“Midnight Suns” #5

By | January 27th, 2023
Posted in Reviews | % Comments

If you’re anything like me, you’ve logged enormous hours into the Marvel’s Midnight Suns video game. It’s delightful; a unique RPG that lets you befriend a fun roster of comic characters. Illyana Rasputin? Nico Minoru? Steve Rogers? Those are some of my best friends now. I know because they told me so. Craving more of this wonderful game, I turned to the tie-in comic. But “Midnight Suns” hasn’t mastered the magic of its digital inspiration.

Cover by David Nakayama
Written by Ethan Sacks
Illustrated by Luigi Zagaria and Alberto Foche
Colored by Antonio Fabela
Lettered by VC’s Joe Sabino

The Midnight Suns were fated to rise…but in the end, are they destined to stop the apocalypse – or start it?! Only Agatha Harkness knows the truth, but the mistakes of her past have finally caught up to her. She has a terrible choice to make – one that will change her forever, one that may doom Zoe Laveau and Nico Minoru – if they and the Suns manage to survive…the ritual!

I am not an anti-tie-in snob. The Playstation Spider-Man game had a tie-in comic. A good read! They made a tie-in comic to the recently discontinued Avengers game. I liked that one! And did you read those Fortnight comics? There was one for Marvel and one for DC and can I be honest? They are both excellent. (Helps to have the always-dependable Christos Gage writing your scripts). No matter the reason for commissioning the story, superhero comics can find a way to have some fun. In a relatively self-contained story like this, you can take a big creative risk, you can break the characters in ways you couldn’t in a regular series. So why does this feel like homework before a big event?

The first oddity in the “Midnight Suns” comic is the roster. You’ve got a handful of recognizable Midnight Suns from the game- Nico, Magik, and Blade are still on the team. There’s also Wolverine; I guess he’s contractually obligated to be on every team. Then there’s Agatha Harkness, who actually was a pretty significant character in the game’s story. But Zoe Laveau is new, first appearing in the “Strange Academy” series. And in liu of Robbie Reyes we have Kushala, who goes by Spirit Rider rather than Ghost Rider. She showed up in “Doctor Strange and the Sorcerers Supreme.”

Even the familiar faces don’t feel like my friends back at the Abbey. That version of Nico (voiced by her TV actor Lyrica Okano) was a painfully earnest Millennial nerd who got a little bit too pushy about group movie night. The Nico in this comic seems so professional and business-like. She reads more like Cyclops than Nico. Where’s the chaotic trail of destruction that is Nico’s personal life? This story doesn’t really have time to get that personal.

There are gestures to the wider Marvel continuity- Clea seems to be the Sorcerer Supreme and by the end, Agatha Harkness has gotten young and hot. But the antagonist- there’s a guy named Korrosion, which actually kind of rules- has vaguely apocalyptic aspirations. The artwork isn’t all too redemptive either. This issue is mostly a magical battle, but the movement feels stiff. The monochrome backgrounds don’t capture the trippy majesty of a Doctor Strange story, and they make a big multi-party scrum difficult to track. I will say that the faces, particularly those wearing superhero masks, are delightfully expressive. If someone is realizing they are doomed, you can see their flop-sweat from space. There’s probably a talkier, more dramatic version of this book that is better suited to the talents of the art team.

What really boggles my mind is how easy this all could have been. There’s a perfectly fine comic that just recaps events from the game. The tactic that most video game tie-ins take is feeling in the blank spots, and that could have been fun as well. In the very least, it would have been nice to just, hang out some more. An issue where these characters had a BBQ or took a capoeira class would have suited me fine. The series we got seems to be setting up some future Midnight Suns story that will probably never arrive.
Or maybe my pessimism is uncalled for. Maybe this is going to be the miniseries everyone seeks out when the Midnight Suns become the new biggest Marvel team. Maybe the Valtorr Realm is going to be the next Krakoa, and this will read as important backstory. But even if all of that is the case, “Midnight Suns” reads more like an obligation than an opportunity.

Final Verdict: 5.5 – Doesn’t scratch the itch of playing the video game, doesn’t replace that feeling with something new.

Jaina Hill

Jaina is from New York. She currently lives in Ohio. Ask her, and she'll swear she's one of those people who loves both Star Wars and Star Trek equally. Say hi to her on twitter @Rambling_Moose!