“Then it looks like a lot of people are going to get their wish… I’m finally going to hell.”

Batman and Superman might be comics’ greatest couple. The World’s Finest. Even if they’re technically not a couple. While it might be material ripe for an Elseworlds tale, we do get an in canon analogue from the pages of The Authority in Apollo and Midnighter. They may have started as ultra violent parodies, but they grew to much more as showcased in Midnighter and Apollo, by Steve Orlando, Fernando Blanco, Romulo Fajardo Jr., John Rauch, and Josh Reed.

Following on from the twelve-issue Midnighter series, Midnighter and Apollo sets up a scenario that asks the question of how far you would go in order to save the person that you love. In the case of Midnighter, the answer is to the depths of hell as he searches to save the soul of Apollo. Whether intentional or not, there’s some symbolism here of the darkness going to the farthest reaches to retrieve the light.

One of the things that I love that Steve Orlando does with this story is firmly establish it within the shared universe of the DCU. On top of working in a branch of the Subway Pirates from Manhattan Guardian, the Lords of the Gun and Mawzir from Hitman, and the New Guardians’ Extraño, there are multiple appearances from characters across the DC Universe. It’s a storytelling style that used to be common, but you don’t really see as much any more. James Robinson and Grant Morrison tend to use it a lot, though not unique to them, with a page or two that gives a cross-section of throwaway encounters with different characters. It adds a nice depth to the universe.

I feel like Fernando Blanco’s ascent as a top tier artist really started in the last half decade of the 2010s. He was always a solid inker with his work with David Lopez and Javier Pina, but his line art in its own right really took off on Batwoman, Batman and Robin Eternal, and here. I’m glad that he’s finally getting more recognition for his work with Ram V on Catwoman and beyond. There’s a thick-lined grit to it here that reminds me of disparate artists like Barry Kitson and Matthew Dow Smith, like being drawn with a thicker marker, while most of the shadows seem to be presented in colour holds from Romulo Fajardo Jr. and (in the final chapter) John Rauch. Along with the inset panels and unique layouts, it’s also reminiscent of ACO’s work on the Midnighter series, showing a nice logical flow in the artwork from title to title. There are also some nice sound effects from Josh Reed that work well with the layouts, enhancing the action.

Orlando, Blanco, Fajardo Jr., Rauch, and Reed show us in Midnighter and Apollo that the world’s finest couple have come far from their origins, found a place within the DC Universe, and belong in a way that perhaps other Wildstorm characters didn’t before, outside of the shadows of Batman and Superman.

Midnighter and Apollo

Midnighter and Apollo
Writer: Steve Orlando
Artist: Fernando Blanco
Colourists: Romulo Fajardo Jr. & John Rauch
Letterer: Josh Reed
Publisher: DC Comics
Release Date: July 26 2017
Also available in Midnighter: The Complete Collection

Read past entries in the Classic Comic Compendium!