Well it's Valentine's Day so time for something a little romantic. And what could be more romantic than a superhuman combat machine in black leather beating the shit out of people. OK, you'll have to bear with me for the romantic bit. First an introduction to Midnighter if you haven't read the previous books of his I've covered. Originally a member of The Authority in the Wildstorm universe where he was the Batman expy. He was and still is an openly gay man who ended up marrying his lover Apollo, the Wildstorm Superman expy. When the Wildstorm universe was merged with the main DCU with the launch of the New 52, he and Apollo were members of Stormwatch and still together. When the DCYou launched him in this, his solo series, he broke up with Apollo and hit the club scene. He ended up falling for a man who got very close to him only to reveal he was the supervillian Prometheus who wanted the Midnighter's tech and had memorised and destroyed the file on who Midnighter really was as a kid before he was kidnapped and filled with battle computers and enhanced strength and healing by the Gardener of The God Garden. He thought Midnighter wouldn't kill him as he would lose his chance to find out who he really was but Midnighter punched his head into jelly. But while this betrayal hurt Midnighter a lot he won't let himself brood over it. Now with the DC Rebirth this series was cancelled and it's obvious this final storyline is a little rushed because of the need to tie up the end of an arc in time. So we won't hold that against it as we take a look at the second and final volume of Midnighter written by Steve Orlando and art by Aco.
In the subway tunnels under New York is a weird blend of gorilla and rhino. It gets shot by a man with a high powered rifle who declares himself "top of the food chain". Elsewhere in the city an man called "Mr. Mndawe" arrives by plane and is greeted superciliously. He says he is there "tying up loose ends".
|Midnighter tells his story.|
Midnighter: "I don't look back. Midnighteris who I am. No matter where I am. There are certain realities to that. Some people are good. Some people play games. People lie. But when it happens to me, there's armour and energy weapons. The guy was garbage. I punched his face into his brain. I'm working through it. That's my style".
Robert says that's a lot to take in. Will, Robert's roommate says "Robert does have a line between professional fascination and unrepentant lust." Will says this documentary on Midnighter will help a lot of people and he hears there may be photography. "I do have a reputation as an exhibitionist of sorts" jokes Midnighter.
Then he gets a call from one of his "assets" (people he tags who can communicate with him via a patch he puts on them). The caller tells him "something large, toothy and elaborate just exploded out of the ground. Should be your type of thing". Midnighter calls up one of his doors that allow him to travel instantaneously anywhere on the planet telling Robert and Will, "to be continued boys".
He introduces himself as "Dominic Mndawe", his gift is a helmet and elixir that lets him merge animals to create chimeras and take them apart again. His elixir has been synthesised by an illegal hunt club but is incomplete. "There is no communion with the Red, the animal force that flows through us all" he says. Fat designer wallets prey on the artifical chimeras. He has shut down the main organisation, there is just the one satellite group here.
Dominic: "The creatures they create die scared, hurt and confused. These are people in dire need of assault. Will you follow me?"
Midnighter agrees and they follow the elephant who Dominic is communing telepathically with. She takes them to where she was changed and Domonic and Midnighter bust their way in and start beating the scumbag hunters up.
One of them says "you assholes better be ready for something you've never seen before" and sets a huge spider monster on them. Midnighter says to it that it's not it's fault "someone made you a monster. I can relate" and he knocks the creature out rather than killing it. He drops to the ground and a man holds a gun to his head. Unphased Midnighter says he can hit him before he can pull the trigger and then does so. He holds the man who was in charge of the place in a choke hold, and Dominic merges him with a mosquito.
|Dominic, one of the Karma Police.|
Midnighter: "The hurt never need worry. The hurters are on borrowed time."
Dominic asks him if he thinks death is the end of something. It is when he does it, says Midnighter and tells Dominic the team-up was fun.
Later he goes to the women's prison and picks up a woman called Marina Hyde who was arrested and jailed in book one and he made her one of his assets. Now she's been released he is there to pick her up. But before he can drive her somewhere he gets an emergency call and walks through a door. There he is confronted by two women, Susan and Helena Bertinelli who work for "Spyral" one of the zillion secret quasi-governmental organisations in the DCU.
After some tense chat, Helena tells Midnighter some dangerous tech has gone missing, "the Perdition Pistol" has to be retrieved before it is weaponised on a global scale. Midnighter says "I won't work for you. But I will work with you" and she shows him the targets. It's Task Force X more commonly known as "The Suicide Squad."
|Oh, those guys.|
He walks into the control room and confronts the head of The Suicide Squad, Amanda Waller. They are another shadowy government agency but one opposed to Spyral. Amanda says maybe she should add Midnighter to her "collection". He walks to where the pistol is being held then suddenly a man with electricity arcing round him appear in front of him.
The man gleefully says he's wearing a "mercury mantle" which makes him the fastest killer alive at the cost of years off his life. "And you punch things" he sneers at Midnighter who grins and says "but I am really good at it". He tells the man that he maybe faster than him fifty-nine seconds out of a minute, "but I've got that one second. And I'll make it count. That's all I need to cripple you" and with that he snaps the man's achilles tendon.
He shows her an image of Henry Bendix. If the Gardener is his mother, Bendix is his father until he crossed a line and was thrown out of the God Garden. Waller has dug him up and is backing a project he abandoned when it went beyond his control:
Midnighter: "The Unified. A military killer fueled by Kryptonian DNA and a fight computer like mine. I won't allow them to achieve this and neither will you".
Helena tells Midnighter to "bring me his head." Later at the diner/bar he frequents he's hanging out with Robert and Jason his mate from book one. Jason asks Robert what his take on "the worlds sexiest vigilante?" Robert says he is undecided but Midnighter's story is powerful and needs to be told.
|Midnighter talks the facts of his life.|
Harley Quinn barges past Robert while Midnighter's mystery assailant catches one of his punches. Then Midnighter takes a heavy blow to the head. Robert demands to know who they are and why they are attacking Midnighter. Midnighter shouts to Robert to get away from the open door, which explodes.
With Midnighter lying stunned in the rubble Task Force X - Harley Quinn, Deadshot and the mystery assailant - stand over him and gloat, and I don't know how this version of Harley Quinn has anything in common with the freewheeling lunatic of her solo series. Midnighter runs through the fight in his head and can't understand how his assailant dodged his strikes. He asks the man how.
The man says his name is "Afterthought" he's been infused with a chrono-chemical substance, "every moment, I'm seeing five seconds into the future, so no matter what move you make I always know what it's going to be". Deadshot wants to know if that's true how did he get arrested (the gimmick behind the Suicide Squad is they are criminals put to work with bombs in their necks to keep them doing what Amanda Waller wants) and Afterthought says, "who says I was, Deadshot?" Then he lays into Midnighter hard until he collapses into Robert's lap and Harley and Deadshot bear down on his helpless body.
|Midnighter and Robert on the wrong side of a beatdown.|
Angrily Robert walks away say Midnighter works himself to the bone to help people despite the maipulation and experiments dones to him. Helena knows that and he's hanging him out to dry to "prove a point". They better find him soon before Midnighter decides they're part of the problem.
In the Artic, Midnighter is being held in a Task Force X black site. He is chained up securely. Amanda Waller tells him she had plans for the Perdition Pistol, "that's what I do. Use bad things to help good people" and now what is she going to do with Midnighter. Deadshot tries baiting him, but Waller tells him he is being stupid and tells him to step outside with her.
|Deadshot (yes, he's actually white in the comics!) being an ass.|
Deadshot slouches off, and Waller returns to Midnighter. She tells Midnighter they'll turn his skin to salt, crack it off over and over until he tells them about Helena Bertinelli's counter intelligence. Midinighter tells them he's been cut open and had his muscles and bones dug out and replaced, "there is not a person on this planet. Not a pain in this universe that could make me do something against my will". He tells her he actually likes her more than Bertinelli, bombs in necks is a genius idea.
He respects that she "squeezes good out of bad" but he has bad news for her. Everytime she blinked he has been vibrating the chair. He respects her, yes, but he gave Bertinelli his word. "So I better get to work killing you" he continues. Waller laughs, but Midnighter has vibrated the chair so much the chains pop apart. He rises up and kicks one of his captors in the head. Waller quickly slips away as Midnighter takes down the rest of the guards.
|It's clobberin' time.|
Bendix: "Hand-holding doesn't save lives. Boots to necks do. The Unified could step on every neck. That's worth dealing with you people".
He is surprised when he realises there is only Afterthought and three others sent to move him and even more surprised when Midnighter teleports in.
Immediately the Squad attack him, he punches Parasite in the mouth and one of its teeth flies out and hits Harley in the head. He dodges Deadshot's bullets and breaks his fingers. He was shot in the leg and his healing hasn't kicked in, because Parasite has stolen that power from him. He ends up slumped on the ground bleeding out and Harley knocks him out wuth her giant mallet. Midnighter comes round chained up again inside of a missile. Deadshot, his hands bandaged in "circuitry guaze" tells Harley to push the button and activate the auto destruct and the bomb explodes.
|Another fine mess...|
Back with the Suicide Squad they are bickering, with Deadshot trying to provoke Afterthought. Waller ignores them and tells Bendix the "retrieval mission was a success" and hands him a canister which contains the Kryptonian DNA. Waller warn him that if he loses control of The Unified she'll put them both down. He says "if I lost control, you couldn't stop it."
|.. but his knight in shining armour saves him.|
Meanwhile Apollo and Midnighter are having a heart to heart. Midnighter tells Apollo all about Prometheus and how he tried to break him with an impossible choice. Now he'll never know his past because he killed him. Since he broke up with Apollo he's worked hard to make himself better. He met people who knew who he was and didn't care. Those people saved him, he trrusted them like he should have trusted Apollo, or Andrew as he calls him:
Midnighter: "What I did was stupid Andrew. I don't expect anything from you. But at the end of the world, there wasn't anyone else I wanted to see."
Apollo sits next to him and says someone has to remind him he's mortal. Midnighter says he's always known Gods walk the earth and they start to go in for a kiss when his message alarm goes off.
Then Task Force X attack Midnighter. First he deals with Captain Boomerang easily then faces down Parasite. He still has Midnighter's healing abilities but Midnighter tells him he knows of "some things that would slow me down" and spears Parasite through the heart. With Parasite down and out, Apollo returns and Afterthought says he hopes he's more of a challenge than Robert was. Is Midnighter ready for round two? "Damn right. Are you" he grins.
Harley and Deadshot are wwatching Bendix bring The Unified to life, "now costumed conscripts are obselete" Bendix says. Harley thinks this'll mean a vacation. The Unified pulses with crackling energy as Bendix powers him up. Afterthought is beating up Midnighter who isn't putting up a fight. Finally Midnighter notes he looks tired. Afterthought says he landed every punch and Midnighter says yes he did, just where he'd doubled his armour.
Midnighter: "Fighting isn't just offence, I've got to know... do you like what's coming next"
Afterthought whispers, "no" then Midnighter snaps his arm. Helena says not to kill him, they can study him. Helena brings up a map of the globe and says she has detected a huge energy bloom off the Florida coast. Midnighter says Bendix is debuting his new toy in public. They must mobilise everything they've got against it. Helena says Midnighters boast that he's beaten gods before better be true. "Time to find out, isn't it?" he responds.
|The Unified is activated.|
Waller says they need to eliminate the underground militia but not attack the public. Bendix tells her not to be niave, this is what she signed up for. "People can't fear a big stick if they don't know you're carrying it". Suddenly Midnighter and Apollo appear and ask him "you want to fight"
|Comicdom's dream couple in action together again.|
The Unified makes its way down the streets laser blasting vehicles and buildings as he goes. Apollo taps him on the shoulder and then sucker punches him with an elbow to the back of the neck. While Apollo battles The Unified in the air, Midnighter takes a high tech gun from a police officer out on the street.
Waller and Bendix are fighting he says the world must know who to respect. Waller says she's been fighting for respect her whole life. She is about to knife him when he escapes through a door. Apollo meanwhile has been downed, The Unified yells at him saying his battle computer is generations ahead of "your boyfriend's". Apollo fights back saying it isn't his job to defeat him, it's Midnighter's.
|Apollo takes The Unified on first.|
He starts frying The Unified's brain and it begins to work. But then The Unified laser beams it and destroys it. He beats Midnighter and tells him he had the part of his brain that feels empathy removed. He doesn't feel anything when he kills, it's just a job and he likes being that way. His X-ray vision spots another sonic gun under Midnighter's jacket. "Yeah but you shouldn't have blinked" says Midnighter and fires it at The Unified and his head explodes like a watermelon. Apollo comes flying down and holds him and they come close to a kiss again.
Back on Earth Midnighter is hanging out with Robert and Will. He says Robert has a documentary to finish and Robert starts up the recording device asking "what's next for Midnighter?" Midnighter just grins. Later in Detroit he has a meal in a diner with Amanda Waller. She says he'd be more use to her than to Helena Bertinelli. He tells her Helena is reverse engineering Afterthought as they speak. He says he still respects Amanda "you took a better shot at me than most".
Back in Boston, Midnighter and Apollo are celebrating in the bar. Jason says he's happy to see Midnighter so relaxed. And Apollo is a welcome sight as well. The next morning Apollo and Midnighter are getting dressed, Midnighter says working side by side with Apollo felt "right". He knows he's made mistakes and he'll move on if Apollo tells him to, it's probably what he deserves and.... Apollo lays a great big kiss on his lips to shut him up. See there is romance!
Apollo: "That's what you deserve. The rest? Trust me, not a fight computer, Do that and we can see where it goes."
Midnighter says for once he doesn't know how this will end and looks forward to finding out. Meanwhile there is a lot of work to do, "and I'm just getting started".
|And they both lived happily ever after (in my head at least).|