[Editor’s note: This review may contain spoilers.]
Writer: Steve Orlando
Artist: Fernando Blanco
The demon Neron holds Apollo’s soul captive in Hell and Midnighter plans to travel there to rescue his lover. So, Midnighter turns to his friend Gregorio – the former New Guardian Extrano – for help. Gregorio performs a ritual on Midnighter that enables him to kill infernal beings while in Hell. However, Gregorio warns him that once he activates its full power, it will kill him within seven minutes.
Gregorio also gives Midnighter a black candle that will transport him to Hell, but warns him that the way back will only stay open until the candle burns out, and not a second longer.
To rescue Apollo from Hell, Midnighter will have to defeat the Mawzir, an archdemon who can only be harmed by the Ace of Winchesters. Gregorio tells Midnighter the last known location of this weapon.
Meanwhile in Hell, Neron plays a board game with Apollo called the “Mansion of Happiness,” with which he plans to test Apollo’s virtue and weigh his sins. However, Apollo does poorly at the game, first landing on the sins of Pride and Murder.
Midnighter pays a visit to a disguised demon named Vodyanar, who is a “reliquary,” which means he hides things within himself. Midnighter discovers that the although Vodyanar had contained the Ace of Winchesters, it has since changed hands and now is in the hands of the Mawzir’s masters, the Lords of the Gun.
However, Midnighter destroys Vodyanar and retrieves a keepsake of the Ace of Winchesters – a single bullet taken from the weapon.
After a brief stop to have a toast with a friend, Midnighter returns to his apartment and lights the candle, which transports him to Hell.
Meanwhile, Apollo once again lands on the sin of Murder in Neron’s game. Apollo offers his explanation of why Midnighter and he kill – so that others won’t have to be hurt like they have. “I would gladly go to Hell if it meant that someone else didn’t have to,” he explains to Neron.
Even though it appears that Apollo is beating Neron at his game, Neron aborts the game and claims that it really doesn’t matter, as no one actually reaches the Mansion of Happiness in life – in the game or in life.
While this is happening, Midnighter has been fighting his way through Hell and reaches the home of the Lords of the Gun. The Lords of the Gun invite him in to face the Mawzir, confident that Midnighter can’t prevail.
When Midnighter reaches the Mawzir, the reason for their confidence is revealed as the Mawzir tosses the pieces of the destroyed Ace of Winchesters at Midnighter’s feet.
I am glad to see that Gregorio has continued to be an important part of this series rather than just as a quick appearance that could have been filled by any magical hero. As I’ve said before, it’s good to see DC reclaiming a decent character from a poorly designed stereotype. I really think that if DC wanted, they could make a major player out of this version of Extrano – sort of their own Doctor Strange.
Appropriately, this issue makes strong use of biblical imagery. First, Neron likens Apollo to Lucifer, another “Lightbringer” that Neron has welcomed to Hell. This is contrasted later when Apollo reveals his desire to accept the suffering of others on himself, which shows him to be more Christ-like than satanic.
Like the previous issues in this series, there isn’t much room for complaint. Given that this is a miniseries, it will be disappointing to see it come to an end in a few issues, but hopefully Midnighter and Apollo will find another home in another ongoing series before long.
The story continues to be fun, but maintains the classic theme of a man traversing Hell to save his lover. It also ends on a strong cliffhanger which leaves us eagerly wondering how Midnighter will prevail over the Mawzir with the Ace of Winchesters destroyed.