A strange thing happens when you start to really interrogate the basic and most fundamental tenets of any character. Fiction, regardless of genre or medium, is built upon some pretty basic principles—there are certain truths you have to just accept in order to really engage with whatever it is you're consuming. There are rules you're expected to play by, even if you don't really consciously know you're doing it. Most of the time, these core ideals, these rules, are pretty easy to take for granted.
Superman saves people because he believes it's right. Why does he believe it's right? That's just how he was raised. Batman wars on criminals because he was traumatized one night in Crime Alley. Why is dressing as a bat and swearing vengeance the way he expresses his trauma? That's just who he is. It's basic, fundamental stuff. It's the truth of him.
Scott Free is a god who can always escape. That's his foundation—his truth. That's how he was designed. Looking too closely into what exactly that means—or why exactly that is—invites...complication. Murkiness in one way or another, subjectivity and speculation and the effort to define things that aren't really meant to be defined. It invites distortion, glitches, static.
So, of course, that's exactly what we've got to do. It's time to pick apart just what Scott's power actually is, why it works, and what happens when it doesn't.
Mister Miracle can always escape. He's supposed to always escape. But here, he's learning that maybe he doesn't need to anymore. Maybe he doesn't even want to.
Scott is dead, and isn't dead. He's in hell and he's in heaven. The people in Scott's life are trying to define him and Scott is refusing to be defined. What that means is bittersweet. To Granny he's insane, to Orion he's a coward, to Highfather he's a failure. For Bug, he's stuck fighting a devil he can never win and for Oberon, he's unlocked the secret to happiness.
They might all be right and they might all be wrong, and on some fundamental level, we know that Scott doesn't actually have to buy into any of it. He can escape whatever he's being thrown into. He can always get out. That's the core of him. That's who he is…but maybe it's not anymore.
Stripped of the need to escape, Scott's off script now. He's making something new. He's going somewhere without moving at all…or maybe he's just lost. But, hey, if you're going to be lost, living with a wife and son you love with a daughter on the way is probably the best-case scenario, right? And who's really to say what being found actually constitutes here. It could be torture or more war or a world full of crises and conflicts and confusion. It could be anything. So maybe being lost really isn't so bad after all.
Maybe there's nothing wrong with being stuck if the trap is something you built for yourself with your eyes wide open. Like Barda and Scott explain, "Darkseid is," "but we are too." Inevitably, Darkseid is always going to be looming somewhere. There will always be something to escape from, but the opposite is always true too. There will always be a reason to stay.
I can't speak for Tom King or Mitch Gerads when it comes to assigning meaning to MISTER MIRACLE, and I can't say with any authority that my analysis is true or correct. I'm not actually, at this point, even sure that there is a correct answer. And I think, really, that in and of itself might actually be the point.
I started writing about Mister Miracle with issue #1, a little over a year ago, and since then, I've felt...well, a lot of complicated things about the series. From the technical aspects of the craft behind it to the continuities and character histories in play both in and out of the text, analyzing this book has been as rewarding as it's been challenging. So, really, I shouldn't be surprised that I'm feeling more challenged—and, subsequently, more rewarded—here at the end of it all.
Meg Downey covers movies, TV and comics for DCComics.com, and writes about Batman each month in her column, "Gotham Gazette." She's also a regular contributor to the Couch Club, our weekly television column. Follow her on Twitter at @rustypolished.