Writer: Garth Ennis
Artist: Chris Sprouse
Publisher: Wildstorm
Price: $2.99
Release Date: November 1, 2006

The relaunched Wildstorm line seems like the product of a bunch of movie executives putting together a movie, one of those “great ideas on paper” sort of productions. Let’s get the hottest writers out and stick them on our most popular titles and see if we can relaunch this baby with a bang. A good strategy, especially since some of those creators made names for themselves originally in the Wildstorm line.

Thus we come to Midnighter, a member of the super-hero team The Authority, who has been handled by some of the best names in the business: Warren Ellis (The Authority, New Universal), Mark Millar (The Authority, Ultimate X-Men), and now, Garth Ennis (The Authority: Kev, Preacher). Midnighter is the perfect Ennis character. That movie executive-type ought to be patting themselves on the back for this (obvious) pairing. Few people can get to the brutal bastard essence of Midnighter like Garth Ennis ought to be able to.

Midnighter out-Batman’s Batman. He has the ability to anticipate and counter hostile action; basically, he knows the moves you are going to make before you do. Playing to Ennis’ strengths, he gets to do a lot of bad things, to bad people, with dark glee.

In the opening story arc, Midnighter’s been kidnapped out of the Bleed (don’t ask), his ability to “see” the outcome of fights has been taken away from him, and, after taking the rare butt-kicking, a bomb has been implanted in his chest to ensure his cooperation. All this so that the mysterious Mister Paulus’ can entangle him in what boils down to the philosophical conundrum: if you had the chance to kill Hitler at a baby, would you?

“People love the idea of changing [the past]. They think that’s how they’ll solve all their crap. But it is inevitable: it’s over, it’s done with. It can’t be fixed like bad plumbing.” –“Sgt. Bitch”

The springboard for the story stems from Paulus wanting to protect the ones he loves. An idea that goes squandered in the story is how we can’t live from a place of fear; we can’t be afraid to love out of fear of losing those we love. All we can do is love without taking one another for granted, pray for one another’s continued safety, and anticipate the bad times while still being there for one another when the bad times come. Which should be what Midnighter is all about: fear and love.

The past is set, something to be learned from, but that’s no excuse for not trying to change the present. Or the future. Sometimes we find it impossible to just “forget”, or move on from, the past and we need a tool more active than simply “forgetting.” To move on, you have to have closure, and we have different ways of finding this closure. While Midnighter’s emotional closure typically stems from breaking necks, cracking skulls, and blowing up tanks, there are other ways.

While we’d all like to prevent pain, we just won’t be able to stop it all. Sometimes we have to wrestle with a spirit of forgiveness rather than a spirit of vengeance or well-intentioned prevention. Asking forgiveness opens dialogue. Forgiving, even if unasked, helps the process of healing, and may lead to an eventual peace. Returning hostility for hostility, Midnighter is the antithesis of reconciliation:

Reconciliation is much more than a one-time event by which a conflict is resolved and peace established. A ministry of reconciliation goes far beyond problem solving, mediation, and peace agreements. There is not a moment in our lives without the need for reconciliation. When we dare to look at the myriad hostile feelings and thoughts in our hearts and minds, we will immediately recognize the many little and big wars in which we take part. Our enemy can be a parent, a child, a “friendly” neighbor, people with different lifestyles, people who do not think as we think, speak as we speak, or act as we act. They all can become “them.” Right there is where reconciliation is needed.

The problem with giving superstar creators superstar characters is that they face raised expectations. In Midnighter, you don’t feel like Ennis is truly giving us any real insight into Midnight, merely a Midnighter adventure. He doesn’t even have to “Ennis it up”: Midnighter is already basically an Ennis character. He’s unlikeable, a jerk with too much power, who leads a visceral existence of doing what he does. However, with no real exploration of him, the whole endeavor feels fairly superficial. Which is fine, but you can’t escape the feeling that this was written to fill out a contract (“you’ll pay me how much? I’ll do it!”). Like with his Ghost Rider run, you get the impression that Ennis doesn’t especially like writing super-heroes. His best work has at best been on the fringes of super-hero folk (Hitman, The Boys, even his The Authority work has centered around his character, Kev). However, even phoning it in, Ennis is better than most.