If there’s one superhero I’d love to see get his own movie, it’s Mister Miracle. Unless you’re a regular follower of superhero comics in general and DC comics in particular, you likely don’t know who he is—the guy hasn’t really shown up in any popular media outside of a few cartoon episodes, and he’s never been a front-and-center kind of character in the DC Universe. His costume is garish and goofy compared to most superheroes these days—he looks out of place even in a comic book, let alone the real world. He doesn’t have any terribly novel superpowers, either, just the usual suite of superhuman strength and stamina, and he’s pretty much ageless, locked in at about 30 years old.
His actual defining characteristic, though, has pretty much nothing to do with superpowers: He’s the best escape artist in the universe, and the reason why is incredibly tragic.
Born Scott Free—a name so on-the-nose it’s almost beautiful—Mister Miracle is a member of the New Gods, a group of superhumans from worlds called New Genesis and Apokolips, analogues of heaven and hell. Created by Jack Kirby, co-creator of pretty much the entirety of the early Marvel Universe, the New Gods were a grand opus from perhaps the greatest creator comics has ever seen. New Genesis and Apokolips were at war, and in an effort to broker peace, the god of one would send their son to be the ward of the other. Mister Miracle was the kid who got the raw end of that deal, a boy born of heaven forced to live in hell, ignorant of his heritage.
Mister Miracle #1 doesn’t explain any of this, though, nor does it really need to. Instead, it starts with a tragedy: Mister Miracle, the most famous escape artist in the world, tries to kill himself. For the rest of the issue, we meet his family and fellow New Gods as they, and Scott Free, wrestle with the question, Why?
The latest work from Tom King and Mitch Gerads, the red-hot writer/artist team behind the best comic of last year, the Iraq War murder mystery The Sheriff of Babylon, Mister Miracle is a comic of powerful juxtapositions—the brassy showmanship of a magician mashed up against the vacant gaze of a broken man, a small personal story with a thread of horror that hints at a grand, existential oblivion looming at the end of this journey. The character’s history is subtext, there for fans to pick up on and played to disorienting effect for newcomers: Maybe you don’t know who Darkseid is, but the cosmic horror of his presence and the very idea of something called the Anti-Life Equation conveys a primal sort of dread that you can grasp without any sort of background knowledge.
Mister Miracle might be one of the rawest superhero comics I’ve read in recent memory. It’s certainly a bleak start to a new story from one of the most exciting teams in comics. But there’s hope there, if you look. It promises a grand, modern tour through one of the most imaginative mythos’ in superhero comics, a book that places the marriage of Scott Free and Big Barda—secretly one of the best relationships in any comic book universe—front and center. And of course, it’s a book that starts bleak because it has to. Because that’s the point of a Mister Miracle story—finding the magician trapped in impossible circumstances, with death and oblivion all but certain, despair in the eyes of everyone they know. Then comes the fun part: Watching him get away.