Thursday, January 14, 2010

Mister Miracle 15 & 16

[Andy Bentley, going through Jack Kirby's New Gods, has reached that point where Mr Miracle is in that long, dark, editorially-screwed tea-time of the soul. Bear with him. Jack's bizarre return and outlandish non-ending are right around the corner.]

“The Secret Gun!” and “Shilo Norman, Super Trouble!”

Mister Miracle 15 introduces Shilo Norman, a troubled youth who Mister Miracle takes on as an apprentice by issues end. Norman would eventually succeed his mentor in Grant Morrison’s metaseries, Seven Soldiers. When I first saw Norman as Mr. Miracle, I scoffed at the idea. Scott Free was MY Mister Miracle. Now that I see there is precedent for Norman, my views have changed. This is a phenomenon that has occurred several times for me in the Fourth World series. The idea of a DNA Lab in metropolis that cloned Superman into a boy was ridiculous for me at age 14, but once I learned of the DNA lab’s origin in the pages of Jimmy Olsen, the fact became acceptable. If the Death of Superman is to be treated as a stand alone novel, then the writer revealing a cloning lab beneath the city halfway through the novel is suspect. However if the DC comic narrative is thought of as one large story, then the reveal seems congruent to the fantasy world.

The opening text from Kirby falsely indicates that this comic is a detective saga. In actuality, the detective only plays a minor role in a typical Mister Miracle story. A stunt rehearsal is interrupted by a call to action for Miracle and Barda to take care of a bad guy. The stunt, a large wrench that Barda uses to crush a sealed Mister Miracle, does have a certain sense of flair, however the bad guy does not. He’s known as the Fez and he commissioned the murder of Shilo Norman’s brother. He indeed wears a fez and spouts dated slang such as “I’m too hip to buy that kind of jive”. Fez and his gang hardly put up much of a fight as Barda destroys their signal jamming ray and the Detective arrests the culprits.

However all is not well for Shilo Norman who is lost and despondent after the loss of his brother. Norman executes some quick Judo skills during the brawl which makes Mister Miracle believe he could be a candidate for his apprentice. Norman’s call to action is not unlike Dick Grayson’s transformation into Robin. This addition to the cast gives Mr. Miracle a surrogate son and completes his foster family.

In “Shilo, Norman, super Trouble!” We see Norman has been welcomed into the Miracle family and begun his training. Norman is still troubled though, this time by visions of of a giant insect that appears and disappear in an instant. The Insect finally attacks Oberon and Barda and as he disappears, Norman leaps forth and is caught in his disappearance. They have all been shrunk to a microscopic size where Norman and the bug have it out. The remainder of the story involves Norman discovering several other bizarre human insect hybrids all under the control of Professor Egg, who looks like Paul Schaffer in a pink jumpsuit. Norman is captured and converted into a bug hybrid as well.
And then he wakes up.

Yes, Kirby has just pulled out the “it was all a dream ending” which definitely a sign that we’re nearing the end. It would appear Norman knocked himself out when he leaped at the insect who was actually an illusion by Professor Exe who was visiting the Miracle family. Exe looks exactly like Professor Egg, yet Norman never saw Exe before he was knocked unconscious. Probably best not to dwell on it.

Final Musings

Shilo Norman bears a passing resemblance to Elijah Price (Samuel L. Jackson) in the movie Unbreakable. I wonder if this was a conscious decision on the filmmakers’ part.

The human/insect hybrids are reminiscent of the bug culture on New Genesis

Only two more issues to go and the last one involves Darkseid, a wedding, and almost a full cast of the New Gods. It will at least be interesting.


Dougie said...

I came to both these issues very late in life and found them stale and disappointing compared to the Kanto and Himon stories.
The Professor Exe issue is obviously a swipe at Chuckie Xavier and seems so throwaway and disheartening.

Anonymous said...

Shiloh actually becomes a second Mr. Miracle in the 1980s-1990s Mr. Miracle series. He becomes the new Mr. Miracle and stays behind on earth with Oberon while Scott and Barda return to New Genesis with Highfather-seemingly for good. I don't know what became of that status quo, but Shiloh served in the JLI for a few issues, then dropped out and I don't think was seen again until the Grant Morrison series. In the interim period Scott kept popping back up as Mr. Miracle, leading me to be all like, "Wait, what happened to Shiloh?"