Many great comic books debuted in 2017, but few were as special as DC Comics' Mister Miracle by Tom King and Mitch Gerads. Not yet halfway through its 12-issue run, it was widely considered one of the best comics of the past year. If you've read it, you know why. If you haven't, here's why you need to pick it up.
In this era of mainstream comics, it's rare to see one artist stick around for an entire storyline. Longtime collaborators King and Gerads are a major exception. With Sheriff of Babylon and issues of Batman under their belts, they have already proven to be the perfect creative match; Mister Miracle just brings it all out there on the page.
In a short amount of time, Tom King has evolved rather quickly as a writer. Mister Miracle perfectly shows off his ability to craft a fully developed story through dialogue alone. In turn, this frees up the page, allowing Gerads' art to tell the story better than any narration box. It's the facial expressions, the grid layouts, the vibrant colors, and the visual cues that truly make this a beautiful collaboration between two creators who know what they have set out to accomplish.
Like all Jack Kirby characters at DC Comics, no subsequent creator has ever known what to do with the New Gods for very long. Are they cosmic gods in space, or superheroes on the Justice League? King and Gerads have found the perfect balance between sanctified deity and downtrodden humanity to prove that even gods have feelings, and even gods like vegetable platters.
This combination of commentary and self-parody, set across a world filled with superheroics and heady space gods, has made these characters more compelling than maybe any other time in their history. You get the idea that Scott Free, Big Barda, Orion and the rest of the pantheon have far more to offer the world than DC ever knew they could. It's sad to know this series will end, because it feels like there is so much untapped potential still waiting to be explored.
Tom King and Mitch Gerads may have unlocked the beauty of the New Gods, but it would seem that the New Gods also unlocked something dark and wonderful within King and Gerads as well. Make no mistake, Mister Miracle is a bleak story, but it's not all sadness. There are times where you want to cry, and then you flip the page and you laugh out loud. These ups and downs you take with the characters really make you open your heart to them.
Mister Miracle also does a fantastic job of tackling real-world depression and mental health with the help of transcendent gods. Scott Free attempts to escape death through suicide, but it's only when he's saved that you learn how truly vulnerable he is, and how maybe what he's really trying to escape is life.
The overwhelming dread that fills this book may come down to Scott and Barda's past on Apokolips, or the ever-present will of Darkseid, or the overbearing toxicity of Orion, but it's also about the terrible journeys we go through, and the experiences that influence us even after its over. It's hard to know for sure, but at times it feels like Tom King is telling us his own story.
In the end, Mister Miracle is a book filled with ideas -- about life, death, and the beautiful suffering we go through along the way. It's about post-traumatic stress, but mostly it's about the imperfections of surviving. No comic book has ever felt more real or relatable.
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