web stats

CSBG Archive

365 Reasons to Love Comics #347

The B-Side to Kirby’s masterwork– the most sensational character find of 1971! (Archive.)

12/13/07

347. Mister Miracle

Miracle 1.jpg 

Yesterday, I talked about the New Gods and Jack Kirby‘s Fourth World. Another comic in that World was Mister Miracle, and it was a groovy book, filled with an equal number of big, awesome ideas as its fellow Kirby comics. Of Jack’s Fourth World line of comics, Mister Miracle would prove to be the most popular, lasting a good seven issues longer than its compatriots New Gods or Forever People.

Continuing the war metaphor, Mister Miracle was the story of the conscientious objector, the one who got out. Scott Free, the son of Highfather, traded to Apokolips as part of The Pact (New Gods #7), grows up in the evil Granny Goodness’ orphanage, but escapes and travels to Earth (unfortunately, that nullifies the truce set forth by the pact. Oops). There, he becomes friendly with Thaddeus Brown, an escape artist known as Mister Miracle. Tragedy strikes, however, and Scott finds himself thrust into the role of his mentor, teaming with his partner, the diminutive Oberon. Together, they travel around putting on shows and occasionally fighting the Apokoliptan evil that’s invading Earth.

The very premise of the book makes Mister Miracle one of my favorite characters: “super escape artist!” Houdini by way of Steranko, it’s taking a cool thing up to the next level, and producing a character idea that had never been done before. Also, it was filled with that wonderfully way-out technology that Kirby loved to draw. I’m sorry I wasn’t able to scan in a bunch of pages from my Omnibi, but I found some online– and I’ve also provided several covers. Kirby drew his best covers ever on this series.

Miracle 2.jpgMiracle 3.jpgMiracle 4.jpg

Mister Miracle built up a great supporting cast in the beautiful, talented, and ass-kicking Big Barda, as well as the aforementioned Oberon and Scott’s own protege, Shilo Norman. The gallery of baddies was excellent as well: Granny Goodness! Virmin Vundabar! The Female Furies! Doctor Bedlam! Great characters.

The series lasted 18 issues of death-defying stunts, unbelievable traps, and crazy adventures. Multiple revivals occurred afterward, and Scott enjoyed membership in the Justice League International for a while. Some of his greatest post-Kirby development, however, occurred at the very end of Walt Simonson‘s Orion series, in which we learned that Scott Free had possessed the Anti-Life Equation all his life, right under Darkseid‘s nose, but had trained himself to never use it. Only Mister Miracle could escape the ALE’s corruption.

Miracle 5.jpgMiracle 7.JPGMiracle 6.jpg

Scott Free works best as a bright, laughing figure, especially in comparison to the grim Orion. Whether soaring through the sky on his aero-discs or using Mother Box to find his way out of a seemingly impossible trap, the man known as Mister Miracle always gave us fun, exciting stories. Jack Kirby was damn good at his job.

DC’s currently killing off the New Gods. Will Mister Miracle be spared? Will he be the one to escape death? I suppose we’ll find out in a few months.

For Mister-Miracle-by-Kirby goodness, snatch up the Fourth World Omnibi.

10 Comments

My first encounter with Mister Miracle was #3, “The Paranoid Pill!”. Doctor Bedlam was a great villain, and I particularly enjoyed how he was introduced in the first few pages of the comic.

I was only 7 at the time, but even then, I was very conscious of Kirby’s work, and was gravitating to the comics he drew, whether they were the new DC books or the Marvel reprints that were coming out at the time.

One of my absolute favorite runs of comics ever in the history of anything. I love New Gods, but they didn’t have the connectable human element like MM did.

Great book, very nice write-up.

Kirby refered it in the comics several times as a version of Oliver Twist.
While everybody prefered his adventures on Earth, I find his intrusions on Apokolips as enjoyable (the Young Scott Free stories are some of the best of the series, and #9, continuation of The Pact is as good as the story it follows).

Lest not forget that the first series “last” more than 18 issues. There is a 3 years gap between #18 and #19 (march 1974 – Sept 1977), with a new creative team. While they were fresh from his run on Batman the team of Englehart and Rogers was very poor in comparison. Later, (#23) came Steve Gerber and a young Michael Golden, too bad that the implosion came on #25 (there were a #26 announced).

But we’re talking of Kirby and without doubt there has not been anyone who has done Mr. Miracle better than him (thank you for not to mention what Morrison did with Shilo Norman on Seven Soldiers).

“Kirby drew his best covers ever on this series”? As much as I love the book, I wouldn’t go that far. I think his best covers ever were on some of the old Journey Into Mystery/Thor (JIM #121 especially, with the giant-sized Absorbing Man in full swing), and some of the FFs.

And by the way, if you even CONSIDER running through this Kirby’s greatest hits series without a feature on Thor, I’ll… I’ll… well, I’ll be really really petulant, just for starters.

Anyway, yes, Mister Miracle, which featured Barda, my favorite female comics character ever, at least up until Alan Moore re-interpreted Wilhelmina Murray. It also featured (to me) the greatest line of dialogue in any comic ever, from the end of the glorious “Himon” issue, “Let me be Scott Free, and find myself!”
OK, out of context it doesn’t sound like much. But read the issue, read the issue. Jack didn’t need no stinking dialogue coach or editor here.

Loved Scott Free and his supporting cast. Was also a Kamandi fan

On my first reading, MM was my least favourite Fourth World series. But on my second it became the first.

Here Jack does a satire years before Giffen’s JLA. Remember Vermin Vundabarr, Granny Goodness and Kanto.

Also Kirby creates (one of?) the first truly feminist comic book. Where a group of female villains (the Female Furies) is composed of atractive and monstruous characters exactly like a male one. And let’s not forget the issue where Barda sunbathes by the pool while Scott cooks the dinner!

I absolutely agree on the quality of the Fourth World, especially with the assertion that The New Gods is the best thing Kirby ever did. I haven’t read all through the run of Mister Miracle yet, so I can’t comment on it as easily, but I felt it was a little static in earlier issues–some weirdo would challenge Mister M, he’d get out of their trap by using the convenient technology he always had to hand, and then he’d go back home. However, the backstory was great, and it was clear interesting things were starting to happen in issue 6, the last one I’ve read.

Obviously, as you can infer from that, I’m going through the omnibuses one by one. In fact, I’m doing a whole series of deconstructions of each issue over at my blog:

http://prankster36.livejournal.com/

I’d love to hear what you guys think of it.

[...] Before he exploded onto the comics scene, Jim Steranko had led the life of a magician, carnival performer, musician, and, most notably, an escape artist (inspiring Jack Kirby’s Mister Miracle). Eventually, he made the leap into comics, first through Harvey, and later Marvel, in the 60s. There, he ended up on Strange Tales, and quickly took over the Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD segment of the book, where he really got noticed. [...]

[...] 365 Reasons to Love Comics 347 [...]

Leave a Comment

 

Categories

Review Copies

Comics Should Be Good accepts review copies. Anything sent to us will (for better or for worse) end up reviewed on the blog. See where to send the review copies.

Browse the Archives