Today I read a comic book that brought me to actual tears.
This isn’t entirely unusual. I’m a fairly empathetic person, if I’m honest. But it doesn’t happen too often in comics. When it does it’s usually a sign of something very good. The kind of emotional pull that even if it makes me think of the worst, I feel the best. It’s cathartic that way.
Today I read a comic book that brought me to actual tears. That comic was Mister Miracle #1 by Tom King and Mitch Gerads.
King, rightly celebrated as a new master of the form, and also apparently at bringing me to tears that marvellous sonuvabitch (he’s done it so far with Vision, The Omega Men and even Batman), teams up with his Sheriff of Babylon partner Gerads to tell a tale of one of Jack Kirby‘s greatest creations as we celebrate the centenary of that grand ol’ comics master’s life.
They weave a tale that feels familiar and strange at the same time, formally in structure, and contextually – because this story can be read as a tale of depression, and PTSD.
We follow Mister Miracle, after an opening suicide attempt, through a disjointed travel through his life afterwards. Punctuated repeatedly by black panels reading simply ‘Darkseid is’, we see Scott Free in a kind of fugue, and we see that his life and his reality have become something unreliable and frightening to him. And thus, us, the readers as well.
It’s brilliantly executed. Because that is what maybe Darkseid is. He’s that dark spot in the mind that won’t go away. The black dog that is always there, and sometimes pops up. That gets stronger, more common, bigger as our lives roll a too close a certain way.
Darkseid is the PTSD – of never leaving that hell world really, because it’s pits of fire and flame follow you everywhere, always there. It’s the war that never really goes away. It might be way off on the periphery for a while, but it’s there and at some point there’s the fear that one day, one day it will draw you back.
Darkseid is the hopelessness of being stuck in that cage, even when you think you’ve escaped, of knowing that it comes back.
Darkseid is the living nightmare of knowing that you cannot trust your own mind, that it can betray you, that you’ll always be caught by that last word before the ad break that leaves you reeling, confused and frightened.
But we also have Mister Miracle – bright, primary coloured super escape artist, trapped in the greatest of traps and maybe still there, and in twelve issues he’s going to perform those miracles on the pages for us, and remind us that even with that black spot following, there’s also life.
King and Gerads know what Darkseid is. This we can see in Mister Miracle #1. But they’ve also drawn God and know what he looks like. And I for one cannot wait to see.
Mister Miracle #1 is out now in comic stores and on ComiXology.
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