Alter ego: Unknown (Lucas Trent)
First appearance: Stormwatch #4 (Vol. 2) (February 1998)
Described by his creator Warren Ellis as "The Shadow by way of John Woo," Midnighter first appeared in WildStorm's Stormwatch #4 (Vol. 2), as a former member of a black ops squadron run by Henry Bendix, aka Weatherman. During his tenure on that team, he met his husband Apollo, a solar-powered superbeing in the vein of Superman to his own Batman. Realizing Bendix was going to send him and Apollo on a Suicide Mission with their team, the two managed to escape and proceeded to spend years in hiding from Stormwatch. It wasn't until they learned of Bendix's deposition from the new Weatherman —Jackson King— that the two emerged from the shadows, eventually becoming co-founding members of a new team lead by Jenny Sparks, called The Authority.
Midnighter served as a long-standing member of The Authority (and even received his own solo title) in the following years, before Wildstorm's absorption by parent company DC Comics. Following the events of Flashpoint, Midnighter —along with many of his Wildstorm cohorts— was imported into New 52 continuity, placed on new iteration of Stormwatch led by Martian Manhunter. After a brief Continuity Reboot, reverting he and his Stormwatch teammates back to closer recollections of their Wildstorm selves (in a bid for boosted sales) proved unsuccessful, the reset was undone, and DC's Stormwatch ended at #30.
Since then, Midnighter has showed up in the pages of The New 52: Futures End and Grayson in supporting roles. Starting June 2015 (after Convergence and the end of DC's New 52 branding), Midnighter appeared in his second ongoing book, this time written by Steve Orlando and illustrated by ACO. Following DC's Rebirth relaunch, Midnighter ended and was replaced by a Midnighter and Apollo title, featuring Midnighter reunited with his lover, who he had been temporarily estranged from in the previous series.
Midnighter proves examples of:
- Amnesiac Hero: Midnighter can't remember anything before he was turned into the perfect killing machine he is, not even if he volunteered for the procedure or not, or his real name. Apollo was in the same boat in the Wildstorm Universe, but in the DC Rebirth version, he has a seperate origin story from the Midnighter and he remembers both his unhappy childhood and every torturous part of his forced conversion into a superpowered metahuman.
- Awesomeness by Analysis: Midnighter's enhancements go beyond a mere Sherlock Scan —- they can detect how a fight will end on sight, not to mention provide possible routes of victory.Midnighter: I've already played this fight in my head, a million times, from each and every angle.
- Badass Long Coat: Conspicuously missing from his original DCnU outfit, but currently restored.
- Badass Normal: Averted rather sharply; unlike his inspiration, Midnighter is most definitely not a normal, but a cyborg Super Soldier with a computerized brain and superhuman physical abilities.
- Batman Can Breathe in Space: With a rebreather, he can survive a short time in outer space.
- Breakout Character: Easily one of Wildstorm's best known creations, having made the jump over to DC's New 52 with sporadic appearances across the line.
- Crazy-Prepared: It's Midnighter's main selling point —- he knows what somebody's next move will be before they do, and acts accordingly.
- Dark Is Not Evil: Depending on the Writer, but broadly speaking he is on the side of the good guys in spite of his black clothes and lunar motifs.
- Depending on the Artist: The color and styling of his hair, seemingly switching with every artist —- as of his 2015 solo title, it's currently a dirty blond mohawk.
- Expy: Many see him as a "gay Batman who doesn't mind killing people" —- which is Hilarious in Hindsight knowing that he currently exists within the same universe as the Bat, is loosely allied with one of Batman's former sidekicks, and getting massive amounts of Ho Yay with the guy.note
- Also jokingly alluded to in the preview short for his New 52 solo title, that was included in a Convergence comic, in which it is revealed that he wears Batman logo boxer shorts.
- Determinator: Especially in the DCU version. Harm Apollo, and Midnighter will literally walk through Hell to find you and end you. And he will do anything to save Apollo from death (and beyond) or die trying, not even trying to keep back any reserves to get himself back to safety should he fail in the attempt. (Good thing DCU Apollo is less of a Damsel in Distress than in the Wildstorm Universe, and perfectly capable of getting himself out of trouble.)
- Though the way he took out the replacement team in the Wildstorm Auhtority series almost single-handedly, all while looking after baby Jenny all on his own for weeks, qualifies as well.
- Friend to All Children: Surprisingly enough, given his personality. Wildstorm!Midnighter (and Apollo, too) especially guns for villains who harm children, refuses to kill children himself (even if they're destined to grow up to become Hitler), and adopts baby Jenny Quantum, resulting in several Badass and Baby moments. DCU!Midnighter has this lovely speech to some child hostage victims of an insane gang/cult he just wiped out:note child hostage: "Where's Mister Half-beard?"Midnighter: "Mister Half-beard is studying the interior of a very small box. He and his friends were not good people. But they're all gone now. You're safe. This is not your fault. These people will help you find your parents, or find you new homes. They will not fail you."Midnighter: (more to the adult bystanders) "Because if they do, I'll be back to... encourage them. And no one wants to see me twice. Trust me."
- Good Is Not Nice / Nominal Hero: He's ''technically' a superhero...despite all evidence to the contrary
- Healing Factor: Part of his package of "combat enhancements" is a high-end healing ability. He mentions during Millar's run that his immune system "is as deadly as every other part of my body," allowing him to recover completely from even chronic diseases over the course of several weeks, and in The Magnificent Kevin, he goes from immobile to walking under his own power in an hour once his powers are back on.
- In Midnighter and Apollo he channeled the power of an angel for long enough that it should have burned out his body and killed him, as he was warned by the sorceror who bound that angel to him. Not only does he survive (albeit unable to stand and needing Apollo to carry him to safety), but he seems perfectly fine just a few days later.
- I Am What I Am: In all of his solo stories, it's mentioned by Midnighter how much he hates his origin as a man-made killing machine, his murderous impulses, and violent tendencies due to how it makes him little different from the criminals he puts into the ground. His whole career as a violent anti-hero is geared towards pointing those murderous instincts towards targets who he feels deserves it most.Midnighter: You think I like how I was made? I can't go back. Can't help what was done to me. I can only point it in the right direction.
- Logical Weakness: As emphasized by his enemy in his pair series of Midnighter & Grifter while being pummeled, Midnighter's combative superiority are strictly dependent on him being faster and cleverer than his opponent. If his opponent is faster than he can react to their moves or is smart enough to predict his moves, his powers are rendered useless. In another story sponsored under Stormwatch: Team Achilles, it's explained how his abilities are mainly a result of wetware and technology, meaning he's vulnerable to a surprise beating as anyone else in a fight if they can be deactivated like any tech.
- One-Man Army: Numbers mean little to the guy. He tears through men like a hot knife through butter.
- Simple Staff: Midnighter's Weapon of Choice, often used to decapitate people.
- Slasher Smile: As beamingly demonstrated in the above image.
- Sociopathic Hero: He's a killer all the way through, and he never pretends to be anything else.
- Though he's not fully sociopathic. The fact that he cares about limiting his killing to people who deserve it, and the fact that he truly, deeply loves Apollo and cares about their daughter, are pretty much the only reasons why he isn't a villain.
- Manly Gay: A big part of his appeal to readers, especially LGBTQ ones, is that he's a gay superhero who is also masculine.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: Which, compared to his Authority teammates, says a lot.
- Would Hit a Girl: Kills female enemies as much as male ones with extreme prejudice.
- Would Hurt a Child / Would Not Hurt A Child: Zig-zagged He hates fighting kids and often refuses to harm them, but push him enough and he'll attack or even kill one if needed. He killed an evil baby twin of his adopted daughter Jenny to stop her from destroying reality once. Teenagers are fair game though, as he once attacked Gen¹³ for getting in his way and killed many of Kriegstein's teenage metahumans for being baddies.
- Axe-Crazy: He certainly enjoys the violence he commits, especially when he especially hates the victim in question
- Bad Future: Shown to become a violent, brain-damaged dictator in The Authority: Revolution.
- Break Them by Talking: Managed to convince a mercenary to give up and even help him by explaining how little his life matters to anyone and his employer.
- Captain Ersatz: Basically Batman if he was a vicious maniac, and in a relationship with Superman.
- Civvie Spandex: During the Wildstorm era, his costume usually consists of a cowl mask with a leather trenchcoat, logo T-shirt, jeans or combat trousers, and combat boots. In the DC era, it became more of a specialized battlesuit.
- Combat Clairvoyance: His whole shtick is that he can see how a battle plays in his head out before making a step and often frightens his opponents by saying he's played out their fight a million times in his head already. Then he tried to pull it on Captain Atom. Suffice to say, Atom was not impressed.
- Dirty Business: He takes care of this the most of the Authority roster, considering his spare time is mainly spent going to war zones and killing baddies.
- Known Only by Their Nickname: He's only ever known as Midnighter.
- Non-Heteronormative Society: Midnighter learns this to be true of the future, apparently to a point where the term "gay" itself is archaic and out-of-use.
- Cover Identity Anomaly: "Lucas Trent" is known to be a nice guy — or was, at some point, anyway.
- Everytown, America: Apparently Midnighter — or "Lucas Trent", at least — is from Harmony, Kansas.
- Get Back in the Closet: A panel depicting he and Apollo kissing was censored, but a later example in his solo book made a point of them kissing front and center.
- Has Two Daddies: He and Apollo eventually adopt Jenny Quantum.
- Hitler's Time Travel Exemption Act: The first story arc of his solo series.
- Malevolent Masked Men: The Anthem group — extremists who supposedly act in the name of peace. And wear country flags on their face.
- Rape and Revenge:
- In Mark Millar's first arc on The Authority a Captain America stand-in known as the Commander raped Apollo. The last we see of him, he's on the ground, paralyzed by Apollo, and it's implied that Midnighter intends to return the favor with a rusty jackhammer.
- Attempted Rape and Revenge: Some time after that story, the Authority team got usurped and replaced by new guys with the same powers, who then spend weeks torturing their originals in various ways - except for the Midnighter, who makes a timely strategic retreat to protect baby Jenny. Apollo gets deprived of sunlight and used as a punching bag by his own and Midnighter's replacement. But just when Apollo's replacement has worked through his homophobia enough to talk himself into sexually assaulting Apollo, the Midnighter shows up to put a construction bolt through his brain.note
- Politically Incorrect Hero: Millar's first arc on The Authority had Midnighter admit out-loud that he was a racist after getting tired of dealing with some refugees the team had taken on. Well, what he said was that the stress of living with thousands of refugees made him catch himself having racist thoughts about them. It came across like he regretted that part about himself. Which is actually a pretty nice representation of how people become better persons in this regard, self-awareness being the first step and all.
- Remember the New Guy?: Everybody in Harmony, who claim to have known Midnighter back when he was "Lucas Trent".
- The Remnant: He and Apollo are the lone survivors of an old Stormwatch cell made of expies of the founding members of the Justice League.
- Time Police: Midnighter deals with a few of these while attempting to kill Hitler on a mission. He works out a deal with them to take out the guy who sent him to the past in the first place.
- Token Evil Teammate: He's this for the Authority and that's really saying something for a team of already murderous amoral superheroes. He handles most of the dirty business of the team and has admitted he's a murderous monster and killer, but accepts it as who he is.
- Ascended Meme: His chin spike. Eventually explained in-universe after much fan teasing, having saved his life during a scrap prior to the start of his Stormwatch tenure.
- Bash Brothers: With Grayson.
- Bury Your Gays: Lampshaded and defied in Midnighter and Apollo:Apollo: "Screw him. Screw this place. This is our story, and in our story... we don't die in the end."
- Eating the Eye Candy: Nitey enjoys a pleasant view provided by Dick in Grayson #6:Midnighter: Your nifty Hypnos tech trick may make it so I can't see Spyral agents' faces ... but I'd know that ass anywhere.
- Enemy Mine: Midnighter cooperates with Dick Grayson to stop the Fist of Cain from setting off a telepathic assault on a crowd.
- Foe Romance Subtext / Homoerotic Subtext: Laid on thick during his arc in Grayson.
- Good Versus Good: With Dick in Grayson, thanks to Poor Communication Kills. During their third encounter, Midnighter boasted about how he could take down Spyral. If he had kept his mouth shut and not threatened to hurt Helena, Dick might have just negotiated a truce with him.
- Have I Mentioned I Am Gay?: Midnighter's sexuality was pretty dubious to Apollo, until he explicitly stated it.
- Hero Antagonist: During his arc in Grayson.Mr. Minos: He is an angry, brutal, and resentful man ... but he is also a man of duty.
- Morality Chain:
Apollo: "Hyacinth, Apollo's lover. He knew Hyacinth was doomed, but he refused to let Hades claim him. So he turned him into something better. ...I know who you are. And even if you think you're doomed, I refuse to accept that. You, and everyone else in the world who thinks they've fallen too far... I'll always pull you back into the light."
- Apollo to Midnighter. Kinda. Apollo isn't opposed in principle to killing villains, but he disapproves of the sheer level of Midnighter's brutality and unnecessarily painful ways of execution (if more because the gore could traumatize bystanders and the victims they're trying to save, not because he pities the villains). One certainly gets the feeling that if Midnighter ever were to dial it down a bit, it would be to gain approval in Apollo's eyes, though he isn't really able to change. Midnighter's acceptance of what he is, even though he doesn't like it, in contrast with Apollo's conflicting wishes to accept his lover and to make him someone better, someone Midnighter himself could live with more easily, are a central theme in the Midnighter and Apollo mini-series. In fact, wanting to be Midnighter's Morality Chain turns out to be the reason why Apollo chose his superhero name in the first place, in this version of canon:
- They even seem to have toned down the Pay Evil unto Evil aspect of Midnighter's protectiveness towards Apollo, in the DC Rebirth version of the character. If you harm Apollo, Midnighter will still go to the ends of the world and beyond to kill you, but he isn't particularly vicious or sadistic about it - especially compared with the Rape and Revenge incident in the old Wildstorm Authority canon. Then again, Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil and all that...
- Patriotic Fervor: He wears a tanktop depicting the American flag on a date in Russia. Though that may have just been trolling, given he was on a date with a dude, in Putin's Russia.
- Uke: Played With as shown in Midnighter and Apollo, while he is a Manly Gay and doesn't have any feminine traits, he's depicted as being the "bottom" in a romantic moment with Apollo and it's implied it's his preferred role. Midnighter also doesn't seem to mind that Apollo transports him in a Bridal Carry, though admittedly, he was badly hurt at the time. Still, considering his Rated M for Manly image and grouchy personality, it stands out how easily and unselfconsciously he cooperates with the pose.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: While Midnighter mainly just wants ethically permissable targets for his inherent violent urges and is fully aware he deserves to go to Hell someday (see the quote under I Am What I Am, above), Apollo has a rather unusual justification for why he often kills villains and does not feel like that makes him a bad person, even while he disapproves of Midnighter's levels of creative brutality. Basically, its because Apollo thinks their victims deserve to know that their abusers are gone and will never come back. The comparison to Thou Shall Not Kill type superheroes like Batman or Superman isn't spelled out, but from the contextnote , it can be deduced that he thinks that these heroes are simply too privileged (white; straight; filthy rich or having a supportive family; not having been forced into their metahuman status; never having been personally tortured/abused/victimized, or at least not at a time when they were still helpless civilians, instead mostly getting Stuffed into the Fridge / Mangst type drama about other people getting hurt) to ever truly empathize with the victims of the villains they're throwing in prison only for them to escape again and again to destroy the lives of more innocent people. Note that Apollo's Establishing Character Moment on the New 52 Stormwatch reboot was taking down a child pornography ring, not dealing with some alien threat or a fantastical and crazy villain like most of Batman's rogues gallery.
- Will They or Won't They?: With Apollo, until they did in Stormwatch #18. They separated again following the DCYou relaunch, but the Midnighter solo series firmly establishes that, despite his wish to explore more relationships, Midnighter is still clearly in love with Apollo. By the end of the series, they get back together.
- The Worf Effect: Midnighter spends most of his issues in Grayson being somehow beaten by Dick, despite his cybernetic enhancements.