Mister Miracle #5
Writer: Tom Taylor
Artist, Inks, Colors: Mitch Gerads
Cover: Nick Derington
Published: December 13, 2017
After being sentenced to death by Orion in the last issue Scott must decide how to spend his last three days of life. The issue opens with Scott and Barda placing their handprints into the Hollywood Walk of Fame as the narration of a conversation between the two of them runs in the background. In the review of issue #4, there was some discussion about the final pages where Scott is held by Barda who can only respond to him with, “I know.” The idea was that Barda can’t really save Scott, she can know, she can empathize, but ultimately decisions about wanting to live and choosing life rest with him alone. And this is exactly where this issue picks up. Scott is asking Barda to ask him to stay, to give him a reason beyond his own desire. And Barda, as she did at the end of the previous issue, knows that she can’t do that for him. She tells him that the decisions to choose life must be his. For someone who has already gone to the edge of life, made the decision that that their life can end, choosing to stay might be the hardest thing of all. As they leave the Walk of Fame event Funky Flashman tells Scott how he wants this execution thing to go down publicly so that the new gods don’t lose their good PR reputation. Neither Scott nor Barda say anything while Funky is talking, but their faces indicate that Scott is becoming more resigned while Barda grows increasingly annoyed. What follows next after they return home is a (possibly unnecessary) scene of great intimacy. Bards ties Scott’s hands and feet, seriously invoking some Jesus imagery. Scott tells her he can always escape, but as their intimate act begins he seems unable or unwilling to loose himself. The moments of affection between Scott and Barda have been a wonderful thread through the first four issues, but this sex scene isn’t about love as much as it is power and will. It doesn’t further the understanding of their relationship, but makes the reader question what they just witnessed and its purpose.
Barda and Scott spend the next day (his last) visiting Oberon’s grave, waiting in traffic, visiting a deli, walking around a park, and playing Carnival games. It’s mundane and boring, but it’s what Scott wants. He spends too much time trying to win Barda a carnival prize (a huge plush Wonder Woman) and then asks someone to take their picture together with the prize. They spend time on the beach (will get back to this), stuck together in traffic on highway 10, and then at an overlook above the valley where they watch all of the lights. These very humdrum moments of them together, with Barda tearing up, or looking kind of annoyed as Scott tries to keep from getting too sad are more intimate than the scene of them in bed. The previous issues have established their intimacy, but still there is something they cannot say to each other as the end draws closer. This idea and these panels are more emotionally effecting then seeing them sleep together. Scott had this idea that at the overlook they would see the valley full of light and the sky full of stars and they would find some meaning as they gazed upon the illuminated land and sky. But the stars aren’t out, and nothing comes, because it couldn’t. Whatever meaning Scott is hoping to find, or maybe he’s hoping Barda will be moved to provide him with an out, it never comes. He is still left to make his decision. Before they went up to the overlook, they spend a while on the beach where Scott waxed philosophical about Descartes and his argument for the existence of god and its tautological problems. Essentially his issue with Descartes assertion that, “I think. Therefore I am” is that assumes the power of creation. Just because you think of something, the I or god, that is not evidence of its existence. If thought alone is the evidence for existence then each person creates reality with their thoughts, each person is their own god, and when they look for god’s face they find their own.
Its not entirely clear what this means to Scott or how it affects him. We understand him as someone who deals with a fair amount of doubt and insecurity, and perhaps Descartes’ idea grants each person too much power. If each person is their own god, creates their own reality then what is their responsibility with that power. One thing that we have not seen in the memory of a young Scott Free telling Granny that he draw the face of god is the drawing. Did he draw himself, the Highfather, Darkseid? Does he know that what Descartes was saying nonsense, or did he draw himself and that recognition of his place in the universe frightened him? These are bigger questions that will hopefully be answered in the next seven issues, but this Descartes thread is interesting, that we create existence for ourselves. It recalls a line from Sartre that goes, “Hell is other people.” This was a line from a play he wrote, and what he meant was that hell is not a construct separate from each person, but is a context we create for ourselves. When we allow other people’s action or words to dictate how we feel, we create hell for ourselves here on earth. Now this might have bearing on any future issue of Mister Miracle, but this idea that we create as good or as bad of an existence as we choose is something that may have some bearing on future issues.
The issue ends with another ( more effective) intimate moment between Scott and Barda, which is this time about love rather than power and will. This moment takes place, and then a few panels later Funky shows up with some guards to take Scott away. Just as they are about to leave, the guards and Funky get their heads bashed in, and you see Barda standing their covered in blood. She says one word to Scott, “Stay” and provides him with the out he wanted.
The first sex scene and the final panels with Barda naked and covered in blood are a bit gratuitous with the sex and violence. Probably the final panels in particular, as there is no reason that Barda has to be naked in that scene. That detail doesn’t add anything to the story or characterization. It’s the first miss with the art or story in this series thus far, but doesn’t derail what is still a good issue. This might be the one where the least amount of stuff actually happens, but it still raises a number of interesting questions. The art, aside from those two moments, was again terrific. There is is page where Scott and Barda are caught on the highway at night and Gerads uses these yellow and white circles to create this great glow on the page that comes from the car lights, and sort of obscures Scott and Barda who are having this really sad discussion about what Scott’s final memories will be. It’s a fantastic page and an example of how Gerads and King can create great emotional moments without resorting to sex and violence.
(Subjective) Score out of 10: 7