A Pop Art Purgatory? Reviewing Mister Miracle #2

by Oliver MacNamee

It occurred to me flicking through the pages of this week’s second issue of Mister Miracle by Tom King and Mitch Gerads that this feels–at least on the surface, and only taking in the lush, almost Bill Sienkiewicz-like art of Gerads–that this is a pop art comic from start to finish. It’s use of Letratone-like textures layered upon the art, the 9 panel grid offering up a certain sense of uniformity to each page and the ones of repetitious imagery all feel like pop art. And, like some of the best examples of pop art, this comic can offer up images and narrative that seem confusing.

When did Orion become ruler of New Genesis, anyway? Who made him Highfather, when surely it would be Scott Free, his son and heir, who should be sitting atop the throne? And, why is Scott Free’s Mother Box informing him that the shower is on, when it clearly isn’t? I thought this series was about him escaping the ultimate trap; death, right?

Time and again, Gerads offers up sequences and pages that seem repetitive but have the slightest changes made to them to suggest there is life. It’s a good technique which helps slow down some of the action to nothing more than a study of expressions and moments of tension, such as the staring contest between Scott and Orion, who expects all in his presence to bow and offer subservience unto Orion. What a dick move by the new Highfather.

It’s another issue that has an overwhelming feeling that not all is as it should be and that maybe, just maybe, this isn’t the reality we have come to know. A Mother Box seemingly on the fritz, Darkseid’s son ruling in Mister Miracle’s place, and a narrative that offers up Scott Free as a battle-hardened warrior lurching from court to bedroom to the killing fields on which the eternal struggle between the New Gods and Darkseid’s parademons wages on and on. And, since when did Granny Goodness have even a shred of mercy? Are these kinks in the matrix, trying to let Scott know he is already in a trap but just doesn’t know it yet? Is this really Jacob’s Ladder with superheroes, as I’ve previously suggested?

Of course, this is only the second issue and so I wasn’t expecting anything to be cleared up as yet, although the ominous repetition of the statement ‘Darkseid is‘ only occurs once in the whole comic. And, we’re no closer to working out what he is? Are you?

King writes an issue that has, at times, sweet, intimate moments between Scott and Barda as they take a well deserved respite from fighting, which are even tonally different, offering the only signs of colours that aren’t blood soaked in a comic dominated by burst of deep, dark reds and scarlet swathes offering a menacing rise-en-scene to the moments of battle that intersperse this issue. And, as the issue progresses the plot thickens until a shock confession by an almost apologetic Granny Goodness throws everything even more into a spin and a reaction from Big Barda that can only be described as over the top.

Plates are left spinning and some are undoubtably going to come crashing down in future issues, but for now it’s a fascinating read that offers the reader a very different Mister Miracle from previous interpretations and one that doesn’t feel like the prince he rightly is. He feels more mortal than immortal, more human that god. And, in giving us such a character, once again King makes Mister Miracle one of the most relatable New God around.

Whether he is in some form of Purgatory, or simply trapped in some nefarious scheme engineered by Darkseid, or something else (it’s going to be something else, isn’t it?), I’m enjoying this series, even if it does make my head hurt thinking about what it’s all about.

Mister Miracle #2 is out now from DC Comics.