Review: Midnighter #11
Violence and tenderness collide once again in Midnighter #11 as Apollo saves his ex-boyfriend and our protagonist from certain death stemming out of last issue’s Deadshot exploding plane trick cliffhanger. The opening three pages showcase Aco’s storytelling abilities as he goes from the slow, very homoerotic burn of a shirtless Apollo tending to a wounded Midnighter to applying his layout skills to Apollo’s Superman-level speed and power set as he catches Midnighter in a moment that will make long time fans of the couple from their Wildstorm days in Stormwatch and The Authority beam with joy. Writer Steve Orlando‘s plot is mostly action-driven with Bendix (the man who experimented on Midnighter) unleashing The Unified and justifying its existence with the brashness of a more articulate War on Terror-era George W. Bush as Midnighter, Apollo, and Helena Bertinelli battle the Suicide Squad while learning from their mistakes. But he also leaves enough time to dig into Apollo and Midnighter’s (kind of) reconciliation showing that they still deeply care for each other and also that they make a great team. And their conversations are the beating heart of the issue.
With the arrival of Apollo, colorist Jeromy Cox introduces some real radiance to the Midnighter title, which has mostly been blood splatters or cold, clammy labs and secret bases with some splashes of color, like Parasite’s purple body. But Cox gives Apollo quite the aura with a kind of halo behind him and a gorgeous sunset backdrop in both his opening scene, and when he catches Midnighter. Aco also finds a new use for his snapshot panels in showcasing Apollo’s abilities and showing how different he is from Midnighter. Instead of using these panels to show the limbs that he is breaking, Aco uses them to show the number of people Apollo is saving as Bendix takes control of the door technology that Midnighter uses to get around and almost turns Helena and some Spyral agents into street pizza.
However, this being Midnighter, there is a room for a bit of the old ultraviolence, including a brutal, yet masterful fight sequence between Midnighter and Afterthought, who is the precognitive Rookie of the Year on the Suicide Squad. Orlando and Aco continue to have a talent in finding foes that match up well with Midnighter and give his fight computer a workout even if Afterthought doesn’t have the personal dimension Prometheus had. This isn’t a problem because Afterthought is just a checkpoint on a longer journey directly connected to Midnighter’s origin, and his fight with Midnighter is like watching a Rocky film on speed as M takes hit after hit until turning a corner just in time with a sound effect inflected punch. And as an added bonus, Aco gets to show off Helena’s crossbow skills when she squares off against Captain Boomerang in a ranged weapon battle royale. He and Orlando don’t waste the colorful characters of the Suicide Squad creating opportunities for fun, flashy battles and well-timed quips from Midnighter. Hugo Petrus also gets to draw some pivotal scenes featuring Amanda Waller and Bendix as she is confronted with her tactics (including nanobombs to keep her supervillain hit team under control) being used on a chaotic, almost godlike scale with Bendix turning up her mistrust of superheroes and Machiavellianism to eleven as the issue concludes.
And to fight a god, you need one of your own, and luckily for Waller, Spyral, and the whole DC Universe, Apollo is back. I discussed his signature visual style earlier, but his real impact on Midnighter #11 is emotional, not just as an incredibly fit deus ex machina. Midnighter pours out his soul to Apollo in a heartfelt monologue about how he has come to terms with being Midnighter all the time, not having a secret identity, and dating again even if his last boyfriend turned out to be a supervillain. It gets sappy too, but Orlando breaks things up with a little flirty banter and probably the sexiest this book has gotten since Dick Grayson wore a towel. Aco has a knack for the slow rhythms of foreplay, but Apollo and Midnighter’s reunion must come on the field of sketchy, genetically enhanced black ops war. The final page featuring them is poster worthy though, and issue twelve can’t come soon enough
Midnighter #11 introduces Apollo to the series at the best possible time as Steve Orlando, ACO, Hugo Petrus, and Jeromy Cox explore his fractured relationship with Midnighter and awe-inspiring power between and during a series of excellently choreographed scuffles with the Suicide Squad and Bendix’s The Unified.
Story: Steve Orlando Art: ACO and Hugo Petrus Colors: Jeromy Cox
Story: 8.5 Art: 9 Overall: 8.7 Recommendation: Buy
DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review