to a dating scene that he's not necessarily equipped for. After a lifetime of violence sent him rushing into a loving (but apparently somewhat codependent) relationship with Apollo, Midnighter is out on his own for the first time. And he's kind of loving it. The end result is a funny, violent, sexy, quirky, messy series of adventures of a living fight computer who happens to be a fully-realized gay man. This creative team embraces the rarely seen, sexually charged, and emotionally complicated aspects of queer relationships, doing due diligence in bringing them to the page.

apollomidnighter

Midnighter and Apollo's romance is allowed to be problematic and painful. Though deeply committed to each other since they both came out, they agree to split up to figure out who they are apart from one another. The sexual encounters they have outside of their relationship give each of them the space to see if they can still make it work. It isn't clear if Midnighter and Apollo will get back together, and that's okay. This isn't a story about a married couple; it's a story about a delayed coming of age. Whereas many of their queer superhero peers have been quickly pushed into monogamous, virtually sexless relationships, Apollo and Midnighter both recognize that they've never been with anyone else. They've never learned to date or to be with other people, or even how queer life really works in larger society. They're emotionally isolated, dependent on each other, and in need of answers to questions they never thought to ask in the heat of the moment that initially brought them together.

I can say from personal experience that this isnt't entirely unheard of. Straight parents and school teachers aren't usually the most prepared (or willing) to explain the birds and the bees to queer kids. You have to seek that information from knowledgeable sources, listen to your potentially idiotic friends, or just wing it on your own. Now Midnighter is going through this, too, with all the awkwardness, humor, and tenderness that process invites. Sleeping with different partners, going to gay clubs, and using dating apps like the average gay man would. Queer sex is treated as normal, healthy, and ripe for exploration, rather than shied away from or given strict prescriptive limitations. Small touches like this are so appreciated when your typical queer superhero comes prepackaged in a perfect relationship and never has to worry about awkward morning-afters or other dating pitfalls.

MIDNIGHTER2

Series writer Steve Orlando's characterizations are nothing short of delightful. The dialogue is absolutely dripping with sarcasm but affords Midnighter serious pathos throughout the first three issues, patiently doling out tender flashbacks and genuinely human sequences to hone Midnighter's strong emotional core. Midnighter is charming, explosive, and downright funny. He gleefully vaults into danger and wears his emotions on his sleeve, subtly vulnerable despite his trademark sadism. He puts everything on the table, even when it backfires on him, and is learning as he goes. Orlando's character voices are simply on-point issue after issue, and it's hugely entertaining to watch Midnighter's story unfold from fight to fight, relationship to relationship, balancing each aspect of his life with a wicked sense of humor.

Artists ACO, Alec Morgan, and Romulo Fajardo, Jr. absolutely luxuriate in the blood and chaos of the first three issues with gorgeous action tableaus and smart page design principles. Even for the joyful violence Midnighter inflicts, these art teams successfully provide meaningful context through interspersed Apollo backstory segments and Midnighter's tenderness with Matt. These moments of intimacy, as well as his interactions with the children he's rescued throughout the series, beautifully humanize Midnighter, rounding out his violent nature with moments of genuine compassion. Midnighter isn't just a well-developed gay man, he's one of the most engaging characters with an ongoing title on sale right now.

It's so refreshing to see.

Midnighter is at once an honest, bloody, fun, and heartbreaking book. Its necessary and relevant portrayal of contemporary queer relationships and experiences is incredible, especially with only three issues under its belt so far. After a lifetime of making the best of the queer characters offered by mainstream comics, I am absolutely in love with Midnighter. Give this book a shot; chances are you will be, too.

Story continues below

 

Magen Cubed is a Contributor to ComiConverse.  Follow her on Twitter: @MagenCubed

(Visited 766 times, 1 visits today)

30 Comments

  1. I simply want to tell you that I’m new to blogs and definitely loved this blog. Most likely I’m going to bookmark your blog post . You really come with wonderful article content. Many thanks for sharing your website page.

  2. Sorry for the huge review, but I’m really loving the new Zune, and hope this, as well as the excellent reviews some other people have written, will help you decide if it’s the right choice for you.

  3. You decided not to enter into great detail, nevertheless, you presented the essentials I desired to get me through. If you are trying to find started out with a task this is often the type of details that’s needed. Having more writers be part of the dialogue might be a great thing.

  4. Arts & Dance says:

    I truly appreciate this post. I have been looking all over for this! Thank goodness I found it on Bing. You’ve made my day! Thanks again

  5. Game says:

    Hello there, I found your web site by way of Google even as looking for a similar subject, your web site got here up, it seems great. I have bookmarked it in my google bookmarks.

  6. I just couldn’t go away your site before suggesting that I actually loved the usual info an individual provide on your visitors? Is going to be again regularly in order to check out new posts

  7. Helpful information. Lucky me I found your web site by chance, and I am shocked why this accident didn’t happened in advance! I bookmarked it.

  8. Sports says:

    It is perfect time to make some plans for the future and it is time to be happy. I’ve read this post and if I could I wish to suggest you few interesting things or advice. Perhaps you could write next articles referring to this article. I want to read more things about it!

  9. Good – I should definitely pronounce, impressed with your website. I had no trouble navigating through all the tabs and related info ended up being truly simple to do to access. I recently found what I hoped for before you know it in the least. Reasonably unusual. Is likely to appreciate it for those who add forums or anything, website theme . a tones way for your customer to communicate. Nice task.

  10. Travel says:

    My brother recommended I might like this web site. He was entirely right. This post truly made my day. You cann’t imagine simply how much time I had spent for this information! Thanks!

  11. Great ¡V I should definitely pronounce, impressed with your web site. I had no trouble navigating through all tabs and related info ended up being truly simple to do to access. I recently found what I hoped for before you know it in the least. Reasonably unusual. Is likely to appreciate it for those who add forums or anything, web site theme . a tones way for your customer to communicate. Nice task..

  12. Law & Legal says:

    I simply wished to say thanks once again. I’m not certain what I might have made to happen in the absence of the aspects shown by you directly on this industry. Completely was a very intimidating problem for me personally, but coming across a professional style you resolved that made me to jump with fulfillment. Now i am thankful for the support and in addition hope that you really know what an amazing job you happen to be putting in instructing the rest thru your web site. Most likely you’ve never met any of us.

  13. I would like to thnkx for the efforts you have put in writing this web site. I am hoping the same high-grade web site post from you in the upcoming as well. Actually your creative writing skills has encouraged me to get my own blog now. Actually the blogging is spreading its wings rapidly. Your write up is a good example of it.

  14. Pets says:

    I not to mention my buddies were found to be examining the good secrets and techniques found on your site and so unexpectedly got a terrible suspicion I never expressed respect to you for those secrets. Most of the ladies ended up so passionate to study them and have in effect undoubtedly been using those things. Appreciation for indeed being well kind and then for figuring out this kind of fabulous themes millions of individuals are really desirous to learn about. My very own honest regret for not saying thanks to you sooner.

  15. As a Newbie, I am permanently exploring online for articles that can be of assistance to me. Thank you

  16. What i don’t realize is actually how you are now not actually much more smartly-preferred than you might be now. You are so intelligent. You realize therefore considerably in terms of this matter, made me for my part consider it from so many numerous angles. Its like women and men are not fascinated unless it is something to accomplish with Lady gaga! Your individual stuffs great. Always take care of it up!

  17. An outstanding share! I have just forwarded this onto a friend who had been doing a little homework on this. And he actually ordered me dinner because I stumbled upon it for him… lol. So let me reword this…. Thank YOU for the meal!! But yeah, thanks for spending time to talk about this topic here on your web page.

  18. Business says:

    I believe this web site has got some very excellent info for everyone :D. “Years wrinkle the skin, but to give up enthusiasm wrinkles the soul.” by Samuel Ullman.

  19. Science says:

    Thank you for sharing excellent informations. Your site is so cool. I’m impressed by the details that you’ve on this blog. It reveals how nicely you perceive this subject. Bookmarked this web page, will come back for more articles. You, my friend, ROCK! I found just the info I already searched everywhere and just could not come across. What a great website.

  20. Divorcemind.com is a online divorce resource for divorce attorney, attornies and lawyers. You will find the best divorce information online. Divorce Mind will make your divorce or separation a quick, convenient and private.

  21. Heya i am for the first time here. I found this board and I find It really useful & it helped me out much. I hope to give something back and aid others like you helped me.

  22. Law & Legal says:

    Hello.This post was extremely motivating, especially because I was searching for thoughts on this issue last couple of days.

  23. imscseo says:

    IMSC SEO is a Singapore SEO Company. They provide comprehensive Singapore SEO services to help SG businesses to gain traffic from search engine. Their SEO agency has many years of experiences working with overseas companies on more competitive grounds. They are the best seo company in Singapore you can find. Their SEO expert and consultant understand exactly what search engine optimization your company need to gain search engine traffic.

  24. Woman says:

    I like this weblog very much, Its a rattling nice situation to read and find information. “No one wants advice — only corroboration.” by John Steinbeck.

  25. Family says:

    My spouse and i got absolutely joyful that Peter could conclude his preliminary research out of the precious recommendations he was given using your blog. It is now and again perplexing to just possibly be giving for free concepts other people could have been selling. We fully grasp we have got you to be grateful to because of that. The illustrations you’ve made, the easy site navigation, the relationships you aid to instill – it’s many sensational, and it’s really helping our son in addition to us imagine that that idea is thrilling, and that is rather important. Thank you for all!

  26. Divorcemind.com is a online divorce resource for divorce attorney, attornies and lawyers. You will find the best divorce information online. Divorce Mind will make your divorce or separation a quick, convenient and private.

  27. Automotive says:

    I have to express my appreciation to this writer for bailing me out of this particular incident. After surfing around throughout the internet and finding notions which were not productive, I assumed my life was done. Being alive minus the strategies to the problems you’ve resolved by way of your good article is a crucial case, as well as the ones that would have in a wrong way damaged my career if I had not encountered your website. Your main understanding and kindness in dealing with the whole lot was vital. I’m not sure what I would have done if I hadn’t discovered such a thing like this. I can also at this point look forward to my future. Thank you so much for your professional and result oriented help. I will not think twice to refer the sites to any individual who needs and wants tips about this subject matter.

  28. I’ll gear this review to 2 types of people: current Zune owners who are considering an upgrade, and people trying to decide between a Zune and an iPod. (There are other players worth considering out there, like the Sony Walkman X, but I hope this gives you enough info to make an informed decision of the Zune vs players other than the iPod line as well.)

  29. MichaelJemery.com is a site with many hypnosis downloads. Whether you are looking for free hypnosis downloads, self hypnosis download for mp3, video and any audio files, Michael Jemery has the downloads for you. You can download hypnosis from apps, audio, mp3 and even youtube !

ComiConverse with us...

Yes No