Writer: Tom King
Artist, Inks, Colors: Mitch Gerads
Cover: Nick Derington
Published: January 10, 2018
For anyone who hasn’t read the first five issues of Mister Miracle (MM), this issue would serve as a great jumping on point (although those first five issues are great and people should read them). The heaviness and inscrutability of the last couple of issues is (mostly) gone from this issue which manages to be fun yet serious and pick in a ton of action. Lighter moments have been spread amongst the previous issues to cut the heaviness that pervades them, but mostly it was just a distraction that couldn’t escape its context. None of this is to cut down those previous issues (a couple of which are great) and they were probably necessary to help issue #6 land so well, but it demonstrates that there is room for a range of tones in this book. After killing Funky Flashman and his guards at the end of the previous issue this one starts with Scott and Barda burning their bodies. In the panel immediately following the completion of the body disposal, Barda doesn’t try to talk to Scott about what they just did or what happens now that he has formally made himself an enemy of New Genesis. Instead she says, “I want to redo the whole condo.” This isn’t intended to be funny, but kicks off a juxtaposition that occurs throughout the whole issue between what Barda and Scott are talking about and what they are doing. What they are doing is infiltrating Orion’s throne room on New Genesis, what they are discussing is the redoing the condo, letting go of the past, their childhoods, and how to move on. These aren’t necessarily light subjects, but conversations moves well, with the sort of light back and forth that occurs between people who know each other very well and how to communicate efficiently. As they are talking about making a huge change in their lives they naturally digress to a heavy topic like death, but instead of heading down some deep emotional or philosophical hole the conversation keeps moving and ends with Barda make the sort of deep, but not really, rhetorical statement, “What do you love when you’re dead?” There isn’t a response from Scott as they immediately become trapped underwater. But even if they hadn’t, in the context of what is happening, its the sort of thing you say that you because it needs to be said and you both need to hear it, but not necessarily the answer. That’s an incredibly vague way to describe the dialogue, but as mentioned before, it has that sort of efficient quality to it because they do know each other intimately. The other specific thing they discuss worth mentioning is when they get to a discussion of their respective childhoods. Both of them grew up in the X-Pit on Apokolips under the supervision of Granny Goodness, but Scott was placed there while Barda was born there. So while their experience was the same the expectation they carried with them throughout and how it has affected their lives after is different. Scott was born on New Genesis and was taught to expect love while Barda never had that luxury. So while he has spent time actively suppressing and rejecting those memories, Barda understands them to be one noise (albeit painful and horrible noise) among a lifetime of it. Those, or any memories, can be whatever you want, a source of pain, a thing you run from, a thing you overcome. It doesn’t make the memories less horrible, less painful, less difficult to cope/work with but they are the thing you let them be. Scott doesn’t have much of an answer for Barda on this, and after a full page of silence finally agrees to her living room renovation idea. But this piece of dialogue echoes the flow of their previous discussion about holding onto things after death. Barda says this sort of profound truth in a very non-didactic way and Scott is left to mull. It comes back to the efficiency of communication between two people who know each other intimately, and this book, to its credit, has never lost sight of that relationship. Barda is worth coming back to each issue for as much as Scott is, and King has demonstrated that all of this is effecting Barda as much as it is Scott. They are very much together in this, and perhaps seeing if Scott is willing to change the condo was Barda’s round-a-bout way of gauging his reaction to her revealing that she is pregnant.
This is revealed right after they defeat Lightray (again) and before Scott enters the throne room where he goes in alone and finds Orion dead on the floor. For the first twenty-three pages of this comic none of the VHS tape blurring that has populated previous issues shows up, not a single instance. But as soon as Scott enters the throne room the blurring begins. He finds Orion dead on the floor, and in the very next panel we see, for the first time, Darkseid. For one single panel he is sitting on the throne in front of Scott, but is very distorted. He says to Scott, “Darkseid does not do.” The next panel says only “Darkseid is” and the next (with no distortion) indicates that someone traveled away from the throne room using a boom tube. The issue ends with Barda running in and Scott telling her he saw the face of God. This is a confusing end to an issue which was very clear, moved forward, had characters making progress, and wasn’t at all muddied visually or in terms of the plot. So what did Scott see at the end of this issue. The occurrence of a boom tube means someone was there, and it might have been Darkseid, but how is he affecting Scott and does this confirm that Scott is infected by the anti-life equation. These questions will have to wait at least until the next issue when the fallout from the last couple of pages settles.
Mitch Gerads’ art is a significant part of what makes this issue specifically a lot of fun. There are a bunch of visual “jokes as Scott and Barda make their way through the building and face a number of “insurmountable” obstacles. Gerads makes very good use of Scott’s aero discs in one scene where they are avoiding a number of deathly lasers. Scott sort of dances down this hallway jumping, turning, and using the discs to deflect the lasers that keep coming for them. He does all of this in such a way that barda is able to go underneath the lasers that he is deflecting. It is an exciting and colorful couple of pages, as the lighting in each panel keeps shifting between blue, green, and purple. The other fantastic sequence starts when they enter a shrinking room that will crush them. Each panel is surrounded by white space, and as the room’s ceiling begins to lower the white space begins to encroach into the panel, so that by the time they escape you can see very little of the room as the white has pushed the panel all the way down and covered most of the page. It’s a very unique effect that creates something very interesting happening on the page that isn’t just dialogue, which this series needs sometimes. There some other really great moments in here, and this is probably the best art of the series thus far.
(Subjective) Score out of 10: 9