Pros: The artwork is phenomenal and enhances the story in what may be the best way possible.
Cons: The story is dark in terms of tone and themes, these make the story deeper but mean that this is not a comic for younger readers.
Overall: This is how you kick off a comic book series, provide readers with enough good writing and art to show it is worthwhile and then throw in a tantalizing mystery to make readers want more. This comic is excellent and is a huge indication that everyone is in for a wild ride for the rest of this series. Everyone should pick this one up as soon as possible.
The announcement that Tom King would be writing a book about Jack Kirby’s “New Gods” caused quite a stir in the comic book world. Speculation and hype started almost instantly with many holding up high hopes for the series. Now that the first issue is out, it can be confirmed that this excitement and hype was worth it.
Mister Miracle #1 is a stellar start to what is sure to be a comic series for the ages. King wields the characters in a way that is worthy of their legacy while also immersing them in the anxieties and paranoia that inundate modern day society. The end result is a reality warping trip that will leave readers questioning what this book is about, while dying to read more.
(spoilers start here)
The book starts with Mister Miracle attempting suicide and the fallout caused by this action. It alerts readers that this is not going to be a lighthearted romp of super-heroics, this is going to be a deep story about human personality and psyche. It also delves into the emotional as readers see the reactions of Scott Free’s wife, friends, and “brother.”
The tone of the book shifts shortly after this, as Scott notices that his wife’s eye color has changed from blue to brown. Starting with this moment, readers are alerted that reality in this comic may not be what it seems to be. This is confirmed as the next few pages are a distorted blur of a television interview that ends with the interviewer (who is likely one of Darkseid’s minions) questioning if Scott truly survived his suicide attempt. The following pages are even more direct; they see Scott having a conversation with someone who Barda tells him died already.
All of these odd shifts in reality tell readers that they should not believe what they are seeing in this book. Is this some sort of dream or false reality that Scott is stuck in? Or did Darkseid really find the anti-life equation, allowing him to alter the universe as he desires? Barda’s eye color changing back from brown to blue, on this book’s final page, complicates things even further, as this change seems to indicate the reality that Scott was remembering in the first place. While the actual action of this series seems to be following a war against Darkseid, the real plot is hidden within whatever is wrong with the world around Scott Free.
(spoilers end here)
Though the story here is fantastic on its own, this comic would simply not be what it is without Mitch Gerads’ artwork. It is the perfect conglomeration of classic comic style, modern grittiness, and surrealism for this story.
Yet the best part about it is how the artwork changes to fit the story. It changes to a realistic and modern style when trying to convey a serious message. It changes to a distorted television style when trying to unsettle readers. It even changes to a style that feels unfinished when trying to tell readers that something is wrong with this comic. This is one of the best examples of artwork enhancing a story that I have seen recently and really deserves attention for that alone.
In addition, the structure of the comic alone is praiseworthy. King has used the nine-panel grid format many times before (its use in the Futures End issue of Grayson Vol. 1: Agents of Spyral (Review) made it one of our favorites), yet the way it works here is simply magical. It cages the story in a way that makes readers feel as trapped in structure as Mister Miracle does. It also allows random panels to be blacked out, delivering the cryptic and foreboding message “Darkseid is.” All of this increases the feelings of paranoia and dissonance that this book seeks to instill.
This is a brand new series in the DC Comics universe that is relatively unrelated to any other series out there. This means that readers can jump into this comic with little knowledge of the DC Universe besides a vague idea as to who the “New Gods” are.
Readers looking for more background behind the main characters can find it here:
- Mister Miracle and Big Barda most recently had large roles in the “Darkseid War” storyline (collected in Justice League Vol. 7: Darkseid War Part One and Justice League Vol. 8: Darkseid War Part Two).
- However their biggest roles were in the original Mister Miracle series by Jack Kirby. This series will be collected in its entirety in both Mister Miracle by Jack Kirby and The Fourth World by Jack Kirby Omnibus.
This comic also references one other comic detail, detailed below:
- The late night talk show host appears to be G. Gordon Godfrey. This character was a big part of the Legends event comic in the 80s. He also has appeared more recently in the Young Justice cartoon series