Mister Miracle #10 follows Scott Free as he tries to organize a birthday party for the son he might choose to sacrifice to Darkseid in order to end the war between New Genesis and Apokolips. He and Big Barda must choose between the life of their new son or the lives of millions on New Genesis in the ongoing war. Does the issue lay out this impossible conflict in a compelling way?
Honestly, no. There is one page where I could feel the weight of Scott’s decision literally pressing down on him until he was on the floor, but besides that I don’t think Tom King’s script really sold the torture Scott should be going through having to make this choice. I appreciate that the issue wasn’t a depressing slog to get through, but the tone was kept almost too light for my liking, with several comedic moments that just fell flat for me given the circumstances. There were times when Scott spoke so casually and frankly about the decision he and Barda have to make, it read less as him facing the challenge head on or speaking frankly for the sake of comedic irony and more as the stakes just feeling lower than they should.
My other main issue with King’s script is the way Scott’s suicide attempt from the series’ first issue is revisited here. I’ll try to dance around the details, but the focus on the attempt is placed exclusively on someone other than Scott and the attitudes taken towards his actions there are incredibly insensitive. Granted, I don’t think the reader is intended to be on the same side as that character, but they voice an unhealthy, selfish narrative that is so commonly repeated in the real world, it was hard to tell for sure if this was a moment where that character was meant to be read as insensitive, or if it was intended as a moment where Scott is actually put in his place for feeling the need to commit suicide. The lack of clarity in how I as the reader was meant to interpret that scene is troubling enough regardless of King’s intent in writing it.
Mitch Gerads continues to deliver the same level of quality and consistency as he always has. Scott and Barda are out of costume for most of the issue, which makes for a lot of great clothing and texture work from Gerads. There is a lot of excellently rendered denim in this issue thanks to Gerads’ generous, yet careful inking to really bring the texture of the pants to life. There is also a page where Scott is driving at night and the panels are gorgeously splattered with circles of orange, yellow, and red to convey all the reflective headlights and brake lights of Los Angeles traffic. The coloration is so strong that at a glance it looks less like applied shapes of color and more like photorealistic reflections of light edited on top of the comic art. It says a lot about the consistently high level of quality from Gerads that I’m essentially picking which small details to expand on with each review rather than feel the need to speak about the quality of his renderings. Because this is a calmer issue with more conversation than action, Clayton Cowles doesn’t get a ton to do with the lettering, but whenever a panel calls for a sound effect or shift in font, he delivers. I especially like one panel where a “BANG” curves around slightly with the arc of a punch hitting glass.
Overall, Mitch Gerads and Clayton Cowles work in this issue elevate a script that is written well enough but has some major issues with tone and clearly conveyed ideas. This issue feels like more of a bridge between chapters reacting to what happened last month and setting up the month to come. Because of that, I’m hoping the script here is just a small dip in the road and that the series picks back up leading into the last two issues.