“Everything’s wrong. Everything.” – Scott Free, Mister Miracle #1
I don’t want to give myself too long to ponder this opener, otherwise I may very well feel the need to overthink this one. And, there are simply too many questions I have that, well, I cannot simply hypothesis away after just one issue of this highly anticipated 12 issue series from Tom King and able partner in crime, Mitch Gerads.
So, I’ll give you my first impressions and leave it at that.
[*Warning! Some mild spoilers for issue #1 of Mister Miracle below!]
King clearly wants to keep the reader on their toes and in a state of confusion; just like our eponymous hero, who we find on the floor of his bathroom with his wrists cut open. As this sinks in with the reader–pulling back from a close-up of an impassive Scott Free’s face to reveal this shock opening–we have the inclusion of the words Jack Kirby used in introducing readers to the character way back in 1971. The kind of spiel you’d expect to hear whenever the celebrity escape artist, Mister Miracle, would come on stage. The energy and hyperbole of this narration is in jarring opposition to the scene in front of us. A suicide attempt of this nature could not be the twilight for this god, surely?
Well, I don’t think I’m really spoiling it for anyone to say, no. And, he may explain it away later in the book as the ultimate escape: to escape death itself. But nonetheless, things do not seem to be the same afterwards. There are slight changes to reality that Scott Free notices which are dismissed at the start, but then there are clearer signs from other quarters that suggest something is most certainly up with the reality Scott inhabits. And he comes to realise this too. I mean, there’s one scene in which he remembers going to school. Really? I don’t recall any schooling of this mundane nature happening on Apokolips where Scott was brought up–or, rather, dragged up–in the pits of this Hellish world. Things don’t just seem strange for Scott, they feel off with us too.
All the while, I felt a similar state of confusion as I did in watching Jacob’s Ladder, and I would say that the tone of that film is not the only thing this series shares with said film. Mister Miracle claims to have cheated death, but has he really? And what of the ominous black panels that are scattered across this book, with greater and greater frequency, that simply state, “Darkseid is.” Is what? Inside us all? The embodiment of universally recognised evil? And, if that’s the case, what does this bode for Scott Free, surely the brightest light amongst so many others on New Genesis?
What also adds to this uneasy feeling you get when reading this book is how well King and Gerads mix up the mundane with the fantastic. At one point, Highfather comes to visits a recuperating Scott walking along the beach, as you do, but in full New Gods attire. There’s even a great cameo from Glorious Godfrey that is quintessentially the walking embodiment of this meeting of two dually opposite worlds. A certain magic-realism is at play here which, in turn, adds again to this mood of the mysterious and discombobulating.
Gerads’ art is a real mix of styles too; providing the pencils, inks and colors. The opening three pages has a color overlay reminiscent of the old school DC comics and the four-color dot matrix printing, before the scene in the school where it looks as though Gerads has applied sticky tape to the art along with splotches. His TV appearances are fuzzier, as though reception isn’t great. Is this also a clue to reality being on the fritz maybe?
There’s certainly a dreamlike quality to proceedings. Y’know, like Jacob’s Ladder again. And, with Tom King himself referencing visiting Kirby’s Fourth World as though you were “dipping your head into madness” as well as tweeting on such matters here, then maybe Scott is staring into the mouth of madness, or Purgatory? I can’t wait to find out as the series progresses.
This may be the first issue, but it’s a great debut that leaves you entertainingly confused and wanting more, as all good comics should. Look like I won’t be escaping this title scott free! Will you?
Mister Miracle #1 is available now from DC Comics.