Review: Midnighter and Apollo #2
In Midnighter and Apollo #2, Midnighter is so struck by the “death” of his boyfriend Apollo that he shuts everyone out of his life in a quest to bring him back through whatever means necessary. Writer Steve Orlando and artist Fernando Blanco take time out of the non-stop fights and torture of Apollo in Hell to show Midnighter’s feelings about the loss of his boyfriend. Orlando also singlehandedly redeems the formerly stereotypical gay DC Comics superhero/magician, who in the past fought an “AIDS vampire”, into a kind of Dr. Strange reality bender with an adopted angel child.
Blanco’s layouts continue to be a highlight of Midnighter and Apollo #2 as the comic opens with Bendix talking trash to Midnighter about designing his fight computer and setting up a kind of obstacle course that his teleporter can’t bust through. Well, he kind of obliterates the course in a double page spread that is like an ultraviolent version of a spiral ham or a planetary orbit complete with inset panels, cybernetic, a crimson color palette from Romulo Fajardo, and Mawzir, the demonic goon of the Lords of the Gun from the Garth Ennis and John McCrea Hitman comics doing his thing. Orlando is really a master of using obscure-ish DC or Wildstorm characters in cool or exciting ways and uses Mawzir’s dialogue to draw parallels between him and Midnighter. Even though he doesn’t serve a demonic cult, both Mawzir and Midnighter love violence for violence’s sake, and Blanco shows this by going beyond your average punch-up and getting creative with the fight choreography. I could feel that sweeping leg kick through the page.
Even though it seems like Bendix will end up being the “final boss” of Midnighter and Apollo, Orlando and Blanco craft a powerful, kind of out of Midnighter’s league bad guy to challenge him in this issue and beyond. It’s Neron, a reality warping demon from the 1995 Underworld Unleashed crossover and also popped up in Grant Morrison’s JLA run. He’s the living embodiment of a mind screwer, and Blanco gets all Hieronymus Bosch with his art style while depicting Apollo trying to break him and fellow, but it’s just a trick on him and superhero comics readers expecting some kind of miraculous escape and fight scene. Apollo might be as strong (or stronger) than Superman, but the darkness of Hell negates his power. He is really out of his depth with demons and other dimensions because he can’t defeat with a well-timed punch or burst of solar energy.
Fajardo shows Apollo bursting out of his stocks (The punishments are pretty retro down in hell.) with a burst of golden heat vision, but slowly obscures the yellow with red as Neron exercises his power over Apollo and binds him and his fellow captives. Orlando doesn’t quote or reference the scene directly, but this sequence reminded me of a quote from the first arc of Sandman where Morpheus wins a duel with demon with the word “hope” and says, “What power would hell have if those imprisoned here would not be able to dream of Heaven?” However, this idea has a much more negative connotation in Midnighter and Apollo as the only hope for Apollo is Midnighter kicking everyone’s asses, and him fighting demons should be super fun to watch unfold in the next issue.
In Midnighter and Apollo #2, Steve Orlando, Fernando Blanco, and Romulo Fajardo show the bond between Apollo and Midnighter mostly through Midnighter’s ceaseless pursuit of violence and even magical means to save his love and help. Blanco’s skill at layouts makes the reality bending and action scenes super thrilling, and he can also slow down and bask in emotions like when Midnighter cradles Apollo’s lifeless body. It’s yet another violent, vulnerable chapter in a miniseries that looks to get even more exciting thanks to the final page with its great Midnighter one-liner.
Story: Steve Orlando Art: Fernando Blanco Colors: Romulo Fajardo Jr.
Story: 8 Art: 9 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy
DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review