In the fall of 1986, I walked into my local comic shop and spied the first issue of a new series on the shelf. The book, adorned with a yellow smiley face with a smear of blood across it, intrigued me instantly.  Intrigued, I bought the issue along with my other books for the week, and it was the first book I read when I got home. When I was finished, I put the book down and knew, right then and there, I had read something special. That book, quite obviously, was Watchmen #1.

I had that same feeling when I finished reading Mister Miracle #1 by Tom King and Mitch Gerads, out today from DC Comics.

King and Gerads, the brilliant creative team behind The Sheriff of Babylon series, take a trip to Jack Kirby’s Fourth World with this 12-issue series. The star of the series may be Scott Free, the world’s greatest escape artist, but he’s definitely not alone.

You can tell right away that this isn’t going to your run-of-the-mill comic book, as Scott is sitting on the bathroom floor with his wrists slit. The rest of the issue is spent focused on his recovery. After being discharged from the hospital, Scott finds himself convalescing at home with his wife Barda. Without warning, Orion arrives via Boom Tube and demands Scott get to his feet. Scott complies and Orion immediately drills him in the face. Barda intervenes and Orion departs, leaving Scott a bit shell-shocked.

Scott’s grip on reality is tenuous at best. He dreamed he was a guest on Glorious Godfrey’s talk show. He spends hours in his workshop chatting with Oberon, even though he’s been dead for a month according to Barda. It’s obvious that something’s wrong with Scott, drastically wrong. Things don’t get any better for Scott when he receives word that his father, Highfather has been killed.

The phrase Darkseid Is appears throughout the issue. The omnipresent threat of Darkseid looms large, and at issue’s end, Scott and Barda are summoned back to New Genesis to deal with the threat. I simply cannot wait to see how Gerads draws Darkseid.

With this issue, King and Gerads handled the Fourth World characters better than anyone I’ve ever seen apart from Kirby himself. Better than John Byrne. Better than Jim Starlin. Better than all others. It’s not an issue flush with action, but it delivers an emotional wallop harder than any punch. It’s dark, it’s thought-provoking and it’s the must-read book of the year.

Simply put, Mister Miracle is one of the best books I’ve read in over 40 years of reading comics, and it has the potential to be an all-time great series. I simply cannot recommend this issue enough.

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