Mister Miracle #11 // Review
Mister Miracle #11, by writer Tom King, artist Mitch Gerads, and letterer Clayton Cowles, features Scott and Barda going to Apokolips to try and kill the unkillable, Darkseid. With billions of lives in jeopardy, will they succeed? One thing is for sure, though: this issue succeeds at everything.
No synopsis can do this one justice, and giving one would spoil everything. Suffice it to say, Scott and Barda confront Darkseid, ostensibly to trade him their child for peace, but really to kill him (which they resolved to do last issue). Everything that happens after that is perfect. That’s the best way to describe this comic. It’s simply perfect.
First off, there’s the portrayal of Darkseid. He only speaks once in the comic, instead having Desaad communicate for him as his Metatron. Even though he’s mostly silent, there’s a palpable aura of power and fear of him that leaks through the page. Even munching on vegetables from a vegetable tray that Scott brought, he’s still the God of Evil. It’s a wonderful way to introduce him as a character in a book where his shadow has been felt throughout. It’s mundane, but there’s still a feeling of menace to him. That feeling is multiplied throughout, as his visage never changes. There’s no sneer of triumph. There’s no threats. There’s just the firm rock of terror that is Darkseid. Every action he makes in the book is ponderous and powerful. Fans of the character have seen many iterations of him throughout the years, but this one is probably one of the more effective portrayals. If a reader knew nothing about the character and picked up this book, they would understand who he is and what he represents nearly immediately.
Next, there’s the art. As it’s gotten closer to the end, Gerads’ line work has gotten stronger, more solid. It’s a subtle clue to what has been happening in the book; as it has gotten closer to the end, everything has become more solid. The curtain is about to come up and reality is about to intrude. The nine panel grid which has been the backbone of this book is employed again here in novel ways. After the page of Darkseid just eating vegetables, a back and forth starts between the two parties, with each party taking up three panels each. For Scott, Barda, and Jake, they are in the middle of the panel surrounded by Darkseid’s massive throne room. Darkseid on his throne takes up three panels, with Desaad in one. It gives readers a sense of scale of the threat. Can the heroes, so small, destroy an evil so massive and overpowering that not even the panels can hold him? Later, when the action starts up, every blow he throws seems like a killing shot. Mitch Gerads draws the best Darkseid since Jack Kirby. His art is a big reason King’s portrayal of Darkseid works so well. Without his masterful visuals, so much of the subtext that King is presenting would be lost.
Finally, there’s Scott and Barda’s plan and the battle that ensues, although calling it a battle is a misnomer. They know there’s no way that they can physically match Darkseid. So, they are able to ingeniously smuggle in what they think could hurt him. Their plan involves some nice callbacks to previous Darkseid centric stories that will reward long time DC readers. Much like the war between New Genesis and Apokolips that’s been at the heart of this book, this fight is one of attrition, and readers feel it. Finally, there’s the big reveal of what’s been going in this book, and it’s completely unexpected. Readers have been throwing around theories since this book began, but they never saw this one coming.
Mister Miracle #11 is one of the finest comic books to come out in 2018. It’s the kind of comic where a new reader could pick it up and, without reading a single issue before it, understand what’s happening and the stakes. Of course, it helps to have followed the story the whole time, but that’s how amazing this comic is. It explains what’s happening in a succinct manner and then goes to town, with all the thrills and chills that should come from a creation of Jack Kirby. They’ve taken Kirby’s concepts and put them on a plateau that none but the King ever reached, giving readers what are arguably the essential versions of them. Honestly, after this book, any other non-Kirby version of Darkseid (even Grant Morrison’s always stellar portrayal of the character) is going to pale in comparison. Finally, the big reveal at the end is unexpected, but makes so much sense that it will surprise readers they never thought of it. King and Gerads have given the audience the how, but next issue comes the why. If what comes next is as good as what’s in this one, Mister Miracle will join the pantheon of greatest comic stories ever. Somewhere, Jack Kirby is smiling to see his creations used in such a perfect manner.