Today’s new guide for Patrons of Crushing Krisis is for a character who has gone in and out of vogue for nearly five decades, but who is having perhaps his highest-profile year of all time in 2018…
Mister Miracle is having a very good year.
His 12-issue maxi-series from Tom King and Mitch Gerads is one of the biggest critical and fan hits of the year. It generates endless conversation, speculation, and dissection every month upon its release and both King and Gerads took home 2018 Eisner Awards for their work just halfway through the run.
This is not a coincidence. Not just because King and Gerads are both at the top of their games right now, but because Mister Miracle is a character who ebbs and flows. It was time for him to make his return.
Before this iteration, there was Grant Morrison’s reimagination of the character in 2005. Before that, a string of New Gods series from 1992 to 2002. Before that, a long run in the Justice League and his 28-issue 1989 series.
It all started in 1971, when Scott Free was one of the major creations of Jack Kirby’s Fourth World at DC Comics. At the surface level, he seemed like an outlier – a random traveller on the countryside who stumbles into taking over the mantel of a famed escapologist. Yet, every issue unfurled more of Free’s complex entanglement with the wild world of Apokolips – from his epic love story with Big Barda to the and the nasty Granny Goodness and her female furies.
As it turns out, our charming Mister Miracle was actually the future sovereign of Apokolips… or of the more-peaceful New Genesis, based on a long-ago peace treaty slash child-swap between Darkseid and Highfather. When Scott Free defected from the pits of Apokolips to Earth, he voided the treaty.
All he had to do to fix things was give up his entire life.
That’s an irresistible theme – of messianism versus normalcy, of martyr versus man. Scott Free can only enjoy his domesticity on Earth with the knowledge that a pair of worlds he’s abandoned are suffering.
While the writers that immediately followed Kirby had no use for the character (he appeared only twice between the end of his revived series in 1979 and Crisis on Infinite Earths in 1985-86), a decade later he was ripe for revisitation when those themes were picked up by a new generation of creators in Justice League and his second ongoing. Kirby’s run ended in Scott and Barda’s marriage, and this run startedfrom their bland suburban life – and how addicted to that normalcy they had both become.
Then, like the return of old gods to a young universe, big league creators like John Byrne and Walt Simonson couldn’t resist playing with Kirby’s creations when they were handed the keys to the Fourth World intellectual property at the close of the century. But, they weren’t interested in the normalcy narrative! They wanted to go hard at the full-on Kirby cosmic madness.
Mister Miracle fell into disuse again after that period ended in 2002, and in 2005 it was time for Grant Morrison to resurrect the character along with many other under-appreciated DC gems for Seven Soldiers– with his own unique spin, of course. He didn’t even use Scott Free as Mister Miracle!
And, now, Tom King is writing a version of Mister Miracle that’s at once reverent of Kirby but also completely in keeping with the domesticized tone of that 1989 ongoing and also winkingly aware of how Byrne and Simonson dragged him back in to all that cosmic drama.
Ultimately that didn’t make for a very difficult comic guide to research or format, but it gave me to opportunity to more-deeply understand one of DC’s most interesting characters – Scott Free, the man who can escape anything except for his own heritage.
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DC Guides: Animal Man, Aquaman, Catwoman, Batman – Index Ongoing Titles, Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight, Flash, Justice League, Mister Miracle, Nightwing, Outsiders, Suicide Squad, Teen Titans & Young Justice
Marvel Guides: Alpha Flight, Ant-Man & Giant-Man, Champions, Darkhawk, Dazzler, Domino, Falcon, Gwenpool, Legion, Marvel Era: Marvel Legacy, Moon Boy / Moon Girl & Devil Dinosaur, Ms. Marvel: Kamala Khan, Power Pack, Scarlet Witch, Sentry, Silk, Spider-Gwen, Spider-Man: Miles Morales, Venom, Vision