Highway to HellWritten by: Steve Orlando
Art by: Fernando Blanco, Romulo Fajardo Jr. and Josh Reed
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: November 2, 2016
I liked the first issue of Midnighter and Apollo. There, I said it. Does that mean everyone can get off my case and realize that I don't hate Steve Orlando...I just am not a huge fan. It's all about his dialogue and while I've read other books where he is more than competent, when the words come out of Midnighter's mouth, something goes wrong. Worse yet, the guest stars hanging out around Midnighter become infected as well and out of nowhere, everyone is talking like the bad parody of a 90's action flick. That may sound cool, but believe me, it's not. So, does this issue rise above all that to give the reader some kick ass moments? Let's find out...
The issue opens with Midnighter confronting his creator, Henry Bendix. It's safe to say that Midnighter is no fan, but Bendix doesn't seem phased. He's playing the part of a James Bond villain here and has set up the ultimate trap for Midnighter. If Midnighter doesn't react quick, Apollo will die at the hands of Mawzir.
After throwing a stapler at Bendix (it embeds in his neck!), Midnighter fights his way through a crazy, killer gauntlet to get to his lover. What he eventually ends up finding is an ugly Mawzir and a dead Apollo.
Okay, I was a bit confused here. While I read last issue, I was not on a first name basis with Mawzir and while I guessed that Apollo was in Hell, I didn't think he had left his body behind on the physical plane. It does make sense, but neither last issue or this one did much to show what had happened. The scene ends with Midnighter chasing Mawzir away and then having a tender moment with Apollo during his last.
We continue with Midnighter and Marina jogging and after another forced reminder of who she is and what she did, she tries to help Midnighter. Maybe he is still in the denial stage, but he's sticking with his story that Apollo is still alive.
After seeing Midnighter unsuccessfully trying to bring his partner back, he heads off to Peru to chat with Extrano. This is easily the best part of the entire issue as he helps Midnighter open the doors of perception in order to find his man.
While this is going on, Apollo is trying his best to fight his way out of "Elsewhere" and after seeing what he has to do and what happens as a result, he may be able to change his name from Apollo to Sisyphus. It does show how great a hero Apollo is, but also reveals the big bad and it makes total sense in relation to the surroundings. It's also pretty damn cool!
Midnighter might disagree and when Extrano locates Apollo and tells Midnighter where he is, Steve Orlando finally gives his man a damn good action movie one liner to end the issue.
I am a bit torn by this issue. While it was confusing and tough to gain my footing in the beginning, once Orlando settled everything down, it was a pretty good issue. The dialogue may not have been great, but it didn't get in the way of the story and the story about lost love and the lengths one would go to get it back is timeless, universal and played out pretty well here.
Fernando Blanco's art was as good as the first issue, maybe better. I said it before, but he seems to be attempting to mimic Aco's unique panels from the New 52 Midnighter series, but I prefer the imitator a bit more. Blanco maintains the coolness while making it easier to follow. It actually accentuates the story being told instead of trying to steal it's thunder.
Bits and Pieces:
This is far from a perfect issue, but it's good enough for me to recommend it. Sure, the dialogue isn't great and the transition from last issue to this one was confusing, but I found myself enjoying it more than I thought I would. I think it's the combination of Fernando Blanco's art and Steve Orlando's undying faith in his main character (and his faith in Apollo) that is starting to win me over. I can't say it's my favorite book yet, but it's easily a guilty pleasure so far.