Midnighter #1 was a breath of fresh air which was notable, among other things, for the way it meshed cultural identity politics with superhero bombast and the anti-hero archetype to make it one of 2015’s most exciting debut issues and a standout among the high quality albeit financially unsuccessful DCYOU relaunch. As the original series progressed and evolved, it’s ehto’s remained at the center and that continues in the debut of the mini-series Midnighter & Apollo #1 while the evolution of Orlando’s take on the character allows for a strong and exciting debut that’s a natural the progression for protagonist rad little corner of the DCU.
Midnighter & Apollo opens with the couple back together after an extended hiatus, fighting psycho pirates and having dinner with friends; typical power couple stuff for the worlds deadliest cyborg assassin and his omega level super powered boyfriend. But an adversary uses their love against one another and the two are left stranded from one another with little prospects for reprisal at the books end. As has become the standard for Orlando’s comics writing, the issue is almost perfectly paced and always exciting with just enough gaps in-between the action for context and character development. Fernando Blanco channel’s ACO visual storytelling from the original series up to the tiny boxes for point’s of emphasis with a visual narrative that is consistently visceral from beginning to end.
Ramulo Farjado Jr’s color maintain the books bright and colorful pallete with the past series to enliven the comics art and fully form the world into something dynamic and striking. Both artist and colorist continue in the books tradition of having some of the most interesting visual story telling choices in corporate superhero comics.
To call Midnighter & Apollo #1 business as usual may sound like scant praise but for a book that was anything but that in comparison to most corporate comics, it’s still a revelation in form and execution. Setting aside the identity politics, this is one of the most unique and electrifying comics on the stands but doing so also misses the point entirely. It’s identity politics are one part of the whole that Makes Orlando’s writing for Midnighter so special as it’s been one of the strongest individual voices and aesthetics on a work for hire book since his debut on the title. While the numbering certainly signifies a great jumping on point for new readers, those that know the score shouldn’t be anything less then delighted. As LBGT right’s continue to be a flash point of both national and global public policy, Orlando’s Midnighter remains a force to be reckoned with in superhero comics and perhaps the most important argument for representation that we have in the medium currently for it’s unflinching portrayal of a DC superhero that happens to be both queer and the badest motherfucker in the known universe. When my colleague Reede Bebe asked Steve Orlando to describe Midnighter in five words or less through his ClockPunk Ellis Twitter alias, the writer answered emphatically with “Doesn’t take shit from anyone” In a comics industry where toxic masculinity and it’s byproducts still run rampant, a country where a state passed laws stripping away queer people’s civil liberties and a world where persecution for sexual orientation is still the norm for many of it’s nation states; these are the superhero’s we need drastically and Midnighter & Apollo delivers on that in full.