Mister Miracle #9 // Review
Mister Miracle #9, by Tom King, Mitch Gerads, and Clayton Cowles, presents the peace conference between New Genesis and Apokolips. Can Scott Free keep the negotiations on track or will the bloodshed recommence?
There’s a certain amount of absurdity to this one. Seeing Kalibak, Kanto, and Bernadeth sitting at a negotiating table with Scott, Barda, and Lightray is completely unexpected and a lot more fun than it sounds. It’s not something readers would ever imagine happening between the forces of Apokolips and New Genesis. It’s surreal in its mundanity. It has all the hallmarks of diplomacy: the disagreements, the threats, the posturing, Kalibak even gives Scott a gift, Granny Goodness’ mirror. In the end, Darkseid throws out the agreements and makes his own counteroffer for peace, one that Scott and Barda never expected him to make.
Mitch Gerads’ art in this chapter is probably the best it’s been for the entire series. His linework in previous issues has been sort of gritty, but here it’s much more solid. His facial detail is stronger. In fact, everything in this issue is altogether more aesthetically pleasing, as if the peace conference has affected reality, making everything look better. A standout sequence in the book is when Scott and Barda look in Granny Goodness’ mirror. It shows what they would look like without all the cosmetic surgery Granny got for them after she tortured them and it’s heartbreaking. It’s moments like this where the book really shines, as King’s script and Gerads pencils blend together perfectly and give readers a moment they won’t forget for a long time.
The peace conference between the two opposing forces is quite novel. The first time the negotiating table is shown, it’s done across the top three panels of the page, with Kalibak dominating one panel, a visual representation of the power of Apokolips and Darkseid. His sheer size dominates every panel he’s in…but then he has to pull out reading glasses to look at the pages of the agreement, undercutting his menace. It’s a subtle little joke that works perfectly, taking what readers expect and turning it on its ear. Another subversion is seeing Lightray freak out and threaten Kalibak and company. It’s a moment that seems like something that Kalibak or one of the Apokoliptians would do, but war changes people, and Lightray lost Orion, his best friend, to the enemy. It fits perfectly with the flavor of the negotiating sequence. It’s completely unexpected that the two sides would have a mundane peace conference and the little moments therein add to that.
Another little subversion to the narrative is Scott and Barda’s sometimes wistful reminisces about Apokolips. The two of them grew up there and were tormented by Granny Goodness. They shouldn’t have any fond memories of the place, but in between negotiating sessions, they wax poetically about little moments of calm from their tumultuous upbringing. It’s strange and lovely in a twisted way, and it makes the sequence where they look in Granny’s mirror even more powerful. Throughout this series, readers have seen a weird nostalgia for their Apokoliptian upbringing from the two characters, but seeing them in Granny’s mirror, seeing how abused they truly were, shows how fundamentally broken they were by their upbringing. Their nostalgia is a protection mechanism, a way to move past their trauma, but it’s always there, under the surface. The fact that they can transcend that trauma and be heroes is a testament to the power of their love for each other and their ultimate rejection of Apokolips and Darkseid. Darkseid doesn’t just win because he’s powerful and all conquering, he wins because his people chose his way. Kirby wrote this into the Fourth World because it’s how evil works and King pays homage to that fact by having Scott and Barda consciously reject the evil of Apokolips.
Mister Miracle #9 is another home run. It does so many little brilliant things. It’s always been a rather subtle book and this issue is no exception. There’s so much happening under the surface and that makes it all the more rewarding. It constantly subverts reader expectation. No other book being published by the Big Two is anything like it. King and Gerads are telling a story for the ages with this one.