DC ROUND-UP: Escaping to the Fourth World in MISTER MIRACLE #12

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DC Comics is trying something new. In the wake of their Rebirth initiative, the publisher has rapidly expanded its content to include diverse new imprints such as Young Animal, Wildstorm, Wonder Comics, Black Label, Ink, and Zoom. As their lineup expands, it can be hard to figure out what to pick up each week. That’s what our team is here to help with, every Wednesday, with the DC Round-Up!

THIS WEEK: Wonder Woman’s new creative team and Mister Miracle’s final bow.

Note: the reviews below contain spoilers. If you want a quick, spoiler-free buy/pass recommendation on the comics in question, check out the bottom of the article for our final verdict. 


 

Mister Miracle #12

 

Writer: Tom King

Pencils, Inks, Colors: Mitch Gerads

Letterer: Clayton Cowles

 

Last issues are exciting. Last issues are where you get all the answers.

This last issue of Mister Miracle is especially exciting, as it puts a bow on one of the most personal and disturbingly relatable comics in recent memory. It’s a story about superheroes, yes, but that part stays mostly in the background. It’s obvious after reading even a single issue of this book that it’s really a story about your life. I mean my life.

I mean Scott Free’s life. Mister Miracle, super escape artist. He’s been infected by the anti-life equation which whispers dark words in his mind as he goes about his mundane and extraordinary existence. The equation isn’t especially chatty but it’s always there, a simple and constant reminder that darkness exists: Darkseid is.

Scott’s life is filled with joyful things. He has a loving wife and a young son and an exciting job in show business. On weekends he moonlights as a high-ranking general in the everlasting war between two extra-dimensional planets: the paradise of his birth world and the torture pits of his adolescence. Both of them stand in stark contrast to his current world of in-betweenness. It can’t be said that his life isn’t filled with meaning and wonder. Throngs of fans chant his name and dream about living such a life. Scott has moments of pure joy and transcendence. He has more blessings than any man could rightfully expect.

But still, there’s that voice. Darkseid is.

There are moments where his wife is upset and he can’t seem to make things right. Sometimes he hears her voice morph suddenly into the ghost of his mother-figure, asking “How could you do this to me?” Not to be outdone, Scott’s father makes visits from beyond the grave to remind the son what a disappointment and a failure he is. There’s a deceased brother who makes an appearance as well to point out that the chase of life is more exciting than the daily reality of it. Scott listens, he fights, he dwells. The voice is powerful.

And when he’s not being harrassed by departed friends and old regrets, Scott’s life spins on at a dizzying pace. What freedom he and Barda had was lost when the baby arrived. Now it’s a constant cycle of feeding and cleaning and appointments and late night runs to the store. Scott barely finds time to argue with all of the ghosts of the past (though he makes time) and lives in a constant state of exhaustion that makes him all the more susceptible to the depressing certainty of the anti-life equation that fills his head. It all feels like a trap.

He had a chance to escape it all. Last issue he was given an opportunity to walk away from all the exhaustion and the fighting and the pain. Metron warned him, “Where you are is not where you should be, Scott Free.” He was told he could wake up in the real world and give up the act. In fact the series started (on page one of issue one) with Scott’s attempted suicide and we the readers are left to wonder — did he actually die in that opening scene? Has he been in hell this entire time, and by staying did he just give up his chance for freedom?

Or is it possible that this is heaven and he decided not to escape it? That behind all the weariness and pain and doubt, this life that Scott has found is also filled with joy? He has a son who grabs his nose and laughs. He has friends and family who help with the inevitable everyday challenges. He has followed some examples and rejected others as he has taken his father’s place to rule. And through all of the difficulties and triumphs, he has his beloved Barda. Would Scott Free truly be Mister Miracle without her?

This last issue doesn’t offer any answers. Only possibilities. We’re all dreaming the next world and we always will be. Mister Miracle still hears the voice whispering darkness into his ear, and he can still choose whether to listen to it or not. Scott is.

 

Verdict: Buy


 

Wonder Woman #58

Writer: G. Willow Wilson

Pencils: Cary Nord

Inks: Mick Gray

Colors: Romulo Fajardo Jr.

Lettering: Pat Brosseau

There are many different faces of Wonder Woman, many contrasting characterizations. She can be the bloodthirsty warrior, the regal queen, the practiced diplomat. She is sometimes portrayed as the naive outsider or the nurturing caregiver. With a new creative team comes a new Diana Prince, and you never know which you’re going to get.

In this first issue from the pen of G. Willow Wilson (and with gorgeous illustrations from Nord, Gray, and Fajardo), the mythical elements of the series’ history are placed front and center. We are reminded that the Amazons have imprisoned the God of War in the dark caves underneath  Paradise Island, while insurgents in Durovnia (which looks to be somewhere near Greece or Turkey) are harboring a Pegasus, a Minotaur, and a satyr. With the recent emphasis on Diana being associated with magic, it’s nice to see a reminder that she is more appropriately known for being a creation of myth.

I personally like Diana when she’s portrayed as a normal (ish) woman. Obviously normal is a relative concept in a superhero comic as we see the Amazonian hero in full-on action, fighting armies with a sword and jumping out of a helicopter to land unharmed on the ground far below. She uses her golden lasso to disarm some militants and her shield to deflect a hailstorm of sniper bullets. This Wonder Woman comic isn’t light on the Wonder.

But beyond the godlike heroics, it’s important that we can connect to the woman. Sandwiched between the stuff about the Amazon warrior island and the escaped creatures of fable is a three-page moment of Diana waking up to Steve Trevor in a hotel room in Northern Virginia. She sleeps in a simple pajama top and shorts, not bare naked or in full armor. There’s a glass of water next to the bed along with her cell phone. Steve jokes about what a heavy sleeper she is and Diana slaps his butt playfully. It’s a brief exchange that solidly connects us to Wonder Woman’s real life. It reminds us that she is still a woman under all the armor and superheroics.

And then Etta calls her with alarming news and Diana gets wonderful.

Wonder Woman has always been a book about war and about peace. This first entry promises to keep those themes front and center as Diana rushes into battle to protect the innocent in her role as both warrior and diplomat. As in every war, the difference between right and wrong is murky. How can Wonder Woman uphold democracy and protect the sanctioned actions of a legitimate government while also defending those marginalized citizens that the democratically-elected government is (legally) suppressing? How can any of us?

The refugee Minotaur said it best. “We just have to stick together until something starts to make sense.”

 

Verdict: Buy


Round-Up

  • There’s something liberating about reading a book set solidly in the DC universe with no (well, almost no) recognizable characters. Electric Warriors #1 is set centuries in the future and does a great job of establishing the world and its politics, introducing the main players, and pushing them into action. Sure, Batman could show up at any moment, but so far it’s a pristine playground in a new corner of the multiverse. And that’s neat.
  • House of Whispers is so weird. I don’t know who I’m supposed to root for in that book.
  • The Atom is getting a lot of love lately. This week Ray Palmer is using his powers to enlarge the Earth in Superman #5 and kicking ass with his buddy Carter in the microverse in Hawkman #6.
  • Major pet peeve: when a comic book cover makes empty promises.  Case in point, The Flash #58 says on its cover “WHAT IS THE SECRET OF GORILLA CITY?” which I took as an indication that I’d be let in on the secret if I bought the book. Reasonable assumption, right? But then I totally didn’t learn anything at all about Gorilla City! I suggest a revised , more accurate cover tagline that reads “WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE A GLIMPSE OF GORILLA CITY ON THE LAST PAGE?”
  • Supergirl is a fun damn book.

 Miss any of our earlier reviews?  Check out our full archive!

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