Mister Miracle (vol.2) #1 (January, 1989)
“Be it Ever So Humble”
Writer – J.M. DeMatteis
Artist – Ian Gibson
Letterer – John Costanza
Colorist – Frances Gibson
Assistant Editor – Kevin Dooley
Editor – Andy Helfer
Cover Price: $1.00
Heyyy, we’re just a week and change away from a new volume of Mister Miracle… so, why not check out an earlier Mister Miracle #1? This is going to be an unconventional take on the character… with a heavier emphasis on sitcom elements, not unlike the Justice League International. Let’s take a look.
We open with Oberon napping in an easy chair… which is surrounded by a whole lotta ooga booga demons. With a *poof* he wakes up, believing to have just had a nightmare… perhaps about some ooga booga demons. He kvetches a bit about his present state and stomps outside… passing a framed portrait of the first Mister Miracle Thaddeus Brown along the way. Outside he runs into Barda, who is carrying an entire laundry room over her shoulder… he complains about the Free’s moving to some nothin’ happenin’ Leave it to Beaver ‘burb, rather than staying at the JLI Embassy.
Oberon stomps away again… this time onto the sidewalk where he is run over by a couple of bike-riding kids! They mistake him for a Smurf before realizing he wasn’t blue. Whoops. “Uncle” Oberon starts reading them the riot act before Scott steps in and snatches him up by the collar. Man, I knew Oberon was small, but he looks like an infant next to Scott! Like, barely comes up to his knee!
The kids recognize Scott as the new owner of Herb’s Fixit Shop in town, and as it happens… that’s where we’re going to head next! Scott and Oberon hop into the car… where the latter lectures the former on his backstory, which is a great way to provide exposition for newcomers to the character. Rather than an info-dump, we get some Oberon-sass… a lot more fun than you might expect. Also, direct references to the early Kirby stories!
Inside the shop Scott is irritated by the sight of a Mister Miracle poster Oberon had pinned to the wall. He tears it down, preferring their suburban life to have none of the stresses nor responsibilities of the super-powered set. Oberon isn’t pleased, but figures he’ll let Scott have his fantasy world… at least for awhile. As they leave the shop, more of those ooga booga demons show up… and a boom tube pops open!
Back at the house, Barda is leisurely reading in the front lawn. That is to say, she’s out on the front lawn wearing a bikini… which is probably a novel sight in Bailey, New Hampshire. Especially when you take into consideration that Big Barda’s well over 6-foot and built the way she is. Anyhoo, this is where we meet the Free’s sitcom-nosy neighbors, the Ferbels! They invite Barda and Scott to dinner that evening, and Barda graciously accepts.
Back at the Fixit Shop, the boom tube fully opens and we learn that our inaugural threat is Doctor Bedlam!
We shift back to the Free home, where… uh, it looks like Scott and Barda are enjoying some afternoon delight. While basking in the afterglow, Barda provides some expositional dialogue to bring us all up to speed on their present sorta-semi-retirement, while also covering a bit of her origin. Another nice way to infodump without actually infodumping.
Before dining with the Ferbel’s, Scott heads over to the Fixit Shop one more time for the evening. Once inside, he finds himself attacked by a bunch of sentient half-broken appliances! He uses a convenient magnetic repulsor to shut them down… just like Scott to always have the right gimmick for the job! He heads into the backroom to find… Ooga Booga Demons!
Finding himself surrounded, he “Miracles” up and readies for a fight. Before he knows it, a boom tube opens and hundreds of “animates” (ooga boogas) pour out. It isn’t long before he’s overcome.
We rejoin Barda and Uncle Oberon on the Ferbel’s stoop. They are greeted at the door and swept in for their little dinner party… and a surprise guest! The Ferbels excitedly reveal that an old friend to the Free family arrived at their doorstep a few minutes earlier… the family doctor, even!
It’s been many years since I first read this, and was a bit nervous that the lighter/unconventional tone wouldn’t age terribly well with me, buuuuut, I had a lot of fun with it!
This is certainly a product of its time… in the shadow of bwa-ha-ha era Justice League International, the sitcom theme might not have flown at any other time. Well, it might’ve… but this was probably the best time to try such an approach.
While certainly different, this volume pays homage to what came before. We even get footnotes to the first volume… which I’m sure was iffy at the time, since these volumes launched on different sides of the Crisis. DeMatteis/DC could have very easily not referred to the earlier stories… or hell, even contradict them, and it would have been excusable. Being a fan of lore and “everything mattering”, I’m glad that they didn’t. I mean, we get a Steel Hand name drop here! Love stuff like that. Unnecessary for the present story, but such a neat callback to older/obsessive fans such as myself.
If you were new to the character, the exposition provided in this issue could very easily catch you up… if you’re a seasoned reader, the way the exposition is delivered is entertaining, and (as mentioned above) never really comes across as an info-dump. It’s all very readable and engaging… and feels organic.
If I were to pick any nits about this issue, it would fall to the art. It’s, I dunno… uneven? We get some pages that are really beautiful, and others that feel stilted and unnatural. If we look at the cover, Scott looks like he’s built like… I dunno, Kurt Angle? His neck is super thick, and his head sort of looks like a toe. Inside, Scott looks incredibly (almost too) lean in certain panels. I dunno, it’s probably splitting hairs… but it’s just something I noticed while reading.
Overall, I have avoided any advance images/information on the upcoming Mister Miracle (vol.5) because I don’t want to be spoiled before getting my grubby hands on the thing… so I couldn’t even guess what direction Tom King and Mitch Gerads will be taking Scott and the gang. Will we be getting straight superheroics, or family man Scott?
If you’re interested in an earlier take on the latter, the 1989 Mister Miracle series might just be right up your alley. Well worth your time, and available digitally… and, if you’re like me and digital makes your teeth itch, the individual issues (not floppies!) are very easy to come by in the cheap-o bins.