Writer Tom King and artist Mitch Gerads scored a major critical and popular hit with the debut issue of this mini-series, and so expectation for Mister Miracle #2 were understandably high. So, does the second issue live up to the debut? Good news, faithful readers, King and Gerads continue to deliver one of the best books of the year with Mister Miracle #2.
Issue 1 concluded with a profoundly troubled and unsettled Scott Free returning to New Genesis alongside his wife Barda to help the New Gods battle against Darkseid and the forces of Apokolips. Mister Miracle #2 opens with Scott and Barda leading the forces of New Genesis in a bloody and gruelling war, relentlessly directed by the new Highfather, aka Orion. King and Gerads continue to thread a feverish feeling of unreality to the story, which keeps the reader inside Scott’s head as he grows increasingly suspicious of everything going on around him. King has a real talent for embedding you within the perception of the protagonist, making his paranoia and distrust of reality feel reasonable. In this way, the issue challenges long-held reader assumptions about the nature of the conflict between Apokolips and New Genesis.
This is framed within the central plot of the issue, which sees Scott and Barda sent by Orion to assassinate Granny Goodness under the pretence of meeting to negotiate terms for a cease-fire. King and Gerads masterfully create an tone of absurdity and black humor throughout the issue that infiltrates even the most serious of moments, exemplified by the crazy moment where Granny, Barda and Scott sit down to meet over plates of green jello. The inherent whimsy of that idea is juxtaposed against the fact that Granny also puts a plate just out of reach of a man she is starving to death. The issue builds to a terrific scene where Scott is forced to consider and doubt almost everything about his life, his upbringing and the nature of his relationships.
The creative team continues to build upon the theme of escape which is threaded through every element of the book. Mister Miracle #2 asks questions about escape not just in a literal, “world’s-greatest-escape-artist” sense, but also in the sense of escaping the preconceived notions and beliefs that make up your own past. Is Scott moving towards escaping the roles he’s spent his life forced into? Is he escaping an elaborate trap set within his own mind by enemies? Or by his own neuroses? If his current trap is reality itself, how do you escape from that when you start mistrusting everything you’re experiencing?
Mitch Gerads delivers another bravura performance with his art. The rigid grid layout structure keeps the pace moving at a steady clip, giving the illusion of motion while also subtly suggesting prison bars (a fitting visual for the title character). There’s something about this approach that offers a more oppressive feel than comics typically employ these days. Gerads particularly excels in the use of repeated imagery or choreography to emphasize meaning. And yet, there’s a sly sense of black humor to everything in the book. The art perfectly compliments the way the script encourages the reader to question everything. when we people talk about how artists in comics are visual storytellers as essential to the final result as the scriptures, this level of work is what we’re talking about.
Mister Miracle #2 again proves that this series is the most exhilarating and among the most ambitious books puts out by either of the big two publishers. It’s rich, funny and bold, as well as a perfect example of the kind of story you can only get in comics. A must-read. 10/10