The critically acclaimed limited series is collected, giving readers a complete look at, including alternate covers, of this modern day classic. If that sounded like hyperbole, it would befitting imitation of a series that truly blew things up, out and sometimes even out of proportion during its original twelve issue run. A long standing character within the DC Universe, this Jack Kirby New Gods creation has had several attempts at a series under various creative teams, with limited success. It is perhaps a twist of fate that the character hits a new high with a purposeful limited series such as this one by Tom King and Mitch Gerads.
No square inch of space is wasted in any of the issues. Brilliantly illustrated by Mitch Gerads, he is classic in his depictions of Mister Miracle, Big Barda and even Darkseid, but also pushes the series and its stories into compelling and sometimes confounding visuals. It is not just Gerads pencils that need to be highlighted, but the fact it was also inked and coloured by him hits home his brilliance as an artist, and that of his artistic vision.
Thematically and narratively the series is just as rich, layered and nuanced as the artwork that visually tells this tale. Many reviewers have already expounded on the various theories on the opening moments of the book, whether or not this was Scott Free’s status throughout the series, or even what it all means in the end. Those have all been brilliant analyses, and one that this reviewer does not wish to expound on. There are a wide variety of views on how to interpret the series, and even if you take writer Tom King at face value, there is still a lot of material to diverge from and speculate with.
This is most definitely a story about life, death and rebirth, but it is also when you dig a little deeper, a man having a mid life crisis. However, when you are a literal god, what does an existential crisis look like exactly? Is it the perpetual nature of existence where Scott and Barda will possibly never die, but be locked in perpetual war against Darkseid and the forces of Apokolips, or is the crushing banality of mundane earthly existences and impending parenthood? Between wars, Scott and Barda kick back in their condo, discussing the state of their lives, and argue over whether or not they even need a kitchen as large as theirs, when all they do is order take-out. It is this sort of scripting that leads to such an entertaining tale. Jack Kirby laid the original groundwork with the New Gods saga fifty years ago. We know that the struggle between New Genesis and Apokolips is eternal; King and Gerads make it almost window dressing, a necessary inclusion to the plot, but not necessarily the plot thread we should be focussing all of our attention on.
This is perhaps the best highlighted when Darkseid comes to “visit’ Scott and Barda on Earth. While most would laugh at the comedy of Darkseid eating a carrot stick, there is more going on in that scene. The war is waged on many fronts, and often diplomacy is a better weapon than brutal force. We could have been given yet another fight scene, instead we are given something a little different, with a bit of good absurdist fun thrown in for good measure.
It perhaps comes as no surprise that this limited series nabbed three Eisner Awards; one for each of its creative team members, and one for Best Limited Series. And even if you don’t believe the hype or hyperbole, take it back to its core; an extremely well written, incredibly illustrated, self-contained story featuring a classic hero in a timeless struggle between good and evil. It truly does not get much better than this, and deserves every single accolade it receives.
Collects: Mister Miracle (Vol. 4) 1-12