When Wildstorm became a DC Comics imprint, Midnighter became one of DC’s greatest gay characters. As part of DC’s recent publishing revamp he’s finally gotten a new solo series, a first in nearly a decade—and so far, Midnighter represents one of the best portrayals of an out superhero in comics right now.
Minor spoilers for Midnighter #1 and Midnighter #2 follow, of course.
Midnighter’s sexuality has long been a key part of the character. Under Wildstorm and DC he had a long lasting marriage to Apollo, but in the New 52 reboot, the pair were split up, and were unaware of each others sexuality, much to the chagrin of their fans. The new solo series similarly sees Midnighter single, but instead of teasing an inevitable romance with Apollo once again, or a relationship for Midnighter to be thrust into, we get something that’s actually surprisingly rare in an ever-more-diverse world of comics: a gay character who is comfortable being single and sexually active.
In two issues already, we’ve seen Midnighter go on dates and sleep with a number of different men. Our introduction to the character in Midnighter #1 is actually though a shot of his Grindr profile (a popular social app used by Gay and bisexual men to meet, and sleep with, other men—Edit: according to commenter Victrin it’s apparently a profile from a similar app, Scruff):
Even as mainstream comics get better with their portrayal and prevalence of LGBTQ characters, they can still fall into the pitfall of being a little too “perfect”: they’re happily partnered or married already, their affection show as nothing beyond a kiss or a hug (compared to the frequent portrayal of straight sex among characters). It’s rare, and refreshing, to have a gay character who isn’t that, who shown as comfortable in his sexuality and their sexlife as a single person. It helps humanize Midnighter, a character who finds himself in frequently ridiculous situations as he uses his precognitive powers to predict and plan his superhero brawls, in between the typical, over-the-top moments of comic book violence.
In this week’s Midnighter #2, both of those sides of Midnighter come together as we see the hero teleport a date to a Moscow bar, leading pretty much instantly into a punch with the local drinkers—but further exploration of the character’s sexuality comes in the confirmation that, at some point in DC’s current continuity, Apollo and Midnighter were in a relationship—emphasis on the were, as we get to see the hero walk out on Apollo after handing him a card echoing Midnighter’s trademark battle opener, where he declares that he already knows everything about his opponent thanks to his own powers, and most importantly, that:
Yes, it’s sad that one of the most prominent gay relationships in Wildstorm and DC’s comic history came to a close without us getting to witness it—but at the same time, it’s fascinating to see it. As I said before, it’s so rare to see gay characters in mainstream comics that have sex lives, including romantic lives that come with the same sort of trials and tribulations that straight characters get to go through. Relationships, breakups, sex and sleeping around: Midnighter normalizes all that for a gay character, in a way that is rarely shown in the pages of comic books. And it manages to do that while also balancing the personal drama with the superhero sci-fi antics you know and love from the character.
If you’re looking for a great new superhero comic series to read, you should be picking up Midnighter—not just for the fact it’s actually a damn fun series, but because it gives us a fascinatingly humanized gay lead. That’s something to celebrate.
[Images via Bleeding Cool]