By Tom King, Mitch Gerads, and Clayton Cowles
As Jack Kirby’s Centennial comes to a close, there’s been no better way to celebrate than Mister Miracle. Consistently one of the best comics out there, it has done a fantastic service in combining classic Kirby ideas so that they do what they do best: inspire. In this issue, Tom King and Mitch Gerads keep the hits coming by focusing on the relationship between Scott Free and Big Barda and asking “Do you want to escape?”
As Scott deals with his last days on Earth prior to his execution, he spends the time with Barda fulfilling old honeymoon promises, visiting old (dead) friends, and watching his last sunset at the beach. It’s a farewell tour filled with heartwarming exchanges and shared experiences that easily make Scott and Barda one of the strongest couples at DC, rivaling King’s Batman and Catwoman in his other title. In an exchange in bed, Scott says that he can escape anytime he wants but the truth is, he doesn’t. The idea that they have keeps him grounded is a very human emotion we can experience from a New God.
In a series that hinges on the idea of questioning your current reality, Mister Miracle seeks a way out and is willing to take it even if it means his own death. But he leaves it to Barda to decide for him. Jack Kirby’s quote that “Comics will break your heart” sets the tone for the issue and helps to look into why it would be all up to her. When Kirby told that to someone trying to break into comics, many connect it to his mistreatment working for the industry. Comics were a trap that he fell into, much like Scott has fallen into one here. Ultimately, it was something that he cared for so much that he not only enjoyed it but also left an enduring legacy. What he loved in comics and his family took priority over the bad that he endured. In the same way, Scott has Barda, his love and priority, to get through whatever might be wrong with this reality. King knows what he’s doing in establishing this personal connection driving the story.
Mitch Gerads, as always, is the glue that so richly defines these ideas onto the page. The nine-panel structure and gritty realism entwine the reader with Scott’s journey putting us through his internal turmoil. Whether it be in complete costume or regular clothes, the chemistry between Scott and Barda is immediately apparent as well. When they kiss, we know how far they’ll go for each other. And yet, Gerads knows when to push doubt into our minds. The glitching that appeared in all the other issues continues, this time occurring in the most intimate of moments, creating some uneasiness. The silence in these moments enhances the sorrowful mood that’s just around the corner. It’s the balance between love and fear in these small moments that makes Gerads one of the best in the business right now.
If you still somehow haven’t gotten around to Mister Miracle, you’re doing yourself a disservice. Each issue maintains the same level of quality as the last and introduces more to love as time goes on. While existence might be uncertain, there is one thing that is guaranteed: Mister Miracle is the trap that we’re all glad to be in.