Monday, 16 February 2015

Seven Soldiers Of Victory: Mister Miracle (#1-4)

"How about you and me escape together?" - Mister Miracle

Once upon a time in the 1970's a man called Jack Kirby came to DC comics and created many popular and long lasting characters and concepts some of whom we've already met during this series.  By far the most popular and enduring creations to come out of that time were The New Gods.  Two sets of alien Gods, the good ones of New Genesis led by High Father and the evil ones of Apokalips led by Darkseid, who you may have heard of, he's probably the DCU's most prominent uber villain now.  They decided to form a pact in which the two leaders exchanged sons, Darkseid sent his rambunctious son Orion to New Genesis, and High Father's son, known only by the name he got given there "Scott Free" went to Apokalips and became an escapologist who could escape from anything.  He finally escaped to Earth and became a sometime member of the Justice League for a while and still active in the DCU to this day.  He is NOT the Mister Miracle this miniseries is about, although the background of The New Gods is still hugely relevant to it.  This mini contains a third Mister Miracle also created by Jack Kirby called Shilo Norman, who is Scott Free's apprentice and who was fairly obscure and unused by the time Morrison picked him for Seve Soldiers.  This I have to say is my least favourite of the series, mainly due to it requiring so much backstory knowledge of the New God's pantheon and also for basically being a prequel to the Grant Morrison penned crisis crossover that followed Seven Soldiers - Final Crisis - sharing with that series the same unclarity of writing that can make Morrison's work infuriating at times.  It's also the only miniseries to suffer inconsistent artwork Pasqual Ferry does the first issue and I assume deadlines got the better of him as Freddie William's II take's over for the rest on the mini.  Both artist's work is fine, but there is a slick, soulessness to it that isn't really my cup of tea.  Anyway, moving on.
Escaping a black hole (or not)
The story begins with Shilo doing the ultimate act of escapology, escaping an artificially created black hole.  He has a Motherbox, a sentient computer owned by the New Gods, which was given to him by Scott Free. Something goes wrong and he finds himself face to face with Metron, the science God, who tells Shilo he is needed:

Metron: "I am Metron.  Observer/Calculator/Traveller/Rebel."

Motherbox tells Shilo the void inside him is about to be filled.  He is told about the War in Heaven and that the "Dark Side" won.

Metron: "The choice is simple.  Freee the bright ones of be slaves to the dark.  Live and join us or die for the Dark Side."

Then Shilo appears out of the black hole.  Later his friend and manager wants him to join a party celebrating his feat.  Shilo says "There has to be more than this."  He ponders his vision of Metron, his friend says maybe he is having a mid-life crisis.  Shilo, retorts he's only twenty-three.  We then cut to him in therapy.  He tells his therapist he was taken to some girls at the party, a woman offering him them has a forked tongue. Shilo cries "They're not even human. They're from the Dark Side." And he runs outside.  His therapist is skeptical about this whole, War Of The Gods thing.

Therapist: "You gamble with death because you can't face life Shilo.  Maybe this is life forcing you to change."

Shilo: "I've been coming here for three years, how come my self-esteem never improves."
Shilo and his therapist
Later outside a man in a wheelchair accosts him. Shilo intitally mistakes him for Metron. He says he is not, but sometimes they share a wager.  He says he made a bet on Shilo's life:

Man: "I said you'd lose everything at the beginning.  Death the Black Racer tells it like it is.  You've attrached unwelcome attention from the Dark Side."

Then a black car attempts to kill Shilo as the man says it was "time he was tested.  Can he escape death itself?"

Another man in a wheelchair shows up and tells Shilo he is being tested for his first experience with the Dark Side.  Shilo jumps and leaps to avoid the black car.  The two wheel chair bound men discuss him.  The second man says he is "freedom's spirit", the other one says he has a motherboxx, the last one in existence.  Shilo then escapes into the sewers, outrunning the black car.
Outfoxing the "Black Racer"
He comes across who the thinks is the Metron in a wheelchair, but the man is heavily disabled and freaks out.  A huge guy comes and yells at Shilo for upsetting him,but also calls the man Metron. Shilo says he has a motherboxx so they large guy takes him to a gang of homeless people.  But when Shilo pulls out motherboxx they run and the big guy tells him to go away.  Back in therapy:

Shilo;"Down in the dirt there was a brotherhood and community and vision.. like human life, all human life was so precious and every individual human story worthy of.. I don't know.. mythology."

The therapist says his experience in the black hole was a quasi-religious one, leading to him seeing every bum on the steet as a prophet.  Shilo says he did the stunt in the black hole not for symbolism and his motherboxx is just a childish thing.  He imagines her talking to him and it keeps him calm.  His therapist wants to see it but Shilo says it's personal and leaves.

Next we see the therapist taling on the phone about how he intends to get Shilo to hand him the motherboxx.  He also has a forked tongue.  Then he puts the phone to the ear of a distraught woman in his office and infects her with the anti-life equation.  The issue ends with a huge grinning black guy thanking the therapist for bring Shilo to their attention.
Never trust a beard like that.
The action then cuts to a new escapologist called "Baron Bedlam" who also does impossible stunts.  Shilo tells his therapist that he intends to invite the Baron to open for him at his next big show, even if it is weird having so close and imitator.  Back home he obssessively watches Bedlam's stunts saying it's impossible for him to have survived them.

His friend, ZZ say's it was unwise to tell the newspapers about all the war between good and evil stuff as people are laughing at him now.  Shilo realises ZZ is going out with Lashina, one of the dubious girls from the last issue.  And he makes them go away.  Later Jonelle, Shilo's girlfriend, goes to find ZZ to get him to make up with Shilo.  She finds him hooked up to lots of thing wires, and "Granny" grabs her saying "You're mine now."

Next Baron Bedlam confronts Shilo, saying he intends to replace him, all of Shilo's friends including Jonelle are with him.  His therapist - Dezard - appears and says:

Dezard: "Poor insane Shilo.  Your New Gods have abandoned you.  Now is the time of evil gods.  Now is the time of your soul's extinction."
Baron Bedlam and Shilo's friends.
And he has Motherboxx.  The huge black guy they all call Dark Side appears and whispers the Anti-Life Equation in Shilo's ear.  Shilo staggers out into the street in emotional pain from the equation, but a random act of kindness on the street brings him to his senses and he returns for Jonelle.  Dark Side says Shilo must be immune to the Equation but not the Omega Sanction. 

Then the others start beating him, as he cries for Motherboxx which is being taken apart by Dezard.  He is then set on fire and put in a car boot and pushed over the edge of a cliff.  The issue ends with him heavily bandaged in a wheelchair, buying adult nappies, which Dark Side finds amusing.  Finally two strangers approach and say:

Stranger 1: "The life equation has you in its grip."

Stranger 2: "And there's only one way out."
Boss "Dark Side"
The final issue begins with the disabled man from the end of the previous issue dead from an overdose.  Back to normal, Shilo is barbequing stuff as Jonelle reads him an article about a man called Shilo Norman who commited suicide the day they moved there.  Then Shilo embraces his daughter, then time jumps and she is a teenager, then he is an old man on a hospital bed.  Then we find Shilo working at a prison, his co-worker saying he "wound up sacrifcing your dreams to a steady pay-check."  He goes to see a huge prisoner called Aurakles.

Aurakles: "Did.. did the spear find it's mark?"

He then tells Shilo he sees a dying man inspiring a hero in him, but "what have you become?"  He says he was broken in the torture camps of the "Sheeda at summers end".
Aurakles, actually important for the finale.
Aurakles: "Thou are lost as I am.  Only set me free and break this chain....wilt thou give up thy life for me?"

Shilo then says he'll set Aurakles free.  Meanwhile Dezard has dissected motherboxx but her consciousness has escaped and merged with Shilo's.

Dark Side: "There can be no escape from Omega.  Each new existence more degraded than the last."

After being forced to live many lives, we finally see Shilo in the void.  He addresses Omega - the "prison he can never escape".  But Shilo says Omega is suffering too and why don't they escape together.  Dark Side angrily says to Dezard that Shilo is turning Omega against him and attacks Dezard.

Child Shilo is being talked to by a different therapist who says he has let the death of his brother overshadow his life:

Therapist: "Forgive yourself and remove those chains you wear.  Become what you were born to be."

Then he is back face-to-face with Metron, who says he survived the first initiation into the "mysteries of the New Gods."  And he is spat out of the black hole one week after going inside it.

Scientist: "Welcome home Mister Miracle."
Meeting Metron again and escaping properly.
And so this miniseries ends,  Apart from one mention of the Sheeda they are entirely absent from this mini, in the same way all the New God's shenanigans is absent from all the other miniseries.  This is basically, as I said at the start a set up for Final Crisis, especially all the Boss Dark Side stuff.  Aurakles will be important in the finale, as will Mister Miracle, although the threads tying all this stuff to the main Sheeda plot is incredibly thin. If you know nothing of Darkseid, Metron, the Anti-Life Equation and the New Gods this is a baffling to the point of incoherence miniseries as no time at all is spent explaining them nor why they are messing about in human shape.  Artistically it is decent, even if it is somewhat undistinguished and totally overshadowed by the quirky excellence of several of the other miniseries.  So, definitely my least favourite of the collection, still decent but also frustrating and suffering from severe unclarity in place.


  1. Looks like the art was done on a computer, doesn't it? I have nothing against art being done on a computer, but it shouldn't look like it has been, IYSWIM.

    I wonder how Metron manages to pronounce slashes?

  2. It does have that "plasticy" look to it doesn't it? It's the only real artistic letdown of the series though it just looks worse because the preceeding stuff has been so good.

  3. I still haven't gotten over my disappointment at the Beano's switch from hand-drawn or -painted to computer-generated art.

    Do you have a copy of Morrison's Final Crisis?

  4. Is it my imagination or does Aurakles look a lot like a giant Alan Moore? Not sure what the symbolism of that might be.