The adage goes that a week is a long time in politics, and so it can be true of the careful negotiations Mister Miracle is leading in this issue, in-between tension-releasing scenes between Scott and his wife, Barda, as this issue deals with the fallout from the war of the New Gods this series has charted. This is an issue that focuses on the laboured, drawn-out, snail’s pace of what it must be like to sit across the table from your enemy and thrash out a treaty for peace acceptable to both parties. It’s in these dealings we are reminded that Scott Free was raised on Apokolips and, as such, that makes him a son of Darkseid, albeit a surrogate son, but a boy brought up under the gaze of DC’s supreme tyrant and “Granny raised”.
An issue of diplomacy and bureaucracy doesn’t sound like much fun, but in these talks, it gives us drama, tension and a final offer that will leave you speechless. Darkseid is a crafty so-and-so, that’s for sure. But, take away the spandex, the foreboding Medieval gothic architecture, and you have a comic that, in many ways, reflects these self-same situations, held behind closed doors, that our own politicians, trade unionists, and power brokers have regularly used to determine the fate of our own world. And, having sat in such a meeting (as I am sure Tom King has done too, in his previous career in the CIA), the tension here is palpably real. I doubt this is what Scott Free signed up for.
Once again Mitch Gerads gives us more of the stunning art that has made this series a standout success with readers and critics alike. It’s not just King we’re all raving about, but Gerads too. His style couldn’t be further removed from Jack Kirby’s, and so we are given a very unique take on the Fourth World and the Medieval inspired backdrop against which these peace talks occur. His Kalibak is such a huge brute, he can’t even fit into the very rigid 9 panel grid that King and Gerad have adhered to throughout this series, as a homage to Watchmen. Although, Kalibak’s seething ferocity is brought down a notch when he puts on a set of reading glasses to read through important paperwork. Who’d have though that even on Apokolips, the pen is mightier than the sword?
But here, the rigidity of this page layout is in keeping with the tone of the issue. It’s as though this rigidity reflects the strains of the ongoing discussions and Scott’s ever growing frustration. The panel borders hedging him in and offering no retreat, no sanctuary, just as the regular rhyme scheme of William Blake’s London helps sustain the ‘mind-forged manacles’ that keep a whole populace suppressed. How will he escape this one, you’ll wonder by the end of the issue.
It’s another great issue and with only three issues to go, and the promise of Darkseid finally making his stage debut, I’m keener than ever to understand the final outcome. Aren’t you?
Mister Miracle #9 is currently available from DC Comics.