By Tom King, Mitch Gerads, and Clayton Cowles
The next installment chronicling the new war between Apokolips and New Genesis and, more specifically, the twisted, bloody life of Scott Free (Mister Miracle) has arrived. Readers will know they have, at the very least, an interesting read on their hands when the first page of a comic has six panels devoted to a Parademon gorging on the dying flesh of a fallen New Genesis soldier. Mister Miracle and Big Barda continue to engage in battle with Darkseid’s forces, when Orion orders them to handle a special mission: kill the woman who raised them – Granny Goodness!
The creative team of Tom King and Mitch Gerads continue to use relatively unorthodox, fresh storytelling techniques in this. They maintain the nine-panel page layout, save for one page, that Watchmen made such an indelible impression with, but what’s important to pay attention to is how events unfold in those panels. King and Gerads play with how time and events are shown sequentially with varying depictions, including my favorite page illustrating how to sneak through a military camp. It’s really a fascinating trip! Narratively, it’s still unclear whether this is all a fever dream/alternate reality or actually taking place. Especially, since it was just confirmed in Dark Nights: Metal #2 that Darkseid is still the baby shown at the end of Geoff Johns’ New 52 run on Justice League. A lot of questions arise surrounding this, such as whether someone is acting as Darkseid in his absence or, again, is this all an illusion somehow connected with death? Now, this isn’t necessarily a criticism on the writing, it just would be nice to have a little clarity since this is supposed to be in current continuity.
The team makes the art be the main way to present the story. With well-plotted, short, succinct dialogue, much can be read from the quiet panels where it’s just facial expressions and physical gestures of characters. Mitch Gerads designs panels where the background is detailed, but muted, bringing attention to where Tom King and he wants attention to focus on. The few pages where Barda and Scott meet with Orion in his throne room is the best example of this and a bit of a masterclass as well.
Color continues to be an important component in this story. The stark contrast between the harsh, brutal red of Apokolips, the gold sheen of New Genesis and the cool blue of Mister Miracle’s home sets the tone of each setting and matches the events that unfold in each. As simplistic as these color schemes may seem, they are without a doubt effective. Gerads implements them skillfully to have attention paid to the element, but never pull focus from the characters or actions on the page. He really understands how to infuse ambiance into the work.
Mister Miracle continues to be the much-needed breath of fresh air in DC’s line, and mainstream comics in general. The creative team understands, just like Scott Free, that they need to break from the chains of conformity and convention to deliver something challenging to not only readers, but themselves too. Check out this issue and to newcomers, please go out and catch up!