I am a massive Jack Kirby fan. Kirby is easily my favorite comic book talent of all-time. It simply does not get any better than Kirby. Kirby is the king and, for my money, there is no comic book talent that I would place above Kirby. So, handling a Jack Kirby comic is never an easy task. And it does not get much more Jack Kirby than the 4th World mythology.
There are two types of Kirby creations. There are Kirby creations like Captain America, Black Panther, The Falcon, Hulk, the X-Men, the Avengers and others that are not defined as being pure concentrated Kirby. Therefore, these franchises have easily grown past Kirby and have taken on their own distinct personalities and mythos separate from Kirby.
Then there are the Kirby creations such as the Eternals, Inhumans, Kamandi, OMAC, Challengers of the Unknown, Machine Man, Devil Dinosaur and the Fourth World. These franchises are such pure concentrated Kirby that it is virtually impossible to separate these franchise from Kirby. In handling these franchises, it is best served to be steeped in Kirby’s mythos and to embrace his core principles for each of the franchises when attempting to deliver a new version of these franchises.
Tom King is a talented writer. However, I classify him more as an indie writer who likes the big fat paychecks from Marvel and DC but has little love for mainstream super hero comics. That can lead to mainstream super hero comics that are less than enjoyable reads for readers who do not love niche indie comics. Does Mister Miracle #3 deliver a quality read? Let’s hit this review and find out.
Words: Tom King
Art: Mitch Gerads
Colors: Mitch Gerads
Story Rating: 5 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 3 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 4 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: We begin with Orion, Lightray, Mister Miracle and Big Barda arriving on the scene where Granny Goodness’ dead body is located. Mister Miracle narrates the scene. Scott asks Barda if he ever told her the Christmas story that Granny used to tell Scott. Barda says that Granny never told her stories. Barda says that right now is too late for stories. That Scott needs sleep and is just driving himself crazy.
Scott proceeds to apologize to Barda and says that she is right. And then proceeds to tell Barda the story. (Ummm, okay. This is the part of the story where Barda should have punched Scott and asked him if he was brain damaged.)
We see Orion see Orion kneeling at Granny’s body. Lightray hands him a short sword or a long knife. Take your pick. We proceed to get 11 panels of Orion sawing off Granny’s head. (Look how edgy DC is! It’s like the 1990’s all over again. This is adult, man!) During this scene, Scott tells the Christmas story that Granny Goodness told him.
Basically, it is about a boy growing up in Nazi occupied Netherlands during World War II. The boy sees a school Christmas play about the birth of Jesus. The teacher mentions that Mary and Joseph were Jews. The boys tells his teacher that they could come stay in his basement. Later that night the police come to the boy’s house. They find a jewish family hiding in the basement. The jewish family is taken away. The boys and his family are arrested and put into concentration camps. The boy’s sisters die in the camps. The boy then dies at the age of seven when he was put in a gas chamber. HE didn’t die from the gas. He died from all of the people piled into the chamber. He was at the bottom of the human pile. (Nope. Not heavy handed at all. Not at all predictable. This story along with the severed head made this unintentionally comical.)
We cut to Scott in bed with Barda. Scott says that Granny Goodness would end the story by saying “Merry Christmas” to Scott. We see that Barda fell asleep at some point during Scott telling the story.
A voice then narrates that Dr. Bedlam is calling. That he is going to spring a trap as simple and foolproof and sinister as his own existence. The narrator says for the reader to read what is in store for Scott Free. Mister Miracle. Super Escape artist. Open the door of terror! Drop the paranoid pill.
Scott freaks out like he can hear the narrator’s words. Scott gets out of bed and gets some medication from the medicine cabinet. Scott gets some water and takes the pills. Scott then sits down on his sofa. (There is a poster of the cover of Mister Miracle v.1 #1 on the wall.)
Suddenly, Forager appears on Scott’s sofa. Forager says that Orion does not know that he is here. Scott says that he is on leave from the war. That Scott still has to pay the bills and that he has a show tomorrow. Scott asks Forager if he wants a drink.
Forager replies that six-and-a-half million of his people have died in this war. That the Bugs have died for Scott’s people. Scott replies that he needs more milk. (Ah, that awesome indie style dialogue. What next? Scott ignores Forager’s conversation and talks about his dry cleaning needs?)
Scott proceeds to pour more milk. Scott keeps pouring the milk until it overflows his glass and spills onto the counter. (This might be the most riveting action we are going to get in this entire issue. The horror of the spilt milk! What will happen next?! Come back next issue to find out!)
Forager continues to complain that Orion uses the Bugs as cannon fodder for the New Gods. That the number of dead Bugs will triple before the war is over. Forager asks what the Bugs get out of this war. That at some point it is the New Gods’ victory with the Bug’s blood. Forager agrees that Darkseid is evil and should be defeated. But, there is a limit to what the Bug population can take right now. That Orion does not understand the limits.
Scott asks if Forager has talked to Orion. Forager says that the Bugs sent their Queen to talk to Orion. That Orion had her executed for treason. That their queen’s head hands next to Granny Goodness’ head. Scott is in disbelief that Orion would do such a thing. (As a reader who has been following the New Gods forever I also am in disbelief that a writer would write Orion in this manner.)
Scott asks Forager what he wants. Forager says that as a general, Scott were admired by the Bugs in his command. That Scott speaks of respect for all the servants of New Genesis. That of all the generals, Scott had the least Bug casualties in his armies.
Forager stands up and says that the Bugs will no longer follow Orion. That the Bugs will follow Mister Miracle. Scott replies that if the Bugs follow him then they are following Orion. Forager replies that if the Bugs are following Mister Miracle then Orion is dead.
Suddenly, Lightray appears on the scene. Lightray says that he is here by the orders of the Highfather. (Orion is now the Highfather.) Lightray then zaps Forager reducing him to a pile of ash.
Scott reacts to seeing a character in Forager whom he respects and has a long history with by saying, “Jesus.” Then Scott takes a sip of his milk and says, “Jesus” quietly once more. (Ummmm, really? So, now our heroic Mister Miracle from the mainstream DCU reacts to the cold blooded killing of a character he has a long relationship by acting like a Quentin Tarantino character? So edgy! So indie! Fantastic.)
Scott asks Lightray if it is true what Forager said about Orion. Lightray responds that Forager was specifically instructed not to speak to Scott. That Forager accepted the consequences. Scott says that he understands that but still wants to know if what Forager said was true. Lightray replies “Don’t be stupid, Scott.” Lightray then teleports away from the scene.
Scott sits there on the sofa. Scott drinks some milk. Scott then says, “Merry Christmas.” (Jesus. This is awful.)
We then see Scott getting back into bed. Barda is still asleep. Scott says that Barda missed Forager and Lightray. (Yes. This is exactly how you react to seeing a character you have a long history with getting murdered right in front of you. With the same manner in which you comment on how someone missed seeing two family members stopping by for a short social house visit.)
Barda rolls over and keeps sleeping. Scott wraps his arms around her and says, “I love you.” Barda just keeps sleeping. We see Scott awake and saying, “Darkseid is.” Scott says that everyone says that, but what does it mean? Scott says that he bets it does not mean anything. That people just think it sounds cool. (I’m beginning to think that about pretty much everything said in this entire issue.) Barda continues to sleep.
We cut to the next day see Scott climbing up a tall crane. (Oh, yeah! Eight tiny panels of no dialogue with virtually the same drawing of Scott climbing up a crane. FEEL THE EXCITEMENT!) Scott then enters a box hanging from the crane while an announcer tells the crowd that this is the moment everyone has been waiting for. (Fuck yeah! Now we get nine tiny panels of nearly the exact same panel of Scott getting into the box! ADRENALINE OVERLOAD!)
We see the cable releasing the box from the crane. The box then falls through the air and finally hits the ground and smashes apart. (Now we get one tiny panel of the cable releasing the box followed by seven tiny panels that are virtually the same as the box falls through the air. Then one tiny panel of the box hitting the ground. MY HEART CAN’T TAKE MUCH MORE PULSE POUNDING ARTWORK!)
We shift to Scott and Barda eating brunch. (It could be lunch. It could be dinner. There is really no way of telling. I’m going with brunch because that is the best meal of them all.) The two are sitting at a cafe table at what is surely some trendy hipster joint located in downtown. Barda says that Orion wants them back. That Orion called when Scott was performing. Scott replies that he is not performing. That he is actually escaping. That it is not a trick.
Barda asks who is Scott arguing with. That she knows what Scott does. Scott eats his food in silence. (Best panel of the issue. Just brilliant.) Scott asks if Orion is invading. Barda replies that Orion says that Darkseid stopped the invasion because he is weak. That this is a good time as any to invade Apokolips. That Barda and Scott will have their own armies again. The couple then eats their food in silence. (Oh, damn! The creativity! This might be the best panel of the issue.)
Scott says that he needs to talk to Orion. Barda disagrees. Scott says that after Highfather, Granny and Metron said. And with what happened to Forager. Barda holds Scott’s hand and says, “Scott..Please…” Scott says, “There’s something wrong with me.” Barda says that she knows. That they are going to fight that together. After the war. She promises.
Scott replies that this was not about him slitting his wrists. That Scott was trying to escape death. Not kill himself. That he is not that stupid. Barda replies, “I know.” Scott says that sometimes he does not know what is real. Barda says, “Well, that’s easy, Darling. I’m real.” We then get a panel of Scott sitting their silent. Then a panel of Scott eating. (It’s the everyday mundane things that make mainstream super hero comics so exciting!)
Suddenly, a teenage girl show up and says apologizes but that she had to say hi. The girls says that she saw Mister Miracle’s show today. That she loved it. The girl asked if she can take a selfie. Scott says “Sure. Of course.” The girl says that she loves Barda, too. Barda replies “Doesn’t everyone.” (Ha! Okay, that is a good line.)
The girls then takes a selfie of herself, Big Barda and Mister Miracle. We then see the girl posting it on Instagram. (Yeah, baby! Nothing screams mainstream super hero title from DC comics like an entire page of nine tiny panels of talking heads devoted completely to taking a selfie! BRING IT ON, BABY! I can only hope that during the invasion of Apokolips that instead of stupid boring action scenes and single and double page splash shots that we get nine tiny panels of Scott on Twitter tweeting about the new cold brew coffee shop in his neighborhood while his armies battle. That would be so kickass.)
We cut to…actually we have no idea because King does not tell the reader. We see Funky Flashman giving a carnival barker styled entrance for Mister Miracle. Orion then tells Funky Flashman to clear the room. That Orion wants to talk to Mister Miracle alone. (Ah, okay. We are on New Genesis. No clue why Funky Flashman would ever be on New Genesis. But, okay.)
Orion says that Mister Miracle should be prepping his army. Scott says that Highfather said Darkseid has the anti-life equation. Scott says that he thinks the anti-life equation may be inside of him. That maybe the anti-life equation made Scott cut himself.
Scott then says, “What I need to know. Want to know. I’m not trying to say anything, okay? I’m not. But do you know? Have you…I mean…Orion, I guess do you..Is it inside of you, too?” (Fuck yeah! Rambling indie style dialogue that you would find in a movie or TV show. It gets no better than this in a super hero comic book.)
Orion asks if Mister Miracle as seen the face of god. Orion starts punching Scott over and over. Orion says that he asked Scott a question. Orion asks if Scott did not hear him. Orion says that he can say it louder. Orion then screams have you ever seen the face of god?! (If there is a way to make a scene where a character gets punched four times completely dull and boring then this page of art achieved it. I did not think it was possible. Bravo.)
Mister Miracle collapses to the ground. Orion proceeds to kick and stomp Scott in the face. Orion says that he has seen the face of god. That he has witnessed the diving. That it helped Orion and that it will help Mister Miracle, too. Orion says, “Look at me, brother.” Scott replies “You’re not my brother.”
Orion says, “See me.” Orion takes off his helmet. Orion says, “This is the face of god. (We proceed to get the same panel of Orion saying this is the face of god for the entire nine tiny panels on the page.) The narrator says, ”Has Dr. Bedlam with the aid of the paranoid pill devised the perfect trap for Mister Miracle? It would seem so!“ The narrator says that one can never tell when dealign with a super escape artist. The narrator says, ”Watch for the next sensational issue of Mister Miracle! As he prepares for the closing jaws of death!” End of issue.
The Good: Whew. Plowing through Miracle Man #3 is a bit like slogging your way a muddy hill on a dreary rainy day. The journey uphill was boring and at the end of your endeavor you are tired. Having said that, there are certainly several positive aspects to Miracle Man #3.
First off, there is no doubt that Tom King is a talented writer. And Miracle Man #3 is a technically well written read. King knows how to plot a story. Yes, this is a slow issue, but it is obvious that King is employing the slow burn approach in order to create confusion in the reader as to what is real and what is imaginary. It is a fine approach to take given the kind of story that King is delivering with this title.
There are moments in Miracle Man #3 where the story is quietly engaging. This is not a loud story. Nor is this an energetic story. King is delivering a subdued story that pulls the reader into the story in a subtle fashion. The reader feels as if they are in that state of being between full sleep and being awake. Miracle Man #3 places the reader in that peaceful drowsy state of being right before you fall asleep.
There is little action in this issue. But, what moments of action we do get is delivered in a detached and peaceful manner. This approach with the reader fits with the state of mind of the protagonist of the story. Mister Miracle himself is trapped in that drowsy state of mind between awake and asleep. Mister Miracle is unsure of what is going on around him is real and what is imaginary. This confusion over what is reality and what is a hallucination as a result of the paranoid pill permeates Mister Miracle. And this state of mind is projected onto the reader with how King delivers the story.
Doctor Bedlam is King’s choice of the main villain for this maxi-series. This is a good choice. Doctor Bedlam is the arch enemy of Mister Miracle. This character first appeared in Mister Miracle v1 #2 back in 1971. Doctor Bedlam even has the same costume design as Mister Miracle just in a different color scheme. Doctor Bedlam is not on the same level as Mister Miracle in terms of his skill as an escape artist. Doctor Bedlam’s trick is that he has numerous android bodies that his spirit replicates itself into each time he loses a body. This makes him a tricky person to defeat.
The paranoid pill is a cool Kirby concept. Kirby created the paranoid pill as Doctor Bedlam’s greatest weapon. The paranoid pill has the ability to drive its victims insane. This is such a vintage 1970s Jack Kirby creation.
I love King’s approach of employing an anonymous narrator to clue the reader into the fact that Mister Miracle is under the attack of Doctor Bedlam and his paranoid pill. Yet, the reader never sees Doctor Bedlam. Nor does the reader ever see Mister Miracle being exposed to the paranoid pill. The idea of having the villain be known to the reader but never seen is a pretty neat twist.
This approach also has the benefit of adding to the mystery surrounding Mister Miracle’s mental state during this story. Sure, an anonymous narrator tells the reader that Doctor Bedlam has used the paranoid pill on Mister Miracle. However, the reader never sees that happen. And why would the reader trust an anonymous narrator? King has given the reader no reason or justification to trust the anonymous narrator.
This creates doubt in the mind of the reader what the anonymous narrator tells them. The reader is left with the believable possibility that the narrator is another hallucination of Mister Miracle. That Mister Miracle is actually going insane and that Doctor Bedlam and the paranoid pill are not real.
But, King does not stop there. King makes the story even more complex by introducing a third possible explanation for what is happening to Mister Miracle. That Mister Miracle is either possessed by the anti-life equation or is completely composed of the anti-life equation.
This adds yet another complex layer upon the plot line involving Mister Miracle having slit his wrists. Scott’s obvious story is that he slit his wrists in an attempt to escape death. This would be the greatest accomplishment for the world’s greatest escape artist. However, King also has Scott introduce the possibly that it was the anti-life equation that has possessed Scott. And that the anti-life equation compelling Scott to attempt to kill himself.
With this story involving Mister Miracle’s crumbling hold onto reality, his detachment from all the characters around him, the possible presence of Doctor Bedlam, the possible exposure to the paranoid pill and the possible possession by the anti-life equation all build off of each other in an organic fashion to create an intriguing puzzle box where the reader is left wondering what exactly is going on and how all the various pieces fit together.
Of course, the decision to deliver a story that is a puzzle box is a wonderful approach given the gimmick of Mister Miracle. It is fitting for his character as the universe’s greatest escape artist. And what more complex and challenging of a trap is there other than one of the mind? It is far more daunting than any physical trap could present to Mister Miracle.
There is the fact that King is presenting a few characters inconsistent with the core personalities of their characters and their histories. However, I am willing to give King a bit of a pass at this point. So far, we are not sure what we are reading is real or is a hallucination. So, for example, while Orion has been written way too over the top and not consistent with his core character traits it certainly could be due to Mister Miracle being under the influence of the paranoid pill.
I am not much of a fan of Mitch Gerads’ art in this issue. Having said that, I will say that Gerads’ art definitely fits the tone and vibe of King’s story. Also, the final page of Mister Miracle #3 was easily the coolest bit of artwork in this entire issue. I love the fuzzy television reception look that Gerards gives the panels of Orion’s face. It helps to accentuate Mister Miracle’s tenuous grip on reality at this point of the story.
The Bad: There is no doubt that Tom King is talented writer. I view him more of a television/movie screenplay writer or an indie comic book writer. I think that is where his heart and passion lie and I think that is probably where he will end up later in his career. I certainly do not view King as a mainstream super hero writer.
I definitely do not see that King has any love or adoration for the super hero genre like other writers in the industry like Geoff Johns, Mark Waid, Grant Morrison, Dan Slott and others clearly possess. I think it is clear that King has little love for the Kirby Universe that Kirby constructed during his run at DC Comics during the 1970’s.
It is evident in King’s writing that he may have done a cursory reading of Kirby’s Mister Miracle issues from the early 1970’s. However it is clear that King did not closely study Kirby’s Fourth World mythology that ran through his New Gods, Mister Miracle and Forever People titles in the early 1970’s. This is seen in King’s lack of any real in depth understanding of the Fourth World subject matter. There is little love or respect for Kirby’s creation with how King treats the characters.
Talent is not enough to be a good fit for a certain comic book. King is better suited for a Vertigo styled comic or a street level super hero comic book that is very much rooted in the mundane real world. But, a mainstream super hero title dealing with high science fiction concepts and larger than life super hero themes? No. No editor should look at King and think he would be a good match for this type of title. It is like getting Tom Brady as your quarterback for a football team that runs a triple option offense. Yeah, Brady may be insanely talented, but he would suck at running a triple option offense.
The job of a talented editorial staff is not just hiring talented people but it is maximizing the talent of their writers and artists by properly assigning them titles that match and showcase their styles to accentuate their strengths rather than exposing their weaknesses.
Another problem that King runs across is his desire to largely ignore everything that Kirby brought to the Fourth World mythology. No writer can simply remove Kirby when writing the Fourth World characters. It is impossible. A writer needs to know Kirby’s mythology and what he was trying to achieve and the writer has to embrace it in order to properly write the Fourth World characters.
Now, I am not saying that writers cannot place their own unique take on the Fourth World characters while still be faithful to the core principles of the subject matter. Grant Morrison is proof of that. Morrison clearly understood every small concept and detail of Kirby’s Fourth World mythology. Morrison clearly loved the subject matter and reveled in the wildness and madness of the subject matter. Morrison looked at all of the details that Kirby was playing with and sought to logically and organically expand upon those details, ideals and concepts.
Morrison absolutely brought his own unique take on the Fourth World characters but always remained faithful to the core principles of the Fourth World franchise. Morrison definitely knew what the proper tone and approach to take for a Fourth World story. Morrison made his Fourth World stories special, unique and engaging all while building upon what Kirby wrote. Morrison took Kirby’s foundation and fleshed it out even more with his own take on the subject matter.
King does none of this. All King does is take what Kirby built and tear it down. What King gives us is the typical hackneyed approach of taking something grand and epic and simply deconstructing it to the point that it is small and flawed. It is much like how Bendis handled the Avengers. Yeah, it offers short term shock value but, in the end, it becomes transparently uncreative to the reader.
King takes the approach of deconstructing rather than doing what Morrison did which was to build an even greater and complex story on the foundation of what Kirby had established. King’s approach is the easy and cheap route. There is nothing difficult or challenging to an author to take something that has already been built in grand detail and simply take it apart.
What is a far more challenging and difficult task, yet also more rewarding, is taking something grand that has been built with great love and care and then adding to it and building and evolving the source material in an organic fashion into something even better than before.
It is natural for readers to like to see mainstream super heroes deconstructed and treated with the boring and bleak realism of an indie comic. That says more about the readers who like those stories than anything else. But, this approach does not lead to long term growth of a mainstream super hero comic.
The problem with just deconstructing something instead of actually creating something is that, in the long term, the deconstruction gets stale and boring due to its inherently shallow limitations of the approach. Of course, King’s Mister Miracle is just a 12 issue maxi-series so the short finite duration makes it easier to get away with a deconstructionist story than one that actually creates something new. Of course, another plus to this title being a 12 issue maxi-series is that it is something that can be easily ignored or retconned away as DC sees fit when the want to bring back their Fourth World characters at some future point.
Another serious problem with King’s approach to Miracle Man is that King takes the Kirby Universe and makes it small. King makes the Kirby Universe and makes it ordinary. That is something I never thought was possible. But, amazingly, King manages to do it.
Mister Miracle #3 has absolutely none of the wild unchained imagination that permeates the DC Kirby Universe. The insane creativity that powered the Fourth World stories. The type of adventure that makes the reader feel like absolutely anything could happen at any moment. All of that is gone with King’s Mister Miracle. Instead, all King gives us is a slow and dull indie comics on a small scale. Prior Fourth World stories focus on the unimaginable and the cosmic mysteries of the universe. King instead focuses on the mundane and the ordinary of life.
King takes a mythology that is a grand cosmic tale of space gods and monsters and reduces it to a small indie styled story that feels ordinary and common. It is stunning to see a subject matter that naturally lends itself to sties that are epic and grand in scope be used to deliver a story that is so small and mundane in scope.
The pacing of Mister Miracle #3 is atrocious. This issue is Exhibit A with all that is wrong with rampant decompression. This approach may work with novels or TV shows. But, rampant decompression renders a single issue comic book nearly unreadable.
King kicks off Mister Miracle #3 with a three page scene of Orion sawing off Granny Goodness’ head. All we get is the predictable and unoriginal story of the boy suffering from the atrocities of the Nazis. Three pages? For what? Nothing happens other than Orion takes Granny’s head. The story of the boy was pointless and uninteresting. This three page scene could have been done in a few panels as we move on to the real meat of the story.
King then gives us a full page of Mister Miracle in bed. Then we get a full page of him sitting on the sofa drinking milk. This could have easily been done in one page and in a much more interesting and engaging fashion while moving the story along with a purpose.
We then get the six page scene with Forager and Lightray. It is painfully slow with very little content at all. It is full of meandering dialogue that tires the reader. Again, this scene would have had far more impact and been more engaging if it had been delivered in half the number of pages.
King then gives us another page of Scott back in bed that is utterly pointless and serves to make the issue seem even more meandering and slow.
King then burns three entire pages on, ready for this, Scott climbing up a crane, getting in a box and then the box falling to the ground. Three. Pages. This is inexcusable. This is nothing more than pure filler. This is a writer plainly wasting pages and stalling for time because they do not have enough actual content to fill up the entire issue.
King then wastes three entire pages just to tell us that Scott thinks that he is having a hard time telling what is real from what is not real. Three pages. The first page was rather pointless. The second page is the only page that gives us any real content. The third page of this scene was a total waste with the selfie from a fan. Again, it becomes transparently obvious to the reader that King is simply throwing filler at the reader and is burning panel space trying to stretch a thin story out over the entire issue.
King then burns an entire page having Fancy Flashman introduce Mister Miracle to Orion. An entire page. This is the height of the ridiculousness that is rampant decompression. We then get three pages of Orion punching Mister Miracle and repeating his question if Scott has ever seen the face of god. Again. Less is more This is a one page scene that is fluffed up to three pages because King does not have anywhere near enough content to fill a single issue.
We then get the final page of Orion saying his face is the face of god. And we get the narrator telling us how Mister Miracle has been ensnared by Dr. Bedlam and his paranoid pill and for the reader to return for the next issue to see what happens next. I am guessing that the answer is not much.
Mister Miracle #3 largely ends exactly where the reader was at the very beginning of the issue. There is next to zero plot progression at all. There is little in the way of actual new content. The pacing is lazy. King never moves the story forward with a purpose. Instead, the story meanders about as if it has no real direction in mind.
The reader Can easily skip Mister Miracle #3. What really happened? Forager got killed. That’s it. Seriously. Literally nothing happens at all in Mister Miracle #3 other than Forager getting killed until you arrive at the very last page of this issue. All the reader really needs to do is read the last page of Mister Miracle #3. And I am sure that the last page will be repeated with the beginning of Mister Miracle #4. I am quite confident readers can completely skip Mister Miracle #3 and pick up Mister Miracle #4 and not be that confused at all.
The ridiculous amount of decompression leads to an issue that lacks any real new content and moves at a painfully slow pace. Yes, King may be giving the reader a neat little puzzle story but it is like a jigsaw puzzle. it is a shallow puzzle with not much depth to it at all. A reader can blast through this issue in no time at all.
The dialogue is your standard issue meandering indie style dialogue. This means that all of the characters end up having external voices that sounds pretty much the same as each other. Much of the dialogue seems to have no purpose whatsoever. The dialogue varies from average at some points of the issue to downright tedious and boring at other parts of the issue.
The character work in Mister Miracle #3 is average at best. None of the characters have much of a nicely defined personality. King keeps the readers at arms length from all of the characters. The readers never get to know any of the characters. All of the characters feel remote. The characters feel subdued as if they are sleepwalking through the issue.
King’s use of Funky Flashman as Mister Miracle’s hype man was inconsistent with the character’s history and pointless. Funky Flashman is a huckster and charlatan who appeared in Mister Miracle v1 #6. He is an awful character who is a loser villain. I have no idea why Funky Flashman would ever be used as a super hero’s hype man. It seems that King just randomly inserted a very minor Fourth World character to show readers that he really did his “research” before writing this story. In fact, it just reinforces my belief that King has no real understanding of the Fourth World.
I am completely unimpressed with how King has handled Big Barda’s character. King has given us Big Barda who has body shame issues with regard to her height in previous issues. That was lame because Big Barda is like Wonder Woman. She is kickass and confident. She does not need to have a victim mentality.
In Miracle Man #3, King gives us a Big Barda who is emotionally detached from Scott. Barda is as vanilla as characters come. At no point does Barda exhibit anything that would be confused with an actual personality. Barda is simply a cardboard cut out for Scott to interact with. It is a shame. Barda is an awesome character who deserves far better than what King is doing with her.
King’s handling of Scott’s character continues to be unimpressive. King makes Scott so blasé that I am unsure he even has a pulse. King’s version of Scott is less animated than a person on heroin. King also manages to make Scott as unheroic as possible.
A good example of this was Scott’s reaction to forager being killing in cold blood right in front of him. What does King have Scott do after witnessing such a horrible event? Scott drinks his milk and has a very casual conversation with Lightray and then goes to bed like nothing happened at all.
This is just awful writing. A writer has to have characters react believable when amazing or horrible things happen around them. Otherwise, it pulls the reader out of the story. It also makes the character who is not reacting to these occurrences appear completely detached from the story. Seriously, a corpse might be more engaging and animated than King’s version of Mister Miracle. it also makes Scott an unlikeable douchebag.
Kings handling of Scott and Barda as a couple has also been disappointing. Scott and Barda have always been such an adorable couple. I love the two of them together. Their personalities compliment each other so well. They truly are a couple that is stronger together than they are apart. Scott and Barda are one of those comic book couples that inspire you with their positive relationship.
Unfortunately, all King gives us is a frigid relationship between the two. There is little to no connection between the two characters. They seem so remote from each other. So disconnected. Barda is completely emotionally detached. And Scott is simply going through the motions. The real world has enough crappy relationships. And there are enough dysfunctional relationships in comic books already. I do not need to see a genuinely sweet relationship like Scott and Barda turned frigid and detached just because it’s “edgy” and “indie.”
All right, let’s talk about the artwork. There is no doubt that Mitch Gerads is talented. He is an excellent indie comics style artist. Gerads would be a great match for a Vertigo title. I would imagine that Gerads would also be a solid match for a gritty and dark street based super hero title. However, Gerads is absolutely the wrong choice for a cosmic super hero title like Mister Miracle.
Again, the job of a talented editorial staff is not just hiring talented people but it is maximizing the talent of their writers and artists by properly assigning them titles that match and showcase their styles in order to accentuate their strengths rather than exposing their weaknesses. This is the foundation of what it takes to be a good editor and both Marvel and DC seem to struggle with this these days.
Gerads’ artwork is mind numbingly boring and tedious. Gerads manages to deliver the DC Kirby Universe in easily the most dull and dreary style possible. I am not saying that any artist handling the DC Kirby Universe has to roll out the same style art as Kirby. But, for Christ’s sake, the artwork has to at least be dynamic and grand in scale.
This is the DC Kirby Universe that we are talking about. This is the ultimate cosmic epic that mixes the science fiction and super hero genre with the amble addition of mysticism to create a modern day mythology like few other franchises from DC Comics. A Fourth World comic needs dynamic artwork that delivers the story in an exciting fashion and on an appropriately grand scale. The art has to match the unchained imagination that permeates the Fourth World mythology.
Instead, Gerads gives us a Fourth World issue that is painfully small. Gerads creates a world that is mundane and ordinary. Miracle Man #3 looks as dull as possible. From every aspect the artwork fails this title. The panels lack any detail. Everything is drawn as simple as possible. There is a complete lack of emotion in the panels. The characters are drawn more like emotionless automatons than as fully fleshed out characters.
There is a complete lack of diversity when it comes to the panels and the layouts of each page. Every single page in Mister Miracle #3 has the exact same layout: nice small panels. Every. Single. Page. That only serves to make the issue appear repetitive and painfully dull. To make things even worse, those nine panel pages are dominated by static shots of talking heads. I cannot think of a more boring approach to take for a cosmic super hero story.
I am not saying that Mister Miracle #3 should have been full of nothing of one page and double page splash shots. But, for the love of God, just a tiny bit of diversity or creativity in the page layouts would have gone a long way to not making Mister Miracle #3 such a boring looking issue.
Now, Kirby himself often employed the exact same panel layout for the majority of his issues of Mister Miracle. He often stuck to either a 5 panel layout or a six panel layout and then added either a one page splash shot or two page splash shot where necessary. But, the overwhelming majority of the pages employed a nice panel or six panel layout.
However, despite employing nearly the same layout format for an entire issue Kirby was still able to make his pages look dynamic. How? Because he would vary the content in the panels so that each one looked unique. This would help prevent the reader from noticing that we were getting the same layout for the majority of the issue. Kirby would also inject emotion and action into the panels. Kirby would also change the perspective for each panel. All of these tricks helped to make the pages look dynamic and exciting despite the similarity in the panel layout through out the issue.
Gerads never does this. Instead, we get the identical panel layout in each page. But, to make things worse, Gerads only does one of two things with these panels. Most of the time, Gerads delivers nearly the same static panel over and over again. The rest of the time, Gerads gives just small variations of the same panel over and over again. Or Gerads loads up the panels full of static talking heads. None of it makes for an ever remotely interesting comic book to read.
To make things worse, Gerads delivers colors that are as dull and washed out as possible. The typical indie styled unsaturated colors create a muddy and boring looking issue. This approach on the artwork, the layouts and the colors all combine to create a cosmic super hero comics book that is dreary to slog though. This only serves to further emphasize the weaknesses of King’s writing. More dynamic art could help to punch up King’s slow and subdued story.
Overall: Mister Miracle #3 was a disappointing read. King has the kernel of what could be a really interesting story. However, the execution is so poor that it ruins the potential of the story. The problem is exacerbated by the artwork in this issue. I would not recommend Mister Miracle to readers who are long time Jack Kirby fans. Nor would I recommend Mister Miracle #3 to long time Fourth World fans. I would not recommend Mister Miracle #3 to fans of mainstream super hero comics. However, I would definitely recommend Mister Miracle #3 to readers who are fans of indie comics and indie style super hero comics.