Mister Miracle's True Trap Is... His Readers
Morrison’s take on the Fourth World is all over Mister Miracle #1, which makes sense because until King, only Morrison and Walt Simonson ever truly captured the scope and scale of Kirby’s creation. The unease and unreliable reality feels like a throwback to Seven Soldiers: Mister Miracle which — while starring a different Mister Miracle, Shilo Norman — also featured Darkseid as a crushing and oppressive inevitability and depression metaphor that skewed how Mister Miracle saw the world.
While the idea of The Lump is certainly interesting, and it may or may not be at the root of Scott's current predicament, there’s a larger theme at play in Mister Miracle #1. The issue ends with Scott Free once again called into service to fight in the latest Final Battle against Darkseid and the forces of Apokolips, but we’ve seen that before, a few dozen times. Which is the point, because the trap that Scott Free must escape from in Mister Miracle is the very nature of superhero comics themselves.
Superhero storytelling, especially in comic books, is cyclical by its nature. Eventually, everything reverts to the status quo, whether it’s by the end of a story arc, or resurrecting a beloved character twenty years after they were killed off. The New Gods represent this overtly with the Ragnarokian nature of the constant war between Apokolips and New Genesis. This is a war that Scott Free is going to be fighting in and dying in for decades and decades to come, unless he can escape the ultimate trap of the narrative engine his own creator strapped him to forty years ago.
It’s somewhat similar to what Morrison and Doug Mahnke did in Ultra Comics, which laid bare the scope of The Multiversity. The ultimate villain is us, the reader. If we stop reading, that beloved character doesn’t die in the first place. Our eyes and our hands are the kinetic force that powers the suffering of these icons and Scott Free is just as trapped as Superman, Captain America or Rick Grimes. Everyone is on the same playing field when it comes to a comic page, and Mister Miracle faces his toughest trap yet in the form of King and Gerads’ oppressive and brutalist nine-panel grid.
While there are a variety of references and influences all over this first issue, it's clear that Tom King, Mitch Gerads and Clayton Cowles are really going for something fresh and different. There’s no better way to honor Jack “The King” Kirby in his centennial year than by doing something bonkers, exciting and most importantly new with the characters he created. The mystery of Mister Miracle is going to build and unfold over the course of the next year, and while it’s a cliche at this point, when it comes to this creative team and this character, expect the unexpected.