Why the Hell Aren’t You Reading ‘Mister Miracle?’
If you recognize the byline, you probably know I am physically incapable of shutting up about comic books. I could wax poetic about superheroes and mythologies and who cares all day, but right now I just have a question:
Why the hell aren’t you reading Mister Miracle?
I mean, I get it. Comics aren’t for everyone, and even if you are down, there’s a good shot you’re more into Saga than superheroes. And that’s okay! Plus, cape books are mired in continuity and backstory that makes jumping in blind a bit daunting. However, if you aren’t reading Mister Miracle (which I’ve already gushed about), you’re missing out on one of this year’s best stories running on the comic racks—and the printed page in general.
From writer Tom King and artist Mitch Gerads, Mister Miracle centers around one of Jack Kirby’s New Gods; they’re the pantheon of the Fourth World, which first appeared in 1971 (and headed to theaters thanks to Ava DuVernay). The Fourth World is absolutely wild, with huge characters boasting ridiculous names like Granny Goodness and the Forever People. Everything is big; Kirby paints cosmic war between worlds with dynamic art and bombastic prose. It gave the DC universe its biggest, most powerful villain: Darkseid, the omnipotent embodiment of all evil, who Infinity War’s Thanos wishes he could be. Really, I can’t put it better than comics legend Grant Morrison: “Kirby’s dramas were staged across Jungian vistas of raw symbol and storm… The Fourth World saga crackles with the voltage of Jack Kirby’s boundless imagination let loose onto paper.” It’s huge, bold, and absolutely batshit wild. But honestly, you don’t need my encyclopedic knowledge of the DC universe to follow.
(Seriously, I can name two out of three of my brother’s kids, but when it comes to Batman? I’m fucking Wikipedia.)
All you need to know is that Scott Free—the titular Mister Miracle—is a god-cum-celebrity who lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Barda. He’s an escape artist, and he’s been on the Justice League. He’s the son of God in Heaven, raised by the Devil in Hell, traded as part of a short-lived peace treaty between the warring worlds of New Genesis and Apokolips.
(I told you it was crazy. The ’70s were a time.)
Nevertheless, Mister Miracle is very personal. Scott’s a broken God, despite his happy-go-lucky exterior. He’s estranged from his families, particularly his sort-of-brother, Orion. The gargantuan Fourth World takes a back seat to Scott’s real life, starting with a suicide attempt. The first issue opens with Scott sprawled on the bathroom floor, in costume, with Jack Kirby’s original narration layered over the scene. Mister Miracle can escape anything, but can he escape himself?
The story’s about picking up the pieces after. Scott’s not an Average Joe. Hell, he’s not just a God, he’s a superstar. He’s still got gigs and appearances to make. After the attempt, people want answers. Why? What was it? Was it a stunt? Scott’s not in the limelight; he’s under the microscope. He does his best, but it’s a late night television appearance that makes him uneasy.
When the series was announced, Paste interviewed King—whose work on this series netted him an Eisner, the comics Oscar, for Best Writer—and noted the similarities between Kirby’s mythology and the story of Christ. King agreed:
“…I started talking with creators like Mark Waid and one of the things I came across was people saying, you didn’t know Mister Miracle was Jack Kirby’s Jesus? He’s Jesus as an escape artist. That’s utterly ridiculous, but the writer in you is like I get to play with Jesus as an escape artist. On the other side of that you have Darkseid, who’s the horrible evil that walks. There are religious themes in this, but it’s all inspired by Kirby. He was drawing on Old Testament and the New Testament to make a kids adventure. That’s why it worked—he’s telling old stories in new ways.”
Gerads’ art is masterful (it also earned an Eisner the same year) with a realism that sharply contrasts Kirby’s dynamic, exaggerated style. Throughout, there’s distortions and repairs that make you wonder what’s real and what’s not. Adding to the uneasiness of it all comes the haunting, eternal refrain of Scott’s adoptive father: “Darkseid is.”
Naturally, the plot joins the Fourth World when war breaks out yet again. Darkseid finally obtains the Anti-Life Equation, a mathematical proof of the futility of existence that bends men’s minds and molds them into slaves.
(I fuckin’ love comic books.)
Yet, Scott’s too rattled to be the hero. In his mind, there’s doubt and there’s fear. Despite the fact he’s born of myth, his limitations are undoubtedly real. Scott might literally be a God, but it’s his humanity that drives the story.
Mister Miracle is a story about the self: it’s about marriage; it’s about brothers; it’s about fathers and sons; and it’s about war. If I tell you anything else, it’s a spoiler and that’d be a crime. However, Mister Miracle is the best story happening right now (comics or otherwise), and the final issue drops on November 14th—don’t wait for the trade, you’ve got time to catch up. Hit a comic shop or go digital via comiXology.
Don’t miss out on one of the medium’s finest.
Oh, just remember one thing: