Having just finished reading the Tom King and Mitch Gerads masterpiece comic series – Mister Miracle for the third time, I reasoned it was be about time for an impassioned plea as to why (if you haven’t already, of course) you should rush out to your local comic-book emporium right now and scream at your local comic shop employee until they hand over a copy of the collected version of this stunning story (please don’t actually scream at them, that was just hyperbole on my part, and screaming at someone is very, very bad and could end up with you – getting kicked out the shop, derided by your peers, or even locked in a padded cell, and you aren’t a super escape artist like Mr Miracle… so it’s probably best not to!)
You may be thinking to yourself that this post’s title is a tad controversial considering how many fantastic comic-book tales have been rendered over the decades since Alan Moore’s seminal opus ‘Watchmen’ released in 1986. Of course all views are subjective, and opinions are just that – opinions, but I am definitely not alone in my view that Moore’s daring and controversial take on the popular Superhero medium was (and still is) the greatest literary take on costumed vigilantism of all time, and despite all the stunning storylines and thrilling tales that have been wrought upon the spandex loving comic-book populace over the years, for me, Tom King’s recent 12 issue series for DC Comics ‘Mister Miracle’ is the greatest piece of comic-book fiction since Moore’s superlative scope.
Tom King and fellow master of the miraculous – artist Mitch Gerads’ Mister Miracle monthly maxi-series was unleashed unto the fans in August of 2017, in honour of the literal King of Comics – Jack Kirby’s 100th anniversary since birth. Jack Kirby was an American comic-book writer and artist, who is widely regarded as the most influential and innovative creator of the medium, ever!
Kirby has created some of the most famous heroes and villains in comic history, aside from our eponymous protagonist Mr Miracle, Kirby also created The New Gods for DC Comics (which is currently being turned into a movie by director Ava Du Vernay, with a script co-written by Tom King) but it’s his work for Marvel Comics that really brought his genius to the forefront for most fans. Kirby ushered into virtual life well loved characters such as Silver Surfer, Fantastic Four, Captain America and many, many others for DC’s rival comic book giant. Yet the bubble eventually burst for the Marvel stalwart, after creating, illustrating and writing a plethora of characters, with his books always in high demand, and critically praised by both fellow peers and fans, behind the scenes things were very different for Kirby during his long tenure at Marvel.
Kirby ultimately (and quite rightly) felt he was being unfairly treated by Marvel, his perception was that he was being treated as a mere writer/artist for hire by the company as opposed to what should of been his status as it’s foremost creator having given the company the majority of their most beloved and best selling creations, so, in response to Marvel’s apathy on the subject, he left the company in 1970 to join it’s rival, DC Comics.
Initially signing a three year contract with DC, Kirby went on to create some of his most memorable heroes and villains, from the aforementioned New Gods, plus Etrigan the Demon, The Forever People, Morgaine Le Fay, through DC’s biggest SuperVillain – Darkseid, and of course the titular star of this post, one Scott Free, better known by his costumed moniker Mister Miracle, a super escape artist, whose creation (as I have posited once before) could be seen as the perfect allegory for Kirby’s flight from Marvel to DC, breaking the shackles of his previous employment to forge new horizons.
Phew! after that exhausting (yet hopefully entertaining ) look into the initial creation of Scott Free by his cosmically compelling creator, let’s move on to the latest (and also prodigiously talented) creative team charged with bringing his fans, the next chapter in Miracle’s convoluted life as a super escape artist and costumed hero – Tom King and fellow comic conspirator, Mitch Gerads. King and Gerads’ awe inspiring take on Kirby’s esteemed creation has been an absolute delight from the premier issue onwards, returning us to the daedalian, poignant and ultimately tragic life of the fourth world paragon.
Miracle has always been an immensely popular second tier character for DC, with a myriad of mini-series and ongoing monthly titles. He was also a welcome addition to the ranks of the Justice League (alongside his wife – Big Barda) in the mid to late eighties version of the team by the excellent Keith Giffen and J.M DeMatteis. The much anticipated return of Scott Free has, thankfully, not only exceeded all expectation but has, quite frankly, blown said expectations out of the water, the torturous wait for Miracle’s heralded return is worthy of it’s Kirby heritage, of that there is no doubt.
Mister Miracle is a masterfully woven tale of anxiety, depression, ardour and ultimately family, it is an uplifting fable that eschews the atypical and familiar Superhero tropes to deliver an inspirational and enlightening chronicle about a man ill at ease with the world, searching for meaning beyond what is. King and Gerads’ Miracle is wholly different beast from what many people believe that godlike heroes are, it’s a story about subsistence. Throughout this tour de force of mental dissonance, Scott is represented as just a man, not a new god (as he is) or a Superhero, just a person attempting to make sense of existing, it’s a startling and ultra realistic take on mental health instability, written with a knowing authority yet, compassionate and impassioned to the cognitive disability. In fact the very first chapter begins with Scott (apparently) surviving an attempt to take his own life, the renowned super-escape artist, cheating death itself (possibly)
As Scott’s beleaguered chronicles continue, his depression becomes more pronounced, with it’s effects on his nearest and dearest, especially devoted wife Barda explored profoundly by the creative duo of King and Gerads. It’s not just the narrative of Miracle though that strays from the well worn path of Superhero fiction but also its astonishing artwork, Gerads experimental illustrations are phenomenal throughout, with my favourite being the distorted panels occasionally punctuated through the story representing Scott’s reality being called into question. In fact fourth wall breaking is brilliantly played in Miracle with at one point in the narrative, Scott literally touching the hand of his own creator as he encounters Jack Kirby’s Hollywood star on the sidewalk of Hollywood Boulevard.
Emotional, poignant, groundbreaking are well deserved superlatives to describe this narrative work of absolute genius, from the exemplary talents of Tom King and Mitch Gerads, an unreserved masterpiece and a must have in any ones literary collection… THE greatest piece of comic-book fiction since Watchmen!
Miraculous is definitely the word that describes not just the newest ongoing saga in Scott Free’s convoluted life as a super escape artist and costumed hero, but also the prodigiously inordinate talent of it’s writer – Tom King.
I mean, just how on Earth does this sensational scribe managed to outdo himself each and every month? sheer unadulterated talent, that’s how! He’s the equivalent of a world record breaking sprinter, smashing his own record month in and out to the point that he’s going so fast that time seems to stand still, allowing us all to peek at his immaculate genius in all it’s notable finery. And as prosaic as that statement may sound… King’s impressive literary skills are deserving of it, and more, so much more.
DC’s twelve issue Mr Miracle maxi-series has been a delight from its first issue on, returning us to the Daedalian, poignant and yes, ultimately tragic life of Jack Kirby’s much beloved Fourth World paragon.
Mister Miracle #5 continues King’s awe inspiring take on Kirby’s creation, this issue really is a standout in not just literary terms, but also for artist Mitch Gerads astounding artwork, like King, Gerads manages to surpass himself every… single… issue! His vivid, redolent art captures perfectly every single emotion that our two main leads, Scott and wife Barda, are going through as they spend their last day together before his impending execution at the behest of the new Highmaster.
“How do you spend your last night on Earth? Why, with the one you love of course! Having been condemned to death by the new Highmaster, Mister Miracle is going to have to return to New Genesis for his execution. Before he does, he and Big Barda go on one last date. But if Scott Free is truly infected by Darkseid, as Orion says, you can certainly bet some dark force will intervene – but to what end?”
Emotional, beautiful, poignant, groundbreaking… there really are not enough superlatives to describe this work of genius from the extraordinary creative talents of King and Gerads. If any series was a must buy, then this is it. An unreserved masterpiece in the making, and an emotionally charged, rollickingly fantastic read every single issue… buy it… NOW!
Mister Miracle and Images Are Copyright: DC Comics.
Tom King is without a doubt the most fitting writer currently working in comics today to take on the legend that is Mister Miracle, not just because he’s a scribe of almost unparalleled talent, but his surname ably pairs him with Miracle’s genius creator – Jack ‘The King’ Kirby!
To honour the the 100th anniversary since Jack Kirby’s birth, DC Comics along with aforementioned writer Tom King, and artist Mitch Gerads are reuniting us with one of Kirby’s most beloved and successful creations – super escape artist Mister Miracle, in a 12 part maxi-series that also features The New Gods from DC’s Fourth World Saga – which is widely hailed as being one of the sources that classic sci-fi movie Star Wars was inspired by.
Jack Kirby was an American comic book artist and writer who is one of the most influential and innovative personalities in the medium. Aside from Mister Miracle and The New Gods for DC Comics, Kirby also created such iconic characters as – Silver Surfer, The Avengers, Fantastic Four, Captain America, X Men and many, many other too numerous to mention.
Kirby initially was a Marvel stalwart, creating, illustrating and writing a myriad of storylines for the publishing giant, his titles always had high sales and even higher praise, but behind the scenes a different picture was being painted. Kirby felt he was being unfairly treated by Marvel, his perception was that he was seen more as a writer/artist for hire by the company as opposed to one of it’s foremost creators and innovators, and in response in 1970, he left Marvel and joined its arch-rival DC Comics.
Signing a three year contract with DC Comics Kirby created some of his most memorable characters, from The New Gods, Etrigan and The Forever People, through DC’s big bad – Darkseid and of course – Scott Free (the perfect moniker, let’s be honest) better known as Mister Miracle, the super escape artist whose creation could almost be seen as the perfect allegory for Kirby’s flight from Marvel to DC, breaking the shackles of previous employment to forge new horizons.
Miracle has been a popular character for DC since his inception, with a slew of ongoing and mini-series, and was an exceedingly welcome addition to the ranks of The Justice League (alongside his wife – Big Barda, which is a whole other post we can’t wait to get to!), during the excellent Keith Giffen and J.M DeMatteis late eighties entry of the World’s Greatest Superhero team-up.
The much anticipated return of Scott Free is, thankfully, not only been worth the torturous wait but manages to exceed all expectations with a fantastically written tale that gives us a very much grounded portrait of a Superhero, a quirky yet flawed individual who is ultimately struggling to find his raison d’etre.
As fantastic as the writing is, the art by Gerads is definitely no slouch in comparison, in fact it’s superb! Gerads is an extremely flexible penciller which shines through in his art in this first issue, which at times evokes an almost pitch perfect Kirby-esque feel in the art style.
Mister Miracle #1 is a must buy, featuring one of Jack Kirby’s (definitely my favourite) greatest creations,and a first rate creative team who bring us a powerfully emotional tale that entices you in and holds you entranced until the final page… dammit why isn’t issue 2 out yet!?