“We got a veggie tray.”
Sometimes everything is wrong.
Sometimes you’re a simulacra trying to figure out how to live a real life and you keep failing. Sometimes everything is right. Sometimes you have a real life, a good life, and everything feels like it’s a simulacrum. An imitation of life. It eats at you, causing you to doubt, causing you to spiral into existential angst. When you toss in an eternal war between good and evil, it’s any wonder how that might break you, as explored in Mister Miracle by Tom King, Mitch Gerads, and Clayton Cowles.
It can be hard to discuss the content of this version of Mister Miracle. The subject matter isn’t easy. Sure, it’s clothed in the Fourth World fantasies of Jack Kirby’s DC mythos, wrapped around the domesticities of Scott Free and Big Barda’s relationship, but it starts with a suicide attempt. It hits you in the face with it, then gives you the distinct impression that Mister Miracle is suffering from depression, and presents a reality that’s possibly bleaker depending on how you read it.
Darkseid is. Only nothing is. Nothing matters.
I’ll come back to that in a moment. Mitch Gerads’ artwork through this series is fascinating. Throughout the story there’s a prevalent feeling that something is wrong, that something is out of place, that something might not be quite what it seems. This is achieved through the art in a few different ways. For a start, there’s an interesting divide between the banality of existence on Earth and the brighter, more unique colour choices for the superhero/god elements. It gives the latter a kind of surreal feeling that’s fed further into occasional appearances of distortion effects, on the panels, through the colours, and such, especially during important moments.
The multiple levels of reality, different layers of the narrative, pop up in Clayton Cowles’ lettering as well. There are standard white narration boxes containing what feels like television or a narrator’s pomp and circumstance, like an episode of the ’60s Batman series. There are some unique word balloons and fonts for Darkseid, Funky Flashman, and more. The presence of Funky Flashman himself and the stories he writes with Jacob Free also take it to a kind of weird metatextual level. And the standout black panels with white text: Darkseid is.
It further feeds into the concept of nothing matters. Darkseid is. In the story, Tom King waxes philosophical through Scott Free, breaking down an analysis of Descartes’ famous statement for existence, “I think therefore I am” (cogito ergo sum). I won’t spoil either the argumentation or the conclusion, but it does reinforce the notion that because nothing matters, the only things that truly matter are what you choose to make matter. You choose your personal reality. You choose what makes you happy. You choose who and what you want to surround yourself with.
It’s hard, it’s messy, it’s a world where Batman kills babies, sometimes, maybe, but choose life. Nothing else matters. Bring a veggie tray.
Mister Miracle by Tom King, Gerads, and Cowles is an existential adventure about the war between good and evil, life and anti-life, featuring a colourful cast of new gods and parademons. Or maybe it’s a simple tale of a man who tried to escape death and found meaning in the life of his family.
Sometimes nothing’s right. Darkseid is.
Classic Comic Compendium: MISTER MIRACLE by Tom King & Mitch Gerads
Mister Miracle by Tom King & Mitch Gerads
Writer: Tom King
Artists: Mitch Gerads & Mike Norton (origin sequence)
Colourists: Mitch Gerads & Jordie Bellaire (origin sequence)
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Publisher: DC Comics
Release Date: October 6 2020 (deluxe edition)
Read past entries in the Classic Comic Compendium!