In Need of a Miracle
One of the best comics on the stands came to a close last week: Mister Miracle. The Tom King and Mitch Gerads’ miniseries focused on the life of Scott Free, the superhero/escape artist known as Mister Miracle who’s originally from the dark world of Apokalips. While you may have thought that this series would focus on Scott’s struggles with his adoptive father Darkseid and the war for home of the New Gods, it actually had more to say about family, grief, and mental health.
Mister Miracle started on a major downer. Scott Free has survived a suicide attempt, and it created a major strain on his relationship with his wife, Big Barda, and put his entire faith in himself in question. He’s always been able to escape any trap, but even death isn’t free from his powers. It’s a weird choice to start a comic series where your lead character is recuperating from trying to kill himself, but in doing so Tom King and Mitch Gerads created a really heartbreaking and human way to connect with a character that has ties to the grandiose and bombastic Fourth World saga that Jack Kirby made famous in the seventies. As the series continued, Scott was confronted with a war that had long been a threat in his home world, and dealing with the fallout of his suicide attempt, which lead to some of the most heartbreaking moments of the series. But when he and Barda have a child, the already engaging series really found its stride, showcasing the power of becoming a father and having to care for someone else.
Tom King and Mitch Gerads are no slouches in the world of comics, but the pair somehow outdid themselves with every issue of Mister Miracle that came out. King’s scripts deserve multiple readings, revealing new layers and motivations for the characters with each reread (and hilarious moments like Darkseid eating carrots from a vegetable tray, or Scott’s penchant for superhero logo shirts). Gerads added a new crazy panel layout with each issue, and used the Watchmen nine-panel layout in ways that haven’t been used so effectively since Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ epic. Hell, the pair even worked in multiple references to the How Did This Get Made podcast, so much so that they’ve been name dropped multiple times on the show.
Perhaps the most amazing thing about Mister Miracle is that, despite being a character created and steeped in the heavy (and daunting) lore of Kirby’s Fourth World, King and Gerads made him into arguably the most relatable hero in comics. Despite his abilities and background, at the end of the day, Scott is just a guy trying to care for his family in the best way he can. Against obstacles as insurmountable as Darkseid’s forces and his own mind, Scott Free is just doing his best, like all of us, and who can’t relate to that? It’s this reason why I’m bummed out that King and Gerads have ended their story with issue twelve, but I’m also happy that they did it on their terms. Seek it out.