Written by Steve Orlando
Art by ACO, Hugo Petrus, and Jeromy Cox
Published by DC Comics
M’s boyfriend’s back, and there’s going to be some trouble.
Hey la, hey la. Apollo’s back.
Now that I’ve had that fun, back to being devastated. Because I cannot believe there is only one more issue of Midnighter left. DAMN IT.
I want to be adult about this. Be grateful we got to watch a quintessential queer super-hero get elevated to A-list status (if not in longevity, certainly in quality of care). I want to enjoy this book in the moment, and not waste that moment ruminating about the time when I won’t be able to.
It’s very very difficult to do that when a comic is this good.
Steve Orlando, ACO, and Hugo Petrus have managed to attain something with Midnighter, and in particular issue #11, that a lot of comics don’t seem to manage anymore: a perfect balance between personal life (we used to call it soap opera) and hardcore action. It plays out in story construction and filters down in every single detailed panel peppering the book as a whole.
To say that the subtlety is amazing in ACO’s work may seem a tad disingenuous given how utterly over the top the movement and explosions are, but the most perfect example of what Midnighter achieves could be encapsulated in page three here: Apollo, the superman and ex-boyfriend, flying away from a combustion of great magnitude — carried a bloodied, beaten Midnighter — and all I can see is M’s head rested perfectly on the crook of Andrew’s shoulder.
It literally brings tears to my eyes.
It’s not a moment meant as an accent or accident. It’s the very point of the scene, full stop. And to see that sort of tenderness in queer romance, however broken, amid the chaos that untempered masculinity wrought, is just the most sophisticated thing I’ve seen in a super-hero comic book in ages.
Of course, it’s not the only moment from ACO and Petrus that stands out. Literally dozens of mini-panels within panels bring the story between Apollo and Midnighter, between Midnighter and the Squad, between Waller and Bendix even, to a richer place. Deadshot’s mustache. Bendix’s squint. Apollo’s grip on the falling terrorists. And of course, the almost kiss.
In all frankness, every moment played out in these artists’ hands is like a sudden breath held, waiting for what happens next. Orlando’s macro pacing and the artists’ micro pacing just sing when blended together. And it’s all equal parts exhausting emotionally and visually in the best way possible. No one will ever question the satisfaction of an exquisitely told tale, and yet there’s no way to finish this (or any other) issue of Midnighter and feel like it’s enough.
It’s never going to be enough.
And so, as I wait the next 30 days out with dread, panic, excitement, and anticipation for the last issue (for now) of this crazy romance cum towering inferno, I’m just going to roll over these pages again and again, the way I did when I was a kid trying to absorb every little detail, never knowing that I would have dozens of years of comics like the one in my lap ahead of me. Only this time, I’m not so sure I’m going to have one like Midnighter any time soon again. And that brings tears to my eyes as well.
The Verdict: 9.5/10