Cracking the Equation: Mister Miracle #10

Part 10 of our running conversational commentary from Thomas and Adam on the 12-issue DC Comics series, Mister Miracle, by Tom King and Mitch Gerads. Previous installments located here

Adam: Featuring a night out with the super-lads, Vertigo t-shirts now, a birthday party, meta mayhem with Funky & Jacob, some brutal conversations about how people cope differently with trauma, and a big decision heading into the final two issues.

Packed and approaching perfect, Mister Miracle delivers every time out.

Just to take one of those ITEMs up top, I loved the couple of pages devoted to Scott’s night out with Booster Gold and Blue Beetle. As ever, there are brilliant comedic flourishes – here it’s Scott waiting with drunken impatience for his Boom Tube like it’s an Über. But more than this comic relief, it’s another scene which continues to humanise Scott & Barda’s life as a whole. A big night out is another mundane hallmark which makes the absurd and fantastical world of these superheroes seem almost normal.

One of the recurring strengths of this book and one of the reasons it hits so hard, I think, is that the creative team are giving us a sense of the uncanny: the actual circumstances of these characters’ lives and what they’re going through are completely bizarre and unrelatable (the unfamiliar), but presented with such recognisable material trappings, with such transcendent explorations of feelings and motivations that it resonates out beyond its immediate context, becoming innately and painstakingly relatable (the familiar).

Thomas: Absolutely loved the story of the Golden Retriever and It’s a lot of of fun that he’s wearing the Hawkman tee when discussing war, the Reverse Flash tee when discussing giving his child to the devil and the Captain Marvel tee when trying to be positive about his terrible childhood. And then his own is a caricature of a cowboy shirt – a pure American comic.

What stood out for me though was the chink in Barda’s armour, when she breaks and actually talks about her own feelings, about how Scott’s suicide affected her – as she cried “with strangers in an ER”. I don’t recall Barda EVER crying even when Scott died in the Nineties and yet here she is tearing up. It’s a tender moment and an important one because she is reminding him that they’re in it together and they always have been, both in story and in reality.

The comic might be titled Mister Miracle but it’s as much Barda’s series as it is Scott’s so it’s no surprise really that when Scott tells her his plan, she’s not really listening. She knows her husband, she knows what he is going to do and she’s going to be right there with him whether they live or die.

Adam: Yeah, I felt like this issue went a good way to restoring some balance, reminding us that Scott is not the only one living with tremendous and terrifying trauma. Hearing Barda speak up on her feelings more directly actually sent me back to the image of the couple stood facing the cruel and twisted reflections in the mirror in the last issue. They’ve both lived intense and painful lives, and are trying their damnedest not to be the monsters they were so forcefully made into. And then juxtaposed against that louder emotional beat, we have Barda hitting her default matter-of-factness as you say, towards the end of the issue where she just nods along and tunes out as Scott unveils his plan. She moves differently, as humans do.

It’s a warm, connective ending to the issue, with a great sense of love and shared resolve heading towards the series’ conclusion. But there’s still such an unease to proceedings: Barda finally speaks her feelings outright and there’s more than a little pain and resentment there, and even in this tenth issue, there’s a quiet single page where Scott, in costume, goes through the motions of another escape and seems to express a certain maudlin disappointment when he doesn’t get stuck by sixteen swords simultaneously. We’re very clearly not out of the woods just yet.

Thomas: Not to harp on about it, but Barda’s reaction to his plan shows that this was where he was going to go, where they are both going to go together – and that Scott is definitely going to die in the attempt, protecting his wife and son. Perhaps the real reason that Scott was so desperate to find an alternative because I honestly can’t see him actually going into this particular battle with Barda. I suspect he’s going to have her taken out of play at some point, somehow, while he faces Darkseid alone. Which would fit really.

I keep coming back to the superficial similarities between Scott and the Jesus myth in relation to Kirby’s original New Gods epic: we see Scott’s birth, we see him once as a child and then as a fully-formed adult, though not necessarily in that order. Stretching it a bit? Maybe.

But in all of the iterations of the Son of God myth whether it’s Jesus, Osiris or Bacchus, the son MUST die and must do so after suffering – just as Scott has, before ultimately triumphing over death itself, and saving his people. This issue could be his Garden of Gethsemane moment. I don’t know, I’m probably reading too much into it. It’s probably just a really good funnybook.