Mister Miracle #2 Breaths New Life Into the New Gods
There have been so many attempts to reboot and revamp the New Gods that it’s hard to keep track of them all. Usually, the creative team’s approach seems to drain as much Jack Kirby from the comics as possible, by giving them crappy new costumes or personalities that they barely resemble the characters that they used to be. So one of the more impressive feats of the new Mister Miracle series by Tom King and Mitch Gerads is that it’s not denying the Kirby touches, but rather embracing them and moving the franchise forward in a unique way. Even after only two issues, this is by far the most entertaining New Gods stories in a long, long time.
It’s a little too soon to make comparisons to Watchmen, but King and Gerads have taken on a similar nine-panel grid for nearly every page in Mister Miracle. The story progression isn’t always fast, but there are so many moments to explore. These characters now have nuance! There are shades of grey that have made it possible to sympathize with Granny Goodness and suspect the worst of Orion. Somebody is lying to Mister Miracle, but it’s truly a mystery as to who his true enemy is.
This is the the final war between the New Genesis and Apokolips, but it doesn’t feel like it fits in with any DC continuity. Trust me when I say that it doesn’t have to. Taken on its own terms, it’s a very intense and even claustrophobic tale that keeps the narrative tightly focused on Scott Free and Big Barda. We don’t have a larger view of the war; all we see are Scott and Barda trying to survive it. More accurately, she’s put her head down and embraced the war, while Scott is questioning everything and showing his new “Highfather” exactly how he feels about him.
More than almost any other book currently being published at DC, this feels like a story that only works as a comic. King and Gerards have incorporated the text and narration so seamlessly that Darkseid casts a long shadow even though his presence is only felt through the empty black panels that state “Darkseid is.” Keeping Darkseid off-the-page has made him seem even more remote and dangerous. It’s a small touch, but Darkseid can only be punched so many times by Superman and the Justice League before he starts losing his big bad clout. Here, Darkseid is almost unknowable, and certainly untouchable.
Because Gerads has so many panels to work with, the facial expressions of his characters have taken on an added importance. We can actually see the rage and contempt between Orion and Scott even though they don’t even talk to each other. And we see something in Granny Goodness that we’ve never seen before. She may actually care about Scott, or she’s a master of deception. Either interpretation seems accurate, and it’s a testament to King’s story that it feels wildly unpredictable. I don’t know where this is going, and that’s an exciting sensation. Mister Miracle has been such refreshing change from the standard superhero comics that it stands alone as one of the best titles of the year. If the rest of the series is as good as the first two issues, this could be a modern classic.
Images: DC Comics