Tom King and Mitch Gerads’ Mister Miracle #1 is finally out, and it opens just like the Mister Miracle comics of old. Gerads uses Ben-Day dots to give the art a classic feel, and King uses the exact narration that Jack Kirby opened the original Mister Miracle #1 with in 1971. Yup, just like the good ol’ days. Oh, and the imagery beneath the narration shows our titular hero sitting on the bathroom floor having just slit his wrists. Maybe this isn’t such a familiar Mister Miracle story after all…
Mister Miracle (2017) is the story of Scott Free, New God and the world’s greatest escape artist. But as Scott says, “Everything was getting really easy. Boring-easy.” So he makes an attempt on his own life as a “trick.” The ultimate escape act to escape the inescapable: death. He survives, but the world he returns to doesn’t feel quite the same. It only confounds him more. Scott barely gets a respite before being called back into the war between New Genesis and Apokolips, his two homes.
In many ways, this is the defining comic of 2017. King’s script echoes feelings that torment many of today’s world citizens – Americans in particular. We’ve become bored and restless; anxiety and depression are running rampant. We have a hard time accepting our reality (both our personal realities and the realities of world politics) and we often question “is this real life?” We want to escape but feel trapped. There are shades of King’s Vision story here as well – the dread and terror of living in the modern world – but Mister Miracle seems to be taking these themes to a much deeper and far darker level.
This comic isn’t just a depressing reflection of our own world though. There’s also a prominent layer of mystery and intrigue to King’s story. If you love stories that make you question what is real, and not in a figurative sense, then this series is for you. There are moments in Miracle that make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. It fills you with unease and tension as you wait for the other shoe to drop. Gerads throws in some very subtle visuals that amplify that feeling and keep you on the edge of your seat, itching to turn the page and learn more. Speaking of whom…
As smart and intriguing as Tom King’s script is, Mister Miracle #1 truly is The Mitch Gerads’ Show. Gerads is a triple threat on this book – penciler, inker, and colorist – and he fires on all cylinders. His inking in particular stands out. There’s a layer of filth on these pages that emphasizes the dark and gritty story being told. It’s raw and messy. Such is life. Gerads utilizes subtle tools like mimicking tape residue or warping panels to reflect Scott’s own warped reality. With art this smart, with as many layers to dissect and analyze as the story itself, you know you’re in for a treat.
This issue is told almost entirely in 9 panel grid pages, a hallmark of Tom King scripts. This could easily slow a story down, but Gerads seizes it as an opportunity. He gave each panel 110%, and it shows. 153 panels and each one holds weight (and that’s just the grid pages – his splash pages are even heavier). It just further proves that King and Gerads are one of the best teams working in comics today. They’re each able to take what the other one gives and elevate it to new heights.
Mister Miracle (2017) is a very different take on the New Gods than we’ve seen before. Where Kirby’s original stories were bright and kinetic, King and Gerads are taking an introspective and muted look at the Fourth World. Issue one is admittedly low on Kirby-style action, but it’s not an action comic. It’s an intellectual comic, something you can discuss over a glass of whisky (or whatever drink makes you feel smart). Yet it doesn’t isolate readers who just want an interesting story without the philosophy. Surely there will be larger action down the line. With Gerads himself describing the series as “New Gods: Rebirth,” you wouldn’t expect anything else. For now though I’m content to bask in the glory, wallow in the sadness, and ponder the meaning of life as Tom and Mitch throw Scott back into the fires of hell that he escaped from so long ago.
Mister Miracle #1 is in stores now. Listen to Mitch Gerads himself discuss the book with us here.