The Man Behind The Miracle
When Jack Kirby birthed Mister Miracle out of his own head like Zeus himself, he has been a symbol of hope, of transcendence, of miracles. In this re-imagining of the original Mister Miracle, Mitch Gerads and Tom King team up to envision a darker, grittier version of the Man in Red— with a new message of hope for the modern age.
For those of you jumping in for the first time, this is a great starting point. For those of you who have been fans of Mister Miracle since the 70’s, welcome back! Things have changed a bit. Mister Miracle is a master of escape— he escaped the orphanage on Apokolips, he escaped imprisonment, and he has a new life. He settles down with his wife, Big Barda, a formidable hero herself. He is not just one of the New Gods, he is his own man. Mister Miracle sets himself up as an escape artist, proving his uncanny ability with tricks and illusions. But what happens to a master of escape when he is bored of the Justice League, of being a Miracle, of being alive?
Tom King pulls form personal experience here, and the poignance and depth of this story speaks to a very human experience; the feeling of loneliness, of disconnect. Mister Miracle is not just a hero, an escape artist, a brave fighter for all that is hopeful and good. He is also a man. Scott Free, the man behind the Miracle, is caught in-between death and life, in a reality he does not quite recognize. His greatest trick may be escaping himself.
King opens with a familiar line, the same opening Kirby gave Mister Miracle in his debut. Here, though, it takes a darker turn- Scott Free is at the brink of death, trying to escape the trick of his own suicide. His wife, Big Barda, tries to bring him out of his spiral, but as the days go on and the world seems unfamiliar and unpredictable, Scott drifts further away from reality. He has escaped Apokolips, escaped Darkseid, escaped every trick and trap ever thrown at him— but escaping his own spiraling mind may be an impossible task.
The script is sparse in this introductory, which is just as well because Mitch Gerads absolutely shines on this art. Mister Miracle is recognizable in his classic uniform, but a haze hangs over the entire book. This simultaneously gives the impression of reading a vintage comic, and exposing the underlying air of grittiness and wrongness that slithers in and out of the story. One of the most unnerving scenes is encompassed in a few pages of panels that show distorted, warped TV footage of a smiling Mister Miracle, but the way Gerads presents this sequence is disturbing and eerie.
Gerads also masterfully jumps from one color story to the next. The introduction has a specific feel that is washed out and darker, while the TV footage and Mister Miracle appearances seem brighter and more distinct. There is a black scene that does not resonate at all with the rest of the color scheme, which, instead of taking us out of the story, implies that something is ff about the reality of the situation. As Mister Miracle begins to twist and turn through a questionable reality even more, this off-kilter feeling only intensifies. The art masterfully implies and foreshadows the mysteries to come, and is invaluable to the success of this book and the forward momentum of the suspenseful plot.
Clayton Cowles is a master of lettering and design, and likely one of few people in the industry who could pull this book off. The decision to leave balloons unattached to specific characters is risky, but his placement and flow makes it clear what is happening and who is talking, while enhancing the sense of mystery and confusion. The style and pace created by the creative lettering, in contrast with the traditional panel layouts, helps bridge the gap from the Mister Miracle of the past and this new, modern take on the character.
Mister Miracle #1 has left me feeling…off. I am confused, I am lost, I am not sure I want to turn the lights off and go to sleep. Oddly enough, that’s a good thing. King and Gerads take a classic hero and turn him upside down, bringing him into a modern reality with different, more nuanced problems. As Mister Miracle questions his reality and figures out what is really happening, and why, I will follow along, a step behind, mesmerized.
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