What is the ***REDACTED***? Mister Miracle #7 Spoilers
Since it began, Tom King and Mitch Gerads’ Mister Miracle has been a critical and fan darling, instantly hailed as one of the best, and most important, comic series being published. The themes about war and, more specifically, the effects of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder on soldiers, set it apart as more than just the average superhero comic but, instead, a mature work for our age.
The book has heavily utilized some particular stylistic motifs in order to evoke the surreal imbalance of Scott Free’s world within the story, with four in particular coming to define the series. One is the juxtaposition of the most fantastical elements of the Fourth World mythos with highly relatable, almost mundane, naturalistic dialogue between Scott and his wife, Barda.
Another is a distortion effect, like an old television, that calls into question the very nature of Scott’s reality at its core.
The third is the use of black panels with only the words “Darkseid Is” in stark white, which keeps the series grounded in a sense of existential dread.
The last of these unique motifs has been the use of quotes from Jack Kirby’s original Mister Miracle issues, specifically the teases in the beginning and ending of issues. Using the quotes from the corresponding issues of the Kirby series, King places them in a way that contrasts and enhances these moments in various ways, but the best inspire, from Kirby’s bombastic, superlative text, a tangible sense of unease and even horror. The first use of this is the best, from the opening pages of the first issue.
Here, a suicide attempt, when set against the carnival-barker intensity of Kirby’s introduction to his own series, creates a chasmic dissonance, as if the narration is mocking the magnitude of the moment even as it matches it.
Later, in issue 6, the climax of the first half of the series, a shocking and gory moment utilizes three of these motifs, including a block of Kirby tease text that slides from sinister to absurd and back, adding to the disorientation of this unsettling moment.
But what does this have to do with issue 7?
***Spoiler Warning!!! If you haven’t gotten your hands on Mister Miracle #7, stop now, go to your local comic store and buy that thing! Fast!! You know the first printing is gonna sell out and you’ll get stuck with a second printing, or, god forbid, a third.***
In the last panel of the next-to-last page of #7, Scott tells Barda that their newborn child looks like a “lump.” This triggers another block of Kirby teaser text, this one from the end of his own Issue 7:
Now, as you can see from the index of quotes at the bottom of this article, they will, at times, reference characters and plot elements from the classic series that are in no way related to the narrative of the current series, and anyone would be entirely justified to feel the same about the Lump quote...except it’s more than just a quote in this instance. By linking it directly to Scott and his own feelings about his child--the arrival of which is marked by heavy use of the distortion as well--King has built a connection to this quote that goes beyond just the usage of it so far.
So what is the Lump?
The Lump first appeared in Mister Miracle #7 and 8. Held in Section Zero of Apokolips, the Lump was a creation of Granny Goodness, who runs the twisted Apokoliptian orphanage where Scott was raised. The Lump was an unmoving blob in the real world, but was incredibly powerful inside the realm of the mind.
After Scott returned to Apokolips to win his freedom through trial by combat, Granny Goodness and some honored guests watched on monitors as Mister Miracle took on the Lump, who was able to manipulate the very world around them to his whim, including crude simulated environments, even summoning up hazards such as quicksand.
Scott is able to defeat the Lump by turning that sand to glass, taking a reflective piece and showing the Lump his own disturbing visage, which causes the Lump to free Scott and withdraw into a comatose state.
The Lump has only shown up a tiny handful of times since its first appearance, but the most prominent was in Grant Morrison’s Batman: Last Rites and Batman: RIP The Missing Chapter, two stories that tell the same sequence of events from different perspectives, events that tie directly into Morrison’s own Fourth World-centric event, Final Crisis.
The Lump was used on Batman after he is captured investigating Darkseid’s machinations on Earth, trapped in a horrific, and fully realized, version of his own life for weeks, unaware that it was nothing more than a fabrication. Of course, being a master detective, Bruce is able to suss out that he’s trapped in a false reality and is able to throw a wrench in the Apokoliptian plans, which leads to the Lump’s death and Bruce’s freedom.
Again, it is perfectly reasonable to dismiss Morrison’s alteration to the modus operandi of the Lump and conclude that King’s story isn’t informed by Morrison’s work using the Fourth World characters, except that one major element of King’s story, the aforementioned invocation of the phrase “Darkseid Is,” comes from Morrison’s own work on JLA in the 90s. King has spoken directly about the influence Morrison’s take had on his own creation of this story. So what if it isn’t only “Darkseid Is,” but also Morrison’s extrapolation and expansion of the Lump that inspired King’s story?
And what, exactly, would that mean for Mister Miracle?
Well, in short, if Mister Miracle is secretly under the thrall of the Lump, then just about every single moment of King and Gerads’ series is called into question. What if the distortion effect is a literal distortion on a monitor, one watched by the (not really dead) Granny Goodness, or maybe even Darkseid himself? That would mean none, or nearly none, of the series is happening in the “real” world. Or perhaps King has evolved the Lump even further, so that Scott is infected by it and it’s the cause of the surreal elements in the story that are making Scott, and readers, question his reality? This would make Scott incredibly vulnerable and unstable, bring him to a place where he is unable to trust anyone or anything, making him much more susceptible to manipulation. Or perhaps it something else entirely, a scenario that will only be conceivable once King and Gerads reveal a few more of the cards they are keeping clutched to their chests?
No matter what, Mister Miracle #7 is another exemplary issue in a series filled with them, and it has only become more clear that Tom King and Mitch Gerads have a modern classic on their hands, one that will not only go on to win many awards but will be another evergreen title for DC.
Mister Miracle #7 is available in comic stores now. Until it sells out.