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Authoritative Action: Graeme continues the 3/14 reviews.

Graeme McMillan

GRIFTER/MIDNIGHTER #1: I’m not sure that I’ve ever actually read a Chuck Dixon comic before. I guess that I must’ve; wasn’t he all over DC and the Batbooks in particular in the mid-to-late ’90s? I read the first Robin mini-series, and they were probably Chuck Dixon, right? Nothing that sticks in my mind, anyway, and nothing that I can think of since Chuck came to the fore as one of comics’ foremost conservatives. Bearing his personal politics in mind – and read this for some idea of what his personal politics are – how do you think he deals with DC’s highest profile gay character? Let’s evesdrop on this conversation between Apollo, Midnighter’s boyfriend, and another offpanel random cast member:

“What was the function of this machine?”

“Best guess? Some sort of mindscrewing device, to use the technical term.”

“Well, if that’s the case, trust me – – Midnighter was on top.”

Well, I’m sure that was just one particular…

“They took me because I was the weakest one of us. And my big-hearted lover comes to rescue me.”

“It’s not like that.”

“You’re damn right it’s isn’t. I’m not the convenient hostage here. I’m not the little wife. And you know that better than anyone.”

Yes, it’s true: Chuck Dixon can’t write dialogue to save his life. Oh, and he wants us to know that Midnighter may be gay, but he’s definitely masculine and in charge, so no-one think anything about the characters Dixon’s willing to write, alright? It’s an awkward moment, because you kind of get the idea that Dixon is trying, but that almost makes things worse – Again, like I said, I’m unfamiliar with Dixon’s normal output, but somehow I doubt that he writes heterosexual characters talking about being tops or making sure that their lovers know which one is the dominant one in the relationship (He probably leaves that for Chris Claremont). That said, though, it’s nowhere near the worst thing about this issue; that would probably be the fact that the story doesn’t really make any sense, or perhaps the sudden and unexpected introduction of a killing-terrorists-in-the-Philippines plot that leads to the comic world’s least suspenseful cliffhanger. Hibbs was right: there’s something off in the pacing of this book, to the point where it’s two-thirds a Midnighter book, and then BAM suddenly there’s Grifter is what seems to be pages out of another comic altogether. Obviously, the two stories will interconnect at some point, but what makes the break all the more obvious in this first issue is that there’s no attempt whatsoever to bridge the two stories for the reader. There’s a lack of… care, maybe? or attention, perhaps? in the transition, as if Dixon was literally just hacking it out with no craft slurring Here’s yer goddamn funnybook with yer gay guy, ya lousy bums, as he throws the script on the editor’s table.

As if to underscore that, there’s no introduction to the characters for readers unfamiliar with them. I’ve seen Grifter in a few comics before, but I had no idea that he could control people’s minds before… At least, I think that’s what he’s doing – It’s really not that clearly explained, nor is what’s happening in all of the Authority scenes (What is Jenny doing, and how?)… Again, another new book that’s being aimed entirely at the existing fans, when it could easily have been retooled to be more open for the new and relatively new like me.

Because, really, that’s all I’m looking for: Comics made just for me. This Crap isn’t quite what I’m looking for, not just yet.

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