By Tom King, Mitch Gerads, Clayton Cowles
Mister Miracle #8 has the most interesting and emotional answer to the question: how do you juggle work and family? It mashes together the two biggest struggles in Scott and Barda’s life as Gerards depicts the war with Apokolips broken up with child rearing. Discussions over the two situations spill over onto one another, and suddenly King’s dialogue is injected with double meaning. At this point in his career and in this series, that feels like a given, but even now it’s still fresh. Even the occasional “Darkseid is…” is mysterious as ever. In other series, this issue might feel like a filler. It’s a slice of life piece with little action and a huge focus on dialogue and intimate moments, but these are the things that King and Gerads are best at.
Gerads sets the tone immediately with his colors and backgrounds. The colors change dramatically between scenes from pastels to dark, bloody reds, while the backgrounds switch between white and black outlines. The way that Gerads draws his backgrounds puts emphasis on the characters, typically only implying that there are objects there. Scott’s journey very much feels like a dream-state because of this, tying into the glitch effects that have become a staple of Mister Miracle. No matter what’s happening in a panel, Gerads doesn’t let the reader feel calm. There’s the constant feeling that tragedy is always just around the corner.
Meanwhile, King provides the words to back up Gerads’ established feel for the book. Conversations between Barda and Scott are loaded with meaning beyond what’s on the page. Simple conversation about how a day went, updates on the baby, or even a lullaby serve as modifiers to what readers see. Scott’s work-life as a god and general reflect eerily on his life as a father. It’s easy to see what’s troubling him. King doesn’t show us a panel of Scott or Barda confronting their inner troubles, and he doesn’t need to. Instead of focusing on feelings, he focuses on how those feelings affect our characters. The issue is more interested in showing how the family is affected than showing how the family feels. It’s a picture of what it looks like from the outside to struggle with the repercussions of one’s actions while raising up a child.
Mister Miracle #8 dives further into the personal and professional lives of Scott Free and Big Barda. Gerads and King work together harmoniously to continue producing one of the best series in DC’s arsenal. It’s clear that the two of them have a shared vision as well as themes and experiences that they want to explore. Their style can only be a comic book; the images inform the way the words are interpreted and vice versa. One without the other wouldn’t give the same message. Therein lies the success of this issue. Mister Miracle is a story that can be told in the pages of a comic book.