Spotlight Sunday 9.23.18

Spotlight Sundays

One of the greatest pages in the history of comics means that there no escape from the spoilers ahead for…

Mister Miracle #11
Writer: Tom King
Artist: Mitch Gerads
Cover: Nick Derrington
Variant Cover: Mitch Gerads
Rated M

“Never underestimate the power of a good veggie tray.”

I considered shining the Spotlight on Thor this week, as the story of the ancient King Thor fighting the Phoenix-possessed Old Man Logan in the far future, with the latter annoyed at the former for bringing back the spark of life on Earth in a dying universe that he wishes would just get on with the dying already, or Buffy, which marked the end of the Dark Horse era, as the license is moving on to another as-yet undisclosed publisher.

After all, given that it’s the only remaining Bonus from the days of the long-lost Weigh In, I was going to write at least a little bit about Mister Miracle anyway.

However, none of those other comics has this…

Darkseid is…a bit peckish.

…which earned the full attention of the Spotlight.

On its own, the page is simply great, but it’s that this is in many ways a pivotal scene that ties in directly to the stories denouement and flows naturally from everything that has come before – of course Scott brought a veggie tray to Apokolips, because that’s the sort of thing we’ve learned that Scott does – that makes it so much more than it already is.

Our story begins with Scott and Barda making their preparations for their journey to Apokolips to finalize a peace agreement between the gods, and as is characteristic of this series, that larger-than-life premise is presented in the mundane scenes of ensuring that they’ve packed enough diapers and haven’t forgotten anything that are a familiar experience for any new parents taking a trip.

With teething ring, and stuffed Batman, and, of course, the veggie tray in tow, they arrive in the throne room of the silent and impassive Darkseid to make the exchange. DeSaad does all the talking, and he suspects that Scott and Barda are up to something, but there’s nothing to be done other than complete the transfer of custody.

Barda hands little Jacob over to his grandfather, and Darkseid, through DeSaad, calls for the immediate withdrawal of his troops.

There remains only the small matter of the Anti-Life Equation, the knowledge of which would allow Darkseid to assume control over all living beings.

A mere detail.

Being knowledge, it’s not actually something that Darkseid can give up, but in order to effectively put knowledge into practice Darkseid requires the beams of the Omega Effect, which he releases from his eyes.

And you know what the Bible says to do if an eye offends thee..

With that out of the way, all that’s left is for Scott to say goodbye to his son.

“So don’t think about this, buddy. Don’t remember it. Just kind of know…that your father. That I… I love you, Jacob Free.”

This is, of course, part of the escape plan, and Barda busts out a weapon hidden in the bottom of Jacob’s stroller that she hopes will ensure that Darkseid isn’t.

That doesn’t go so well.

I won’t  spoil the ending to this issue, but I will mention that there is a prophecy that states that Darkseid can only be killed by his son. While the assumption has always been that this refers to Orion, throughout the series there has been some question about who the real son of Darkseid is. Biologically, of course, it was Orion, but Orion was raised by Highfather on New Genesis, while Scott was raised on Apokolips. There’s also the small matter of Orion being dead.

The ending here kind of dodges that question, in a very clever way, but also provides something of an answer to the other question that has arisen throughout the story so far: Where and how does this story fit?

As we – and poor Mitch – finally escape from the prison of the uniform nine-panel grid in which we’ve been trapped for so long and find ourselves in the wide-open world of a double-page spread, we learn at last that the answer to the where part, apparently, is that…it kind of doesn’t? But in terms of the how part, it might.

“See how it’s done in the next complete issue!”

I will add that, like any good mystery story, KIng has played fair with the reader. While there are surprises contained herein, all of them fit with what we have seen, and nothing comes out of left field.

Beyond simply singling out the comic I enjoy the most in a given week, part of what motivates me in making my Spotlight selection is whether there’s any sort of connecting theme between a given story and the state of my life. This week, I suppose, the theme was looking for a way out. An escape.

Unfortunately, I’m not the world’s greatest escape artist. I don’t really have a position anywhere on any list of great escape artists, so I take what I can get in the form of escapism.

Some people doubt the value of escapism, and sniff haughtily at the very idea of it having any value. Neil Gaiman tells a great story about that value, one which I won’t attempt to – poorly – retell here, but in many ways Mister Miracle brings that story to mind, as Gaiman’s uplifting tale of escape is mired in the horrific details of that from which escape was essential.

But we need those details. We need to have that understanding.

As much as Mister Miracle is an exploration of trauma and its effects, an allegory of escaping from those personal demons, it’s also a super-hero comic book.

It’s pure escapism of the highest sort.

Yes, it’s dark, and often horrifying. It has to be, because what we’re up against is dark and horrifying.

Darkseid is.

Depression is.

Anxiety is.

PTSD is.

Familial dysfunction is.

Sometimes the best approach to facing big problems is to break them down into smaller components. Into, say, nine panels distributed upon a page.

And sometimes the best approach is to make the problems bigger, to turn them into immensely powerful evil gods who mean to rob you of your hope. To make the mundane into the mythic.

Or, as this book so often does, make the mythic into the mundane.

That all of these approaches are taken in various ways – and that it works – is the miracle at the core of this miraculous series, and as we approach the end, I realize that the impact it’s had on me is one that I can’t escape.

As always, special thanks go out to my comic shop, Comic Logic Books & Artwork. Please remember to support your local comic shop, and if you need to find one, click here.

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