Top of the month, and we all know what that means: Midnighter & Apollo time! This issue picks up where last issue left off — Apollo, trapped by Neron, and Midnighter about to face down the demon that killed him.
Neron keeps going on about how Apollo “knows” that his soul’s tainted by pride, lust, anger, and murder. Apollo keeps trying to tell him he’s wrong. Midnighter, meanwhile, fights Mawzir with nothing but a single bullet and no gun. While Midnighter dispatches Mawzir handily, Apollo has a harder time with Neron.
He tries to make a riddle-deal with Neron. If Neron can tell him the real reason he calls himself Apollo, Apollo will give him his soul. If not, Apollo can leave Hell freely.
What does Neron claim?
“Apollo is a god. You, with your small story of human struggle, think you’ve somehow earned his name. Like Lucifer before you, you think you deserve more. You think you’ve earned power. I’ve seen it before.”
Once again, Steve Orlando manages to, writ large in larger-than-life characters, something that a lot of LGBT people struggle with:
The idea that we don’t deserve more than the world gives us. That we don’t deserve to be heroes, to be symbols. That to be a symbol, or a hero, or a god, you can’t sin.
Putting that stance in the mouth of the villain, the demon, is absolutely perfect.
Because we know, narratively, viscerally, that Neron is wrong.
That has to do with the comic’s genre, as I’ve tried to define it before. Midnighter & Apollo is pulp fantasy, pulp sci-fi, starring gay characters.
And in pulp stories, the heroes always prevail, morally and physically, over the bad guys. No matter how ‘bad’ the hero might seem, the bad guy is always wrong about him.
Apollo, though, doesn’t know. He’s turned around by that feeling of undeservingness that so many of us fight. He gives up.
When Midnighter comes for him, and reaches Neron’s throne room, he finds Apollo trapped in a glass bottle, curled in on himself, on his knees.
But Midnighter? Midnighter doesn’t have the same kinds of emotional issues that Apollo does, as he says himself:
“Well, he’s always been a thinker. I’ve got something simpler in mind.”
Midnighter gets the cool, badass lines. He’s the action anti-hero out to save his lover. Midnighter, I fully believe, will get to kick Neron’s ass, and save Apollo, and the two of them will walk out of hell and back home.
Because that’s how these stories end.
And because that’s the ending that LGBT readers deserve.
Fernando Blanco and Romulo Fajardo Jr. once again create a wonderfully bloody, evocative visual that compliments the writing beautifully. Props particularly go to Fajardo Jr. this week, because of the color contrasts between the muted blues, greens, and dark reds in Midnighter’s sequences, and the golds, purples, and sunset tones in Apollo’s scenes. The color schemes melt together at the end, when Midnighter arrives at Neron’s castle throne room, with Midnighter’s colors dominating the final page, where he smirks and says “Let’s go,” to Neron, offpage.
Overall, a solid issue for my favorite miniseries of 2016/2017! Can’t wait to see Midnighter kick Neron’s ass next month, to be honest.