Jack Kirby created the New Gods for DC Comics back in the 70s, and DC has been using the characters ever since. Perhaps the goofiest of the bunch may be Scott “Mister Miracle” Free. Mister Miracle was as much an entertainer as an escape artist as he was a superhero.
Well, current writer Tom King and his frequent artist partner Mitch Gerads have their own take on the character now in the form of a 12 issue mini-series.
The story opens with a shocking moment: Scott has attempted suicide. Why? Did he do it to see if he could even escape that? The book offers numerous reasons, but there’s something off with Scott’s life. Darkseid has the Anti-Life Equation, and the war between Apokalips and New Genesis is back on, but there’s more going on than that. Some of the conversations he has with his wife Big Barda seem…off.
Much of what follows deals with Scott and Barda dealing alternately with either domestic life and minor fame in Los Angeles or brutal war in space. Scott has some issues, though, and not all of them may be psychological. Many panels have what looks like interference over them, like a TV out of focus. Furthermore, Scott often seems uncertain about life. Much of that can be chalked up to Scott and Barda suffering from PTSD from their torturous childhood on Apokalips. The war itself is also much more graphic than readers might expect in a superhero comic. Recognizable characters do die in this volume. Scott sees and does awful things. And then there’s the family issue.
King plays hard on the family theme here. Due to the exchange of babies between Darkseid and Highfather that resulted in Orion and Scott switching places, who is really Scott’s father? Is it Highfather or Darkseid? Is Orion Scott’s brother? Scott keeps denying that last one. In a sense, the New Gods are all related. Sometimes it’s played for amusement. For example, Barda seems to think of the Female Furies as her sisters, making them Scott’s in-laws. That leads to an issue where Barda is in the hospital and the Furies wait patiently in the waiting room, not causing any trouble at all. Other times, it isn’t, as Scott and Barda have a baby that they refer to as “Darkseid’s grandson”.
King also plays with the idea of the New Gods as actual gods. There’s a running question about what the face of god looks like. The book answers it while also suggesting that there’s something not quite right going on. If Scott does see what the face of god is, which god might it belong to?
As it is, this was a pretty deep book. It mixes and matches real wartime horrors with quiet domestic life. My favorite issue might be when Scott and Barda are breaking into a building while casually chatting about redecorating their condo. Factor in the Funky Flashman character, originally based on Jack Kirby’s old partner Stan Lee, now sounds a lot more like Stan, and you have a book that is well worth reading for King’s fans. The ending suggests a sequel. Here’s hoping we get it soon. 9.5 out of 10 traffic jams.