Mister Miracle #7
After a hiatus, Mister Miracle #7, by Tom King and Mitch Gerads, brings a blessed event in its return. But are things happening this way or is it all some kind of trick of Darkseid?
Last issue ended Scott and Barda confronting Darkseid on Apokolips… and this one opens with Scott and Barda going to the hospital to have their baby. Right off the bat, it throws the reader and makes them wonder how much of what’s happening is real. The Female Furies show up because it’s been years since a Fury actually gave birth and even though they are opposite sides of the war, Barda is still one of them. They even brought a gift. As the issue goes on, there are more little clues that what’s happening isn’t real, the vertical hold on the panels slipping in several places. It’s little effects like this that place all the events in the issue into question, including the big one at the end.
As always, King makes the reader question the reality of the events in the book while also selling the reader on the event. King perfectly captures the birthing experience; everyone thinks that it’s all frantic and full of action, but, really, there’s a lot of waiting for the event to happen. Barda and Scott banter and it all seems completely natural. King has found a way to balance the weirdness and bombast of Kirby’s New Gods concept and ground it in reality. The Female Furies showing up is both something that strikes as mundane and a complete surprise. Barda and the Furies are ex co-workers. In a normal circumstance, it wouldn’t be weird for them to show up for the birth of a friend’s baby. However, not only are the Furies and Barda are on separate sides of a war, but none of them are characters who look back on their time together with any type of sentimental feelings. For the Furies, this is a rare event, though. On Apokolips, babies are cut out and given to Granny Goodness. They’ve never been around an actual birth. They are there just as much for the novelty of the event as they are any kind of attachment to Barda.
Barda and Scott seem like a real couple who also happen to fight gods and monsters and this distorts the reality of the events even more. As real as the events seem, as mundane as parts of it are, there’s this lingering feeling that what’s being witnessed isn’t really happening. It’s a hallmark of the series and it works here perfectly. It’s everywhere in the issue. There’s the effect of the vertical hold slipping on panels that has been used throughout the series, but there’s more as well. There’s an argument with an valet about parking in the beginning of the issue that sets the whole thing off on a weird foot, one that immediately throws everything into doubt. It’s something that could happen in real life, but in this comic, it adds to the sense that what is being shown isn’t what’s happening and in that respect, it’s pretty perfect. Even the Female Furies showing up and not raising hell is weird. Sure, the reasons they give for arriving make sense, but it’s still strange. Even the mundanity of the dialogue between Barda and Scott before the birth adds to this feeling. They’re so calm, it’s eerie in a lot of places… while also seeming completely normal.
Gerads' art is brilliant as usual. There’s a watercolor quality to the colors that keeps the feeling that things aren’t quite real going. The pencils and line work have a gritty feeling to them, but the way the colors look give the whole thing an almost cartoony feeling, like this is all a fantasy. It’s a wonderful little juxtaposition and Gerads pulls it off beautifully. The birthing sequence is a stand out, too. It’s the closest thing to an action sequence the book has and Gerads makes it work that way, using the nine panel grid to give the reader the sense of time moving as the baby comes… but also throwing the slipping vertical hold effect on one of the panels. It throws the realism of the art into question and helps build the feeling of that we’re seeing is real while also possibly being not real at all.
King and Gerads manage to deliver another stellar issue. They’ve reached a level of sympatico that only the best creative teams have. They perfectly balance mundane with the fantastic in this series, while also making readers question everything they’ve just read. The enigma of what is real in the book is a fabulous way to keep readers on the edge of their seats and they’ve completely nailed the characterization of every character in the book. Mister Miracle is the kind of comic that only comes around rarely. It’s such a perfect encapsulation of everything that can be done with comics and it’s a book that will be talked about for years to come. This issue further cements it as one of the best books out right now and King and Gerads as a premier storytelling unit.