Beginning in January the writing team of Becky Cloonan and Michael W. Conrad will be contributing to the Future State two-issue anthology title, Superman: Worlds of War with a two-part story featuring Midnighter.
If you're wondering why an original-to-Wildstorm character best known as a Batman analog wound up in a Superman title set in the future on an alien world along with the Man of Steel and two 'Fourth World' characters Black Racer and Mister Miracle - well, yeah, so are we.
Created by Warren Ellis and Bryan Hitch for the series Stormwatch and later a featured character in the Authority, Midnighter is a slightly-more superhuman and significantly more lethal Batman. And when DC began incorporating Wildstorm characters into the DC Universe with 2011's 'The New 52' (including his own ongoing series), Midnighter’s closest regular tie to DCU became Dick Grayson.
Maybe the character's most logical connection to Superman is that he is the long-time on-and-off-again romantic partner of fellow original-to-Wildstorm character Apollo, who is a Superman analog himself.
But we could ruminate on the connection all day. Instead, we were able to pass along a few questions about the story to Cloonan and Conrad.
The writing team will also be writing Wonder Woman stories starring Diana Prince for Future State: Immortal Wonder Woman and are the newly-announced regular writing team of the Wonder Woman ongoing series when it returns with issue #770 in March, but that's a conversation for another day.
For now, we got what we would out of them about their Future State Midnighter story, drawn by Gleb Melnikov, along with a few pages of preview art.
Newsarama: Becky, Michael, this seems like it should be our final question but we're going to ask it first. Of all the Future State anthology pairings, a Midnighter story in a Superman title stood out as one of the most curious. Can you talk about that pairing and why it makes sense?
Michael Conrad: Let's start with Superman since everyone has a strong idea of who he is and what motivates him.
I think we can all agree that Superman is the ultimate 'good guy' so naturally, we assume he would be drawn to others who share his ethics and have a similarly aligned moral compass. Things get really interesting when this is coupled with someone else being ostensibly 'good' but through means, that challenge the approach.
It's no secret that Midnighter was once an analog for Batman, and we've seen how Superman has managed that relationship. Now that Midnighter has come more into his own it will be really exciting to see how Superman can reconcile the wild, often lethal force Midnighter uses against his foes.
Becky Cloonan: Midnighter takes on an interesting role in Future State—he is possibly the only one who can save Superman, although how he goes about doing that? Probably not something Superman would approve of.
Nrama: What else can you tell readers about his Future State storyline? And how about the status quo of the character? Is there anything new or different about the character you can mention when readers catch up with him in the future?
Conrad: Midnighter is dealing with a major issue that no one else knows about. The clock is ticking and without immediate action, there will be serious consequences. Midnighter is the perfect guy for the job, but the price he pays will potentially change him forever.
The Midnighter we find in Future State is the same guy that we have loved all along… Surely he hasn't changed that much. [winks]
Cloonan: Midnighter is so much fun to write because you can throw as many gnarly curve balls at him as you want, and he'll always bounce right back. More or less. We created a new villain for Future State that was tailor-made for Midnighter, someone who really gets into his head.
Nrama: So we got to ask, in the future, what is the status of his on-and-off-again relationship with Apollo?
Conrad: Every Midnighter fan is wondering about Apollo right now. I like it that way! I think Steve Orlando built a beautiful relationship, a dynamic one with nuance. It would be a real shame if someone came along and broke everyone's hearts.
Nrama: Moving onto the other character he's most associated with, when incorporated into the DC Universe, Midnighter has to coexist with likely the most popular character in comic books who he was created to be an analog of - Batman.
What in your mind makes Midnighter stand out and different from Batman?
Conrad: Ah, the ol' Batman analog thing again! I like that people still describe Midnighter as a "violent, queer Batman" but I believe that's only a fraction of who Midnighter is.
I think of Midnighter as being defined by identity issues. On the surface, he's perfectly comfortable in his role, but we're talking about someone who has been violated so profoundly that he suffers amnesia and sociopathic tendencies. Midnighter is broken in a way that Bruce is not. Both have found paths to cope with their trauma, but where Batman is singular in his vision of how to get through his loss, Midnighter is a whirl of pain and chaos barely held together by his cybernetic 'enhancements.'
Nrama: So finally, we're asking a version of this question to all Future State writers. Newsarama is assuming a good portion of Future State will be seeding things to look out for in the post-Future State DC line-up, and we're particularly keeping an eye on the characters in the big anthologies.
So outright, do Midnighter fans have anything to look forward to post-Future State, and will you both have any involvement?
Cloonan: I think it's safe to say that Midnighter isn't going anywhere. And who knows, if people enjoy what we do with him, there could be more to come!
Conrad: I'm not sure how much I can say about what the future holds for Midnighter, but when Becky and I stepped into the Future State role as writers I was bouncing off the walls with excitement. I immediately knew what I wanted to do, and thought if we made a big enough mess in an undeniably cool way, we might create something that the folks with the green light might want to see more of.
Did Midnight make Newsarama’s countdown of the greatest Wildstorm characters of all time? Spoiler warning: Yes, he did.