By Heather McFarlane
I've already written about The Authority, but with Midnighter being this month's book club pick, I've gotten a lot of folks asking where they can find more of the title character, and how much of what's available is worth reading. While I admit that "worth reading" is subjective, I don't think my opinions on this are going to be too surprising to most people who really love the character. By all means, disregard it when I say I'd skip a certain book. That means I would skip it, but maybe we like different things, and that's cool. Without further ado, here's my preferred Midnighter reading list, with information that'll help you obtain copies. If a book is labeled "orderable," I mean that it's orderable from comic shops. If the book isn't available from Diamond, then, like the Macy's Santa before me, I'll point you in a direction to find it. Be on the lookout for spoiler warnings, as if I personally feel like a volume is worth skipping, I may let you know if there's a thing established in that book, that'll be useful to know as you progress.
A little background on publishers: Wildstorm was a separate, independent publisher headed by Jim Lee, which was ultimately moved, lock, stock, and barrel to reside under the DC Comics umbrella, with its characters established as part of the DC multiverse during the Flashpoint event. As a result, many trade paperback volumes and runs of issues were repackaged with the DC label, though they contain the same material. In the post-Flashpoint universe, including the New 52 and newer post-New-52 titles, books with Wildstorm transplant characters are only published as DC.
StormWatch vol. 2 Wildstorm (W) Warren Ellis (A) Tom Raney & Various (CA) Bryan Hitch, Paul Neary - Orderable, Diamond code MAR140267
- First appearance of Midnighter and Apollo - it's clear when we meet them that they have known each other for years already.
- Can be read without reading the rest of StormWatch, though it may be somewhat confusing if you don't at least familiarize yourself with the premise, and reading further volumes will provide context for The Authority, such as introducing characters you'll see again.
- Rating: I love it. Definitely worth reading.
The Authority vol. 1 Wildstorm/DC (W) Warren Ellis (A/CA) Bryan Hitch, Paul Neary - Orderable, Diamond code FEB140257
- Return of Midnighter and Apollo, on a new team
- Originally published by Wildstorm, reprinted by DC
- Rating: I love it. Definitely worth reading.
The Authority vol. 2 Wildstorm/DC (W) Mark Millar & Various (A) Frank Quitely & Various (CA) Frank Quitely, Trevor Scott - Orderable, Diamond code SEP140316
- New story arc
- Originally published by Wildstorm, reprinted by DC
- Rating: I hate it. Only worth reading if you're a completionist who must read all of a thing, or you're punishing yourself for something. It's a parade of sexism, racism, homophobia, bad tropes, bad art, pointless violence, and tone-deaf writing. If you don't want to take my word for it, and that's cool, do a quick search for the interviews Mark Millar gave about his run on this book. Hint: search with keyword "rape." If you don't find them appalling, then maybe this volume will be okay for you.
- At the end of this volume, Midnighter and Apollo get married. Less than 2 pages are devoted to it. They also adopt Jenny Quantum - the baby Spirit of the 21st Century, reborn after the events at the end of The Authority vol. 1.
The Authority: Revolution, vol. 1 & 2 Wildstorm/DC (W) Ed Brubaker (A/CA) Dustin Nguyen, Richard Friend - Not Orderable, used copies available on Amazon for less than cover price as of this writing
- Originally a Wildstorm maxi-series, collected in trade paperback format by DC
- Very Midnighter-centric story arc
- My favorite interpretation of Apollo's personality and appearance
- Rating: I like it. Definitely worth reading. Some of my favorite moments with other Authority characters, especially the interaction between the Engineer and Midnighter toward the end. If I have one criticism, it's that the ending is a bit abrupt, leaving you to assume a few things, though they're pretty clear if you keep reading.
The Authority: The Lost Year Wildstorm/DC (W) Grant Morrison & Various, (A/CA) Gene Ha & Various - Not Orderable, used copies of vol. 1 sometimes available on Amazon, most of it's available in single issues at varying prices on eBay
- This run is a mess to try to collect. Vol. 1 contains the first two issues (Morrison/Ha), which do not immediately pick up where Revolution left off. After two issues, there were a number of line changes and new story directions. There was going to be a vol. 2, but that was ultimately never published as a trade paperback (Bummer, because it was to have some dope Gene Ha cover art).
- Rating: Well, some of the art is really good. Some of the story might have been cool if allowed to play out. Overall, unless you're a collector of any of the creative team's work or determined to read everything, you're fine just skipping this run.
The Authority: Prime Wildstorm/DC (W) Christos N. Gage (A/CA) Darick Robertson - Orderable, Diamond code APR080255
- Mini-series collected in trade paperback format
- Characters from StormWatch and the Authority clash, then have to work together
- Some insight into origins of Midnighter and Apollo
- Rating: It's okay. The art isn't my favorite, but it's not the worst. Worth reading if you want to know everything there is to know about Midnighter and Apollo, though this by no means answers all of the questions.
The Authority: World's End and Rule Britannia Wildstorm/DC (W) Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning (A) Various (CA) Simon Coleby
- World's End - currently backordered, with TBA restock date. Diamond code MAY090217, but you may want to seek a used copy. Currently available on Amazon.
- Rule Britannia - Orderable, Diamond code NOV090206
- Number of the Beast was a Wildstorm crossover event that resulted in a post-apocalyptic situation with the Authority's Carrier crashed and a layer of toxic smog enveloping the Earth. You don't need to read that whole event to enjoy this book, but be prepared for characters to have challenges that refer to things that happened during the main action of the event (Hawksmoor being crippled, the Engineer's nanites behaving erratically, etc.). Rule Britannia could just as easily have been titled World's End vol. 2, as it is the second half of the same story arc.
- Rating: I love it. It's one of my favorite comics I've ever read, and that has a lot to do with the sort of Ladyhawke-type story happening between Midnighter and Apollo. If you're a fan of these two (and why are you reading this post if you're not?), this is, to me, the absolute best part of their romance. Where other creative teams fail to show nuance and fall back on cliches, Abnett and Lanning let them shine. It's a love story for grown-ups who understand that you can't always indulge in your feelings and pine uselessly when things get tough, but also that sometimes, giving up is absolutely not an option. If I know some of you, you'll want to keep a box of tissues handy (and they won't all be sadness tears). Also, there's a dragon. Absolutely worth reading.
The Authority, vol. 4, #18 Wildstorm (W) Marc Bernardin, Adam Fereman (A) Alejandro Barrionuevo (CA) George Perez - Not Orderable, easy to find on eBay
- Frustratingly, the final run of The Authority was never published in a collected edition. Only single issues exist. Therefore, on this list, I mention this issue only because it contains Midnighter, and is the last time he and Apollo are part of the team.
- Rating: It's okay. Midnighter and Apollo aren't center-stage, and unless you're planning to read the rest, not what I'd call essential reading. That said, it's also not a complete waste of time to read it and send the guys off.
The Authority/Lobo: Holiday Hell Wildstorm/DC (W) Keith Giffen, Alan Grant (A) Simon Bisley, Henry Flint, (CA) Simon Bisley - Orderable, Diamond Code MAY060220
- Let's just lay the cards on the table: this is an effed up book. Don't think of it as an Authority book. Think of it as a Lobo book, because it's all of the gratuitous violence and raunchiness you'd expect from the Main Man, but with Authority characters. Depending on your sense of humor, it's either hilarious, snicker-worthy in a guilty-pleasure kind of way, or the absolute worst thing ever. There is no accounting for taste when it comes to a book like this.
- It's not canon at all, but is the source of the occasional wink at those who've read it in other storylines.
- Rating: Uh... I don't know, man. I snickered at the page with Midnighter getting tangled in Christmas lights, but I had a hard time getting through most of it. It's all just so incredibly off-the-charts unhinged.
Wildstorm Winter Special 2005 Wildstorm (W) Tom Peyer & various (A) Cary Nord & various (CA) Michael Turner - Not orderable. Abundant on eBay and Amazon.
- This issue contains a Midnighter and Apollo short story titled Two Dangerous Ideas
- Rating: That Michael Turner cover alone makes this issue worth having, to me, but you're here for the Midnighter. The story is okay. It's not the most exciting plot ever, but it feels like it belongs in the universe, has some sweet moments for our guys, and overall isn't bad. Worth a read if the love story is your favorite thing and you're okay with some ironic conversations being presented unironically.
Gen¹³ vol. 4, #12 Wildstorm (W) Gail Simone (A/CA) Carlo Barberi - Not orderable. Abundant on eBay. Occasionally on Amazon for cover price or less.
- Non-canon as concerns the Authority, this issue contains teenage versions of Midnighter (as Daybreaker) and Apollo (as Kid Apollo).
- Rating: I love it. Will you? That depends. Imagine a teenage Midnighter insisting that girls have cooties. If that makes you giggle, get a copy and don't worry if you have no idea what Gen 13 is all about. Sidebar: I have it on good, uh, authority... (I know. I hate me, too.) that Gail Simone was writing a teenage Authority book featuring these characters, but DC canned it, because... because DC Comics.
Authority: Kev and Magnificent Kevin Wildstorm/DC (W) Garth Ennis, Keith Giffen (A) Carlos Ezquerra (CA) Glenn Fabry
- These are more parody than anything, but they contain Midnighter.
- Magnificent Kevin is orderable. Diamond code FEB060316.
- Kev is not orderable, but abundant online.
- Rating: I'm not a fan. Blah, blah, gay joke, blah blah punch the guy. Not worth reading unless you need to read everything, or you want to just switch your brain off for mindless punching and blather. There are a couple of amusing moments, but I mostly thought it was pretty lame.
The Authority: Human on the Inside Wildstorm (W) John Ridley (A/CA) Ben Oliver - Not Orderable. Available on Amazon for a penny + shipping.
- This is a standalone graphic novel.
- Rating: I didn't care for it. Contains Midnighter, but nothing of vital importance unless you're determined to read everything he's in.
Midnighter Wildstorm/DC (W) Garth Ennis, Keith Giffen, Brian K. Vaughan, others (A) Jon Landry, Chris Sprouse, others- Some orderable. See below.
- Vol. 1 - not orderable. Expensive on Amazon, but can be found for cover price on eBay
- Vol. 2 - orderable, Diamond code MAY080248
- Vol. 3 - orderable, Diamond code SEP080196
- This is pretty much all Midnighter, all the time. Very little is seen of the rest of the Authority, including Apollo.
- Rating: Meh? It definitely has its moments. Unsurprisingly, the one issue written by Brian K. Vaughan is the high point. As much as I love Midnighter, I feel like most of this series misses the point. It has some interesting concepts, like when so many people try to go back in time to kill Hitler, there's a patrol of time cops assigned to the Kill Hitler beat to keep stopping it. Mostly, though, it feels to me like the people writing this series just wanted to ignore the parts of Midnighter they didn't like and have him pretend to be the Punisher. Apollo in particular gets almost no respect, and I hate it when he's written as a big airhead. As always, your mileage may vary, but if you're reading this post because you love the current series, it's possible that you may be disappointed by this one.
Grifter and Midnighter: Wildstorm/DC (W) Chuck Dixon (A) Ryan Benjamin & Saleem Crawford (CA) Ryan Benjamin - Orderable, Diamond code OCT070235
- This is another one that doesn't have much to do with the rest of the Authority. Grifter, another Wildstorm character, instead teams up with Midnighter for a mission.
- Rating: It's okay. By no means essential, but it's not the worst.
StormWatch (New 52) DC - Various creative teams, all orderable
- Whereas in the old universe, we met Midnighter and Apollo several years into their relationship, here, we meet them just before they meet each other. They're younger, and Apollo benefits from some updates to his look.
- Let's talk about the chin spike: Cully Hamner has a lot to answer for with the character redesign for Midnighter. Fortunately, Apollo is happy to keep pointing out how ridiculous it is.
- Rating: Let's start by saying that if you want all of the Midnighter and Apollo relationship, it's definitely worth reading. Watching the two of them get to know each other is pretty rewarding, even if there are some cringe-worthy moments. That said, I have a lot of beef with this book when it comes to treatment of the female characters, especially in comparison to their old-universe counterparts. The notable exception is Jenny. I like the New 52 Jenny more than I like several creative teams' take on Jenny in the old universe. This book is really more Authority than StormWatch, but it's store-brand Authority, where you can tell they didn't get the recipe quite right.
Grayson DC (W) Tim Seeley & Tom King (A/CA) Mikel Janin & Various- all orderable, ongoing as of this writing
- You can read this if you've never read a Batman or Nightwing book before. All you need to know is that Dick Grayson used to be Batman's sidekick, and he was Nightwing until his identity was compromised.
- This is where you get to watch Midnighter go from adversary to grudging ally, before eventually getting to be friends with Grayson by the time you see them both in Midnighter's book.
- Bye, bye chin spike. Midnighter is back to his iconic black, as is right and proper.
- Rating: I like it. Definitely worth reading, especially if you're a fan of Midnighter's solo series.
Midnighter DC (W) Steve Orlando (A/CA) ACO, Hugo Petrus, others
- You probably already know about this. This is probably why you're here.
- Spins out of the events of Grayson, so if you're looking to read in order, read the first two volumes of that before starting this. Otherwise, it stands alone just fine.
- Revisits some themes touched upon in the old universe: Who was Midnighter before he was turned into the ultimate asskicker? How is he supposed to navigate different types of relationships? Just what kind of hero is he?
- Rating: I love it. I know, that's a shocker. If you're me, this is the pinnacle of masked-hero comics. The story is a page-turner, and every issue is a masterclass in comic art paneling.
Batman & Robin Eternal DC Various creative teams - all orderable. Vol. 1 Diamond code DEC150341; vol. 2 forthcoming, Diamond code MAR160259
- A weekly comic collected into two volumes
- Mostly a Batman book with all of the Robins, including Dick Grayson, who eventually calls in his pal Midnighter for some assistance. He appears in issues 23-26.
- Rating: I like it. It's a good Batman book, with exciting things happening, and bonus: Midnighter. If you don't care about Grayson or Batman or any of the other associated characters, you may skip this one, but if you want all the quippy Midnighter and good fights, check it out.
Midnighter & Apollo DC (W) Steve Orlando (A) Fernando Blanco (CA) ACO
- 6-issue miniseries, beginning October 2016
- Picks up where Midnighter left off
- Available for preorder: Issue #1 Diamond code AUG160274
- Variant issue #1 cover with no minimum order Diamond code AUG160275
There you go, folks - all the Midnighter. I'm sure there are a couple of things he's shown his face in that I haven't mentioned here, but that's what I've come up with. If I've made a glaring omission, feel free to let me know!