Mister Miracle #8 – Tom King, Writer; Mitch Gerads, Artist
Ray – 10/10
Corrina: Working While Parenting Is Hard
WARNING: SPOILERS BELOW
Ray: The birth issue last month may have created the first real disagreement on this title between me and Corrina, but Mister Miracle #8 felt to me like the title’s finest moment yet, as it prepares to enter its final act and continues moving swiftly forward in time. Scott and Barda’s son Jack was born last month, the first child born of New Genesis and Apokalips – two planets that are currently engaged in total war. And while Scott and Barda are thrilled to spend time with their new son, the war effort still calls them, so they form an unconventional schedule of trading off days, essentially serving as single parents while the other one is on the battlefield. One day Scott is assassinating Apokaliptan general Virmin Vundabar, and the next he’s discussing the washing machine with his manager and current babysitter-on-call Funky Flashman. One minute, the comic is spending nine panels on Scott singing a lullaby, the next page he’s leading troops into battle.
That dichotomy is something brilliant to behold, as it creates an emotional whiplash and connection unlike anything I’ve ever read in a mainstream comic. The Apokalips segments (where much more happens, obviously) take up about two-thirds of the issue, and they’re shockingly brutal in places, such as when Scott is getting his mauled leg treated while talking to Barda, or when he and Lightray are debating what to do with an infant Apokaliptan soldier. However, the issue’s most powerful emotional moments are towards the end, as we see the passage of time and Jack starts hitting milestones. The two parents try to share them with each other, even separated by galaxies. It’s Scott who’s at home when he starts walking, livestreaming it to Barda, and it’s Barda who’s at home when he says his first word, which is broadcast to Scott across the void. Any writer or editor who says it’s hard to write comics about married people, or parents, just needs to read this issue. It’s not hard at all. And it can be brilliant.
Corrina: Hey, Ray, I’m not the only one who thought it was odd to have an issue with a woman having a baby focusing on everything but her.
I want that on the record because while I did not throw up my hands this issue, I have started to notice a trend across King’s work: the stories he chooses to write seem uninterested in women, save as they relate to men.
This is not necessarily a bad thing, as I’m perfectly capable of enjoying stories about men. But when Big Barda having a baby is about everything but her and when it’s followed up by an issue where parents are trying to juggle work (war with Darkseid) and parenthood, and Barda is never seen, and you add that to the fact the only time we hear from Selina over in Batman is when she’s thinking about Bruce or their relationship, and when I remember that Vision’s wife in the terrific Vision series was utterly defined by her creator husband….then I begin to notice a trend.
I hope it’s a trend that does not continue because King is a brilliant writer. I also can relate well to Scott’s struggles in parenting an infant, as they’re universal, and I smile at the dichotomy of his job and his home life. That’s an exaggeration of the weird double-life most parents lead but it absolutely works, too.
This is why I’m so frustrated to notice this trend. Even in his first arc on Batman, the focus was not on Gotham Girl but her brother’s madness and death and Gotham Girl was reduced to a victim waiting for Batman to provide her with a cure. Add that to the whole baby mama business that seemed simply an excuse for Selina and Talia to fight and I want better from a writer of this caliber. Because I know he’s capable of it. He did well with all the characters in Sheriff of Babylon.
Note: I’m shortchanging Gerards here because, damn, he is able to beautifully conveys Scott’s bone-deep weariness, whether in battle or feeding his aptly-named baby.
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Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.