Wednesday, August 29, 2018

014. Scott Free of Apokolips, or The Day Darkseid created the Terminators (Mister Miracle 21)

All images copyright DC Comics. 
This issue of Mister Miracle kicks off with an interesting credits box, as it declares the Englehart / Rogers team as direct from Detective Comics. It seems even during this low selling era of Batman books, that title still sold better than our faithful New God hero. Vince Colletta returns for inks, immediately making me wonder how much better this might have looked with a better inker. Few could match Terry Austin on that Detective run, but Vinnie isn't exactly the best guy to embellish a detail-oriented artist like Rogers.

Our new tale kicks off on New Genesis. As you might recall before the insane digression into the Brave and the Bold alternate universe, Big Barda fell back under Granny's control. Now she apparently is dying, her mind damaged by the meddling inside her brain.

Scott storms off, adamant he must find a way to save her. This leaves Oberon and Highfather to have a fascinating conversation about the nature of their relationships with Mister Miracle. Oberon's weird father / sidekick role has always made him fascinating and it's used to great effect here.

Meanwhile, Scott confronts Himon about the secrets kept about the true nature of his powers. Himon reveals it was all pre-ordained. Orion needed New Genesis to tame his dark soul, while Scott would go to Apokolips to harden his soul before his powers came to flourish. It's an interesting take on the characters, although the scene is marred at the end, where Scott refers to Barda as his mortal wife. Sounds like no prize territory to me.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Art of War 01: Darkseid vs. Thanos by Ron Lim

Every now and then I'm going to fall behind on this column, especially as other projects (read: the kind that pay money) take over my time. Because of this, you will sometimes see the Dreaded Deadline Doom appear, where I feature a piece of New Gods related fan art on the page. First up, is the always talented Ron Lim as he draws a character he knows well, Thanos, battling his other universal antithesis Darkseid!

Next week, we will be back with more Mister Miracle action!

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

013. Batman, Mister Miracle, a Captain America villain and... A BURNING DEATH! (Brave & the Bold 138)

With Mister Miracle back in his own series, it seems a no-brainer for the Brave & the Bold team of Bob Haney and Jim Aparo to bring him back for his third go around with Batman in the team-up title.

This scene definitely doesn't happen in this book. All images copyright DC Comics.
The cover is impressive in its own rights, as a villain that appears to be Marvel's Batroc the Leaper cries out, "You two are the world's greatest escape artists, but you can't escape my ISLAND OF DOOM!" The title page reveals the villain is in fact an acrobat and French, so maybe actually he is a thinly disguised Batroc.

The story opens with Batman and Mister Miracle as they leap out over the volcanic island Trond-Hag. Their descent is hastened when the pilot cuts their lines and flies away! In the water below, Batman and Mister Miracle discuss why they've came here. It appears a famed geologist Dr. Steve Lang has been missing, and he was last seen on Trond-Hag. (My guess is he's off building Sentinels.)

Honestly, the more I read Haney's writing, I wonder if he's inadvertently set his heroes on Earth-616 instead of Earth-1.

The two heroes escape the lava flows and make their way up the volcanic island. When they reach its peak, they discover the island isn't naturally volcanic at all. A machine rests inside the mound, churning out the magnetic fields that make aircraft nearby go crazy.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

012. With some kind of power comes some kind of responsibility! (Mister Miracle 20)

Colletta's inks are probably the most rough on this cover. 
Steve Englehart and Marshall Rogers return for Mister Miracle 20 with the somewhat unfortunate inker choice of Vince Colletta, though the infamous Vince seems to put more work in here than he often does.

“Eclipse” kicks off with Oberon at the top of the mine shaft from last issue, which you will remember Granny Goodness set to destroy. Mister Miracle shoots out of the tunnel as it explodes outward in spectacular—and oddly colored—fashion.

The art and the coloring combine for one strange looking explosion.
Mister Miracle quickly sums up the events as he sets out to repair his Mother Box. As Scott communes with the box, Oberon looks on and marvels at the strangeness of it all.

Mother Box connects directly with Scott's mind however and speaks to him. (It's been awhile since I've read the Kirby classics, so can anyone tell me if this is the first time Mother Box directly communicates?) She gives Scott bad and good news.
“Your attempts are beautiful, but futile, boy. You and I have parted forever. And yet, I am with you always, for we are joined at the Source. The miraculous things I showed you are part of your life, now! I will survive in you as you will survive in others! But you alone must forge your destiny!”
Sounds a bit trippy, but we're talking Englehart in the 70s folks. Recreational substances probably were involved in the creation process.

Anyway, Scott scoops up Oberon and flies up towards space. He realizes that he's earned the powers that are his birthright as a god of New Genesis. His destination is the moon, which we know from the sister book is Darkseid's new base. But he's heading towards a meeting with the four villains that attacked last time.

We also get our first continuity error (of sorts) between this title and Return of the New Gods. While Doctor Bedlam was in a new form in that book's last issue, here he still looks just like his Kirby original. Yet the book gives an easy solution for the discrepancy, as Bedlam sends his mind-force and enters another animate, this time in the form of a costumed Mister Miracle!

He attacks Big Barda, bent on bending her to Granny's will with thoughts of her husband's betrayal. Yet it causes Barda to smash the false Miracle in the face. Yet the real thing shows up just as the Bedlam-Miracle moes to strike again.

Scott starts to tear apart the moon-base, but the half-conscious Barda attacks him, not quite sure of herself after Granny's torture and MIND MANIPULATION!

Mister Miracle awakes in another Granny death-trap, this time two rockets bent on flying in different direstions. Bedlam wanted to kill him quickly and efficiently, but she cries that wouldn't give her the full vengeance she desires. She seems to miss the fact that Scott escapes every trap she ever set, even as she declares his death to the crucifixion.

The rockets fire in a burst of smoke. All but Kanto declare him surely dead. The swordsman has some doubts, proving he might be a total fool here.

Oberon uses the same rocket firing as a distraction to escape his own cell. The villains rush to find him, but Mister Miracle gets to him first!

Miracle simply cut himself free from one rocket and flew the other non-explosive device to its landing, where his new powers protected him.

Scott and Oberon escape the base on to the moon's surface. Barda attacks him again. But with his increased might, he's now a match for her. After trading punches, he manages to K-O his confused wife.

He knows she must be returned to New Genesis for medical attention. (How he will get her back with a Mother Box isn't shown here and will almost certainly be glossed over.)

Scott Free has other plans. He looks back at Granny's comparison to Jesus and declares that he will come to the gods of Apokolips as Jesus did to humanity, not to fight for religion but for freedom! It's a bit of a clunky concept, probably again owed to this era of Englehart's connection with the aforementioned variety of chemicals.

This is sort of a plan... I guess?
While Rogers draws a gorgeous issue here, the story proves to be a bit of a mess. The analogies don't quite work. The birthright given by Mother Box seems to have brought him into his full godlike abilities, yet Miracle talks about being human just pages later. His disregard for his wife's safety when she attacks also seems out of character, though one has to wonder if it's there to be some mandated action in the pages.

This issue doesn't give us much of a blurb, only ending with “The curtain goes up in Mr. Miracle 21” But before we reach that point, Mister Miracle has another team-up calling his name!

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

011. A trap within a trap! (Return of the New Gods 14)

A decided step up from Al Milgrom.
The cover gets an upgrade for Return of the New Gods 14 as previous cover artist Al Milgrom is gone, replaced by the superior Kirby aficionado in Rich Buckler. While Buckler has talent, he's still nowhere near as good as Don Newton on interiors. The creative team on the interior remains completely intact with Newton joined by Gerry Conway and Dan Adkins as writer and inker.

Orion shouts to the heavens at his father. Darkseid watches from afar, proud to see the darkness overcome his son as Orion grows more like Darkseid himself. He summons Doctor Bedlam to his side with a new grand step in his plan.

On New Genesis, the parents of Esak question Highfather's interest in their son. Highfather confirms the boy is different than his peers, telling his father, "Esak is special, though I cannot tell you why. I have... hopes for his future." To a modern reader, this makes Esak sound like he's in some Harry Potter and Dumbledore level of poor childcare.