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Saturday, June 29, 2019

Reader's Diary #2053- Tom King (writer), Mitch Gerads (artist): Mister Miracle

Mister Miracle isn't the first superhero comic to contrast superhero life with domestic life. Off the top of my head, Jeff Lemire and Travel Foreman did it with Animal Man, Dennis Hopeless and Javier Rodriguez did it with Spider-Woman, and Tom King himself did it before with Vision (drawn by Gabriel Hernandez Walta). I'll admit that I'm a sucker for these kinds of stories and it's particularly easy to be a sucker when they're as good as Mister Miracle. It's also no wonder that King and Mitch Gerads won Eisner Awards for best writer and best artist respectively.

Mister Miracle isn't the most well known superhero, and if I'd encountered him before now, I didn't recall. Originally created by Jack Kirby in the early 70s, he's an alien to Earth from the planet New Genesis who acts as a stage performing escape artist. He's immortal and has the usual superhero abilities (strength, speed, smarts, and stamina). He's also romantically linked to Big Barda, a reformed supervillain.

In this story, Mister Miracle and Big Barda are trying to move past their dark past (Mister Miracle was raised as the evil Darkseid's adopted heir) but a war affecting their birth planets and their friends keeps calling them back. Laid out like that, the plot seems simple enough. But it's so much more.

Infused in this are rich, provocative themes handled with maturity and philosophy; depression, reality, and nature vs. nurture to name but a few. And all of this is balanced out with wit and slapstick. It's a damned funny book to boot.

All of which would be fine enough as it is, but Gerads' art matches the writing panel by panel. It's a mastercraft of a book and should be taught alongside Scott McCloud's Understanding Comics. Especially great is the way he breaks the "rules" for effect. Blurriness gives particular panels glitchy-vibes showing Mister Miracle's tenuous grip on reality and peace. Darkseid's evil legacy cannot be contained in a single panel. Words and scenes betray one another as Mister Miracle and Big Barda risk life and death breaking into Darkseid's lair all while debating kitchen renovations, effectively showing how even the adventure-stuff is just par for the course for these two.

If I read a better comic than this this year, I'll have read two genius books.

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