Tom King and Mitch Gerads’ Mister Miracle returns this week after a month off, and – as we say each month with this series – this may be the best issue yet.
It’s funny: King and Gerads referred to last issue as their “season one climax”, and Miracle does feel like a great TV show. Like one of these new-age, premium dramedies that you find on cable, where there’s a clear plotline through the season, but each episode also serves as it’s own little story-within-a-story. Think Atlanta. This approach allows for more freedom in how the team tells their story, and sets this series apart from all other mainstream superhero books on the shelves.
This issue sees Scott and Barda return to the hospital last seen in issue one, the one Scott was brought to after his suicide attempt. This time, however, they’re there for a more joyous occasion: the birth of their child, the first New God born of both New Genesis AND Apokolips.
Minus the first few pages, this story takes place entirely inside the hospital, mostly within Barda’s delivery room. This makes for a very claustrophobic atmosphere. Even those first few pages are set inside a tiny, cramped car. Couple this setting with Mister Miracle‘s signature nine-panel grid structure, and this issue has the strongest feeling of entrapment yet.
And if that isn’t enough, the team decides to amp up the tension even further. A heart monitor around Barda’s stomach adds a persistent “beepbeep” to every panel. It has sort of a “Tell-Tale Heart” effect. The constant beeping adds a sense of dread to what’s supposed to be a joyful event. Clayton Cowles slips the sound effect into just the right spot in each panel too. It never steals focus, but it’s often the most powerful part of the panel. That’s the subtle power of lettering that’s too often overlooked. Your heart will beat faster as you read, guaranteed.
The beeping plays well with the 9-panel grid as well. The grid’s designed to play with time, to slow you down and mess with your pace. King and Gerads use it to disrupt your reading experience and take you out of your comfort zone, and the incessant beeping doubles down on that.
Finally (God, there’s so much to talk about in this issue), Mitch Gerads’ character work here is his best of the series so far. There’s no action in this story, so it’s totally dependent on the characters acting. Gerads puts so much emotion and thought into Scott and Barda’s faces that you know exactly what they’re going through. You don’t just see it; you feel it yourself. Like everything else in this series, it will make you laugh, it will make you cry, and it will take your breath away.
Mister Miracle #7 shows that King and Gerads still have plenty of tricks left up their sleeves to disturb their readers. It’s useless to try and guess where the series is going, so just sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride. Or, more likely, sit on the edge of your seat and enjoy the existential dread and anxiety as you ponder your entire existence.