Brandon Easton and Fico Ossio bring readers one of the most intriguing new books they’ll read this week in Mister Miracle: The Source of Freedom #1. Spinning out of Easton’s backup in Future State: Superman of Metropolis, Shilo Norman is confronted by the ghosts of his legacy, and the weight of his brand. Modernity is sat front and center in a book that is at times fresh, and at others well worn, leaving a good-not-great result teeming with potential.
A new brand of Mister Miracle
Easton wisely takes the first few pages to re-introduce Shilo Norman to readers, providing them with his essential information and giving them a solid example of his characterization. Here he also features a modern daredevil stunt, which feels realistic and cool, largely because it’s referencing one of the only famous modern stunts.
This taste of contemporaneousness starts on the first few pages, and largely touches each and every aspect of the book. Whether it’s Norman’s concern about the “Miracle Brand,” his concern over “Pop Culture Literacy,” or his complicated dating life, it all feels like something that could only exist at this time.
In that same vein, Easton attempts to connect the books to current issues of race and police violence, but lacks the originality and style that informs the character’s other traits. This is a shame too because Easton clearly shows an adept understanding for why the Mister Miracle character is a great platform, both narratively and thematically, to deal with racial issues. It’s just that most everything Easton gets to here would’ve been revolutionary in 2012, but is somewhat trite in 2021.
These elements essentially lay out the book’s potential for readers though, and those possibilities are exciting if the book can better find its social commentary niche in future issues.
Those possibilities are also bolstered by how likable Norman is. Easton clearly knows what he wants readers to get from their time with the book’s protagonist, and the surefootedness of his character and motivations makes him endearing. He’s got flaws that are common and easy to relate to, and fears that are easy to empathize with. There’s a definite sense that a Shilo Norman could exist in the reader’s world.
Sadly, all of this development and clever writing can’t save the book from what is largely a whiff of an ending. After teasing a modern mystery and an antagonist driven by social media outrage who uses its tools against Norman, readers are left meeting an antagonist who seems to not be that. Whether it’s the design, the character’s supposed origin or simply the choice to reveal them here, this character screams forgettable and old hat.
It’s a shame, too, that this seems to be the only place the book is concerned with truly addressing the legacy of Mister Miracle as it relates to Scott Free. Readers might find themselves wanting answers to that question, but not necessarily in this way.
Ossio’s work is hurt largely by this ending as well. After such a dynamic and exciting read, readers are left with a page featuring a bit of an overdesigned mess. It feels like a forced marriage of two incompatible designs, which were then given to an artist who only does ‘90s comic book style. It doesn’t work.
Thankfully though the rest of the book is largely the opposite. Ossio brings his A-game, especially for the first few pages as readers are introduced to Norman. Then in other sections such as this, in which Mister Miracle is featured in some kind of action, Ossio shines as the absolute star of this book.
It’s only the book’s few quieter moments between non-costumed characters where things might feel a bit less consistent. Ossio seems as if they aren’t as confident framing quiet, more human moments, and often they simply go with the safest options. It doesn’t hurt the book, but it’s a noticeable dip from the quality of the art in the rest of the book.
In the design section it’s worth noting that Mister Miracle looks as cool without a cape as he does with one. It’s a nice little bit of variety that informs the book’s modernity and intrigue.
Easton and Ossio bring reader to the doorsteps of something really interesting here, and while they’ve not written the greatest #1 in the history of comics, it should be more than enough to convince readers to give them a shot on the second issue. Norman is a breath of fresh air among some of DC’s more classic titles right now, and sometimes that’s the best thing a book can be.
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