Mister Miracle #9 sees Scott Free, Big Barda, and Light Ray meet in a negotiations summit with Kalibak, Kanto, and Bernadeth to decide the course of the war between Apokolips and New Genesis. Does the issue maintain the strong pace the series has had so far?
With this issue, Tom King scripts a slow, methodical read. The nine-panel grid here makes the reader take their time with the issue and while it never feels boring, the steady pacing of each beat reflects the exasperation Scott Free feels across the multi-day summit. Pace and payoff have been one of the series’ strong suits and in this issue there are a couple pages where as I moved through each panel, I couldn’t tell where it was going or if it was going anywhere at all. That is until I got a satisfying panel at the bottom of the grid that made the several panels previous feel like excellent build-up to a satisfying punchline.
Instead of just vamping to spend time however, King loads the script with dialogue that feels unrelated to the immediate plot but addresses overall themes and ideas in a way that gives Mister Miracle the prestige feeling it has nurtured across the past eight issues. As with several other issues in the series, not much actually happens in this issue aside from conversations, but in this series, words sometimes do speak louder than superfluous action would.
Whether the panel is full of words or says nothing at all, Mitch Gerads continues to deliver a level of consistent, impressive rendering that makes each character feel alive and relatable. When Scott Free is wearing his mask, his solid white eyes and furrowing brow speak just as loudly as when he is unmasked and shows a wide range of emotions Gerads expertly recreates. His backgrounds appear as uniform textures at a glance, but upon closer inspection, details like a subtly protruding omega symbol emerge in the stonework of Apokolips. The subtlety in how Darkseid’s sigil creeps into the panels reflect the underlying concept of “Darkseid is,” while also setting the characters in a well-crafted world.
Gerads’s colors and effects continue to impress as in sickly pinks and reds of human viscera and the walls of pits that start in light shades of browns which wash into putrid greens the deeper down away from the light they go. There is a lot of brown in this issue, but the neutral tone helps contribute to the effect I mentioned of the previous paragraph of hiding details in plain sight. The distortion effects used throughout the series appear here as well and there’s one panel in particular that made me gasp in delight; a feeling Jack Kirby fans are sure to share when they reach the same point in the issue.
Overall, Mister Miracle #9 balances humor and gravitas well and though little moves forward with regards to plot, the payoff at the end of the issue is more than worth it. The team continues to bring their A-game to every issue and as usual, reading this one makes me unable to wait a whole month to see what happens next.