Written by Tom King
Art by Mitch Gerads & Clayton Cowles
Published by DC Comics
Release Date: October 11, 2017

Are you real?

Scott is haunted by dreams and dire memories, and in his difficulty sleeping, he has an important discussion that is quickly cut short. In his environment, he is trying to sort things out, to understand the reality of his choices and his circumstances. By the end, though, he may be forced to make a decision when he is confronted with an unexpected response to his actions.

Scott is a man lost among his own world. The bookends of the issue, their distorted and confusing images, provide a visual representation of his feelings. Everyone around him seems to know what they’re doing and why they’re doing it, while Scott is simply just trying to escape. At every point in this story, he looks like someone who’s had something important taken away from him, but he doesn’t know how to get it back or potentially even what it is. From a clinical standpoint, I find this effect striking.

Many of the people I’ve seen in a therapeutic setting have been people who want to reclaim some part of themselves: their past, their joy, their peace. Many of these people also look like Scott. That Tom King has woven this particular thread into Mister Miracle is evidence of how different levels, different elements can play together, from the direct plot regarding the New Gods and Apokolips to the narrative undercurrent that touches upon mental health, adjustment, and the cost of freedom.

King writes this the third issue of the comic with a pace that reflects real-time. This moment by moment structure slows down the story so that readers are able to take in and digest everything with keen focus. I like this sort of pacing because it capitalizes on the important aspects of everyday events, even something as simple as sleeping or as significant as an alien being disintegrated. King writes the story in a manner which gives us the same amount of time to process as the protagonist; we see things as they occur with less attention paid to what might happen next, and we are left to adjust to what happens much like Scott does, particularly toward the end.

Mitch Gerads takes something very mundane and leaves it rife with meaning. Much of this issue looks like the everyday life of an ordinary man. Yet, through every panel, Gerads showcases Scott’s dilemma through varying facial expressions, from the blankness when he’s taking a picture with a fan to his wide-eyed panic while he’s in bed. Through the nine-panel grid, events unfold in real time and we end up getting a very intimate look into Scott’s life. Gerads’ approach to art almost lets us into Scotts head, as we can see nearly every millisecond of his emotional life.

When it comes to color, Gerards seems very purposeful when gravitating away from neutral palettes. The opening scene is jarring, and its vivid pinks highlight the intensity of Scott’s memory while also aiding in its warped nature. Forager’s appearance is one of the many visual symbols related to the very stark forces driving Scott back to war and away from the bastion he’s tried to create for himself. The ending scene immediately lets us know something is up, as Gerads’ use of this range of yellows, a significantly constrasting scheme compared to the rest of the issue, evokes an uncomfortable energy corresponding to the story’s climactic scene.

On letters, Clayton Cowles pays close attention to emphasis. Scott’s words are rarely bolded, something I feel matches his demeanor through most of the story. The most significant piece of Cowles’ work is in Foragers speech. It is arguably the most impassioned dialogue in the issue and Cowles makes it clear that Scott is being asked to do something significant. Until Orion’s attack at the end of the issue, no one else talks with such fervor, working with the emotional tone set through the rest of what happens.

Mister Miracle #3 nearly leaves me speechless. Fully taking in this experience involves looking at things as they are, and as Barda and Forager encourage Scott to do, but also peering into the distortions, into Scott’s feelings, and investigating what other meaning emerges from the page. There’s a lot to manage within the plot, pacing, and the story’s visual elements, but they are all worth it for an adventure that works on multiple fronts.

The Verdict: 10/10


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