Mister Miracle #5 – Tom King, Writer; Mitch Gerads, Artist
Ray – 10/10
Corrina: Who Is Scott?
Ray: Once again, King surprises with this incredibly intimate and emotionally intense issue that chronicles what may very well be Scott Free’s last day alive. When we last left off, Scott had been sentenced to death for being compromised by Darkseid, in a disturbing show trial orchestrated by Highfather Orion. Now, he stares down his death in one final day out with his wife Big Barda. Much like the Batman annual, I’m sure Corrina will point out that this is a romance comic, but it’s a much darker one, tinged with melancholy and tragedy. The issue opens with Scott asking Barda is he should fight his fate, if she would fight for him – and then it whiplashes into a guest appearance by New God conman Funky Flashman, who has insane ideas on how to take advantage of Scott’s upcoming death. But really, this comic both is a straightforward narrative and isn’t. It’s a series of vignettes of how the two heroic New Gods spend their last day together.
This weaves from a very suggestive sex scene with BDSM elements (this title finally earning its mature readers label), to a sweet day at the local carnival where Scott finally makes good on an old promise to Barda. There’s a last visit to Oberon’s gravesite, and – given that they’re in LA – a lot of time stuck in traffic. The best scene of this issue? Probably when Scott and Barda listen to “their song”, the first thing they ever heard together. It’s weirdly morbid and disturbing, but also hilarious. This comic is essentially a love story – a rather dysfunctional one, formed in tragedy and torment, yes, but a genuinely passionate one nonetheless. And it ends in an explosion of violence that’s both predictable and surprising. There’s a lot of stories left to be told in what’s looking more and more like a masterpiece.
Corrina: Any story that contains a well-done, mature BDSM sex scene (Gerards does amazing work in this sequence), a discussion of the philosophy behind “I think, therefore I am,” and a traffic jam in Los Angeles, has definite elements of genius.
And yet, this issue didn’t coalesce into as coherent a whole as I wanted. While it seems certain that Barda, out of love and hope, acts to save Scott, he, however, remains opaque about his death, even to himself. So perhaps he’s trapped after all, with indecision, the one cage that Mister Miracle cannot escape. If so, he’s saved by Barda i.e. love. It’s one way of interpreting the cliffhanger, though I’m not sure it the one King intended or the way any other reader will interpret it.
I wanted more closure, not to the external plot arc of Scott’s possible death (which will continue next issue), but to the internal plot of “what does Scott want?” He’s essentially in the same emotional place as the beginning, when he tried to commit suicide because he’s willing to walk into his own death. He’s acting almost relieved it’s going to be over. That’s what feels incomplete. Hopefully, the next issue, solicited as the end of the first arc, will change that impression.
Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.