Cover to Mister Miracle #22 (Feb. 1978)
Art by Marshall Rogers.
|First appearance||Mister Miracle # 1
|Created by||Jack Kirby (writer and artist)|
|Alter ego||Scott Free|
|Place of origin||New Genesis|
|Team affiliations||Justice League|
Mister Miracle debuted in the first issue of the eponymous series cover dated April 1971 as part of the Fourth World tetralogy. Big Barda, the character's love-interest was introduced in Mister Miracle #4 (Oct. 1971). 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." Evanier did unofficially co-plot most issues of the series.
The original title featuring this character was the longest-lasting of the Fourth World titles, 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 in favor of more traditional superhero fare. The character teamed-up with Batman three times in The Brave and the Bold. The title was revived in September 1977 by Steve Englehart and Marshall Rogers. Steve Gerber and Michael Golden produced three issue ending with #25 (Sept. 1978) with several storylines unresolved. Mister Miracle teamed with Superman in DC Comics Presents #12 (Aug. 1979) and met the Justice League of America and the Justice Society of America in Justice League of America #183-185 (Oct-Dec 1980).
When the character was revived as part of the Justice League International line-up in 1987, a one-shot special by writer Mark Evanier and artist Steve Rude was published in 1987. This special was followed by an ongoing series which began in January 1989, written by then-Justice League scripter J. M. DeMatteis and drawn by Ian Gibson. Other 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 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 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.
Fictional character biography
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.
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 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 Justice League International 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 Justice 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 and Barda.
In The New 52, Mister Miracle appears alongside Big Barda flying around the ruins of Gotham City on Earth 2. Their purpose is revealed to find the mysterious new Batman, which is thwarted when both are attacked by Fury.
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
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 Free has a genius-level intellect and is knowledgeable about much of the universe. During his life on Apokolips, he was instructed by Himon in the science and use of advanced technology of Fourth World. Scott Free is a genius inventor who has designed most of the equipment in his costume, including his mother box.
He was trained by Granny Goodness as 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.
- Mother box
- Costume: Mister 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: Mister 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: Mister 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 Mister Miracle uses to escape traps. The electro pick opens locks and defeats security systems.
- Multi-Cube: It is a peripheral device for Mister Miracle's Mother Box. The cube was designed by Mister 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 Mister 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.
- 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.
In other media
- 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.
- A picture of him appears in the two-parted Batman Beyond episode "The Call," where he's shown on a computer screen in the Justice League Watchtower with Big Barda.
- 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 (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.
- In the Superman/Batman: Apocalypse animated film, Mister 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 to rescue Supergirl.
The entirety of Jack Kirby's work on Mister Miracle was collected in four Omnibus editions published in 2007 and 2008:
- Jack Kirby's Fourth World Omnibus
- Volume 1 collects Forever People #1-3, Mister Miracle #1-3, The New Gods #1-3, Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #133-139, 396 pages, May 2007, ISBN 978-1401213442 (hardcover); December 2011, ISBN 978-1401232412 (paperback)
- Volume 2 collects Forever People #4-6, Mister Miracle #4-6, The New Gods #4-6, Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #141-145, 396 pages, August 2007, ISBN 978-1401213572 (hardcover); April 2012, ISBN 978-1401234409 (paperback)
- Volume 3 collects Forever People #7-10, Mister Miracle #7-9, The New Gods #7-10, Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #146-148, 396 pages, November 2007, ISBN 978-1401214852 (hardcover); August 2012, ISBN 978-1401235352 (paperback)
- Volume 4 collects Forever People #11; Mister Miracle #10-18; The New Gods #11; "Even Gods Must Die" from The New Gods vol. 2, #6; DC Graphic Novel #4: "The Hunger Dogs"; "On the Road to Armagetto!" (previously unpublished), 424 pages, March 2008, ISBN 978-1401215835 (hardcover); December 2012, ISBN 978-1401237462 (paperback)
- 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."
- McAvennie "1970s" in Dolan, p. 145: "In Kirby's final 'Fourth World' series, Mister Miracle, Scott Free was already on Earth, having fled Apokollips and the cruel orphanage that raised him."
- Mister Miracle at the Grand Comics Database
- Levitz, Paul (2010). "The Bronze Age 1970-1984". 75 Years of DC Comics The Art of Modern Mythmaking. Taschen America. p. 447. ISBN 9783836519816. "Kirby began introducing new elements to the DC Universe, building toward the introduction of a trio of new titles based on a complex mythology he called the Fourth World."
- McAvennie "1970s" in Dolan, p. 147: "Mister Miracle battled supervillain Doctor Bedlam with the aid of a voluptuous figure from his past."
- Kraft, David Anthony; Slifer, Roger (April 1983). "Mark Evanier". Comics Interview (2) (Fictioneer Books). pp. 23–34.
- Haney, Bob (w), Aparo, Jim (p), Aparo, Jim (i). "The Impossible Escape" The Brave and the Bold 112 (April-May 1974)
- Haney, Bob (w), Aparo, Jim (p), Aparo, Jim (i). "Death by the Ounce" The Brave and the Bold 128 (July 1976)
- Haney, Bob (w), Aparo, Jim (p), Aparo, Jim (i). "Mile High Tombstone" The Brave and the Bold 138 (November 1977)
- 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."
- Englehart, Steve (no date). "Mister Miracle 19-22". SteveEnglehart.com. Archived from the original on April 8, 2013.
- Kingman, Jim (December 2008). "The Miracle Messiah: Steve Gerber's Short-Lived Take on Mister Miracle". Back Issue (TwoMorrows Publishing) (31): 57–59.
- Eric, Nolen-Weathington (2007). Modern Masters Volume 12: Michael Golden. TwoMorrows Publishing. pp. 13–16. ISBN 978-1893905740.
- Englehart, Steve (w), Buckler, Rich (p), Giordano, Dick (i). "Winner Take Metropolis" DC Comics Presents 12 (August 1979)
- Conway, Gerry (w), Dillin, Dick (p), McLaughlin, Frank (i). "Crisis on New Genesis or "Where Have All the New Gods Gone?"" Justice League of America 183 (October 1980)
- Conway, Gerry (w), Pérez, George (p), McLaughlin, Frank (i). ""Crisis Between Two Earths" or Apokolips Now!" Justice League of America 184 (November 1980)
- Conway, Gerry (w), Pérez, George]] (p), McLaughlin, Frank (i). "Crisis on Apokolips or Darkseid Rising!" Justice League of America 185 (December 1980)
- Mister Miracle Special at the Grand Comics Database
- Mister Miracle vol. 2 at the Grand Comics Database
- Mister Miracle vol. 3 at the Grand Comics Database
- Evanier, Mark (2008). Kirby: King of Comics. Abrams Books. p. 177. ISBN 978-0810994478.
- Evanier, Mark (no date). "The Jack F.A.Q.". News From ME. Archived from the original on July 2, 2014. "Jack based some of his characters (not all) on people in his life or in the news…though often, the connection would be lost as the character evolved. That is to say, once the story was done, only Jack would be able to see any trace of the model…and sometimes, even he would lose track of how a character came about. Nevertheless, 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 betwixt Jack and his wife Roz. Of course, the whole "escape artist" theme was inspired by an earlier career of writer-artist Jim Steranko."
- Kirby, Jack (w), Kirby, Jack (p), Royer, Mike (i). "The Pact!" New Gods 7 (February-March 1972)
- Kirby, Jack (w), Kirby, Jack (p), Royer, Mike (i). "Himon!" Mister Miracle 9 (July-August 1972)
- Kirby, Jack (w), Kirby, Jack (p), Royer, Mike (i). "Wild, Wild Wedding Guests!" Mister Miracle 18 (February-March 1974)
- Markstein, Don (2008). "Mister Miracle". Don Markstein's Toonopedia. Archived from the original on July 5, 2014.
- Robinson, James (w), Scott, Nicola (p), Scott, Trevor (i). "The Tower of Fate Part 2: The Man Who Was Brave" Earth 2 11 (June 2013)
- Robinson, James (w), Fernandez Urbano, Carlos Alberto; Gopez, Julius (p), Fernandez Urbano, Carlos Alberto; Smith, Cam (i). "Secrets and Origins" Earth 2 Annual 1 (July 2013)
- Seven Soldiers: Mr. Miracle at the Grand Comics Database
- "Jack Kirby's Fourth World Omnibus Volume 1". DC Comics. June 13, 2007.
- "Jack Kirby's Fourth World Omnibus Volume 1". DC Comics. December 7, 2011.
- "Jack Kirby's Fourth World Omnibus Volume 2". DC Comics. September 5, 2007.
- "Jack Kirby's Fourth World Omnibus Volume 3". DC Comics. November 21, 2007.
- "Jack Kirby's Fourth World Omnibus Volume 3". DC Comics. August 22, 2012.
- "Jack Kirby's Fourth World Omnibus Volume 4". DC Comics. March 26, 2008.
- "1971 Academy of Comic Book Arts Awards". Hahn Library Comic Book Awards Almanac. Archived from the original on December 3, 2013. Retrieved October 19, 2010.
- DCU Guide: Mister Miracle
- Index to the Earth-1 Fourth World stories
- Mister Miracle at Mike's Amazing World of Comics
- Mister Miracle at the Superman Homepage