[*Warning! Some spoilers for issue #12 of Mister Miracle below!]
Mister Miracle #12 sees the conclusion to a series that has, I freely admit, had me more than confused a number of times, and over a year later concludes not with a bang, but an appropriate whimper. Tonally, this is how this series should end. But, is it satisfying that it ends this way?
At the end of the last issue, Scott Free was shown a world he did not know. Or rather, did not want to know, or remember. This is the world of the DCU with all it’s colourful characters and crazy criminal masterminds ready to take over the world, if not the galaxy. It would seem my initial thoughts on this series being something of a Jacob’s Ladder tale, but with capes, wasn’t too far off the mark, either. But, unlike the psychological horrors witnessed by Jacob Singer (Tim Robbins) in the film, Scott’s own dilemma seemed to be a emotional pendulum swinging from his ordinary, everyday family life to the very extra-ordinary life as the new Highfather stuck in a Hell. Or at least Purgatory, forever battling the forces of Apokolips while juggling life as a new father. Was any of this real, or was it a reality Scott created when he tried to take his own life way, way back in the first issue?
Tom King has to be applauded for not only keeping most readers on their toes (although, I must admit to some disappointment in discovering this as a superhero retelling of Jacob’s Ladder. I was hoping to be proven wrong and not so on the money) and sustaining the tone of unease and mundanity Scott often seems to feel in his downtime, when he’s not playing at being a god, as we witness a man dealing with depression in his own way. But, with a stark choice still in front of hm regarding which life to choose, can we even be sure this is the end for Scott? And, for that matter, what of Darkseid? Didn’t he already die in the Darkseid War?
The clues I witnessed throughout this series – red flags informing us that this was not all that it seemed – including Orion’s promotion and death, never seemed to add up. For all I know, Scott could still be slouched at the bottom of his moderately sized LA condo’s shower with open wrists, with this alternative life of domesticity and simplicity all an elongated dream happening behind his eyelids as his life drains away form him. Maybe that’s what the anti-life equation was all along. After all, that stair that invades the comic unannounced, is still present suggesting something is not quite right. And, if that is the case, what a tragic ending. But, at least he’s had tome to catch up with some faces form his past and make peace with them in a fashion.
Mitch Gerards, once again, brings us a comic full of well observed and executed moments, with some familiar faces in the audience watching Mister Miracle in action on the opening page of the issue. He is equally at home whether illustrating the bloody world of battle in the Fourth World, or the chore of popping down to the local convenience store to pick up some essentials for the baby. It’s amazing the worlds he’s been able to realise while slavishly and deliberately sticking to the 9 panel grid that, for me at least, added to the sense of claustrophobia that even Mister Miracle couldn’t escape in the end.
Furthermore, there are a number fo familiar looking panels and situations that will remind you more than a little of the very first issue too, bringing this back in a somewhat circular fashion, but with Scott Free seemingly a lot more content that he was at the start fo this series. If, in fact, he is living in the DCU on Rebirth, or some other existence. Either way, its a neat narrative and illustrative trick that adds a certain sense of closure, even if the story doesn’t.
Superheroes, whether they be gods or monsters – never truly die, but Scott got pretty close. I’ll be interested to see where, and when, Scott and the Fourth World pop up again next. With the DCU in flux and counting down to yet another crisis, who can tell what Scott’s next trap will be.
What worries me is the lingering doubt that Scott has yet to deal with his depression if the life the has chosen is not reality. Or is it? Has he simply escaped to another reality and chosen domesticity over drama? Time will tell, but with summary questions still lingering, and the wait between issues, I do not feel satisfied. But then, maybe that was King and Gerards’s greatest trick.
Always keep ’em wanting more.
Mister Miracle #12 is out now from DC Comics.