Bone-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