This Week’s Finest: Mister Miracle #3

by Tom King, Mitch Gerads & Clayton Cowles

Mister Miracle’s stunning debut concluded with protagonist Scott Free, aka Mister Miracle, teaming with wife/partner/colleague/ war general Big Barda, hopping into a boom tube back home to defend New Genesis from an invasion by Darkseid. This all followed a dizzying and engrossing set up, where Scott wakes up from an apparent suicide attempt, only to see his grasp on reality slipping. All in addition to the revelation for High Father that Darkseid has obtained the anti-life equation, a detail he shares with his son Scott before he’s murdered. Where as Mister Miracle #1 was notable for an overarching surrealism, partially designed to make readers question the reliability of it’s narrator and his surroundings, it’s second installment was slightly more grounded. Or, as grounded as the comic can be about a war between two planets of deities, and an installment with it’s own fair share of revelations and intrigue related to the stories overall mystery. Issue #3 merges the two settings together, creating a centralized perspective and contrast between Scott & Barda’s Los Angeles home against New Genesis, while further inverting and mutating elements of the books larger mysteries. Once again, with nearly flawless execution from Tom King, MItch Gerads & Clayton Cowles, Mister Miracle #3 is another astonishing work of comics unlike anything else.

Mister Miracle #3 explores the interplay and politics of the war between New Genesis and Apokolips, while roping in more disparate concepts from Kirby’s New God’s, in addition to further parsing out Scott Free’s fragile psychosis, and hinting towards a connection between all three. Most every implication or revelation comes with a greater mystery in this series, to the point where relatively straight forward questions and answers (“Yeah I get it. But was it true?” ” Don’t be stupid Scott”) are shaded with layers of purposeful ambiguity. Yet, because of the overarching concept, that New Genesis and Apokolips are at war over High Father’s death and Darkseid may have the anti-life equation, the perpetual uncertainty surrounding so much of the story details only serves to further embed what is a relatively straight forward idea with engrossing complexity. One of writer Tom King’s many gifts, and one of the key ways that he’s been able to upend and expand the sheer breadth of story telling in the medium within a single issue, is by how he can take vague details combined with specific plot points, and make them into one whole seamlessly. He does so while leveraging the strengths of storytelling in either state, and littering the issue with haunting character work from the titles assorted cast of New Gods. Tom King continues to be one of comics most excellent writers and creative minds, with Mister Miracle being his most ambitious work yet.

Artist Mitch Gerads is able to utilize the nine panel grid in a similar way to what he’s done for much of his extended work with King, his impressively detailed and thoughtful line work for each cell acts as the readers eyes, and as a whole they help set the pace and scope of storytelling in the issue from page to page. Further variations in the page design (“Darkseid is” and the static panels from the first issue are back in spots with a few additional new tricks for the series as well) sustains the books mystery as visual cues with the ongoing narration. Gerads is doing a highly skilled balancing act in this work. If comics art as a whole was on a a spectrum, his illustration style for Mister Miracle fundamentally leans more towards a photo realistic aesthetic. But here, he adds flairs of surrealism and the fantastical into the books presentation, in effect adjusting his visual storytelling at it’s foundation to the larger narrative arc of perception and reality. It’s a brilliant gambit for the artist, and it’s key to both understanding Mister Miracle as a whole, in addition to how the single issue rewards multiple readings.

Mister Miracle is a book that takes on both physical and psychological warfare within the context of it’s original creation (space gods with supernatural powers as loose allegories), and blurs the two concepts into one another. As the comic continues to imply that Darkseid has in fact found the anti-life equation, and is re-writing reality, Mister Miracle succeeds in the scope and execution of it’s imagination for how it let’s the reader experience that in several different ways, with varying degrees of authentication in the story itself. The difference between what’s real and what’s not is systematically blurred throughout, for a comic that is consistently absorbing. Masterfully crafted and endlessly alluring, Mister Miracle #3 is another huge success for what’s already shaping to be one of comics best ongoing titles.

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