SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for Mister Miracle #6 by Tom King, Mitch Gerads and Clayton Cowles, on sale now.
For months, the creative team of Mister Miracle have pointed to this week’s issue as a big turning point in the narrative but considering how fragmented and unreliable the story of Scott Free’s midlife crisis has been, there was no way to guess just what was going to happen. The issue finally hit stands this week, and while much of it is a fun and almost breezy break-in on New Genesis, that’s all to make the cosmic horror of its final pages hit that much harder as Mister Miracle finds one of the most important New Gods dead and the villain finally shows his face.
While the worlds of New Genesis and Apokolips have been embroiled in their deadliest conflict ever, Scott Free has been questioning his place among the New Gods. A child of New Genesis who was raised on Apokolips and settled on Earth, Scott doesn’t feel the same sense of obligation to the never-ending battle between gods. Sentenced to death for going against the orders of Highfather Orion, Scott and Big Barda have instead rebelled, killing their would be prison guards, disposing of their bodies in one of Scott’s super-escape artist traps, and imprisoning Funky Flashman.
The bulk of this issue follows Scott and Barda as they break into Highfather’s palace to confront Orion and the tone of their conversation is intentionally light and breezy, juxtaposing the visceral violence on display as Mister Miracle uses his Aero-Discs to decapitate people. The break-in is shown as effortless, which comes to a crescendo as the couple defeat Lightray and Big Barda shares some news with her husband that implies everything might actually be okay, but then Scott heads in to confront Orion on his own.
Barda refers to Orion as Scott’s brother, but — as Scott points out — that isn’t really true. The only bond Scott and Orion share is that their fathers swapped as infants in a bid to maintain a peace between the two realms. Scott grew up as a nameless face in a crowd in Granny Goodness’ unforgiving orphanage, while Orion was treated as a prince his entire life. They have nothing in common, and they’re not friends, but while Scott has every reason to hate Orion, he doesn’t. All Mister Miracle wants is a quiet life in the suburbs with his wife, but judging by the last page, that’s not going to happen any time soon.
The Tiger Force At The Core Of All Things
As soon as Scott enters the chamber, the colors don’t so much as drain out of the room as they become inverted, like the negatives of a roll of film. The static, distorted effect that has followed Scott throughout this series increases as he finds the dead body of Orion and rushes towards it. As he takes Orion’s helmet off and cradles the fallen New God's body in his arms, he looks upward towards the reader and shouts, desperately, “What did you do?!!” The reply comes on the next page: “Darkseid does not do. Darkseid is.”
It’s not just one of the scariest moments of cosmic horror in recent memory, it manages to dismantle the characterization of Geoff Johns and Jim Lee’s Darkseid from the start of the New 52 and return him back to his passive-yet-terrifying roots. All in two panels and seven words.
One thing that might go unnoticed in the distorted panels of the final page is that when Barda finds Scott, he’s appears to have taken Orion’s throne, which suggests he may now rule New Genesis and take the fight to Darkseid. However, if you read the captions on the last page — taken from the original Mister Miracle #6 — it refers to The Apokolips Trap, which possibly backs up the theory that all of this is happening in Scott’s head as the most deadly trap he’s ever faced.
Whatever happens when the series returns from its brief hiatus, it's obvious King, Gerads and the rest of the creative team know what they're doing. There’s a reason that Mister Miracle was one of the most critically acclaimed titles of last year. That trend is sure to continue with another six issues to come in 2018.