Scott is never free

What is real in Mister Miracle? I’m not sure anyone can say. Perhaps it will eventually become clear. Perhaps Scott will live up to his reputation and escape this, his most intricate trap yet. We shall see. In the meantime, we can only watch him plod across the long, slow distance panel-by-panel, unsure of himself, unsure of his love, unsure of his allegiance, unsure of everything.

We open on Apokolips, with a scene distorted as much by its grotesque brutality as by the digital artifacts splayed across every panel. In voiceover, Scott recalls a macabre tale of the Holocaust—Granny’s Christmas story—as the nine-panel grid takes us, step-by-excruciating-step, through the excavation of Granny’s body from the lifeless soil of Darkseid’s domain. Five panels—her visage becomes clearer. Four panels—the blade passes from Lightray to Orion. Eleven panels—eleven panels—the blade cleaves her head from her neck. Twenty-eight panels of a curious Christmas story, twenty-eight panels of its curious storyteller desecrated in the dirt by a murderous dictator.

What is real in Mister Miracle?

For the third time, Scott receives a message—a strand of truth, as King would have us believe. Metron says you are not to know the face of God, Scott. Granny says Orion wanted me to kill you, Scott. Here, Forager says we will follow you, Scott. Three strands of truth, three messengers, three murdered messengers who threatened Orion’s reign with the possibility of Scott’s freedom.

But what is real in Mister Miracle? Is the Forager indeed there? Or does he occupy, as the grid relentlessly suggests, a different frame?

This story began, two issues ago, with trauma let loose from a severed artery. If this is real—if Highfather is dead, Orion is mad, and Mister Miracle is, as Granny and Forager say, the savior of his people, then how does he pull himself from the bathroom floor and fulfill his destiny?

We may not know what is real in Mister Miracle, may not ever, but we begin now to enter the orbit of its haunting beauty: that being alive in a world of confusion is itself an act of defiance and heroism. The truth may wriggle and squirm and spill from our hands, but we cannot despair of trying to apprehend it. The real trap—the trap we all have in common—is the immobilizing weight of a world where children watch their parents die for hiding Jews in the basement. A world where what you love may not be what’s best for you. A world where evil seeks to take even the joy you haven’t got left, and give you a boot in the face for your troubles. Whatever we suppose about the events of this book, this is what is real in Mister Miracle. This is the trap. Will you remain stuck beneath the weight, or will you rise?

Will you be free?