[Andy Bentley continues his look at Jack Kirby's New Gods series -- for the final volume, generally considered to be a major fall off, he is going to look at two at a time. I, myself, wanted to read all of the New Gods issues after Final Crisis, but stopped right around here.]
“The Greatest Show Off Earth”
From here on out, I’m going to combine two Mr. Miracle reviews into one post. As mentioned previously in my column, the other Fourth World titles have been suspended indefinitely and Kirby has a mandate to make the Mr. Miracle title friendly to new readers. The result is a standard superhero tale with little mention of Apokolips or any other aspect of the ongoing saga.
“The Greatest show on Earth” involves the return of Doctor Bedlam to once again challenge Mr. Miracle’s skills as an escape artist. This is the first repeat villain we’ve seen in the series which is a sign something is off. If you do not remember, Bedlam is merely a consciousness which can inhabit any of the blank animate robots he controls. Like his last appearance, this one centers around the power of the mind and overcoming fear. The plotting is quite familiar: an elaborate trap that Miracle escapes with a generous contribution from his mother box.
“Mystivac” has a similar mind power theme of using willpower to overcome an obstacle. This time the villain is one Colonel Darby who is a classic rich gentleman (complete with top hat and monocle) that has bet his fellow rich buddies that he can defeat Mister Miracle. To do this, he has enlisted Mystivac, a robot from a remote, asian temple. Mystivac looks like he was designed by someone at Muppet Labs. Amongst his increased strength and flying appendages, Mystivac also has the power of suggestion. Darby has Mystivac call Mr. Miracle and give him the suggestion to wish for death. Having Miracle intending to die is an interesting premise, unfortunately it is only a minor point of the issue. Miracle and Mystivac ultimately have it out in a physical brawl. Miracle refreshingly uses his strength and cunning rather than relying on mother box. But the most entertaining aspect of this issue was the 11th hour reveal that Mystivac is actually a pint sized, green skinned alien who has been controlling the robot from within and has a deep hatred for the human race. In a fairly predicable comic book, I honestly can’t say I saw that one coming. Mystivac ends up dying when his life capsule is broken and Darby and his goons are apprehended.
Kirby’s creative spark has been extinguished by the DC offices. They have eliminated the work he’s interested in and in return they get a repeat villain and a bizarre alien/robot. The art even reflects Kirby’s ambivalence towards the title. There are no dynamic splash pages in these issues, only several rectangular panels. In one scene, Barda’s face even looked a little off. It’s tough to see the series end like this, but hopefully there’s a few interesting moments in the next six issues.