Extenstential crises galore!
Trying to explain Jack Kirby’s Fourth World to a brand new audience is a mind-blowing undertaking, as even those of us who are comic fans and love Kirby’s work have a hard time keeping it all straight. There’s no real way to ease in to understanding all of this, loads went over my head, but man does Tom King do his best. I think King comes at this from the best possible angle. He makes the reader care about Scott Free/Mister Miracle by expressing emotions. You don’t need to understand every level of world building here as long as you feel the love between Miracle and Barda, the hatred and yet confusion from years of abuse from Granny Goddess, the elation and worry that comes from being a dad. Those are the emotions we can tap into as readers. Orion and Darkseid might go over our heads in terms of understanding backstory, but a dad trying to figure out if giving his son away for the greater good is absolutely understandable. Tom King makes Mister Miracle into a real person, and that’s why I feel as though this succeeds so well.
I don’t think there’s a way to properly explain the plot of Mister Miracle. There’s a lot going on between worlds ending and Gods dying and new gods being named, but I think the honest arc that we’re to take away from this is that Scott Free is the most normal superhero character possible, despite being a god from another planet. He gets stuck in traffic, he is trying to remain relevant in an oversaturated reality marketplace, and he’s trying to keep his relationship with his wife intact, all while slightly losing his mind. Take away the powers and you’ve got a guy in over his head who is just trying to stay afloat. And in the supernatural element and you have to admire the way he keeps it together as much as he has. I really adore Tom King’s work because he doesn’t write superhero stories, he writes really emotional stories about people who happen to have powers and are philosophizing about what it means to be human and what it means to be something otherworldly. His take on Vision delves into this a lot as well, and I find that infinitely more fascinating and interesting to read than the same action adventure stories over and over again.
I also have to say I love the structure of this graphic novel, especially the way King and Mitch Gerads, the illustratior, set most things inside 9×9 panels. It seems small but it weirdly built the suspense while I was reading and I thought the art style Gerads used, especially when Miracle was having “visions” of sorts of dead friends was incredibly beautiful. The words King uses really stuck with me, but a lot of the emotional impact wouldn’t have been there if it wasn’t paired with such striking art and coloring.
I cannot think of anything I’ve read in the past year that deserved the Eisner as much as this. It’s unreal.
Title: Mister Miracle
Author: Tom King
Three descriptions: Atmospheric, Thought-provoking, colorful
ANYTHING TOM KING HAS DONE c’mon guys, go read Vision.