Review: Midnighter And Apollo #1

[Editor’s note: This review may contain spoilers.]

Writer: Steve Orlando
Artist: Fernando Blanco

Summary
As the story begins, Midnighter and Apollo are fighting a gang of “subway pirates.” While Midnighter fights through a train of pirates to their leader, Apollo faces off against a god-train, a giant golem made of subway train cars. The pair defeat the gang and rescue the children they were holding hostage, but Apollo seems disturbed by Midnighter’s killing of the pirates.

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Later, at Apollo’s place in Opal City, the couple are entertaining guests for dinner. During the conversation, Apollo states that Midnighter does have feelings, they are just well hidden “under leather and carbon fiber.”

After dinner, the cleanup leads to flirting, then lovemaking. After which, Apollo opens up about what’s been bothering him. He states that he understands that Midnighter was made into a fighting machine, and that he doesn’t want to change Midnighter, but he wonders if killing always needs to be the solution.

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Next, we see Henry Bendix, the man who made Midnighter what he is, at the Oblivion Bar attempting to hire some supernatural muscle to take on our heroes. We see a succession of DC supernatural characters turn him down, until a trio of demons called the Lords of the Gun accept. Bendix gives these demons a mystic weapon called the Ace of Winchesters.

Over the next few nights, Midnighter goes after a number of villainous characters, looking for Bendix’s location. Finding Bendix, Midnighter is about to lay into him when Bendix reveals what is going on in Opal City at that moment. Unable to teleport away, Midnighter is forced to watch as Apollo faces the Lords of the Gun alone. Apollo is shot down, and presumably killed.

Finally, we see Apollo awakening and taking in his surroundings to find he is in Hell.

Positives
There are lots of cameo appearances of obscure DC characters, some not having appeared for years, such as Blackbriar Thorne, Prince Ra-Man, Felix Faust, and The Brain and Monsieur Mallah. Especially interesting is an appearance by Extrano, DC’s hilariously misguided first attempt at a gay superhero. His appearance is very brief, but he seems much less of a flamboyant stereotype, and a bit hostile at being referred to by his superhero identity. His appearance brings to mind the contrast between DC’s idea of what a gay superhero should be in the 1980s versus how they portray Midnighter and Apollo today. We can see that DC has become a fair bit more socially aware than they were back then.

Also, I got a chuckle from the reference to Midnighter and Apollo as “the world’s finest couple” lest we forget that our two protagonists originated as analogues for Superman and Batman in the Wildstorm universe. This is obviously a take on the World’s Finest team that DC couldn’t examine directly, but could be examined in the use of analogues for their flagship characters.

Also, I love the sequence at the beginning, where we see Midnighter fighting through the train. The art clearly shows the fast kinetic chain of Midnighter plowing through the pirates from one end of the train to the other.
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Negatives
My main complaint is that this is only a mini-series. I hope that Apollo, and especially Midnighter, find a home in an ongoing series again.

Also, I am somewhat disappointed at how brief a look we got of this new incarnation of Extrano. I am intrigued to see how much of his backstory remains intact, given how horribly stereotypical the character was. Hopefully DC will pick up on this re-interpretation and establish him as the character he should have been from the start.

Verdict
A great return for the team of Midnighter and Apollo, one of comics’ greatest couples. The book is full of action, romance, suspense, nostalgic winks at DC’s past, and even a bit of philosophical musing about the necessity of killing. Who could ask for more?

4outof5

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Derek McNeil

I have been an avid reader of DC Comics since the early 70s. My earliest exposure was to Batman and Superman comics, Batman (Adam West) reruns, and watching the Super-Friends every Saturday morning.