Papa Linton Midnite was born in Jamaica in a small town called Trenchtown along with his family, Papa’s mother would pass away while he was still young, he lived along with his sister Cedella. There his father told him of the dark arts. The tales of the dark magic’s inspired Papa to grow into a voodoo priest. Before her death Voodoo’d mother taught her son as much of her own dark arts before she passed away. But in the world they lived, it was not just power that would help Linton but it would be his own wits that would save him more than once in the future.
Papa grew up using his skill only to trick and con money out of the people he pretended to help. His most dastardly trick however was tricking a slave man into thinking that "a magic powder that stopped bullets" would enable said man to start a revolution against their masters. The powder was of course fake, which he thought would be no matter as he thought the man was bluffing and would never attempt such a rebellion. To his surprise....he did. The slaves stormed the gates of the white man's house, immediately they were slew in a hail of bullets. But the remaining few alive would go out and seek Papa Midnite. Some believe this is where he betrayed his sister but this is not true.
Papa Midnight wanted more power, not just simple tricks he had been using but real power and he knew the only way to gain that was to gain favour with those that had power, the lords of hell, on the night when the slaves finally caught up with him, he killed her sending her soul to hell. But Papa had been giving out Cedella’s soul to smaller daemons and with this final act of betrayal , her soul was cast into the darkest levels of hell. It was here that Midnite’s powers grew and from here his empire would grow.
Papa Midnite appeared in Constantine's very first issue, Hellblazer #1 dated January 1988. He was created by series writer Jamie Delano and first drawn by artist John Ridgway.
Despite appearing in the first arc, Midnite did not appear again until writer Garth Ennis revisited the character years later and expanded upon his origins.
Major Story Arcs
Now the Houngan Voodoo King he began growing his criminal empire that would span over countless years. Papa was now one of the most powerful voodoo priest in the world, he had a sister who was still loyal to him after all he had done working as a spy in the inner circles of hell. For years Papa worked out of the heart of New York along with his power came immortality. He staged zombie cage fights in the night club that sat at the base of the tower block he built and on top sat his own pent house home. While all this was going on he had various other mystical jobs working on the side, collecting artifacts to sell on or to keep.
Papa sought out one artifact, which would bring him more trouble then he wanted. A local fence known as Zeerke had in his hands a rifle called “Ace Of Winchesters” an occult rifle. But before he was able to sell the rifle it was stolen by a young John Constantine and his friend Brendan Finn, who had sought to buy the rifle first but Zeerke doubled his price and they were unable to afford it so they stole it Papa Midnite was enraged and swore he would have vengeance on the thief’s. Zeekre caught up with Brendan and left him with a wound that would stay with him forever for the part he played in the crime. This would be the first time that Constantine got involved in Papa’s life but it would not be the last.
Once again the two met up as a hunger demon attacked New York. Constantine wanted to stop the beast from killing any more people in New York and Papa wanted to stop his business from being hurt with this beast running round his city. Joining forces the two began their plan , Papa had in his collection the electric chair from sing-sung, over 300 prisoners had been killed in the chair, making it a very powerful tool, This along with Papas voodoo and a lot of heroin. They had no choice but to seal the hunger demon ( Mnemoth) in a friend of Constantine’s Gary Lester. With New York saved they separated and went back to their normal lives. Constantine thought that their work had canceled out any debt he owed Papa. But Papa had other ideas.
His revenge was soon to come, Constantine arrived back in New York and began trying to fix his life again. But Papa soon found out that he was back when Zeekre informed Midnite that he had returned. Now was the time for his revenge, trapping Constantine within a section of hell that Papa has gained control over with his magic. Constantine is forced to face a version of American hell. Cedella (Papa’s sister) watches from the side lines, but later strikes a deal with Constantine. Leading him to freedom on one condition that Constantine would free her from her brother’s power.
Now was the time for Papa’s down fall. His sisters spirit was now free from his control, she drove Papa mad, in his current state he climbed to the top of the empire state building and leaped to his death. Or so the readers where meant to believe.
Papa reappeared with more style and cockiness then before but he was still haunted by his past., this is where the Papa Midnite mini series would start.
Post-Flashpoint: The New 52
Papa Midnite returned as a villain in the New 52 Constantine series in issue #4.
In the movie released in 2005, Djimon Hounsou took on the role as Papa Midnite. Papa helped with the electric chair from Sing- Sung. His back story did not change that much from the original comics and there was still a level of bad blood between the two characters. Papa is only seen in his club and does not want to get involved with the upcoming battle, but is willing to help in the end.
Hounsou's look in the film made its way into the comics during his self titled mini-series released to coincide with the film.
Quotes from the Movie:
Talking to Constantine about using the electric chair
Midnite: How many years since you've surfed?
Constantine: Like riding a bike.
Midnite : No, not really.
Midnite talking to Constantine about being attacked by a full demon on earth.
Constantine: A demon just attacked me right out in the open on Figueroa.
Midnite: They don't like you, John. How many have you deported back to hell?
Constantine : Not some angry half-breed, Midnite. A full fledged demon, here on our plane. Midnite: Clearly, I do not have to remind you that is impossible. Constantine : And yesterday, I saw a soldier demon tryin' to chew its way out through a little girl. Midnite: Listen, John. Demons stay in hell, angels in heaven. The great détente of the original superpowers.