Mister Miracle #8 shifts back and forth between Scott Free’s adjustments to being Highfather in a war against Apokolips and to being a new father who switches out with Barda from the front line of battle to tend to little Jacob. Readers of the series thus far know I don’t need to end this introduction with a question about whether or not this issue was good.
It was excellent. This is one of my favorite issues of the series thus far. Writer Tom King takes the relatively simple premise of offering alternating snapshots of the Scott Free at war and at home and injects them with so much gravitas and emotion that by the end of the issue I was completely affected and exhausted in a great way. The scenes on Apokolips show grisly, ugly moments of war where one’s humanity is abandoned for the sake of exterminating the opposing force. The running theme of war’s dehumanizing effect is complicated throughout the issue by the Mother Box updates Scott receives from Barda at home.
For example, King overlays a moment of Scott having a wound tended to with a conversation about Jacob’s sleep schedule that reminds the reader of the contradictory position of a soldier at war. How can one reject the humanity of one’s enemy while maintaining the emotional ties to one’s loved ones at home? These are the questions that Mister Miracle #8 grapples with that led me to being both horrified yet moved by the issue’s plot. If you’re worried about a totally emotionally draining issue, King injects plenty of humor into the home — life moments that break up the more emotionally laborious moments of the issue and lets the reader breathe a little.
As usual, Mitch Gerads brings his A-game to the art of Mister Miracle. Readers of the series thus far will be reminded of the photo-realistic texture Gerads uses to render the topography of Apokolips. Characters’ faces continue to be expressive and consistently rendered and the little white motion lines continue to add an almost humorous touch to the action. Essentially, Gerads continues to deliver the same level of quality as he always has, so for this issue, I’ll make special mention of a couple details that stood out. First, we get to see more of Scott Free’s wardrobe full of superhero shirts and once the main Justice League members are represented, we start to see some less mainline characters which leads to a great Easter egg moment involving a Superman shirt.
There’s also a moment on Apokolips with Lightray that involves using his powers to carve out a chunk of land that effectively conveys how powerful these characters are because of how Gerads illustrates the huge clouds of debris being blasted into the air by Lightray’s energy beam. I also love how starkly contrasting in color the scenes on Earth and Apokolips are. While Apokolips is rendered in photorealistic textures and dark, muddy palettes that let neon lazer blasts pop in contrast, Earth scenes are drawn in an almost storybook style with white outlines that often look like chalk. It’s relatively small details like this that feel like icing on top of consistently great illustration work throughout. Clayton Cowles’ lettering continues to fit the mood of each moment and I especially love the slightly different font choice used for Funky Flashman that evokes an older feel to the character reminiscent of Kirby’s run.
As I said, this is one of my favorite issues of Mister Miracle so far. Readers should buckle up for an emotional roller coaster that asks heavy questions where the answers are conflicting and complicated in a very real way. Even if you haven’t been reading the series thus far, though there would be plot-related context missing, I feel I can recommend this issue as a standalone read that would hook readers into catching up and reading more.