Tag Archives: midnighter

Review: Midnighter and Apollo #6

midnighterapollo6coverMidnighter and Apollo #6 concludes the miniseries in breathtaking, double page spreading, and smooching as fashion as Apollo rescues Midnighter from hell and shines a little life into his life. Steve Orlando, Fernando BlancoRomulo Fajardo Jr., and John Rauch go for broke in showing the bond between Midnighter in creative and epic ways. The plot is  simple: escape from the creepy hell place, but the creative team pours all their efforts into letting Midnighter and Apollo go full badass and team up together against the hordes of Neron before having some much needed alone time.

Fernando Blanco’s layouts have been a consistent highlight of this series , and he tops himself in Midnighter and Apollo #6 beginning on the second and third pages. Blanco plays with symmetry with an opposing set of panels juxtaposing Apollo flying through Hell with Neron torturing Midnighter about how he’s going to die here because he’s a murder, and evil always wins. Except Neron’s words are empty air because the panels featuring Apollo get bigger and bigger as Fajardo’s yellows seeping in culminating in a full page splash of Apollo cold cocking Neron. It’s just lines on the page, but you can feel the rage and love behind Apollo’s solar powered fists as he goes flying. For most of Midnighter and Apollo, Midnighter has been trying to save Apollo, but its time for superpowered boyfriend to return the favor.

Through their quick dialogue during the action scenes and an extended epilogue, Orlando and Blanco dig into why Midnighter and Apollo work as a couple in a sweet, violent way. There’s nothing like exploding your scarecrow-looking demon doppelganger to show that your man really cares for you. But Midnighter gets really honest too as he’s in excruciating pain after returning from Hell with his body and fight computer healing all over the place. He doesn’t come back with some big no killing plan after having a near death experience, but is going to continue to kill the really bad guys to stop the pervasive spread of evil. It’s a dark duty that Blanco shows with the bodies of his victims


When it comes to stories or songs about rescuing your lover from the Underworld, most writers and artists allude to Orpheus and Eurydice. But Steve Orlando should be applauded for a little deeper into Ovid’s Metamorphoses and referencing Apollo and Hyacinth as the god couldn’t rescue the man he loved, but did create a beautiful flower out of his death. He riffs on this myth and gives it a much needed happy ending (In more ways than one.) even though both Midnighter and Apollo have been put through the wringer throughout the miniseries. Apollo didn’t pick out his superhero name because of his solar power, but because he was inspired by the story a man, who went to the realm of the dead to plead for his dead lover’s life. And he’ll keep fighting for Midnighter to the end. It’s nice to see them as a happy couple at the end, talking out their issues, and sharing the strangest of dinner parties with Extrano, his husband, and some friends from the Midnighter ongoing series.

Yes, queer characters occasionally get happy endings, and Midnighter and Apollo #6 is a wonderful story of two men, whose love was so strong that they would fight Hell and all its demons just to be in each other’s arms. The comic also is a technical marvel with Fernando Blanco’s clever layouts and Romulo Fajardo’s play of light and darkness showing the contrasts between Apollo and Midnighter while also showing that their differences make them great. Midnighter’s determination and Apollo’s sense of hope definitely makes them the true power couple of the DC Universe, and hopefully there will be many more adventures featuring them in years to come.

Story: Steve Orlando Art: Fernando Blanco Colors: Romulo Fajardo Jr. with John Rauch
Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Midnighter and Apollo #5

midnighterapollo5coverMidnighter punches out and spits on the DC Universe’s equivalent of the devil (The nefarious Neron.) in Midnighter and Apollo #5. If that doesn’t get you excited for this comic, you should really exit this plane of reality and chill out in Limbo, or the world with no shrimp. In all seriousness, writer Steve Orlando, artist Fernando Blanco, and colorist Romulo Fajardo Jr push Midnighter to his absolute breaking point in this issue as he takes a special spell from Extrano that basically turns him into a badass angel of light for seven minutes and gets to whale on Neron while looking for Apollo.

With its sturdy grids and double page spreads for the big finishing move, Blanco and Fajardo go into overload as Midnighter puts every ounce of strength, training, and of course, love into his physical battle with Neron even though he’s more of a concept. Blanco is truly an architect of pain and uses these grids to show the gradual battering of his body. While this is going on, Fajardo blends the angelic and demonic in his use of yellow for the spell that Midnighter uses to shield his body while fighting Neron to go with his usual black and dark grey palette for our protagonist. The yellow begins in the margins of a scene where Midnighter talks some trash to Neron about him being the ultimate enemy, and that all he needs are his fists to win. But he’s really buying time to activate the spell in the rush of giant, golden angel and Hebrew letters. One of the fighting video games should really rip off this “angel punch” move as a finisher for one of their characters.

But, underneath its reverse theodicies and musings about the nature of evil and the afterlife, midnighterapollointeriorMidnighter and Apollo #5 is one big street brawl. Midnighter gets some amazing licks in an almost silent set of pages filled with back hands, kicks, and just sheer punishment. But this is all an illusion, and Midnighter almost becomes incorporeal with his body crumbling in Apollo’s arm after his seven minutes is up. Midnighter would get in a fist fight with the devil to save the man he loves, but defeating a concept on his home turf is a tall order. Without the special spell, he is putty in Neron’s hand, a crumbling mass of red, black, and grey as the soulless Apollo flutters aimlessly like the souls who did neither good nor bad (Or anything out of the blue.) in Dante’s Inferno. Apollo can speak and move and has his usual yellow coloring from Fajardo, but seems like he can’t do anything to get him and Midnighter out of this situation.

To make Midnighter and Apollo even more emotionally unbearable, Steve Orlando pulls a twist on the old Sandman quote, “What power would Hell have if those here imprisoned were not able to dream of Heaven?” except it’s not Morpheus not besting a demon, but Midnighter being utterly unable to save the soul of Apollo. But there is still hope with a sliver of yellow on the final page. I really have no idea how DC Comics’ power couple are going to get out of this trap. Deus ex Extrano, perhaps?

In Midnighter and Apollo #5, Steve Orlando, Fernando Blanco, and Romulo Fajardo toss out the philosophizing and fancy fight computer enhanced panels for a blunt instrument of a reading experience. Midnighter and Neron beat each other bloody in what turns out to be a pointless battle for best boyfriend in the universe as evil isn’t something you can’t best in hand to hand combat.

But I hope that Midnighter and Apollo can beat it because the cliffhanger at the end of Midnighter and Apollo #5 is pretty bleak even for a series that has mostly been set in a place where weeping and gnashing of teeth are an hourly occurrence.

Story: Steve Orlando Art: Fernando Blanco Colors: Romulo Fajardo Jr.
Story: 9 Art: 9 Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

GLAAD Announces their Media Awards Nominees. Check out the 10 Comics Nominated

GLAAD has announced the nominees for the 28th Annual GLAAD Media Awards. Comics were well represented with ten nominations that vary quite a lot in their content, creators, and publishers.

The GLAAD Media Awards recognize and honor media for their fair, accurate and inclusive representations of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community and the issues that affect their lives.

There’s two events, one held in Los Angeles on April 1 and another in New York City on May 6.

This year’s nominees include:

  • All-New X-Men (Marvel)by Dennis Hopeless, Mark Bagley, Andrew Hennessy, Paco Diaz, Nolan Woodard, Rachelle Rosenberg, Cory Petit
  • Black Panther (Marvel) – Ta-Nehisi Coates, Brian Stelfreeze, Chris Sprouse, Walden Wong, Karl C. Story, Laura Martin, Matt Milla, Joe Sabino, Clayton Cowles
  • DC Comics Bombshells (DC Comics) – Marguerite Bennett, Laura Braga, Sandy Jarrell, Maria Laura Sanapo, Mirka Andolfo, Pasquale Qualano, Marguerite Sauvage, Juan Albarran, Kelly Diane Fitzpatrick, J. Nanjan, Jeremy Lawson, Wendy Broome, Wes Abbott
  • Kim & Kim (Black Mask Studios) – Magdalene Visaggio, Eva Cabrera, Claudia Aguirre, Zakk Saam, Taylor Esposito
  • Love is Love (IDW Publishing/DC Comics) – anthology originated by Marc Andreyko
  • Lumberjanes (BOOM! Studios) – Shannon Watters, Kat Leyh, Carey Pietsch, Ayme Sotuyo, Carolyn Nowak, Maarta Laiho, Aubrey Aiese
  • Midnighter / Midnighter and Apollo (DC Comics) – Steve Orlando, David Messina, Aco, Hugo Petrus, Fernando Blanco, Gaetano Carlucci, Romulo Fajardo, Jr., Jeremy Cox, Tom Napolitano, Josh Reed
  • Patsy Walker, A.K.A Hellcat! (Marvel) – Kate Leth, Brittney L. Williams, Natasha Allegri, Megan Wilson, Rachelle Rosenberg, Clayton Cowles
  • Saga (Image Comics) – Brian K. Vaughan, Fiona Staples, Fonografiks
  • The Woods (BOOM! Studios)James Tynion IV, Michael Dialynas, Josan Gonzalez, Ed Dukeshire

Congrats to all of the nominees and you can watch the full announcement below.

Review: Midnighter and Apollo #4

midnighterapollo4coverWatching a fight scene in a Steve Orlando scripted Midnighter comic is a lot like watching Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder get a triple double. He gets one almost every night, but the ride is just as thrilling as he dunks on and corrals rebounds from taller opponents, hits high degree of difficulty jump shots, and makes his teammates look good too. Likewise, Orlando, artist Fernando Blanco, and colorist Romulo Fajardo team up to show the thrilling battle between Midnighter and the Mawzir, the head of the demon gang Lords of the Gun, who sent his boyfriend Apollo to Hell. Foolishly or not so foolishly, Midnighter has decided to bring a single bullet to some kind of quadruple-wielding, first person shooter on steroids gun fight. Apollo also has to bargain for his soul from Neron, and it doesn’t go the greatest, but Orlando continues to bring insight to his past. Fajardo also gives him a golden glow

Exciting layouts has been the bread and butter of Blanco on Midnighter and Apolloand issue 4 is no exception with three fascinating sequences to watch unfold. The board game theme of the previous issue returns, but Midnighter is more of a Candyland than a Carcassone man and instead of juxtaposing images and dialogue, Blanco just shows him bludgeoning demons up and down and around the sides of Neron’s winding castle. However, the fight between Midnighter and Mawzir is Midnighter and Apollo as directed by John Woo without the doves unfortunately. It’s a battle to the death with guns, fists, slow-mo, and Blanco drawing Midnighter dodging bullets in silhouette is an exciting touch too. He is also an artist of the body and shows how Midnighter and Apollo are physically and mentally drained by the end of the issue although they cling onto some kind of hope. And Fajardo is there with plenty of red as Midnighter wreaks havoc on the Mawzir and the other denizens of Hell.

The Apollo scenes provide a lighter in color palette, yet just as heavy in tone counterbalance to the mayhem of midnighterapollo4interiorMidnighter versus the Lords of the Gun and also show his pure soul even if Neron continues to taunt him about his violent methods as a superhero and “sins”. Except this purity means that pulling a John Constantine or Morpheus and trying to bargain and talk his way out of losing his soul is a bad idea. Apollo is way too good for his place, and this is why it takes his more hellish boyfriend, who gets headhunted by one of Hell’s deadliest demon gangs after killing their leader, to save him.

I do feel like I understand Apollo better as a person after Midnighter and Apollo #4 as Blanco dials down the insane layouts, but ups the defiance in his drawing of Apollo. He’s not just a damsel in distress with the powers of Superman that doesn’t work thanks to the abundance of darkness and hellfire. No, Apollo is a survivor beginning with his homophobic father, who went away and continuing with the aliens who abducted and experimented on him. And hopefully, he’ll make it out of this situation if Midnighter has anything to say about it.

Creative fighting, deep introspection, and variety in panel layouts that show comics is the perfect medium for intense action sequences ensure that Apollo and Midnighter #4 continues the series’ momentum into 2017. This issue reads like a great tie-in for a long lost Vertigo/Wildstorm crossover, and Midnighter bathing in the blood in demons just to save his man inspires me so much.

Story: Steve Orlando Art: Fernando Blanco Colors: Romulo Fajardo Jr.
Story: 9.5 Art: 9.5 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Logan’s Favorite Comics of 2016

Some amazing comics came out in 2016 from both the Big Two and the indie ranks. This was the year that I had a lot of fun reading the books that came out in the “margins” of Marvel and DC that didn’t feature their top characters, but had idiosyncratic, top notch visuals, or just a good sense of humor. Black Mask continues to be my go-to for hard hitting indie work, and the whole BOOM! Box imprint continues to be as fun as ever.

Without further ado, these are my personal favorite comics of 2016, the ones that stimulated and entertained me the most in this difficult year.


10. Kim and Kim #1-4 (Black Mask)
Writer: Mags Visaggio Artist: Eva Cabrera Colorist: Claudia Aguirre

Kim and Kim was a super fun sci-fi miniseries with some wild and wacky worldbuilding, rollicking action scenes, and lots of hilarious interactions between the two leads, Kim Q and Kim D. Writer Mags Visaggio put their friendship front and center giving the comic a strong emotional through-line between bounty hunter shenanigans. Also, Eva Cabrera excels at drawing attractive humans as well as strange aliens, and I enjoyed Claudia Aguirre’s pastel-filled color palette. It was also nice to have a story starring two queer women not end in senseless death.

jonesy #2 featured

9. Jonesy #1-8 (BOOM! Studios)
Writer: Sam Humphries Artist: Caitlin Rose Boyle Colorists: Mickey Quinn, Brittany Peer

Every year, the BOOM! Box imprint seems to churn out a new title that captures my heart. Jonesy is a fire cracker of a comic starring a teenage girl, who can make anyone fall in love with anything. Unfortunately, that power doesn’t work on her personally, and it gets her into a lot of trouble. Sam Humphries’ writing has as little chill as his protagonist, and Caitlin Rose-Boyle’s art evokes the zines that Jonesy loves to make about her favorite pop star, Stuff. The hyper-stylized plots and faces that Jonesy pulls kept me laughing while Jonesy’s struggles with finding someone to love her and her strained relationship with her mom in the second arc gave me the feels. Her and her friends’ unabashed passion for life is kind of inspiring too.


8. Ultimates #3-12, Ultimates 2 #1-2 (Marvel)
Writer: Al Ewing Artists: Kenneth Rocafort, Christian Ward, Djibril Morrisette-Phan, Travel Foreman Colorist: Dan Brown

Ultimates and Ultimates 2 were the gold standard for team superhero book at both Marvel and DC, and not even Civil War II could stop this title’s momentum. The Al Ewing-penned comic was more of a science fiction saga that happened to star a diverse cast of superheroes than a straight up team book as they tried to find productive solutions to problems like Galactus and the Anti-Man instead of just punching things. And like all good team books, there’s some great interpersonal tension like when Black Panther puts Wakanda before the team, Ms. America defies Captain Marvel, and Spectrum and Blue Marvel start smooching. Ultimates also has some wonderful tapestry-style double page spreads from artists Kenneth Rocafort, Christian Ward, and Travel Foreman that match its multiversal scope. It’s an entertaining and esoteric comic.



7. Deadman: Dark Mansion of Forbidden Love #1-2 (DC)
Writer: Sarah Vaughn Artist: Lan Medina Colorist: Jose Villarrubia

In 2016, DC really stretched its wings genre-wise with the Young Animal imprint and comics, like a satirical take on the Flintstones. But, the best of this quirky bunch was a Gothic romance take on Deadman from Fresh Romance‘s Sarah Vaughn, Fables‘ Lan Medina, and atmospheric colorist Jose Villarrubia. The main character, Berenice, can see ghosts, including Deadman, who are trapped in a haunted British mansion. There are secret passageways, mysterious backstories, and an epic, bisexual love triangle, but mostly, Deadman is a meditation on mortality and relationships, both platonic and romantic with some jaw-dropping scenery from Medina and Villarrubia.


6. Patsy Walker AKA Hellcat #2-13 (Marvel)
Writer: Kate Leth Artists: Brittney Williams, Natasha Allegri Colorists: Megan Wilson, Rachelle Rosenberg

Patsy Walker AKA Hellcat is a comic that acknowledges how annoying getting your life together can be for twenty-somethings, who live in the city. Kate Leth, Brittney Williams, Megan Wilson, and Rachelle Rosenberg also throw injourneys to Hell, guest appearances from Jessica Jones and Jubilee, telekinetic bisexuals quoting Hamilton, and nods to the old Patsy Walker romance comics to a quite relatable comic. Brittney Williams’ Magical Girl and Chibi-inspired art is great for comedy purposes, but she and Leth also had some emotional payoffs throughout Hellcat thanks to the relationships developed between Patsy, Ian Soo, and She-Hulk, especially when she reacts to She-Hulk’s injury in Civil War II. Hellcat is fierce, high energy comic that is the best of both romance and superhero comics with the occasional trippy scene shift from Williams, Wilson, and Rosenberg.


5. Mockingbird  #1-8 (Marvel)
Writer: Chelsea Cain Artist: Kate Niemczyk, Sean Parsons, Ibrahim Moustafa Colorist: Rachelle Rosenberg

Mockingbird was experimental, unabashedly feminist, pretty sexy, and just happened to star a former West Coast Avenger and be published by Marvel Comics. Thriller novelist Chelsea Cain plotted a pair of mysteries, involving cosplay cruises, doctor waiting rooms, corgis, and Marvel Universe deep cuts that were engaging thanks to detail filled art from Kate Niemczyk and inker Sean Parsons. Loaded with background gags and subtle foreshadowing for future issues, Mockingbird certainly has “replay” value as a comic and is triumphant, messy, and funny just like its lead character, Bobbi Morse and was a coming out party for Marvel’s next great colorist, Rachelle Rosenberg.


4. Love is Love (IDW)
Writers: Various Artists: Various

I just reviewed this comics anthology a few days ago, but Love is Love is the 2016 comic that affected me personally the most as it showed the effects of The Pulse shooting on the LGBTQ community in a variety of ways. I latched onto stories about the vibrancy of the queer community in Orlando, the sanctuary effect of gay clubs that provided some of the anthology’s best visuals from Jesus Merino, Alejandra Gutierrez, and Michael Oeming, and the use of superheroes like Batman, Midnighter, and Supergirl as simple analogues of hope in the middle of heartbreak. Love is Love saddened me, but it also inspired me to continue to uplift my LGBTQ siblings as the racist, sexist, homophobes Trump and Pence take the office of president and vice president. It was also cool to see so many talented creators using their gifts to help raise money for Equality Florida.



3. The Wicked + the Divine #18-24, #1831 (Image)
Writer: Kieron Gillen Artists: Jamie McKelvie, Stephanie Hans, Kevin Wada Colorist: Matthew Wilson

In WicDiv‘s third year, Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, and Matthew Wilson went a little blockbuster with big battles, splash pages, and an unexpected character death. But, the comic is still about the journey of Laura (Now Persephone.) from fan to artist, and how it has changed her life and relationships. And, in time honored tradition, WicDiv wasn’t afraid to get experimental with an issue featuring a Pantheon of Romantic poets and writers, like Mary Shelley and Lord Byron with lavish guest art from Journey into Mystery‘s Stephanie Hans, or the magazine issue with professional journalists interviewing Kieron Gillen roleplaying as Fantheon members with beautiful spot illustrations from Kevin Wada. As WicDiv enters its “Imperial Phase”, McKelvie and Wilson’s art is both opulent and disarming while Kieron Gillen has started to expose the personalities behind the explosions and drama of “Rising Action”.



2. Giant Days #10-21, Holiday Special #1 (BOOM!)
Writer: John Allison Artists: Max Sarin, Liz Fleming Colorist: Whitney Cogar

Giant Days is funny, true, shows the value of a good inker in Liz Fleming to nail a face or gesture, and reminds me of a weekend I spent in its setting of Sheffield over two years ago. John Allison and Max Sarin have developed the personalities and mannerisms of the three leads: Susan, Esther, and Daisy that any situation that they’re plugged into from music festivals to housing selections and even cheating rings is pure entertainment. Allison, Sarin, and the bright colors of Whitney Cogar nail the ups and downs of college life with a touch of the surreal, and the series continues to be more compelling as we get to know Susan, Esther, and Daisy better as people.


1. Midnighter #8-12, Midnighter and Apollo #1-3 (DC)
Writer: Steve Orlando Artists: David Messina, Gaetano Carlucci, ACO, Hugo Petrus, Fernando Blanco Colorist: Romulo Fajardo Jr.

Steve Orlando’s run on Midnighter and Midnighter and Apollo has the most bone breaking action, the coolest panel layouts from David Messina, ACO, and Fernando Blanco and yes, the hottest kisses and other sexy stuff as Midnighter and Apollo are back in a relationship. Orlando shows his passion for the DC and Wildstorm universes by bringing in obscure or neglected characters, like Extrano, and making them instantly compelling or frightening in the case of Henry Bendix. Watching Midnighter skillfully take down opponents from the Suicide Squad to subway pirates or demons is an adrenaline rush, and Orlando tempers these action scenes with plenty of romance and personal moments. Midnighter and Midnighter and Apollo aren’t just the best superhero comics of 2016, but the best ones period. Come for the one-liners and shattered limbs and stay for the self-sacrificing love.

Review: Love is Love

loveislovefiOn June 12, 2016, a hateful man killed 49 people and wounded 53 at The Pulse, a gay club in Orlando, Florida. This was a terrible day for the LGBTQ community, and I was just plain sad. A couple weeks ago, I had celebrated getting a job and moving to a new city with a few friends at a couple gay clubs in my old home of Richmond, Virginia so a thought went through my head, “It could have been me.” Even though I am relatively privileged as a white cisgendered, relatively straight passing bisexual male, I had no queer friends in my new home to turn to and confide in after the events in Orlando. But what got me through was the queer comics and comics journalism community, and my Facebook inboxes and Twitter DM’s were filled with messages of hope and understanding. I may have felt alone in my current situation, but these beautiful people, many of whom I have never met in the flesh, got me through the tough days after the Pulse shooting.

The Love is Love comics anthology project from IDW Publishing with assistance from DC Comics, Archie Comics, Aftershock, and the Will Eisner estate gave me a similar feeling of the comics community coming together to mourn after The Pulse shooting. While reading the graphic novel, I simultaneously felt sadness and hope and remembered that despite the scandals that the comics industry has some great folks, whose excellent work appears in this comic. I enjoyed how well-represented all genders, races, sexualities, and religions were in Love is Love along with the different art styles and color palette. On a pure aesthetic level, most of the stories in Love is Love hit two of my favorite genre sweet spots: superhero and autobio, which made it a great read on both an emotional and intellectual level.

Honestly, I could write a book about the brilliant one to three page stories, poems, and pinups in Love is Love, and maybe I will one day. For the purpose of this review, I will hit on a few that affected me personally; those stories that through words, art, colors, and letters gave me comfort as I thought back to Orlando.

batwomanPaul Dini‘s Harley and Ivy story is insanely adorable and nails their romantic relationship in a nutshell with each one making compromises for the each other. For example, Harley goes vegetarian while Ivy is subjected to a Three Stooges marathon. Bill Morrison‘s art is very similar to the style of Batman: Animated Series and peppered with all kinds of background details to add to the humor. Another funny story (Albeit darker than Harley and Ivy shenanigans.) that provided some great comic relief in the midst of the emotionally headier material of Love is Love was a Deathstroke one by Taran Killam where he switches out his arsenal of guns for karate after the Pulse shooting. Gallows humor is a great way to stave off pain.

As someone whose sexuality is still not accepted by those close to me and was afraid to come out until I was 19, Love is Love‘s portrayal of homophobia is harrowing, yet all too relatable. Early, in the book, Daniel Beals and David Lafuente do a splitscreen story where two young boys see the same news coverage of The Pulse, but react in vastly different ways because of their parent’s homophobia and empathy respectively. Then, there is a nuanced story from Jeff King and Steve Pugh where a girl is sad about the shooting and wants to go to the memorial service, but her dad is uneasy about men kissing men. Later, he realizes how thoughtless he was and apologizes. I know Pugh from his superhero work on Fantastic Four and Detective Comics, and this appeal for forgiveness was just as fictional as Batman or Reed Richards in my own life.

The stories that bypassed my head and went straight to my heart strings were ones that focused on queer clubs as sanctuaries. In six pulsing panels and two pages, comics legends Grant Morrison and Jesus Merino capture the beat with alternating colors and skeletons in the background. Without a word, an image engulfed my mind and reminded me of fog lights, cute boys, and too many Long Island ice teas. In a similar vein, Emma Houxbois and Alejandra Gutierrez looked at the escapism of a queer club experience complete with cuties and the sad realities of the morning after. (Full disclosure: I worked closely with Emma on the Fantheon podcast and at the websites The Rainbow Hub and Pop Optiq and she has contributed to this site.) The comic had a soft color palette and intelligent narration while still connecting to my personal experiences and of other LGBTQ people. And it was followed by a silent comic by Brian Michael Bendis, his daughter Olivia Bendis, Michael Oeming, and Taki Soma that captured the joy and energy of a queer night club with people dancing with they wanted to and bright colors everywhere courtesy of Soma.

Many of the creators, who were from Florida, had very personal stories to share about the LGBTQ community of Orlando, which were sad and enjoyable, like Scott Snyder, who wrote a prose piece with a spot illustration by Jock about working at Disney World, and how some of the queer employees, who played various Disney characters, would invite him to a gay bar every Thursday and accept him.

Love is Love gave me an opportunity to listen to the stories of some queer comics creators that I have admired for quite some time, like James Tynion and Phil Jimenez. Tynion’s story was drawn in black and white by artist Molly Ostertag except for splotches of rainbow in the bracelet that he got as a youngster. It skips time frantically in a two page story as he comes to terms with his sexuality cutting from him spending time with his friends at Pride to facing the fact that he is a bisexual boy at an all-boy’s Catholic school. Jimenez did his comic with his writer friend David Kim and talked about how they had grown up from using codenames to show that they are dating men to being out and proud DC Comics creators. The comic is filled with snatches of conversations they had about relationships and even superhero oddities as they reflect on their friendship after the events in Orlando. Jimenez also excels at wispy, life drawing as well as superheroes, Amazons, and the Invisible College.

The queer DC Comics character that means the most to me is definitely Midnighter, and I was happy to see him featured in a couple of the Love is Love stories. The first one is by Dan DiDio and Carlos D’Anda and acts as a crash course in DC’s LGBTQ characters. It’s pretty amusing and features Midnighter and Apollo doing shots of tequila and getting on the dance floor with Batwoman as Renee Montoya snarks from the sides. The other one was my favorite story of the entire Love is Love collection from Tom Taylor, Emily Smith, and Michael Garland. Midnighter was angry after The Pulse shooting just like I was angry, and Garland punctuates his anger with a red background. He’s just punching aimlessly when Apollo shows up and says that he is not alone and will be safe with him. This kind of solidarity between queer people in the face of death and tragedy truly empowered me as Taylor makes good use of Midnighter’s vulnerable side that is the emotional center of Steve Orlando’s current work on his title.

Other highlights of Love is Love included Tom King and Mitch Gerads doing a rainbow-tinted Batman tale, Sterling Gates returning to Supergirl and writing about how she failed to save the day, married couple Amanda Seibert and Cat Staggs showing Batwoman comforting a child, whose mother died at The Pulse, and much more. There’s even a wonderful, yet vulnerable riff on Beauty and the Beast from Marguerite Bennett and Aneke where Bennett, and an LGBT-inclusive riff on DC’s old romance comics from project creator Marc Andreyko with art from George Perez, Karl Kesel, and Laura Allred.  A full list of collaborators on Love is Love can be found here, and I definitely plan on delving into their other work.

Love is Love is personal, beautiful, and tragic collection of comics that really affected me despite their being more “ally” creators than LGBTQ ones. I hope it will make the world a more loving and inclusive place even in the shadow of the election of two homophobes to the office of president and vice president.

As Batman says in King and Gerads’ story, “Today, I will get up. Today, I will face their hate… And I will again fight for my love.” Visual and verbal moments like that are why I love comics.

Story: Various Art: Various
Story: 9.5 Art: 10 Overall: 9.8 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Midnighter and Apollo #2

midnighterapollo2coverIn 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 midnighterapollo2interiorMorrison’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

Rebirth Review: Comics Released 10/5

Welcome to Graphic Policy’s Rebirth Review where we take a look at the comics released under DC‘s Rebirth banner and try to work out just how accessible they are for new readers.

Each comic will receive a rating of Friendly or Unfriendly based on how easy it was for new readers to pick them up; the ratings are based solely on the issues released in the post-Rebirth ongoing series, with more consideration given for the specific issue being read when it comes to the final rating than the series overall. You may notice that not every comic is covered week to week, and that’s because I have a memory like a sieve and sometimes forget to pick them up. If I have missed an issue, typically I won’t go looking for back issues to to catch up on events – this feature is all about accessibility for new readers, after all.


bm_cv8_dsAquaman #8 – Unless you have been reading at least one of the previous issues, you’re going to be a little lost as to why the events of the comic are happening. It’s just a tad on the Unfriendly side, but it’s worth picking up nonetheless.

Batman #8 continues the Night Of The Monster Men crossover that’s running through this series, Detective Comics and  Nightwing. It’s an Unfriendly jumping on point, but the story’s growing on me and will probably be worth reading in a trade a few months down the line.

Cyborg #2 takes a lot of time introducing us to the villain. The effect of this, for the reader, is the same as a prolonged recap page as the events of  the previous issue are eventually touched upon. This allows you to really appreciate the events of the comic, making it incredibly Friendly.

Green Arrow #8 will be fairly Friendly for fans of the TV show that just reappeared on our screens, as it opens after Ollie has washed up on an island of some kind. There’s not a lot of background, but seeing as I only remembered why he’d washed up there as  I was writing this blurb and not while I was reading the comic, the lack of background info isn’t a big deal.

Green Lanterns #8 – Part one of a new story in one of DC’s most consistently accessible for new readers is, obviously, a Friendly comic. It’s also very good.

gls_cv8_open_order_varHarley Quinn #5 isn’t always my cup of tea, but as far as the series goes this isn’t a bad place to start up for new readers. Friendly.

Justice League #5 I’m assuming if you’re reading this you’ve a fair idea who the Justice League is. However, much like the first issue, you’re thrown into the middle of something with little explanation – but because there’s no reference to previous issues, this is a Friendly comic. We’re all on the same page when the comic opens.

Midnighter And Apollo #1 is as Friendly a place as you’re likely to find within the post Rebirth line of comics.

Nightwing #5 if you read what I wrote for Batman #8, then just repeat it here.

Superman #8 kicks off a new story arc, and because the story throws you inn the deep end right away, it’s a Friendly comic. Just don’t expect much light shed on the setting right away.

Review: Midnighter and Apollo #1

midnapo_cv1_dsBone-crunching action, check. Unapologetic sexiness, check. Unexpected emotions from human fight computer and former lab rat Midnighter, check. Writer Steve Orlando and colorist Romulo Fajardo return with new series artist Fernando Blanco (Batman and Robin Eternal, Phantom Stranger) to continue the saga of Midnighter against his creator Bendix in Midnighter and Apollo #1. But Midnighter is far from single in the new series and is happily (for now) dating his ex-boyfriend Apollo, who is basically a god. This relationship throws many new challenges his way in both Midnighter’s interpersonal interactions and the larger plot as Bendix can use Apollo to hurt him in unimaginable ways.

Fernando Blanco’s art style combines the agile, fluid layouts of ACO with the yummy beefcake figure drawing skills of Stephen Mooney on the previous Midnighter series. His double page spread of Midnighter taking out Half-beard’s goons on the God Train (Orlando is unafraid to tap into the weird side of the DC Universe.) is one of the most exciting action scenes in any medium with Blanco using gutters to frame each high powered punch, kick, broken bone, or neck snap. And he uses inset panels to simulate Midnighter’s fight computer and show how Midnighter is always prepared to take down the next baddie. Romulo Fajardo fills the spread with plenty of grey and black, which are Midnighter’s colors on his costume, signifying that the anti-hero is back in full swing. But this time, he has the help of a boyfriend, who is a sexier version of Superman and gets the more traditional full page splashes from Blanco showing his raw power.


A fun, nerdy bonus is Orlando’s decision to make Midnighter and Apollo #1 more connected to the supernatural side of the DC Universe as Bendix is willing to switch his mad scientist/black ops M.O. to take them out with one of comics’ coolest MacGuffins ever. This plot decision also fits in with Blanco’s background as an artist because he previously drew Phantom Stranger and excelled at telling stories featuring demons, magic, and a touch of horror with real emotional resonance as the Phantom Stranger really just wanted to be a family man. The series also dealt with complex theological themes, and there is a little bit of those in the issue’s closing pages where Fajardo creates a deathly contrast between dark and light, or a marriage between heaven and hell gone awry. The color scheme could also be representing the tenuous relationship between Apollo and Midnighter.

The heart of Midnighter and Apollo #1 isn’t fights against demons, subway pirates, train golems, or even B-list supervillains, but a small dinner party hosted by Apollo and Midnighter for their friends Tony and Marina, who were key supporting characters in Midnighter. The scene shows Midnighter trying to live a normal life and joking around about letting Apollo do all the cooking because he grew up in Pennsylvania, not the God Garden while Marina and Apollo quip about him keeping his emotions under lock. Blanco elevates the chit-chat into a very passionate sex scene before Fajardo relaxes his palette and uses cooler colors as Apollo asks Midnighter why he has to kill. This moral difference could create a crack in their fragile relationship and is foreshadowed earlier by Orlando when a bystander talks about Midnighter being dangerous even though he helps the kids who were kidnapped by the God Train find their parents. He is quite a complicated fellow.

Steve Orlando and Fernando Blanco give their power couple sizzling chemistry in both words, sidelong glances, and of course, intense smooching in Midnighter and Apollo #1. This chemistry (along with Blanco’s creative use of layouts) supercharges the action sequences as Orlando differentiates this series from the previous one with a heavy injection of urban fantasy and horror, especially in the last few pages. (Melting faces equals freaky.)

Come for the punching and one-liners, but stay for the messy, yet star-crossed relationship between Midnighter and Apollo, who are truly DC Comics’ power couple.

Story: Steve Orlando Art: Fernando Blanco Colors: Romulo Fajardo Jr.
Story: 9 Art: 10 Overall: 9.5 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Midnighter #12

Midnighter12CoverAll excellent things must eventually wrap up, and this includes Midnighter, one of two mainstream comics with an LGBT male lead, and one that also happened to be a monthly exercise in writer Steve Orlando writing clever and occasionally tear jerking dialogue while weaving together action thriller plots that artists Aco and Hugo Petrus and colorist Romulo Fajardo Jr. turned into exercises in brutality. In Midnighter #12, Apollo and Midnighter with the kind of, sort of help of Spyral and Amanda Waller’s Suicide Squad fight the Unified, a superhuman with the abilities of both Apollo and Midnighter, who was crafted by Midnighter’s “father” Bendix to be the ultimate soldier only dedicated to the mission and not caring about civilian casualties. A character who has both Midnighter’s fight computer and is on the same power level seems insurmountable, but Orlando, Aco, and Petrus show the truth behind Sidney Prescott’s anti-remake quote from Scream 4, “Don’t fuck with the originals.” as Midnighter comes to a close.

The much anticipated team up between Apollo and Midnighter that was set up in the previous gets a scintillating payoff thanks to the efforts of the art team of Aco, Petrus, and Fajardo. They draw Apollo as a pure powerhouse with power that can’t really be fathomed as Fajardo uses plenty of yellow to show all culminating in a huge solar blast before Petrus/Apollo send the Unified off to Aco/Midnighter for one last four page battle royale of layouts, one-liners, and bone rattling sound effects.

In the tradition of Batman vs. Superman in The Dark Knight Returns and other battles between basically gods and superheroes, Midnighter uses a sonic device to get the drop on the Unified, and Aco depicts this in his art by having his usual grid set-up woozily wobble before cutting to his trademark “X-ray panels” (Think Mortal Kombat) of the effect that it’s having on the Unified’s non-empathy having, soldier brain. And the killing blow is spectacular as Aco and Fajardo turn gore into poetry by turning the Unified’s brain matter into a sound effect. One of the highlights of Midnighter as a whole was its creative, no holds barred fight sequences, and Aco makes sure that issue 12’s big battle is worthy of its predecessors while Orlando keeps Midnighter’s character consistent.


Midnighter hates the Unified so much because he is hurting innocent civilians in some misguided crusade to provide retribution for a terrorist attack on American soil. He might be a killer, but he’s not a cold-blooded one like the Unified, who is the metahuman embodiment of destruction porn in the first few pages of the comics. For example, Midnighter takes a break from beating up various Multiplexes to help a Modoran child find shelter and safety when a Modoran soldier points a gun at the kid and calls him a coward. Even in his most violent moments, Midnighter is always there to protect those being exploited by powerful forces just like he was with the Gardener.


This is because he is a human being and not a weapon or a lab experiment, and Orlando, Aco, and Petrus spend plenty of time at the end of the issue reinforcing that with his friends in Boston throwing him a nice party after he tells Gardener about Bendix’s return because that relationship is always going to be super complicated. Even though he was betrayed by Prometheus, Midnighter has come to trust some people, and he even begins to repair his relationship with Apollo. Along with their skill laying out action sequences, Aco and Petrus draw really sexy men, which makes Apollo and Midnighter’s flirty banter and make-outs extra flaming hot. But Orlando wisely keeps their relationship ambiguous with dialogue like “Who said he’s my man?” even though it’s clear from their body language that they still love each other. However, their kiss and makeup scene is a huge progression from the beginning of the series when they wanted nothing to do with each other.

Another relationship that Orlando leaves open for other writers to explore in the future (Hopefully, Rob Williams in Suicide Squad and definitely Tim Seeley in Nightwing.) is Midnighter’s place in the black ops, espionage world of the DC Universe. Spinning out of his work with them in Grayson, Midnighter started by backing Helena Bertinelli and Spyral, but by the end of Midnighter #12, it seems like he’s more on Amanda Waller’s side, especially when she tells him that Bertinelli is reverse engineering Afterthought, a superhuman with precognitive power that beat Midnighter up a few issues back. And even if they never meet again, Orlando gives them a relationship of mutual respect as Waller isn’t afraid to correct her mistakes, like the Unified, or get her hands dirty. (She throws down with Bendix a little bit.) Midnighter definitely sees her as a worthy opponent, who can occasionally get the drop on him with her brilliant tactical mind, despite her not having any special powers or abilities.

Midnighter #12 is a wonderful capper on Steve Orlando, Aco, Hugo Petrus, Romulo Fajardo, and other wonderful artists’ story of a man trying to maneuver through the world and find his identity as both an open gay man and science experiment turned violent, yet altruistic anti-hero. The final two pages of him kissing and talking to Apollo about his uncertainty for the future and leaping into action perfectly encapsulate the character of Midnighter, who is a total badass that struggles to navigate the minefields of romantic relationships.

Story: Steve Orlando Art: Aco and Hugo Petrus Colors: Romulo Fajardo Jr.
Story: 9 Art: 9.5 Overall: 9.3 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review.

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