Mister Miracle has been around DC comics since the 70s, when Jack Kirby introduced him and the other New Gods to the DC Universe. Mostly I remember him from Batman team-ups in the Brave and the Bold. He’s basically the Houdini of the DC Universe; he can get out of any jam. He was relatable but never the most powerful New God.
In the new book, Mister Miracle, Tom King takes the classic character and turns his life into a meditation on depression, war, parenting, and love. It is moving, heartbreaking, and a tour-de-force on so many levels.
The story begins as Scott Free, Mister Miracle, attempts suicide. He claims he is trying to escape the ultimate trap, which is death. Scott and his wife, Big Barda, live on Earth and travel back and forth to New Genesis to battle Darkseid and his followers. The evil Darkseid may have finally found the Anti-Life Equation, which will grant him control over all sentient beings. If he has it, what if the anti-life equation is already working on Scott and changing his behavior? What if it has infected Orion, Mister Miracle and the other New Gods? As Scott doubts his own mind and those around him, only his relationship with his wife, Big Barda is able to ground him. They discover that they will soon be parents, yet how can they lead a war against Darkseid and be good parents to their newborn son? While Scott is at the center of this story, Big Barda is also a revelation as the glue that protects him and keeps him together as he struggles with his doubts and the war with Darkseid. They are an appealing couple and team.
King has carved out a niche for writing idiosyncratic stories about some of the lesser known heroes in Marvel and DC, like the Vision and now Mister Miracle. He is able to delve deeply into psychological issues with a character while adding humor and lightness at the same time. He is joined ably on art by Mitch Gerads. Gerads’ art is realistic and he gets a chance to draw a lot of faces, which is a bit unusual for a superhero comic. He has a gift for facial expressions and changing the mood of a panel with one lifted eyebrow or an ill-timed munchie break. For most of the book, there are 9 equal panels on each page. In a comics environment, where one or two panel splash pages are common for action, having exactly nine panels on every page that repeat over and over adds a weight to the story being told. The art has to fit in those spaces. If they want to emphasize a particular interaction or some dialogue, they repeat the art from panel to panel and only change one or two things slightly. Sometimes it’s a word or an expression or a panel gets blurred when the others around it are not. It is very effective in setting the tone and mood; the focus becomes the characters and their interactions, not the fight sequences.
King and Gerads’ Mister Miracle is a powerful comic and should join the ranks of other classic comics to be enjoyed for years to come. While teens can and will enjoy it, it is a book for adults and will fit well with adult collections in most public and university libraries. While many impactful events alter Mister Miracle in this book, it appears to be safely out of the main DC continuity and can be enjoyed by long time fans and new comics readers alike. Get it, read it and enjoy two comics creators at the top of their game.
By Tom King
Art by Mitch Gerads
Publisher Age Rating: OT (16+)