Mr. Miracle, Take 2

By | Saturday, July 11, 2009 Leave a Comment
My first exposure to Mr. Miracle was in Brave and the Bold #112. I received my copy of the comic, along with a couple dozen others, from a friend of my parents who gave them to me, I suspect, to keep me out of trouble while the grown-ups were talking. I really enjoyed the issue, as evidenced by the fact that, while I still have that old copy, it's about as beat up as it could get and still present all of the stories intact.

I remember thinking, as a child, that the Mr. Miracle/Batman story in that issue stood out as the most "adult," which probably had more to do with Jim Aparo's art than anything else since it was the least cartoon-ish. I was reminded of the story today, and I dug out my battered copy to re-read once again. (It's actually so battered, I couldn't actually hold the book in my hands; I had to lay it on my desk in order to read it.)

I was surprised at how much it tied back to Jack Kirby's version of the character, which I had only read for the first time a few years ago. I didn't remember Big Barda or Oberon being in the B&B story, largely because they were only in two panels. That would also why, to this day, I tend to think of Mr. Miracle as complete loner instead of alongside Barda. Th Egyptian theme of the story, too, influenced my thoughts on the character, and I tend to think of him in more noir-ish environments than the high-tech world of Apokolips.

I also didn't remember any references to any other aspects of The Fourth World, but Mr. Miracle is there using his Mother Box repeatedly and exclaiming things like, "By Darkseid's demons!!" I find it easy to chalk this up to simply not even being aware of The Fourth World books until at least a decade after I'd last read this. Likewise, his "powers" in this issue aren't explained particularly well, so I recall thinking he was basically Batman with a less powerful set of Superman's powers. Indeed, Mr. Miracle was, in my mind, far superior to Batman since he clearly out-thought, out-ran, and generally out-classed the Caped Crusader at every turn.

It's a very different Mr. Miracle than what Kirby had originally created. Which isn't to say that this one doesn't make sense; just that going from Kirby's version to this one without reading any intervening material is a bit of a jump.

And, as I'm sitting here, reading this version for the first time in over 20 years, I'm wondering about why I can relate to the later Mr. Miracle more. I'm a HUGE fan of Kirby's work, so I find myself debating whether this newer Bob Haney/Jim Aparo version is that much better for me, or am I just applying a veneer of nostalgia over it. Which I'm perhaps wrestling with even more since I just sat through THE movie of my childhood: Star Wars. (The old school one, mind you, not the "Special Edition" or whatever.) I suspect, ultimately, that the nostalgia factor does weigh in on my thinking here, but given that I've never really felt trapped by anything or had any deep emotional issues with my grandmother, the super-powered magician-cum-detective resonates more closely with me.

And maybe the fact that Aparo drew flowing capes really well had a little to do with it too.
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