Mister Miracle

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Mister Miracle
Mister Miracle 22.png
Cover to Mister Miracle #22
Art by Marshall Rogers.
Publication information
Publisher DC Comics
First appearance Mister Miracle # 1
(April 1971)
Created by Jack Kirby (writer & artist)
In-story information
Alter ego Scott Free
Species New Gods
Place of origin New Genesis
Team affiliations Justice League
Abilities
  • Immortality
  • The Alpha Effect
  • Superhuman physical attributes
  • Genius Inventor
  • Super Escape Artist
  • Master fighter
  • Knowledge of the Anti-life Equation
  • Motherbox,aero discs and multi-cube

Mister Miracle (Scott Free) is a fictional superhero published by DC Comics. He first appeared in Mister Miracle #1 (April 1971) and was created by Jack Kirby.[1]

Publication history[edit]

According to creator Jack Kirby's then-assistant Mark Evanier, Kirby wanted to be a comics creator and creative supervisor at DC Comics, rather than a regular writer/artist: "... we were going to turn Mr. Miracle over to Steve Ditko after a couple of issues and have me write it and Ditko draw it. Carmine Infantino, publisher of DC at the time, vetoed that and said Kirby had to do it all himself."[2] However, Evanier did unofficially co-plot most issues of the series.[2]

The original title featuring this character was the longest-lasting of the short-lived Fourth World tetralogy, lasting 18 issues while the other titles (New Gods and The Forever People) were cancelled after only 11 issues. The most traditionally super-heroesque comic of the various Fourth World titles, the last seven issues (as well as later incarnations of the series) would downplay the Fourth World mythology that drove the other titles in favor of more traditional superhero fare. The title was briefly revived in the late 1970s for an additional seven issues written by Steve Englehart[3] and Steve Gerber, before abruptly ending with #25 with several storylines unresolved.

When the character was revived as part of Keith Giffen's Justice League line-up in 1987, a one-shot special was published with art by Steve Rude in 1987.[4]

This special was followed by an ongoing series which began in 1989, written by then-current Justice League scripter J.M. DeMatteis, and drawn by British artist Ian Gibson. Other co-writers/writers who contributed to the title include Keith Giffen, Len Wein, and Doug Moench. This run lasted 28 issues before cancellation in 1991. The series was largely humor-driven, per Keith Giffen's reimagining Scott Free, his wife Big Barda, and their friend Oberon (who pretended to be Scott's uncle) as living in suburbia when they were not fighting evil with the Justice League.

In 1996, a series written by Kevin Dooley showed Scott attempting to escape his destiny as a New God by setting up a charitable foundation in New York. This only ran for seven issues, before all Fourth World titles were canceled for the launch of Jack Kirby's Fourth World.

With the launching of Grant Morrison's meta-series Seven Soldiers, Mr. Miracle was revived as a four-issue mini-series. This mini-series focused instead on Scott's sidekick and apprentice Shiloh Norman, who Morrison has established as the new Mr. Miracle.

In addition, Scott's ally (and wife) Big Barda was made a member of the revived Justice League and appeared regularly in the Jack Kirby's Fourth World series by John Byrne, as well as several issues of "The Brave and the Bold", where Mr. Miracle teamed up with Batman.

Fictional character biography[edit]

Mister Miracle was one of four series in Kirby's ambitious but short-lived Fourth World saga. The character was inspired by the early illusionist career of comic book artist Jim Steranko, while the character's relationship with Big Barda is based on Kirby's relationship with his own wife.[5]

Thaddeus Brown[edit]

Thaddeus Brown was a circus escape artist whose stage name was Mister Miracle. As the first escape artist to use the name Mister Miracle, Brown mentored both Scott Free and Shilo Norman. After Brown's murder, Scott Free took up the Mister Miracle name, adopted Thaddeus' young ward Shilo Norman, and hired his assistant Oberon.

Scott Free[edit]

Cover to Mister Miracle #1 (April 1971), written and drawn by Jack Kirby

Scott Free is the son of Izaya (Highfather), the ruler of New Genesis, and his wife named Avia. As part of a diplomatic move to stop a destructive war against the planet Apokolips, Highfather agreed to an exchange of heirs with the galactic tyrant Darkseid; the exchange of heirs guaranteed that neither side would attack the other. Scott traded places with Darkseid's second-born son Orion.

Scott grew up in one of Granny Goodness' "Terror Orphanages" with no knowledge of his own heritage. As he matured, Scott rebelled against the totalitarian ideology of Apokolips. Hating himself for being unable to fit in, he was influenced by Metron to see a future beyond Darkseid. Scott became part of a small band of pupils who were tutored in secret by the rebel Himon, a New Genesian living as a "Hunger Dog" on Apokolips. It was at these meetings that he met fellow pupil Big Barda, who would later become his wife.

Eventually, Scott Free escaped and fled to Earth. His escape, long anticipated and planned for by Darkseid, nullified the pact between Darkseid and Highfather and gave Darkseid the excuse he needed to revive the war with New Genesis. Once on Earth, he became the protégé of a circus escape artist, Thaddeus Brown, whose stage name was Mister Miracle. Brown was impressed with Scott's skills (especially as supplemented with various advanced devices he had taken from his previous home). Scott befriended Brown's assistant, a dwarf named Oberon. When Thaddeus Brown was murdered, Scott Free assumed the identity of Mister Miracle. Barda later followed Scott to Earth, and the two used their powers, equipment, and skills in the war against Darkseid, who was still interested in recapturing both of them. Eventually, tired of being chased on Earth by Darkseid's servants, Scott returned to Apokolips and won his freedom by legal means, through trial by combat.

Scott Free later became a member of the Keith Giffen-era JLA (as did Barda and Oberon), which recast him and Big Barda as semi-retired super-heroes that sought to live quiet lives in the suburbs when they were not involved in Justice League-related adventures. In particular, Scott Free was recast as a hen-pecked husband, who often found himself on the receiving end of his wife's temper, over her desire to live a quiet life on Earth.

During his time in the League, Scott developed an intense rivalry with League villain Manga Khan. The villainous intergalactic trader and black marketer repeatedly kidnapped Scott, ultimately convincing Scott's conniving former manager Funky Flashman into forging documents forcing Scott to work for Manga as his personal entertainer. To force him to go along willingly, Khan replaced Scott with a lifelike robot who was ultimately murdered by Despero during his first mission with the Justice League. Scott ultimately escaped from Manga Khan's clutches and reunited with his wife and friends, though the shock was enough to cause Scott to ultimately quit the League and to take on a protégé in the form of Shiloh Norman.

In the conclusion of Final Crisis, many of the New Gods are all seemingly reborn. Among their numbers are the apparently resurrected Mister Miracle, along with Barda.

In The New 52, Mister Miracle appears alongside Big Barda flying around the ruins of Gotham City on Earth 2.[6] Their purpose is revealed to find the mysterious new Batman, which is thwarted when both are attacked by Fury.[7]

Shilo Norman[edit]

Shilo Norman, Mister Miracle #1
Art by Pasqual Ferry

Young Shilo Norman was the informal ward of escapologist Thaddeus Brown (Mister Miracle I), and he served as an occasional stand-in. When Brown was murdered by a mobster named Steel Hand, Scott avenged his new friend's death by taking on the identity of Mister Miracle and brought Steel Hand to justice. After Brown's death, Shilo worked with Scott Free (the new Mister Miracle) and Scott's wife Barda.

A master escape artist himself, the now-adult Shilo was appointed security chief of the Slabside Island Maximum Security prison for Metahumans known as the Slab. He held his own during the Joker's "Last Laugh" riot and was promoted to Warden of the Slab, which had by then been relocated to Antarctica. A somewhat reconceived Shilo Norman appears in Grant Morrison's Seven Soldiers crossover. In Final Crisis #2, Shilo tells Sonny Sumo "There was a cosmic war and the powers of evil won", prompting him to form a team to fight the evil gods.

Powers and Abilities[edit]

Like all the New Gods, Scott Free is functionally immortal; having stopped aging around the age of 30, he has developed an immunity to toxins and diseases. Scott has superhuman strength, agility, speed, coordination and reflexes, along with incredible stamina. Due to his exhausting and rigorous life on Apokolips, Scott Free has tremendous resistance to physical injury and psychic influence, and is capable of extremely rapid recovery.

Scott has a genius-level intellect. He's knowledgeable about much of our universe. During his life on Apokolips, he was instructed by Himon in the science and use of advanced technology of Fourth World. Scott is a genius inventor who has designed most of the equipment in his costume, including his mother box.

Scott Free was trained by Granny Goodness like an aero-trooper, became a master fighter and skilled in the use of many weapons. He is a master escapologist and acrobat. Scott is considered better at escapes than Batman, and much of his skill is the result of his advanced physiology.

Scott Free is heir of the Alpha Effect, the antithesis of Darkseid's Omega Energy. In the past, Scott used these powers for various purposes. He was able to increase all his physical capabilities, resuscitate the dead (such as Big Barda and other New Gods), shoot energy blasts, fly, and manipulate and absorb vital energy. Darkseid mentions that these powers can reach almost unlimited levels.

Scott possesses greater power as the embodiment of the Anti-Life Equation, which allows him to warp reality on a cosmic level. The ability is fueled by rage and negative emotions which Scott himself usually doesn't have. The Anti-Life Equation can give any being the power to dominate the will of all sentient and sapient races. It is called the Anti-Life Equation because "if someone possesses absolute control over you - you're not really alive." He refuses to use it as it reduces others to mindless slaves.[8]

Equipment[edit]

  • Mother box
  • Costume: Mr. Miracle's costume is magnetically sealed and provides limited protection from damage and fire. It contains numerous hidden pockets. Each glove and boot has a pocket and the slim utility belt contains half a dozen more. A secret pocket on the upper right arm hides his Mother Box.
  • Mask: Mr. Miracle's mask contains circuitry for his Mother Box and a life support unit. The circuits let Scott use his Mother Box hands free. The life support system lets him survive in hostile environments.
  • Gloves: The gloves have wide cuffs that hold Scott's multi-cube and assorted picks. In addition, the gloves can fire concussive blasts and generate enormous electric power, and contain a fingertip laser for fine welding or burning. His hidden circuits have the ability to create fission blasts and mini shock-waves.
  • Boots: The soles of his boots contain laser-jets capable of burning almost any surface.
  • Cape: Mr. Miracle's cape is made of a memory fibroid from New Genesis. Scott's Mother Box can transmute the cape into a cocoon that can withstand a sizable explosion. This can only be done once. The transmutation is not permanent and destroys the cape.
  • Aero Discs: Thin metal plates about a foot across. The New Gods use them for personal travel. They can reach speeds of 250 mph. Scott has modified his discs considerably. They are designed to retract into his boots when not in use. He added magnets to let him cling to a metal wall or ceiling and toe knives to let him cut ropes or nets while in flight.
  • Assorted picks: An electro pick is a small tool Mr. Miracle uses to escape traps. The electro pick opens locks and defeats security systems.
  • Multi-Cube: It is a peripheral device for Mr. Miracle's Mother Box. The cube was designed by Mr. Miracle to use the transmutation power of the Mother Box to create a number of preset mechanisms in its interior. All of these functions are much easier to perform that improvised transmutation. They can be activated in stressful situations. The cube is small enough to be hidden in the palm of the hand. The multi-cube is not sentient but is still capable of interpreting complex commands and recording data. The multi-cube can fly under its own power and follow the mental commands of Mr. Miracle. The cube can use the transmuting power of the Mother Box to create several hundred feet of swing line. Besides the cable, the cube can produce a smoke screen or fire suppression foam. The simplest use of the cube is to generate light effects. The cube can create lifelike holograms, a blinding flash or a laser capable of cutting through a steel cable or handcuff links. In hologram mode the cube can record extended scenes or make a complete holographic recording. It can then manipulate the playback to simulate the subject in motion. The cube can emit a powerful sonic beam that can spring locks or shatter a brick wall. The sound blast can stun an unprotected human.

Other versions[edit]

  • A future version of Mister Miracle and Big Barda (along with their daughter), appeared in the mini-series Kingdom Come. Being an escape artist, Mister Miracle would assist Superman in creating the Gulag, an inescapable prison for meta-humans. He and Barda have a daughter, Avia, who uses a mega-rod and wears an outfit that combines elements of those of her parents. In the Elliot S! Maggin novelization, Free is teaching the lowlies art and constantly berates Orion to inspire (unsuccessfully) individual thought (though Scott likes Orion). Scott saves his wife and Avia near the conclusion by activating a boom tube just as the nuclear weapon explodes (Avia: "How did you know?" Barda: "He always knows").
  • Mister Miracle appeared in the Elseworlds Superman: The Dark Side, in which he becomes Metron's successor and Justice League: Another Nail, in which he achieves the ultimate escape by downloading his consciousness into Barda's mother box, just before he is tortured to death by Darkseid. The Mother Box circuitry is later bonded with a Green Lantern ring, allowing Miracle to project his consciousness into an energy construct, similar to his original body.
  • Scott Free made a cameo appearance in the fifth issue of Neil Gaiman's Sandman series, along with the Martian Manhunter.

In other media[edit]

Television[edit]

  • Mister Miracle's first television appearance was in the animated Superman: The Animated Series episode, Apokolips...Now! Part II as a background extra when the forces of New Genesis come to Earth's aid against Darkseid's invasion attempt. (He technically appears in Part 1, as Mother Box shows High Father and Darkseid exchanging babies Orion and Mister Miracle for the truce. The baby is never identified in the episode as Mister Miracle.)
  • He appears as a background character at the end of the Justice League episode Twilight.
  • Mister Miracle made a return in the Justice League Unlimited episode The Ties That Bind (which, fittingly enough, was scripted from a story outline provided by Jim Steranko) voiced by Ioan Gruffudd while his younger self was voiced by Zack Shada. In this episode he and his associates play a prominent role, as he and Barda are forced by Granny Goodness to free Kalibak from imprisonment on Apokolips (to install him as a puppet ruler) in exchange for Oberon's life. They seek the Justice League's aid, but are refused, because the civil war raging on Apokolips at that time would only benefit Earth, but Flash joins them anyway, and they ultimately succeed in freeing Kalibak and Oberon while leaving Granny Goodness with nothing to work on.
  • Mister Miracle is the teaser hero in the Batman: The Brave and the Bold episode "Last Bat on Earth!" voiced by Yuri Lowenthal. He, Big Barda, and Batman help out in a daredevil charity event. After the event, while Batman gives out autographs to fans, Barda complains about Mister Miracle not helping around the house. Batman remarks that no matter how good Mister Miracle is at escaping, he won't be able to get out of a wife's demands. Mister Miracle has several non-speaking cameo appearances in the teaser shorts leading to the two-part episode "The Siege of Starro!", in which, he appears first as one of the heroes possessed by Starro and later among the battle-worn heroes that have broken free of Starro's mind control.

Film[edit]

  • In the Superman/Batman: Apocalypse animated film, Mr. Miracle's uniform is displayed behind a secret panel that Big Barda reveals, in which she keeps a Motherbox, which summons a boom tube to transport her, Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman to Apokolips in order to rescue Supergirl.

Awards[edit]

The Mister Miracle series (plus Forever People, New Gods, and Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen) earned Jack Kirby the 1971 Shazam Award for Special Achievement by an Individual in the comic industry.

Footnotes[edit]

  • ^Note 1 : Mark Evanier (screenwriter, Jack Kirby biographer, and Kirby's assistant during the Fourth World comics):
Jack based some of his characters (not all) on people in his life or in the news.... Big Barda's roots are not in doubt. The visual came about shortly after songstress Lainie Kazan posed for Playboy...and the characterization between Scott 'Mr. Miracle' Free and Barda was based largely—though with tongue-in-cheek—on the interplay between Jack and his wife Roz. Of course, the whole 'escape artist' theme was inspired by an earlier career of writer-artist Jim Steranko. Scott's conniving manager Funky Flashman was based on Stan Lee.[1]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ McAvennie, Michael; Dolan, Hannah, ed. (2010). "1970s". DC Comics Year By Year A Visual Chronicle. Dorling Kindersley. p. 145. ISBN 978-0-7566-6742-9. "As the writer, artist, and editor of the Fourth World family of interlocking titles, each of which possessed its own distinct tone and theme, Jack Kirby cemented his legacy as a pioneer of grand-scale storytelling." 
  2. ^ a b Kraft, David Anthony; Slifer, Roger (April 1983). "Mark Evanier". Comics Interview (2) (Fictioneer Books). pp. 23–34. 
  3. ^ McAvennie "1970s" in Dolan, p. 175: "Writer Steve Englehart and artist Marshall Rogers, having garnered acclaim for Detective Comics, picked up Mister Miracle where the series had ended three years before."
  4. ^ Mister Miracle Special #1 at the Grand Comics Database
  5. ^ "The JACK F.A.Q. - Page 1". Povonline.com. Retrieved 2011-01-18. 
  6. ^ Earth 2 Vol 1 #11 (June 2013)
  7. ^ Earth 2 Annual #1 (July 2013)
  8. ^ New Gods Secret Files and Origins. Dc comics. 

External links[edit]