A few months ago, you may remember that we hosted Midnighter Week in celebration of the release of Midnighter vol. 1: Out. Fans were devastated to find out the same week that the much beloved series by Steve Orlando and ACO was canceled. Midnighter represented a more progressive horizon at DC Comics within its DCYou initiative and it particularly impacted queer comics readers, who the direct market comics industry has long neglected. The number of queer-led superhero comics published by DC and main competitor Marvel Entertainment has since dropped to 3 and 0, respectively.
But it looks like our cries were heard because Orlando announced via his Twitter feed and a pretty sweet front-page article at the New York Times that he will be writing a 6-issue miniseries led by Midnighter and his longtime partner, Apollo. DC has announced that Fernando Blanco will pencil the interiors while Midnighter artist ACO will draw the covers. Regarding the characters’ famous relationship and their status as of the beginning of the miniseries, Orlando is quoted as saying:
“[Midnighter and Apollo] have a firmer idea of who they are, and they’ve become stronger and more confident together.”
Although fans have wished for an Apollo and Midnighter comic for over a decade, this is the first time the pair will star together in their own title. Previous titles published by the now-defunct DC imprint, Wildstorm Productions, included a Midnighter solo title begun by Garth Ennis and Chris Sprouse (before Wildstorm editorial handed it off to various teams) and a Grifter/Midnighter title by Chuck Dixon and Ryan Benjamin. An Apollo solo title by Doug Wagner and Cully Hamner died in production before the first issue saw the light of day.
What made the most recent Midnighter DC title remarkable to queer fans, however (other than it was really violent and really gay and had really good storytelling and was, in general, really awesome), was that it wasn’t only queer-led, it was queer-created (Orlando is openly bisexual). Although often not acknowledged, we are seeing a renaissance in the kind of comics creators who are entering the direct market. As the younger generation in the Western world skews more queer, the younger generation of creators follows. A few years ago, I could have only named veteran artist Phil Jimenez and writer Marc Andreyko if someone asked me who in comics was queer. Now, I wouldn’t know where to start, there’s so many. The #queerselflove Twitter hashtag, started by Dylan Marron after the Orlando shooting, invited many queer comics creators and those in editorial/administrative positions at comics companies to come out to the community.
Whether DC Comics realizes the scope of what it’s acknowledging, I cannot say. Mostly, because every time I think that publisher has learned anything, it tends to spit in my face afterward. However, the company has shown a little special interest in its “diverse” titles lately. Most notably, it has teamed up with Boom! Entertainment cross over its young adult Gotham Academy title with Boom!’s popular, all-ages Lumberjanes title. Both books are known for their young, female leads–a rarity still in direct market comics. Although DC’s current line, Rebirth, has backtracked on much of what attracted newer, more diverse readers to its DCYou line, there’s at least some realization occurring behind the scenes that there are potential reader demographics outside 40-year-old white guys. Some. I’m still keeping a suspicious eye on all of this.
Back to the point: Midnighter & Apollo is coming out now instead of 15 years ago because direct market comics (and perhaps the world) is finally ready. It’s ready to give queer creators the reins to queer characters. It’s ready to see and converse with the queer readers that have always existed. It’s ready to do this the right way, instead of misstepping and ruining the fragile goodwill between comics publishers and diverse readership.
Midnighter & Apollo #1 comes out October 5th of this year. Go pick it up. Its ready for you.
DC Comics’ statement on the book’s release:
From their days as founding members of The Authority, the heroes Midnighter and Apollo have been forever linked, both professionally and romantically. On October 5th, they’ll be back, badder than ever, in Midnighter and Apollo, a six-issue miniseries written by breakout star Steve Orlando, with art by Fernando Blanco, colors by Romulo Fajardo Jr. and covers by ACO.
Spinning out of the hit series Midnighter, this new miniseries continues the story that launched writer Steve Orlando to notoriety over the past year. Midnighter received critical acclaim in both comic and mainstream press; most notably recognized with a 2016 GLAAD nomination in the “Outstanding Comic Book” category. Together again, in the series opener Midnighter and Apollo will take on subway pirates in Los Angeles and demons in Opal City, but their reunion will take a shocking turn and send them both on an epic journey beyond all belief!
“Midnighter and Apollo have spent time apart—figuring out who they were when defined on their own instead of by their relationship,“ said Orlando. “They have a firmer idea of who they are and they’ve become stronger and more confident together. Midnighter and Apollo are back to remind the world that it truly is a bad time to be bastards. This is the World’s Finest Couple—kicking back and making each other better than they are on their own.”
MIDNIGHTER AND APOLLO #1, written by Steve Orlando with art by Fernando Blanco, colors by Romulo Fajardo Jr. and cover by ACO, debuts October 5th, 2016.