Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Mister Miracle

I talk a lot about Superman here at LoM, but as Jamie will roll her eyes and tell you, my interests go far beyond just The Man of Steel.

For some reason I've never been able to put a finger on, I dig Mister Miracle.

Mr. Miracle's story goes a little something like this:

Across a dimensional barrier and/ or in deep space, there are two planets constantly at war with one another: Apokolips, ruled by Darkseid, a despot who defies even the darkest definitions of cruelty and evil*, and New Genesis (capital, floating city: Supertown), a peaceful, green world which is inhabited by the New Gods and ruled by the benevolent hand of Highfather.

It doesn't take a master reader to decipher that Apokolips is where all the bad cosmic guys hang out and New Genesis is home to the celestial beings in white hats. It probably also won't come as a suprise that the stories surrounding the characters of what is called "Kirby's Fourth World" are usually broad in scope, but the currents always seem to run deeper than the slug fests you found in other comics.

One of the many characters which spun off from Kirby's Fourth World is Scott Free, aka: Mister Miracle. The son of Highfather, raised in the Armaghetto's of Apokolips, Scott Free dreamed of only one thing: escape.

The antithesis of the vision Darkseid has of crushing and subjugating the universe, Scott Free was the only being ever to escape from Darkseid's twisted planet. He came to Earth where he now uses his tremendous talent to entertain as showman, Mister Miracle, but also as a proud member of the JLA.

Mister Miracle is (and, again, I suggest you read his back story to find out why) THE WORLD'S GREATEST ESCAPE ARTIST!!!

You can read about Mister Miracle here (and I suggest you do. He has one of the coolest back stories in comicdom). And here (this one is better than Wikipedia's entry).

Today I feel like Mr. Miracle. Almost, but not quite. I feel like Mr. Miracle in this picture, anyway. I've voluntarily strapped myself onto a roaring rocket, bound for certain destruction, and even if I do get free of the rocket I'll be entering the stratosphere, bound for a free fall.

Today I am Mr. Miracle.

I hope.

See him strapped to that rocket, looking maybe a little stressed, but not overly concerned?

You know why?

He's Mister Miracle. He's survived the Orphanage of Granny Goodness, he's survived the firepits of Apokolips and he broke free of the world which stands outside space and time, existing to do nothing more than break the will of its denizens. In five seconds Scott will produce his multi-cube from his glove-pocket, shoot a laser into the tumbler of his manacles, do the same for his leg locks, leap clear of the rocket's flame and then float to freedom on his cape, which will have billowed out to become a parachute.

I never had any firepits or Granny Goodness breathing down my neck. The Admiral never swapped me off to his nemesis to resolve some ancient dispute. But today I want to be Mr. Miracle. I want to know that I'm going to jump free and clear in this whole contraption I've set for myself, touching down on solid earth with a wink and a nod to my faithful wife.

Today it's all about the complexity of the escape, but if Mister Miracle can make it fun, so can I. Right? Maybe?

As much as Orion, the Forever People and the New Gods always seemed so straight forward (well, maybe not The Forever People), Mister Miracle wasn't out to fight anybody outright. Instead, he was out to escape the unescapable, defy the undefiable.

Years later, Michael Chabon would refine the idea and produce the greatest superhero the world had never seen in The Escapist, the fictional comic character of his novel The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay.

And maybe I read too much of Chabon onto Mister Miracle. I'm not sure. It's possible Kirby never meant for Mister Miracle to be a walking allegory, but with Kirby, who the heck knows...?
All I know is that as surely as Scott Free dreamed and dreamed of breaking loose of the chains of Apokolips, I mean to shake off the dust of this one horse desert town. And if he can do it, then maybe I can do it. Just like Steven can do it. And maybe you can, too.

So for the next few months, if you see me donning a lot of red, yellow and green and occasionally trying to get put in a lock-box so some burly men can toss me over the rail of a ship, don't you worry about me. I'm just seeing exactly how you do this escaping thing.

*Readers of LoM may be interested to know Darkseid and Apokolips appeared in comics just a few years prior to Lucas coming up with Darth Vader and the Death Star. Lucas famously perused comics while coming up with his story. I've heard Kirby considered suing, but Lucas had tweaked the concepts enough that Kirby knew the passing similarities wouldn't hold up in court.

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