by Tom King & Mitch Gerads
I was going to start this review with ‘Mister Miracle is’, but now that I’ve given it some more thought, I don’t believe that is true. Orion would tell me it doesn’t matter what I believe, a statement is either true or false. So, let me try again, ‘Mister Miracle is’ is false. According to what I learned in this issue, ‘Mister Miracle is’ would imply that the comic Mister Miracle is all things, good and bad. It isn’t all things, it is all things good. The reason for me writing this review is to convey to you this very fact, that Mister Miracle is all things good. So, let me take a similar approach to the one René Descartes took on proving that God exists. Descartes’ argument is rooted in the idea that God is all things good. If you examine two things, God is always the better one. Take love and hate for example; love is better than hate, therefore God is love. This is where existence comes into play, since existing is better than not existing, God exist. If I reverse this logic and say Mister Miracle is well written, which is better than poorly written. It has gorgeous art, which is better than eye gouging art. It effectively utilizes the nine panel grid layout to tell the story, which is better than the nine panel grid layout bogging down the story flow. It stirs up a wide range of emotions, which is better than reading a comic with emotional responses equal to a robot. It exists, which is better than not existing. I think this proves that Mister Miracle is all things good. If I stick with Descartes “I think, therefore I am” then because I am a person and because Mister Miracle is a comic that is all things good, it has been selected as the finest comic of the week.
Okay, I think I lost myself in there somewhere. I hope you’re all still with me.
Obviously we love Mister Miracle on this site. We talk about it all the time on the podcast, it has made multiple week’s finest appearances despite only being five issues in and not to spoil upcoming posts but, it’s a heavy favorite in both “Best New Comic Series” and “Best Comic Series” here at Nothing But Comics. By this time you know how great the book is and you know why, so instead of repeating what my colleagues have already written, I’m going to dive right into this particular issue.
Scott Free is fresh off his somewhat informal trial where he was found guilty for being an agent of Darkseid and has been sentenced to death. Issue #5 shows Scott’s last day before execution as he spends it with his wife Barda. It is full of small, honest moments that will bring a smile to your face, which will quickly fade away as you remember the inevitable end to this terrible day. I easily forget that these two are not even human, they are New Gods, beings of immense power. Yet, here they are going out for their favorite sandwiches and trying to win giant stuffed bears at the carnival.
This book never spoon feeds the reader. The issue jumps right into Mister Miracle and Big Barda at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. They travel to a couple more destinations before I even realize this is Scott’s last day on earth and everything I thought was cute is now heartbreaking. This effect is mirrored in almost all pages of the comic where the beginning has the couple engaging in an enjoyable activity but by the end, one of them has tears in his/her eyes. Honestly, it hit me in the heart every time. Then, one of the panels on the page will waver like a bad TV signal on a CRT monitor and I remember that all this might not even be real. At the Grauman’s Chinese Theatre there is some fourth wall awareness as Mister Miracle visits Jack Kirby’s hand prints which is accompanied by the incisive and very real Kirby quote, “Kid…comics will break your heart.” Just in case the image of a comic book character created by Kirby reading this quote on the day before his execution isn’t enough to give you chills, Scott then reaches out to put his hand into the Kirby print and Scotts hands are significantly smaller. This is all on page one people! I haven’t even turned the page yet.
The next page brings in Funky Flashman who is doing some PR work for the New Gods. He realizes that Mister Miracle is the most popular New God on Earth and it would be very bad for the New Gods popularity as a whole if they were to kill Earth’s favorite. So, he pitches the idea that Mister Miracle should announce he is trying to escape death again. He should say that he tried once before when he attempted suicide but that was a failure, he didn’t actually escape death because he was saved before he died. This will be his second attempt. In the words of Funky, “That way you get executed! and everybody wins!” Of course Funky doesn’t give a shit if he does escape death or not, he just wants to save the New Gods popularity. He does mention that the failure of the initial suicide and this new attempt will be an inspirational message for the kids out there. After reading that I let out one of those groan laughs. You know, where you start to laugh and then you realize that it is possible this world contains someone stupid enough to say something like that so your laugh turns into a groan.
After the limo ride with Funky we ease our way into the afternoon delight scene between Scott and Barda. You might think this part of the issue would be straight forward, you would be wrong. Not only does Barda tie Scott to the bed, which is just genius that the master escape artist be tied up during sex. But, Scott is tied up in a corpus of Jesus way in a comic book that spends two pages proving the existence of God. Also, a comic where a man’s allies have sentenced him to death. Definitely not a coincidence.
Then Scott and Barda carry on with their bucket list of a day. A day where every single mundane thing just turns out to be so fucking perfect and poignant at the same time. Eventually we get to the end of the day where the couple is enjoying a sunset. This is where Scott spends two pages philosophizing about René Descartes’ ideas about doubt, self and God. These pages are chalked full of gems but I just wanted to mention one thing in particular I thought was interesting. Scott talks about how Descartes believed God is all things that are good and to exist is better than to not exist so therefore God exists. This series opened on Scott attempting suicide and now this current chapter is the day before he is scheduled to be executed and he is quoting “to exist is better than to not exist”. It is extremely powerful to see Scott’s pain during this issue, we forget that we opened the book on him attempting to end things. Why would he have done that? What is going on with our protagonist? What is he really trying to escape?
I could go on for paragraphs about this art, this writing or these pages. I could dissect each panel and tell you what I think was amazing about it, but I’m going to leave things here. Mister Miracle issue #5 was easily the best comic of the week. It affects me like no other current comic can. Tom King and Mitch Gerads are creating a comic like nothing else out there. Mister Miracle truly is an experience.