Part 11 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
Thomas: I think for me the highlight of this issue is the veggie platter. King and Gerards effortlessly interject both the mundane and the humourous into what is a dark and VERY nasty issue. The violence is incredibly vicious, and so it should be when confronting the devil, the tension ratcheting up, leaving you almost breathless as Scott and Barda unleash everything they have in order to defeat Darkseid – but to no avail until . . .
. . . you remember that they’re show-people. Barda even says so during the battle, reminding us just how much a part of Scott’s act she is, how much of this battle is a ‘show’ to them: how much of it is ‘written’ by them, how much of a performance it is regardless of the danger or maybe even because of it. The performance begins with the veggie platter and ends with it diffusing the tension and letting us catch our breath after the show.
Did we ever discuss the opening and ending narration of each issue? Have we been so awed by the misdirection that we missed the truth Every. Single. Time?
“And this is how it begins! With flaming death leaping to claim its victim and complete its horrible cycle!”
You’re dead on – Scott and Barda play this scene with confident perfection. And perhaps the framing of each issue, in conjunction with the television distortions we’ve focused on, serves to emphasise how there’s a show being performed. Of course, that leaves us wondering how much of this is real, how much of that emotional weight each issue offers is part of a constructed narrative and how much of it is just brutally, unrelentingly real.
This issue really pushed me to consider that boundary – between the private life of these people, and their public lives as celebrity superhero escape artists. It’s a bunch of old adages rolled together: “You never really know what someone is going through”, “the show must go on” and so on. And on top of that, Barda and Scott have their military lives. If anything, this showdown with Darkseid sees the star couple bring their performative skills into the very serious context of the war between New Genesis and Apokolips.
Gerads and King have such a wonderful grasp of staging and the construction of “scenes”, and this issue’s single scene play is truly stunning. They blend all the elements of the series together, including the different lives of our protagonists, to create a claustrophobic / bleak / humorous / hopeful twenty-two pages. It’s an amazing climax to a phenomenal series.
And then we get a flash of something the heroes haven’t planned, haven’t written themselves – as Metron shows up with a glimpse of another world…