Midnighter is a fictional comic book superhero, best known as a member of the rogue superhero team The Authority. Created by writer Warren Ellis and artist Bryan Hitch, he first appeared in Stormwatch (vol. 2) #4, before going on to appear in various Authority books and series and his own eponymous ongoing series. Some see the character as a parallel or reinterpretation of the DC Comics superhero the Batman. He and his partner, Apollo, have also been interpreted as a parallel of the Batman/Superman "World's Finest" partnership. Unlike Batman, Midnighter has superhuman abilities, and regularly kills his opponents. In an interview for Comic Values Annual (1999), edited by Alex G. Malloy, Warren Ellis described Midnighter as the Shadow by way of John Woo. Midnighter is rarely seen without his costume and mask.
Midnighter was part of a top secret Stormwatch team created by the first Weatherman, Henry Bendix. Nobody but Bendix himself knew of the team's existence. Bendix built them as superhuman and, when they donned their costumes and spoke their codenames, their previous identities ceased to exist. At some time previous to this, he was a member of a special force unit known as "The Gay Team" (although this may just be a joke).
However, this secret team was all but destroyed during its first mission, Apollo and Midnighter being the only survivors. They went rogue and spent the next five years undercover fighting for a finer world in the alleyways of America. One mission took them to Britain, where they thwarted Bendix's attempts at experimenting on children to create superhumans, in the process developing links with MI5. They remained unknown to Stormwatch until Christine Trelane found files about their team after Bendix's fall.
Jackson King, formerly Battalion and now the new Weatherman, ordered them found, not being sure whether they were heroes or villains. He intercepted Midnighter and Apollo on a mission to capture weapons made in the "Nevada Garden", a relic of the first Engineer. Midnighter and Apollo first attacked the Stormwatch team, believing them under Bendix's orders, but ceased the attack once they were told Bendix was dead. With King's help, they forcibly recovered the Garden from the U.S. Army, and King granted them what they asked for: new lives away from Stormwatch.
This story was depicted in Stormwatch (volume 2) #4-6, and collected in the Stormwatch trade paperback A Finer World.
After Stormwatch was destroyed Jenny Sparks convinced both Midnighter and Apollo to come out of retirement and join her new group, The Authority. A formidable fighter with a sardonic attitude, Midnighter epitomized the new team's commitment to fighting for a finer world, including against vested interests and world governments. Midnighter and Apollo's relationship, though hinted in previous issues, was revealed in The Authority #8. Midnighter was the architect of the team's first significant victory, the defeat of autocratic dictator Kaizen Gamorra, which he achieved by dropping the 50-mile-long Carrier on to Gamorra's island base.
During the Transfer of Power storyline, Midnighter was the only Authority member to evade capture when the US government had the team attacked and replaced with manipulable substitutes. Presumed dead, Midnighter had in fact escaped the Carrier with baby Jenny Quantum. He returned to overthrow the puppet team and rescue Apollo from imprisonment and abuse at the hands of their replacements. Shortly thereafter Midnighter and Apollo were married and adopted Jenny.
Midnighter had a central role in Ed Brubaker and Dustin Nguyen's Revolution maxiseries. A visitation, apparently from a future Apollo, convinced Midnighter that he was on the path to becoming a malign dictator. To avoid this fate Midnighter quit the team, precipitating its break-up, and returned to life fighting solo on the streets. Raised alone by Apollo, Jenny exploited her powers to age herself to young adulthood and reformed the Authority. Having convinced Midnighter to rejoin the team Jenny discovered he was being manipulated by a dimension-hopping Henry Bendix, hitherto assumed dead. Midnighter fought for Bendix before the Engineer was able to break the mind-control; Midnighter then killed Bendix by ripping out his spine.
Circumstances have twice forced Midnighter, very much against his will, to team up with Kev Hawkins, a homophobic former-SAS soldier and eponymous protagonist of the Authority: Kev miniseries (written by Garth Ennis) - a relationship worsened by events on their first meeting, when Kev killed Midnighter, Apollo and the rest of the Authority, though the Carrier resurrected them. On their last meeting they took down MI5's Royal Oak project, an attempt to replicate Bendix's experiments.
On November 1 2006, an ongoing Midnighter series began, with an initial creative partnership of Garth Ennis and Chris Sprouse.
The first story arc saw Midnighter attacked and kidnapped by agents of a man named Paulus while passing through the Carrier's teleportation portal. Paulus told Midnighter that he had replaced Midnighter's secondary heart with a remote-detonated bomb, and challenged him on pain of death to assassinate Adolf Hitler. Time-travelling back to the First World War trenches, Midnighter encountered Hitler as a young corporal in the German army, but was apprehended by 'time police' officers from the 95th century before carrying out his mission. In his struggle to escape, he crashed the officers' time machine at the year 1945—shortly before Hitler's expected suicide. Eventually Midnighter allied himself with the police and returned to his own time, where he threatened to erase Paulus from history by killing his kidnapped younger self; it is unclear whether or not he would have executed the child, but ultimately he did not have to. Midnighter then returned to the Carrier, but was apparently just as listless as before, immediately sending himself on another mission in Iraq.
This first arc was followed by four single-issue stories. Midnighter #6 featured an apparent alternate-universe Samurai Midnighter. Midnighter #7, by Brian K. Vaughan and Darick Robertson, explored the way Midnighter's brain processes combat by running the story backwards. Midnighter #8, by Christos Gage and John Paul Leon, dealt with Midnighter's attempts to connect better with humans after a graphic and public battle with the Suicide King.
A second story arc (issues #10-16), under new creative team Keith Giffen and Jon Landry, with ChrisCross pencilling later issues), detailed Midnighter's attempts to rediscover his life before becoming superhuman. Files given to him by Jenny Quantum identified him as Lucas Trent, born July 14, 1967 (making him 40 years old in 2007), a native of Harmony, Indiana. On visiting the town he found it was the hub of a paramilitary patriotic organization named Anthem, with ambitions to take over the United States and provide the country with the conscience they felt it had lost. While battling Anthem and its superpowered operatives, including Dawn (a reference to the phrase "dawn's early light" in the "Star-Spangled Banner"), and Rosie (patterned after Rosie the Riveter), he discovered that Jenny had falsified the documents she gave him, and that he had never been Trent - but decided to stay on in Harmony nonetheless.
Grifter & Midnighter
The 2007 mini-series Grifter & Midnighter, charted a team-up between Midnighter and Grifter of WildC.A.T.s. It was written by Chuck Dixon with art by Ryan Benjamin.
The 2008 Number of the Beast Wildstorm miniseries described the devastation of Earth, and set the scene for a new Authority ongoing series, World's End, by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning. In this series Midnighter appears as one of the last Authority members still able to act in the ruins of London, now called Unlondon. Separated from Apollo, who is confined to the upper atmosphere by sunlight-blocking fog over the planet's surface, Midnighter helps civilians to reach the ruins of the Carrier, now a stronghold for survivors.
Midnighter's abilities were designed by Bendix to give him an all-encompassing advantage in close-combat and tactical scenarios. He is better described as a supersoldier than a superhero. He has enhanced strength, speed, senses, reflexes, immune system and various other enhancements.
His fibre-lined muscles increase his strength enabling him to dismember enhanced metahuman opponents with his bare hands and feet, generally eschewing the use of firearms. Midnighter's body has been altered to give him inhuman balance as well as faster nerve endings so he can react quicker than any human and many superhumans. Midnighter can move faster than the human (and even superhuman) eye in a quick speed burst.
Midnighter also has many survival-oriented implants to keep him fighting in the worst of conditions. He can turn his pain receptors on and off so he can keep fighting when the pain would stop a normal man. The pain is not totally cut off though, so his healing factor is also very helpful. Among many injuries he has fought with, and healed from, a broken neck, broken limbs, holes through his chest, having his whole body set on fire, and contracting various viruses (including AIDS). He can survive in anaerobic environments for short periods and possesses a secondary heart should the first one be rendered unusable.
Midnighter's most famous ability is his power to predict how a battle will happen before it starts. His 'fight implants' include a 'combat computer' that allows him to run through a given combat situation millions of times in his mind, almost instantly covering nearly every possible result before the first punch is even thrown. He uses this information to predict the actions and reactions of his foes, counteracting their moves almost before they even think to make them. According to Midnighter, his powers also work by letting him see the outcome of the battle he wants, and working backwards, following the right steps to get there.
Midnighter's powers can be neutralized under certain circumstances. Because Midnighter's superhuman implants were all implemented by Henry Bendix, Team Achilles was once able to use a simple remote controlled switch to temporarily deactivate his powers upon accessing and making use of Bendix's secret files. Though after being tampered with a few times, Midnighter enlisted the aid of The Engineer to use her nanites to make the enhancements tamper proof.
In Wildstorm Winter Special 2005, a story called Apollo & Midnighter: Two Dangerous Ideas features their alternate reality analogues, Pluto and Daylighter, with inverted color schemes to match. At first the real Apollo and Midnighter believed that they were their homophobic counterparts, but later learned that they had broken up.
Issue #6 of Midnighter's solo series starred a nameless, super-skilled swordsman from feudal Japan who fell in love with a peace-seeking Chinese warrior much like Apollo. This swordsman had powers similar to the Midnighter's future-sight and super-strength.
In Gen¹³ (volume 4) #11, a teenage version of Midnighter is a part of a team called "The Authori-teens" named Daybreaker. In the town of Tranquility, a fictional town in California. While he and Kid Apollo would not appear to be openly gay, their romantic feelings for one another are apparent; Kid Apollo is said to be "overly protective" of him.
As well as appearing in the various Stormwatch and The Authority volumes his own eponymous series is being collected in trade paperbacks:
- Midnighter: Killing Machine (collects Midnighter #1-6; 144 pages, November 2007, ISBN 1401214770)
- Midnighter: Anthem (collects Midnighter #7, 10-15; 160 pages, August 2008, ISBN 1401214770)
- Lendrum, Rob. "Queering Super-Manhood: The Gay Superhero in Contemporary Mainstream Comic Books". Retrieved on 2007-10-07. “When Batman and Superman team up they are called "the World's Finest." Midnighter and Apollo are constructed with this bit of comic history in mind.”
- One instance was in his first appearance, in Stormwatch (volume 2) #4.
- Midnighter #1 (January 2007).
- Newsarama.com's DC COMICS solicitations for March 2007
- Giffen, Keith; Midnighter #10; October 2007; Page 17.
- Wright, Micah Ian; Stormwatch: Team Achilles #8; April 2003; Page 12.
- Midnighter: Killing Machine trade details
- Midnighter: Anthem trade details
- Grifter & Midnighter trade details