Mister Miracle #8 Review
Mister Miracle #8, by Tom King and Mitch Gerads, continues the tale of Scott Free, Big Barda, and the war against Apokolips. Now, though, Scott and Barda have a baby to take care of as well as running a war. Will it break them or give them strength?
This is usually the part where there would be a synopsis of the issue, but the thing about it is this is a simple comic. On the surface, that is. The pages alternate between Scott fighting the war on Apokolips and Scott on Earth with baby Jack (and Funky Flashman, who is their nanny). When Scott is on Apokolips, Barda calls him on the Mother Box (a mother using a Mother Box is a nice little pun) and tells him about what Jack’s doing. Scott does the same when he’s Earth. That’s the comic in a nutshell. Scott is always the focus.
The intriguing stuff is what’s happening on the pages, though. Take a lot of the scenes on Earth, for example. Gerads’ figure work is some of the most detailed in this run, but the backgrounds are sketchy and usually all one color with white outlines for objects, as if rendered by a computer whose memory is being used for another task. It’s very subtle and the stuff in the foreground looks so good, so detailed, that it’s easy to miss, but it’s there. Another thing is that while on Apokolips, Scott keeps pushing himself harder and harder, getting injured. It’s war, so this sort of thing is expected, but would a commander lead from the front? Would a commander repeatedly put himself into life and death situations? In some cases, yes, but not every case, and especially not if they had just had a child. Does Scott have a subconscious death wish? And if so, why? These two little wrinkles add to the mystery at the center of this series.
At another point, Scott is talking to a friend in the park. They’re talking about nannies and Scott says him and Barda have discussed it, but it’s hard to leave him. She says she understands, that people get stuck in things and it’s hard to get out of. Scott Free, the greatest escape artist of them all, answers, “I know.” Again, it’s subtle, but it plays to the mystery of what’s really happening in this series. If there’s anyone who wouldn’t know what it’s like to be stuck somewhere, it’s Scott Free. Unless he knows, subconsciously, that he’s in some kind of trap. Barda’s last line plays into this as well. Has Darkseid finally found the perfect trap to hold the ultimate escape artist, one he doesn’t want to leave?
King has done a great job of building the mystery in this series, but he’s also penned a love letter to Kirby and the Fourth World, and there’s some great little nods in here. First off, naming Scott and Barda’s baby Jack is wonderful, and having Funky Flashman, Jack’s Stan Lee analogue, help Scott and Barda take care of Jack is a nice little reversal on how Stan and Jack’s relationship deteriorated. There’s a panel where Funky exclaims, “You’re a genius! Genius Jack!” and it’s pretty wonderful. For the segment of the comic population that are Kirby fans and don’t like Stan very much, it’s icing on the cake.
As touched on above, Gerads’ art is some of the best it’s been this entire series. There’s more detail in some places, less in others, but it all works. It pulls the reader in when it has to and pushes them back when it has to. The use of nine panel grid gives the whole thing a sense of motion that makes the action scenes so much better. At one point, Scott and Kanto fight and every move takes up a panel. It sells the beating being delivered because readers get to see all of them and how the combatants react. Another great thing is the coloring. On Earth, the colors are bright and vibrant, with blue as the main color. On Apokolips, the planet is red and nearly everything else is rendered in shades of purple. It’s a nice juxtaposition, but there’s something else about it that might factor in the central mystery of the book. Purple is a secondary color, a mixture of blue and red. The Earth scenes are predominantly blue, Apokolips is red. There are other colors in both locations, but in small doses (especially Scott’s superhero logo t-shirts; his t-shirt game is on point). This, along with the sparse backgrounds, Scott’s death wish, and the whole exchange with his friend about being trapped, brings up more questions about what’s happening in this comic, what’s real and what’s not.
Mister Miracle #8 is yet another home run for King and Gerads. It seems simple, yet there are so many layers to it. Mister Miracle is one of the, if not the, best comics being published right now. These two creators have reached a level of storytelling sympatico that is rare to see. They use the comic medium perfectly to tell their story, with the words and the pictures working together in ways that are both overt and subtle. Mister Miracle is a storytelling tour de force and #8 keeps that going, while even perhaps surpassing the greatness that has come before.