A guest entry by Liz Currie/Rainbow Avenger
(Spoilers for old comics, and a new one.)
Recently, a friend told me he had “Good news!” Midnighter is back in the comics. In someone else’s title, and he lost a fight to Nightwing, and there’s no Authority, oh and no Apollo. At this point I was sitting aghast, staring with horror at my screen and thinking “Please get to the good news, because this is tragic!”
The good news is it isn’t as bad as it sounds. The title is “Grayson” nos 1 & 2. Nightwing doesn’t defeat Midnighter. He bats Dick Nightwing (the former would be a better story: ed.) around a bit asking questions and just as Mids decides to end the interrogation by caving in his skull, he is rudely propelled a mile out of panel by an explosion, whereupon Dick pulls a Sir Robin and bravely runs away, away.
This was a lucky break for Bird Boy, because in 2008’s Wildstorm/DCU crossover series DreamWar, Batman was supposed to have an epic fight with Midnighter; one that ended in an honourable draw that satisfied both sets of fans. According to the editors (via Newsarama) It never happened because a room full of writers spent hours plotting out that fight and couldn’t find a single plausible scenario where Midnighter didn’t beat the crap out of him. It just wasn’t an equal match-up. So Batman fought Zealot instead – and lost.
So no, Midnighter isn’t going to lose a fight to the sidekick. He could thrash Dick Grayson without stopping to let Apollo pull out. (That scene has been written because fangirls are perverts.)
The bad news is that DC Comics – the kings of chronic masturbatory world wankery – have done it again. Midnighter is alone. DC’s ever shrinking Authority roadshow has been shedding members with every reboot. The last one had already been reduced to “Midnighter and Friends” and I had a pretty good, cynical and it seems accurate feeling that the next iteration would be a solo act. This is bullshit.
Toward the end of the Authority’s Morrison run, Midnight left Apollo. He broke it off without saying goodbye because Reasons that involved time-travel, protecting the future for the sake of his friends and other motivations usually beyond the grasp of high-functioning psychopaths. He spent five years hiding in Russia, drinking too much and being utterly miserable.
All a trick of course. When Midnighter finally figured out that one bastard had stolen five years of his married life, he responded by performing a trick that Dick Grayson didn’t learn in the circus, and ripped the guy’s spine out in a panel so iconically 90’s in its’ glorification of gratuitous violence that Rob Liefield probably orgasmed at the thought of plagiarising it. And then he swore to never leave again.
So no, Midnighter doesn’t just walk away from his family anymore. Ignoring that vow is bad writing. It’s ignorant and disrespectful of internal consistency. Wiping his family from existence exhibits callous disregard for the characters and their world. This also breaks my flinty heart because Apollo and Midnighter aren’t just the nicest gay married couple in the DCU, they’re the nicest married couple, period. Ralph and Sue Dibny came close, and look what DC did to them. The only couple who could be cuter are Booster Gold and Blue Beetle, but that marriage only exists on LiveJournal.
Apollo is also the longest-suffering Man in a Refrigerator in comics, but that’s another rant.
Someone is going to point out that all of this continuity was a reboot or two ago and doesn’t count. Actually (depending on the definition of the term) it’s four, possibly five reboots ago, but it doesn’t matter because ignoring character meta-evolution is bullshit. Rewinding characters through the same crises over and over like the one good track on an 80s mixed tape is also bullshit. That’s not character development, it’s prostitution.
“But I buy it because he’s a gay character!”
The time has passed when you buy a comic just because it has fill-in-the-blank minority character. If the protagonist of “Cookie Grrls” is an empty-headed, giggling Stepford wife in an apron you don’t sigh and buy the book anyway because it features a woman. If the hero of “Captain Rastus” is a grotesque, frizzled-haired golliwog flinging magical watermelons you don’t roll your eyes and slap a tenner on the counter anyway because the star is African-American. You tell the publisher “This is bullshit.” We’ve moved past that. So let’s stop flinging good money after bad titles to reward exploitation. Don’t buy the comic because it has a gay/black/female character; buy it because it has a GOOD character.
This is DC. This is the imprint that made Batwoman a lesbian, then barred her from marrying her girlfriend. These are the people that announced a gay Green Lantern, then retconned a minor Earth-2 Lantern that no one gave a shit about and then killed his fiancé in issue one. They like to pantomime the appearance of inclusivity on social media, ensure that their G/L character’s sexual orientation is tragic or irrelevent by depicting them as sexless, celibate, emasculated and alone. They’re going to keep raping their own characters as long as people keep paying to read it.
So stop paying for it. Really, it’s bullshit.