Prior to reading this Eisner Award winning limited series by Tom King and Mitch Gerad, I had only vague and obscure knowledge of Mister Miracle. Outside of being created by Jack Kirby in the 70s, his iconic appearance, and reputation for being an escape artist, I did not know him. Now I feel like I’ve truly been missing out on one of the greatest and most under appreciated superhero mythos ever. Mister Miracle keeps you on the edge of your seat with constant action while at the same time providing real depth. Scott Free, the name given to Mister Miracle by Granny Goodness, is a very complex man who on one hand is a powerful god with tremendous responsibilities and on the other hand, is a loving husband and eventual father who has to deal with very human experiences from coping with a troubled childhood to handling a work-life balance and paying the bills.
There are enough themes throughout Mister Miracle that one could possibly write a dissertation on this book. The primary theme though is finding triumph out of trauma. There are many themes within this theme such as Stockholm Syndrome, trauma breeds empathy, hopelessness, blood thicker than water, and obligation to family vs greater good.
Scott, along with his wife Big Barda, were raised in the x-pits on Apokalips. They were both raised by Granny Goodness who used pain and torture to harden them. The biggest difference is that the x-pits were all Barda had ever known. Having been born on Apokalips, she had never known love and therefore never saw Granny as anything more than noise among the screams of the damned. However, she points out that since Scott had been born on New Genesis and was loved by his birth parents, he had known love prior to being placed on Apokalips under Granny’s care. His father, the Highfather of New Genesis, and Darkseid, the ruler of Apokalips, had struck a deal to exchange their sons and raise them on their worlds as a treaty to end a long and bloody war. Although Scott was always trying to escape, he was also always seeking Granny’s approval and felt love when she ended her torture earlier than anticipated. It is clear that Scott was a victim of Stockholm syndrome.
Trauma impacts everyone differently. Mister Miracle is certainly a tale of overcoming trauma and becoming a better man whether due to it or in spite of it. One such as example is when he goes against Orion when he feels empathy for the bugs. He listens to Forager when he discusses the overwhelming casualties being caused by Orion having no regard for his species. The bugs are sent to the frontline as cannon fodder as it is clear that Orion does not value their lives as much as the New Gods.
This causes a schism between Orion, the true son of Darkseid, and newly appointed Highfather. Orion is far from a likable character. He seems to have very little depth and only thinks in binary terms. You are either with him or you are not. Even with how horrible Orion treats Scott, Scott even shows remorse when Orion falls to Darkseid. Darkseid himself is very instrumental in Scott’s character development. He represents the worst result of trauma: hopelessness. Darkseid can be interpreted as an unconquerable constant that can never be overcome or swayed, much like the volcano that took out Pompeii or the meteorite that eradicated the dinosaurs. “Darkseid does not do. Darkseid is.”
Even when Scott would have every reason to give into hopelessness and despair, he still finds reasons to go on. He and his wife manage to love each other and work hard to have a healthy relationship regardless of the acute suffering both have endured. They are seen working out their differences and having healthy discussions regarding family planning even in the midst of disaster.
We all at some point in our lives have family members we don’t get along with. Perhaps it’s the family you marry into that has members that disapprove. This is no different for Scott. Barda is a fury from Apokalips. Although she is “free” of Darkseid, her sisters are not. Even though they have vowed to kill Scott and all of the New Gods of Genesis, they still attend the birth of Scott and Barda’s child and even help ensure the baby is safe. Even though they serve Darkseid and appear to be clearly evil, their bonds to Barda that would have been sewn through trauma, are apparently stronger.
Also, having his baby only furthered his empathy towards others to the point even tried to spare a baby parademon in the midst of a battle.
Without giving too much away, Mister Miracle is ultimately faced with choices regarding his family where that it seems either choice has an unbearable consequence that would likely break him. His strength, empathy, and compassion drive Scott to achieve remarkable feats of heroism far beyond his miraculous escapes. Did trauma mold him into a hero or was it his heroism that allowed him to persevere? Read and find out. You won’t regret it.