Writer: Tom King
Artist, Inks, Colors: Mitch Gerads
Cover Art: Nick Derington
Published: August 9, 2017
Page four of Mister Miracle #1 (MM #1) presents a memory of a young Scott Free attempting to/actually drawing God and telling his teacher, in a very serious voice, that no one knew what God looked like until now. It harkens back to those moments when a young child (perhaps you were once this child) will say something rather outlandish or astonishing, but say it with more conviction than most older/more cynical people can muster, causing anyone listening to consider what they believe that fiercely. This childhood memory though is immediately preceded by a two page spread that shows Scott Free lying in a bathroom with blood running from his wrists, across the floor, and over his discarded mask. The juxtaposition of these couple of pages begs the question for a young child who grew up knowing what God looks like, what becomes of that person?
In a few different panels, and across four consecutive pages, the reader learns about Scott by observing him on TV screens, where the braggadocio and showmanship that was required to play the character of a Mister Miracle is on display. There is an extended section where Scott is on a generic late night talk show and the host is asking him what happened to end up in the hospital. Scott sort of plays it off as simply a trick gone wrong, but the host persists and asks Scott directly, “Did you cheat death?” To this Scott can only respond with “What?” This question is directed to MM and not to Scott Free who knows (even if the public don’t) that death is one trap he can’t escape from. Throughout the interview the TV screen is constantly blurring in the characteristic way old analog sets used when the signal got obscured. The TV screen, this single window, is how audiences/the public understand MM. Scott is obscured and only the colorful mask and daring escapes of MM remain.
Tom King’s storytelling is constantly backed up by Mitch Gerards’ art. There are a lot of strong black lines that outline character or objects in each panel. Most of the book has a standard 9 panel layout so the black lines help the reader focus on one or two preeminent objects in each panel. But behind the objects are black dots, shading, or short lines that give create a strong sense of movement or depth, but also add this sort of weariness to much of the book. This feels appropriate to the story because, at least right now, this is not a particularly happy. There is also a single panel that repeats at increasingly short intervals that says simply “Darkseid is.” Another threat/ghost from the past that will test Scott’s resolve and will to live.
Tom King poses some serious questions about what compels a person to continue with life in a challenging but highly enjoyable first issue of MM #1. This issue draws in new readers, who are perhaps unfamiliar with the lore of Jack Kirby’s New Gods, without isolating more knowledgable readers who have already read/loved Kirby’s MM. References to Big Barda, Orion, Darkseid, The HighFather, New Genesis, The Anti-Life Equation, and Granny Goodness are all included, but they are contextualized and explained as natural parts of the story. It’s a delicate balancing act that King attempts in this first issue to have the backstory be right there, without weighing down the narrative. Scott free is slowly and not completely revealed to the reader (we can only see him through the screen of a comic panel) as the basis for an exciting and challenging story is established.
(Subjective) Score out of 10: 9