By Tom King, Mitch Gerads, and Clayton Cowles
King and Gerads’ Mister Miracle #6 takes Big Barda and Scott Free on adventures both whimsical and surreal, giving the characters new depth. Their story is as uplifting as it is tragic, and couldn’t be one without the other. Scott and Barda’s relationship has consistently been a joy to watch. Their relationship resonates because it thrives even in the darkness. That’s what the majority of this issue shows; nearly the entire issue is a drawn out conversation between the two, mixed with action and trap avoidance. Discussing remodelling a living space has never been more metaphoric.
Similarly, Gerads’ line work captures each of the characters perfectly. This issue truly relies on its art as much as its storytelling. A scene walking across a tightrope isn’t wasted on Gerads as Mister Miracle struts across the nine panel grid while Barda, naturally, uses her brute strength to swing along beneath him. Even better is the fact that the dialogue is reined in during part of the scene so that readers are drawn to Gerads’ work. The action is revelatory as well, as Barda and Scott show not only their individual fighting prowess, but their synergy as a team. Barda’s leadership especially shines during these scenes as Gerads’ draws her, appropriately, like a professional fighter. Few other characters feel as physically adept as she does here. Also, the capes are excellent.
King’s renowned ability to give the mundane meaning takes full effect in this issue. The foreshadowing of one of this issue’s twists exists only in hindsight, to satisfying effect. The dialogue has a constant flow that’s able to effectively distinguish who is speaking, even when the characters aren’t visible. Equally important, though, is King’s knowledge of when to end a conversation and change the subject. Each of these points are meaningful in some way and speak just as much, if not more, than if there were dialogue.
Even for those able to pick up on the nuance of the conversation, however, the final page is dense with suspense and a riveting development of this series’ iconic catchphrase. Scott and Barda’s uplifting perseverance is met with yet another challenge shaded by Gerads’ nightmarish purples and glitching effect, symbolizing Scott’s recurring struggle with depression. The attempted escape act that began this series is the framework for an important theme, especially in mainstream comics.
Mister Miracle #6 develops Scott Free and Big Barda’s future by respecting their past. This issue strives to examine the most intimate parts of both characters in ways unlike many superhero books. It balances the trope of seeing a hero’s daily life with the New Genesis politics; it hearkens back to Jack Kirby’s original run that regularly opened with Scott testing one of his latest escapes, only to find himself in a villain’s trap later on. King and Gerads are consistently a team worthy of the praise they receive as they build on the medium’s strengths and push its limits.