Best Comics Of 2017 – Part Four – Mister Miracle
Instead of fake awards, and highlighting news for the past year, which seemed to consist almost entirely of people complaining online about one thing or another. Instead of trying to come up with lists of things that I enjoyed, which will most likely embarrass me to look at in a few years, I’m going to hit on a few things from the past year that I thought were worth looking back on with some fondness.
These are the best of 2017.
This year really had some slim pickings when it came to great stuff from the big two. Don’t get me wrong, there was plenty of good stuff, but this is about the great stuff. It’s about those comics that really grab a character and take them to places where they’re challenged and go forward to tell a story about something a little deeper than the plot. This year, one of those comics was a revisiting of the New Gods’ characters, centered around possibly the most popular of those characters, Mister Miracle.
Writer: Tom King
Artist: Mitch Gerads
Covers: Nick Derington, Mitch Gerads
In 2016, writer Tom King made many lists of the best comics for the year with his series about the Vision’s life with a synthezoid family in the suburbs. It was a wonderfully deep exploration of the character and was riveting in its drama centered in the suburbs. With Mister Miracle, we’re greeted with a Scott Free that is very troubled, with the death of a long time friend and with the pressure of being a leading general in the war against Darkseid.
From the beginning, it’s uncertain if what we’re viewing is even happening at all, or just in the mind of Scott Free. However, while seemingly reveled to be really happening, we’re only ever viewing everything from the point of view and memories of Scott Free, who is not mentally well. He has attempted suicide and is still troubled by the things that drove him to that attempt. We see the two people closest to him, his wife Big Barda, and his leader, Orion, the new Highfather, try to help him back to normal in the only ways they know how. Orion with the punishment and discipline of a warrior and Barda as a wife willing to try everything to bring him back from the precipice of self-destruction.
That relationship with Barda is the best facet to this series for me. Mister Miracle and Barda are often seen as one of the more stable couples in DC Comics’ pantheon. They grew up together on Apokolips, raised cruelly by Granny Goodness, but even in that we find that they were raised differently. King shows through her actions that all Barda is very vulnerable. Without Scott, a large part of her would be missing, and she is doing everything to hold on to him. To do so, she even challenges Orion, pointing out that while he is the genetic son of Darkseid, he was raised in the pampered halls of New Gensis and Scott was raised in the hell that is Apokolips.
Mitch Gerads makes use of the nine panel grid almost exclusively, with the only break being the opening spread of Scott Free in the bathroom during his suicide attempt. One artistic trick that he employs is occasionally distorting the panel as if there’s a glitch in the feed. The reason for this is unclear, but it could simply be conveying that so much of Scott’s life is recorded on camera, it’s meant to emulate this as one of his escapes. It could also be demonstrating this is not real and merely a simulation either created by a friend or foe. It’s wonderfully mysterious in how it works with Tom King’s story, and the emotional turmoil that Scott and Barda feel are conveyed so well in every look on their faces.
I look forward so much to every issue of this series. I purposefully didn’t read the sixth issue yet to be certain that it didn’t color my review of the five issues that came out in 2017. Now, if you excuse me, I need to see what happens with Scott and Barda.