THIS REVIEW OF ‘MISTER MIRACLE’ #10 IS SPOILER-FREE.
By Jami Jones. Never content to rest on their laurels DC continues to invest in expanding their mythos through designer imprints, recruiting top talent, and by supporting titles that explore the dichotomy of heroism and humanity. Mister Miracle, an Eisner-winning maxi-series written by Tom King with art by Mitch Gerads and letters by Clayton Cowles, melds the atomic fantasy of Jack Kirby’s Fourth World with the internal struggle between love and duty.
In 1971 Jack Kirby constructed a pantheon so dynamic it could not exist inside a single continuity. They were deities born from the ashes of their predecessors, following feudal traditions with the use of advanced technology to properly fuel their Shakespearean dramas. King, never one to be held to the “norm” of superhero storytelling, stepped up to the challenge presented by these high concept characters and crafted a book worthy of Kirby’s creations. With creative partner Gerads, King explores human complexity with a cast of psychedelic divinities.
Scott Free, the foster son of Darkseid, made a name for himself on Earth as an escape artist using skills he perfected during his torturous childhood in the hellscapes of Apokolips. When the series began we found Scott at a late stage of his career, working his way out of impossible traps for an audience at a time when all he could do was question reality and his place within it—an attempt to prolong the inevitable. Whether his actions were those of a consummate entertainer or a man aching for an end to his pain have been left to the reader to ponder throughout the series as Scott explores his personal crisis with perennial partner and lover, Big Barda.
Time marches on with no regard for suffering and Scott is later thrust into the royal politics of New Genesis when he should be seeking help or looking for emotional respite. Rather than immersing themselves entirely in the intrigue of the Fourth World, Scott and Barda continue their lives on Earth, returning home at the end of every day to care for themselves and the son who has joyfully complicated the stark division of their on- and off-the-clock personas.
In issue #10 the sands of the hourglass are running out on Scott and he’s forced to make a decision between causing endless suffering for all or himself. Does he truly step into the role of Highfather and repeat the cycle of history? Or does he somehow pull off a daring evasion for himself, his family and his people? What’s more, Scott must solve this “life-equation” while considering the ever-looming shadow of Darkseid and holding together the tenuous home he has built for his wife and son.
But that’s why we’re all here. Mister Miracle is a study of depression and heroism, and King isn’t pulling his punches. Battles fought at home are often more devastating than those waged on Apokolips—as Scott is pulled between two dimensions, the corresponding conflicts from within reveal themselves. When Scott breaks you break with him. The drama in this series may take place on fantastic worlds and concern powerful beings but the feelings it produces are utterly human and entirely relatable.
Gerads works within the confines of Miracle‘s nine-panel layout, accomplishing impossible feats in doing so. Contrasting the beaming colors and improbable dimensions of Mr. Kirby’s Fourth World, Gerads’ matte palette and overlaying textures create a raw, visceral aesthetic that trusts the characters to convey King’s narrative. Every figure, every environment, is designed to extract a pure response, connecting the reader to the comedy and tragedy of this exceptional everyman.
Mister Miracle is a harrowing tale of heartbreak and bravery, a symphony of emotion that challenges our understanding of superhero storytelling. Drawing deep from the well of DC history and personal experience, King & Gerads imbue each issue with mystery, love and compassion. It dazzles our eyes while gently reminding us of what it means to be human.
Written by Tom King.
Art by Mitch Gerads.
Letters by Clayton Cowles.
10 out of 10