Mister Miracle #12 – Tom King, Writer; Mitch Gerads, Artist
Ray – 10/10
Corrina: Interpret As You will
Ray: How do you even fully review Mister Miracle #12, the final issue?
This series has been one of the most acclaimed mainstream comic series in modern history, and it’s not hard to see why – Tom King and Mitch Gerads have taken the bones of the Fourth World mythology created by Jack Kirby and boiled it down to the horrors lurking underneath – a story of a boy sold into hell by his father to create a lasting peace that would never hold in the first place. Grounded in the love between Scott Free and former Female Fury Big Barda – and the birth of their first child – Mister Miracle began with Scott nearly killing himself, and has chronicled his slow rise up from those depths. But last issue threw the whole thing for a loop when, right after seemingly killing Darkseid, Scott got a vision of another world – the pre-Crisis 4th World. That raised the question of how much of this story was real – and if, in fact, Scott actually survived his suicide attempt. As we’ve come to expect from this series, few things are given easy answers and this final issue gives us a lot more to think about.
The final issue doesn’t confront those issues head-on. Scott and Barda have gone back to their lives, and time moves on. Their son grows, they work to keep peace on the now Kalibak-run Apokalips with Barda engaging in occasional deathmatches, and soon they’re expecting their second child – a girl. But all the while, Scott is haunted by the spirits of people who have left them – both allies like Bug and Oberon, enemies like Granny Goodness, and those he has deeply complex feelings about like Highfather and Orion. Each of them has the same message – you can’t trust the life you’re leading. It’s all a lie. And so Scott simply hears them out and moves on. For those of us who struggle with mental illness, we can relate to this – sometimes those ghosts need to be heard and ignored. This final issue is haunting, painful in places, but ultimately hopeful. It’s the story of two people who lived in the most horrible place imaginable and managed to escape and build something better for themselves. This issue leaves some unanswered questions, but I wouldn’t want it any other way. Life moves on, and I can’t wait to see where King and Gerads take us next. Booster Gold, maybe?
Corrina: This is one of those issues that people are going to read any way they want. Ray read it as someone struggling with self-doubt and mental illness finally able to move forward and be part of a tight-knit family, with another baby on the way. A weird, crazy, and superheroic family, but a happy one.
But it could also be read as the last cry of someone dying, getting a vision of what could have been, if his life were different. It implies that with a different background, or even with different choices, Scott could have been a different man. Though that last interpretation is putting entirely too much blame on someone whose choices were mainly closed off to him since childhood.
But I fall on the side of this being an unhappy ending, reminding me somewhat of the ending of the original British LIfe on Mars. (Which kinda broke my heart, though I loved the series and highly recommend it.)
If you are a reader looking for story answers, there are exactly zero to be found this issue. I assume the creative team wants the reader to make up their mind for themselves. (And it also allows DC to ignore the whole series if they wish.) As someone who is more fond of stories than the philosophical examination of life, I’m disappointed.
I might even call this navel-gazing and overly indulgent but, then, King’s style is one that often tends to ignore story for something else. Your mileage may vary.
This reminded me not of Kirby and his sense of wonder but more like literary fiction, my least favorite fiction genre.
One thing is for certain: this is definitely a masterpiece of art from Gerads, with the stand-out sequence this issue being the one of Scott shaving off his beard.
Disclaimer: To find reviews of all the DC issues, visit DC This Week.
GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.