DC’s Houdini is the Heir to the Highfather.
“What shouldn’t I escape from? What doesn’t anyone escape from? Death.”
How does he do it? The question is one often posed to Mister Miracle, an Apokolips-raised god capable of escaping any trap or imprisonment. But writer Tom King should be asked the same question. In the last 3 years, King has gone from co-writer on a well-received series to one of the most important names in the art. As every work of his so far has been a critical darling, it should come as no surprise that Mister Miracle #1 is another mind-blowing and fascinating read from King.
Mitch Gerads provides the blurring, swirling visuals that perfectly capture the oddly lighthearted and melancholic tone of King’s script. The masterminds of the incredible Sheriff of Babylon seem to have the time of their lives with each other. Every panel bleeds existentially and literally into the next; every joke causes a snicker in the middle of an engaging and dramatic scene. Playing with time and story structure, it becomes clear these next 12 issues won’t nearly be enough.
What will he do next?
Mister Miracle is a magician. Imbued with the magic of the almighty Highfather, Scott Free can’t seem to be bested. King introduces us to a people-pleaser, the kind of Cape who will go on Conan or Kimmel to announce his next trick. But what if that desire to please, to awe, became a game? What can’t Mister Miracle do? Our hero dwells on this as his life dwindles down a bloody bathtub drain. The imagery is striking to say the least, bringing back memories of Babylon’s greatest moments.
As she has been for years Barda remains faithfully attached to her fellow Apokolips-survivor. However, something is just not right. When Miracle notices a “glitch” early in the story the mind wanders to what mischief King and Gerads are already crafting. As the initial promise of “Darkseid is” gets louder and louder the anticipation for issue #2 grows to unbelievable heights.
Audiences get tired of seeing the same trick over and over and…
Tom King’s works can range from cosmic explorations of space and time to gritty and gory thrillers grounded in reality. He’s a versatile writer who can cross worlds and universes seamlessly. However, King has a very noticeable style that can sometimes get…repetitive. In all of his creations, Tom King tends to repeat important words of phrases, sometimes throughout an entire issue. He does this to emphasize his themes and how they can apply to every character and span the entire story. But it has occasion to seem like an unsubtle, heavy-handed way to ensure your audience “gets it.” Admittedly, King’s works do weave complex plots and story lines.
A memorable phrase like “Darkseid is” can help a reader give context to intricate panels, but an entire page is unnecessary and indulgent. It does little to get in the way of the already engaging story, but a writer needs to trust their audience as much as they trust him or her.
It’s going to be a good year.
Having 12 issues of anything by King or Gerads is a gift. Having them work together and that gift becomes a godsend. Add one of DC’s greatest characters and you have what may become Mister Miracle’s best story yet. The psychedelic and faded coloring lays bare the emotions of the scene and leads us down Scott Free’s depressing rabbit hole of fame and isolation.
Gerads’ stripped down and bleak approach depicts the dreamy narrative perfectly. As Miracle’s mind becomes unhinged Gerad begins to draw a distinct contrast between a lonely Scott Free and a costumed Mister Miracle. The harsh reality of Free’s unkempt and scraggly beard clashing with the pastel and bright escape artist and his armored bride. The visually engrossing details are already speaking wonders for the gifted hands of pencil artist, inker, and colorist Mitch Gerads.
Now you see him, now you don’t.
Mister Miracle’s role in his own story is a complete mystery. As the 9-panel pages begin the story of a depressed entertainer seeking his next thrill it quickly becomes a mind-bending statement on saviors and fathers. Despite his gift, Scott Free is always unable to escape his heritage let alone the burdens that come along with it. A son of both New Genesis and Apokolips should be a war-mongering ruler with a need to control. Instead Mister Miracle has always been an optimistic light in the darkest places of the DC Universe. Being able to escape any situation, Scott Free has been the one to look to for guidance or hope.
Instead, Mister Miracle #1 greets us with a depressed narcissist hellbent on the next thrill or his own destruction. As duty calls, the uncharacteristically unsure hero questions his own powers for the first time. Since his attempted suicide something has seemed wrong. Off. Perhaps telling us that the escape artist may not have come out of this completely unscathed. Already King is deconstructing what it means to be this man of miracles, born of two worlds and son to both god and devil. A tale that will define Mister Miracle, this Scott Free, for generations to come.
- Captivating Art and Story
- Effective Mix of Humor and Drama
- Unique Interpretation of Beloved Character
- Repetitive, Overused Phrases
- Only 12 Issues