Tom King and Mitch Gerads’ MISTER MIRACLE reinvents Jack Kirby’s heroic New God for the strange new world of today. In this series of posts, writer Meg Downey unpacks each new issue of this ambitious series, getting to the themes and ideas within.
Have you ever had that feeling—I guess you could call it deja vu—where suddenly, for really no discernible reason, you start to wonder just why and how you got to the place you’re in?
Now, I don’t mean falling into a full-blown existential crisis. I’m not talking about those times where you abruptly feel like you don’t know your “purpose” in the bigger picture, or whatever. And it’s not necessarily that you can’t remember the literal steps you took—you can probably remember the act of moving your body from point A to point B… But the theory behind it, the negative space between standing up and stepping forward, that’s all gone. Just for a split second, you have no idea what’s happening, or how it’s happening, or why it’s happening. It’s like the metaphorical cameras responsible for filming your life accidentally pitched themselves to a totally improbable angle, or zoomed out way too far, if only for a moment.
The point is: there are times in life where the world feels…wrong. Sometimes they’re brief, little split-second blips, “glitch in the Matrix” style. But other times? Other times, you don’t get off that easy.
Scott Free is not a character who tends to get off easy, which is ironic for a couple of reasons, but especially considering his specialty is escape. If you’re coming to MISTER MIRACLE #1 as a New Gods newbie, that’s really the most important thing you need to know. Imagine experiencing one of those terrible, extended lost-in-reality moments while also knowing that your one and only quote-unquote “super power” is getting out of situations you don’t want to be in.
I’m not a New God, or an escape artist—most days I’m lucky to even get out of my apartment without screwing something up—but I don’t think I need to be to understand how terrible that would feel. And here’s the thing—that awful, claustrophobic feeling of being stuck somewhere that just isn’t right? That’s Scott’s entire life.
Let me tell you a story.
Once upon a time, there was a deal struck between Highfather of New Genesis and Darkseid of Apokolips to broker peace between their worlds. They’d each give a son to the other as a sort of insurance policy. Highfather gave Darkseid his son Scott, while Darkseid gave Highfather his son Orion. The idea being that neither world would want to destroy the other while one of their own was being raised there.
So, Scott—escape artist, miracle maker, son of New Genesis—was raised a captive in the pits and the hellfire of one of the most brutally inhospitable places in the universe. And he couldn’t get out, not without jeopardizing the peace that had been so carefully brokered between the worlds.
And it worked, of course, until it didn’t.
But you can imagine that the story doesn’t end there. In fact, the story doesn’t really end at all, the way that stories about gods and heroes usually don’t. But there are moments here and there that are very happy. Scott falls in love with another resident of Apokolips, Big Barda of the Female Furies, and the two of them learn together that maybe escaping isn’t always an all-or-nothing game.
But not all traps are made equal.
There’s a recurring panel through all of Mister Miracle #1: solid black, with white writing spelling out “Darkseid is.” It’s ominous almost because it really isn’t ominous. There’s nothing inherently scary about text, especially when it’s cutting into a grid of images where Scott is literally bleeding to death on his bathroom floor. But that in and of itself is why it’s so terrifying.
It’s not a question or even a threat. It’s not a riddle or a clue or a mystery. It’s just a statement: Darkseid is. It’s everything Scott’s never been able to actually escape from—not by fleeing Apokolips, not by finding love with Barda, not by kickstarting his life on Earth as a celebrity. It’s the trap that he’s never been free of.
Darkseid is the sort of endless, looming patience that’s less about anticipation and more about inevitability; the opposite of freedom.
Darkseid is, and there’s something very, very wrong with the world. The cameras are glitching, the picture is getting fuzzy and warped, the moments between knowing and doing are getting harder and harder to parse. Barda’s eyes were blue once, weren’t they? And if death isn’t a window or a door, then what is it?
What does the God of Escape do when there is no way out?
The answer, of course, is simple: He stands.