Review: Grifter & Midnighter

So let’s talk about Chuck Dixon and why he fails as both a writer and a human being.

I read Dixon’s work for years long before I learned how outspoken he is about his hatred and disdain for LGBTQs and people of color.

Even way back yonder I always felt his work to be mediocre at best and never understood why he received all the hype he got: Gail Simone’s run of the Birds of Prey was far superior and what he did to Outsiders was unforgivable.

Needless to say I had misgivings about Dixon penning Grifter & Midnighter but against my better judgment I decided to give the miniseries a chance. After all, maybe Dixon would surprise me, in a positive way.

The verdict: trust your instincts.

Synopsis: Grifter and Midnighter team up to stop some alien squid thingies.

Let’s start with the racefail. As Dixon beats the readers over the head with the blatant racist stereotypes about Middle Eastern terrorists. One scene and one issue would’ve been one thing but this theme kept popping up from beginning to end. It was clear to me that Dixon was “pushing an agenda” and/or read too many fanfics of 24.

Next there was Zee; the duplicitous shapeshifter who tricked Grifter and Midnighter into stopping the intergalactic squids bad guy thingies. I don’t know why but Dixon wrote Zee’s portrayal like the reader was supposed to be shocked when we find out that she has ulterior motives. But that wasn’t the most annoying part. It was the fact that she was naked 3/4 throughout the story for no apparent reason. Unlike Mystique in the X-Men films who is at least blue and scaly, Zee is just a naked woman in human form running around Paris, one of the biggest cities in the world for funsies. It served no purpose. Especially given that she’s a covert shapeshifter. Keyword: covert. Now, it goes without saying that when partaking in comics, the male gaze is par for the course (sad yet true) but even by comic standards, this was ridiculous. If you’re going to objectify women in comics, at least make it be plausible like any sensible misogynist.

Racism, and misogyny. Funny how where there’s one the others aren’t far away and of course Dixon doesn’t miss a chance break out the homophobia.

And I’m not even talking about the scene where Grifter flips his shit when Midnighter gives him mouth-to-mouth to resuscitate him. Actually, let’s talk about that for a second. A seasoned merc who has had countless close calls with death is going to freak out about a brother in arms saving his life by providing mouth-to-mouth because of what, fear of gay coodies? Seriously Dixon, seriously?

Also Dixon, pro-tip. There are just some things you will never hear a badass like Midnighter utter, the word “fabulous” is one of them. Would you write Batman or Punisher uttering that word? Thought not.

That’s not even the worst of it. I haven’t mentioned the part that Midnighter gets beat up by alien quid thingies which in fact turn out to be alien sperm. Yes alien sperm. Midnighter and Grifter are in the middle of a fight with the aliens who can adapt to Midnighter’s special ability of anticipating combat scenarios a few seconds faster than he can. Midnighter gets his clock cleaned but Grifter comes out unscathed. This is why all logic is defied. As the narrative indicates, Midnighter is the far superior warrior. If the two of them are surrounded by intergalactic jizz and they’re pummeling Midnighter, wouldn’t Grifter, who is fighting side by side with Midnighter, ALSO be getting his tail handed to him, if not get killed? Of course Dixon is also the writer who had Green Arrow fight Cassandra Cain to a standstill which also defies all logic and canon because on his best day Green Arrow wouldn’t last five seconds against Cassandra Cain. But anything to make certain the (author insert) straight white guy looks good at the expense of the woman of color, the gay male, or the narrative itself. Then of course Dixon repeatedly reiterates about how Midnighter got beat up by the space cum. Because sperm can defeat every gay man, amirite?

This type of illogic was consistent throughout the miniseries. Later when they track down the super aliens and stop them from breeding (I’m not going to even touch that one), Grifter reveals he has this super duper bomb that he’s been saving to take them out and end the threat. But for some reason rather than tossing it in the water to stop the aliens initially, Grfiter waits to the last possible minute to use it.

The worst part. The concept of the story had so much potential. The mismatched buddy cop dynamic was there with Grifter and Midnighter and even Midnighter’s journey where his worst fears about being the Authority’s weak link when he’s kidnapped at the beginning of the story and has to be rescued by his teammates were explored. Only he discovered that he was kidnapped because even among his godlike teammates he’s the biggest threat. Makes sense. You take on the Justice League, you take out Batman first. Same dynamic here. So much opportunities that were wasted.

I don’t know who in the blue hell thought it would ironically cute to let one of the comic industry’s biggest unapologetic homophobes write one of the most iconic gay characters ever created, but whoever the braintrust(s) is who signed off on this, needs every square inch of their ass kicked.

Allowing Chuck Dixon to pen Midnighter.

I guess next we’ll be having David Duke pen the Black Panther.

14 thoughts on “Review: Grifter & Midnighter

  1. Pingback: Review: Grifter & Midnighter « Dennis R. Upkins

  2. “The worst part. The concept of the story had so much potential. The mismatched buddy cop dynamic was there with Grifter and Midnighter and even Midnighter’s journey where his worst fears about being the Authority’s weak link when he’s kidnapped at the beginning of the story and has to be rescued by his teammates were explored. Only he discovered that he was kidnapped because even among his godlike teammates he’s the biggest threat. Makes sense. You take on the Justice League, you take out Batman first. Same dynamic here. So much opportunities that were wasted.”

    Like many others..I bet some kid can do a better story in five min than these genius in DC

    “I don’t know who in the blue hell thought it would ironically cute to let one of the comic industry’s biggest unapologetic homophobes write one of the most iconic gay characters ever created, but whoever the braintrust(s) is who signed off on this, needs every square inch of their ass kicked.”

    Well it’s the same people who Kill of POC characters everyday.

    “Also Dixon, pro-tip. There are just some things you will never hear a badass like Midnighter utter, the word “fabulous” is one of them. Would you write Batman or Punisher uttering that word? Thought not.”

    Well crazy steve who was dressedd like Batman in All Star Batman and Robin did say cool

  3. Wha- WHAT?! When did that fight between Green Arrow and Cass take place? I’m glad I missed that one but I am blissfully ignorant no longer. Gah! Thoughts. Coherent. Cannot. Rage. Must. RAAAARGH!!!!

    • I think it was in a run of Batman & The Outsiders, after Nightwing had left it and Cass had joined up. I remember those images from scans daily, but I never gave them much thought because I didn’t know much about Cass herself.

      • Yeah it was from the Outsiders.

        And Dixon’s portrayal of Thunder and Grace is unforgivable.

  4. Having read Midnighter: Killing Machine, where he is kidnapped and beaten up, it doesn’t sound nearly so bad as this comic, mostly because Midnighter does deal with it and comes back badder than before. Plus, it starts off with Midnighter KICKING A TANK SHELL back at a tank who fired it at him at almost POINT BLANK RANGE.

    Plus, he got to kick Hitler in the balls, which is always entertaining.

    I was going to say that a hero getting beaten up by the bad guys isn’t the problem, but how they get back up afterwards, but even then that feels bad to say because of how context is set up. A gay guy beaten up by space sperm sounds really yucky (especially when he’s the top martial artist in his universe), and I’m also remembering how Brian Michael Bendis had Tygra all but raped on camera for other villains to watch just to build up some lame, magic cape wearing moron called The Hood.

    Heck, I’m going back over Midnighter: Killing Machine, and even the bad guys’ homophobia doesn’t rub me the wrong way (god that’s a bad pun) mainly on account of how cool, calm, and calculating Midnighter is and how he overcomes his adversity to win out in the end.. and the bad guys pay big time for their actions. It all just slides off of him because, 1. I honestly don’t think that it bothers Midnighter that much, being someone who is rather supremely confident as he is, and 2. he’s as confident of his coming back for revenge against Paulus and his goons as I am that the sun will rise tomorrow morning.

    Chuck Dixon also troubles me because of his homophobia as well as his having written one of the more iconic scenes in Birds of Prey, when Barbara and Dinah first meet. I read his early line of Birds of Prey online before I knew what kind of person he was, so it’s really strange how someone with such vile beliefs could help produce an image with so much subtext. The image is great, but then you remember who wrote it…

  5. Y’know since you waxed awesomely about the awesomeness that was Midnighter I almost came back to comics and bought this (i had left comics many many years ago because I found it so utterly heterosexist and homophobic I refused to deal with it any more) so i was planning to look at this and Wiccan/Hulkling

    Thank ye gods I read this first. Because what what what WHAT is this?

    • Actually the Midnighter solo series is good and I HIGHLY recommend it. It’s written by a completely different writer who’s not a tool.

      This shit here was just a one-shot miniseries that had been assigned to Dixon.

      Also Wiccan/Hulkling I recommend as well as Kevin Keller.

    • Actually start with Kevin Keller. If you don’t read any other comic, at least read Kevin Keller and then proceed from there.

      • I tghuink i’d prefer the others. Not that I don’t love Kevin keller as a concept but I want to remember this comic as the loegendary wonderful thing it is rather than read it and think “where’s the damn magic?!”

        yes, I’m sadly sadly sadly addicted to all things fantastic. if there isn’t magic, spandex clad-super heroes, lasers or vampires in it somewhere, it pleases not the Sparky

        I do have to makr esure I check out the correct title for the otehrs though – they have titles specific to themselves or are they part of a greater organisation?

  6. Pingback: Not Buying The Hype « Ars Marginal

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