In Midnighter #2 , Steve Orlando gives us a sense of the superhero profession. Not, please note, the superhero life, or the superhero activity. Rather, we truly get a very rare and serious glimpse of superheroism as a demanding profession. Midnighter is not all-consumed by his superhero identity, whether for the bad as in the case of Batman or the good as in the case of Dick Grayson. However, his vigilante activity is not simply a job at which he clocks in and out, either. Rather, it is a part of his life that affects all aspects of his being without necessarily defining them. It is a set of skills that he has honed in a way that sets him clearly apart from amateurs. It is a web of contacts and habits that embeds him firmly in a very exotic subculture.
The difference in the super world between professionals and amateurs emerges in the opening sequence of the comic. The mysterious stranger who stole military technology from the God Garden has, it turns out, been distributing it to people who feel they have been wronged by the system. In this case, the thief has provided a deadly sonic device to a woman named Marina whose husband died when he had a reaction to an exotic food, a reaction the agricultural company had anticipated in some percentage of customers but ignored for the sake of profits. Marian invades the company headquarters to assassinate the board of directors, but makes the amateur mistake of pausing to give them a long monologue about her history and motivations, allowing Midnighter time to arrive. Midnighter not only doesn’t waste time giving lectures, he punctures his own eardrums before entering the room, rendering himself immune to Marina’s weapon. A professional takes care of business.
The world of professional contacts and organizations Midnighter lives in is a key component not just of the story but of the book and the greater initiative it partially embodies. DC is attempting to expand its fictional universe in multiple directions. One major direction, until recently mostly associated with the new Grayson comic, is the world of spies and intrigue, especially as that world touches on superheroes and science-fiction themes. Midnighter very much arises from this effort. Indeed, it is a spin-off from Grayson and is, surprisingly, edited by the Batman Office. The God Garden began as a plot element of Dick Grayson’s current storyline. All of which makes it very significant that the person distributing the stolen weapons has no face. As Midnighter observes, that points to the use of Hypnos, a technology associated with Grayson’s Spyral organization. It’s probably also no accident that Grayson himself is scheduled to guest star in Midnighter in September. DC appears to be pushing very hard to build an integrated set of books in a spy world that is, in effect, an annex of the popular Bat Universe.
Finally, Midnighter #2 continues its exploration of the main character’s sexuality and social life, and his attempt to balance that against professional demands. A very moving scene shows his breakup with boyfriend Apollo, a split brought on by Midnighter’s continued association with the God Garden. Orlando uses a variant of Midnighter’s inevitable tagline about seeing the future to heartbreaking effect.
The art of this issue, unfortunately, does not work as well as that of the first. Alec Morgan’s work is reminiscent of Alex Maleev or Tim Sale, which would be appropriate for a more noir story. The much more dynamic images of ACO fit better with the feel of Midnighter. Hopefully, a substitute artist this early in the run is not indicative of a pattern.
Overall, this is a solid second issue that establishes and expands Midnighter's world while extending the God Garden storyline. The early sequence where Marina lapses into a monologue straight from a superhero parody is a bit rough, and the art does not serve the story. But fans of Midnighter should only be pleased, and those who have been curious about the character now have an excellent opportunity to meet a very different kind of superhero.