Mister Miracle by Tom King #1 – #6 (2017 – 2018) Breakdown [Part One]

So far, the current Mister Miracle series is half way through it’s run and Tom King is creating something that is deeply hard to ignore. In a series that could be written off as nothing but a cash in for the 100th birthday of Jack ‘King’ Kirby. Tom King’s Mister Miracle is an amazing and compelling exploration of PTSD and depression through the eyes of Scott Free, the world’s greatest escape artist.

Issue #1:

The tone is set immediately with a full splash page of Scott Free alone in his bathroom still partly in costume and blood dripping from his wrists. A razor blade on the floor and a disheartened look on his face. This is not going to be a happy-go-lucky story. We watch him slowly recover in the hospital, Barda crying in the waiting room and the same look on Scott’s face. Mitch Gerads’ use of a 3×3 panel layout perfectly setting the beat. The voices around Scott are encouraging or praising but even then, he continues with the same disheartened and defeated look. The words ‘Darkseid is.’ Following him through panels. Even the use of colour adds to the tone, colour all around, but still with this drab overtone. As though people are trying to brighten Scott’s world and mood, but his reality and pain still holds through.

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At home with Barda, Orion appears without explanation. Even with this sudden appearance, Scott’s expression does not change. Even with the events that take place. It’s Barda that takes action. King writes Scott through the issue as a man apathetic to life. The world’s greatest escape artist who couldn’t escape living. Someone who had already given up but can not end it. His moments with Barda, even with his apathy are sweet for how hard she is trying, and how much she cares.

In public, especially in interviews, Scott is able to laugh it all off. Play it as a stunt that went wrong. He continues to charm the crowd but the words ‘Darkseid is’ still follows. As time goes by, Scott’s grip on the world loosens, ‘Darkseid is’ begins to beat through the pages like a heartbeat until it can’t be ignored any longer.

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Dressed for battle, Scott and Barda know what they need to do. Standing. Darkseid awaits.

Issue #2:

“Death Lashes out for Mister Miracle. Super Escape Artist! But it is not the end, friend! What lies ahead is to be dreaded even more. A trap sprung by a mind not of this Earth. The terrible. Inescapable. X-pit! Also – to know her is to hate her – Granny Goodness!”

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In the heat of battle, we find Scott fighting for New Genesis. Through the battles, we see Scott finally letting out some of the aggression and frustration he built up since his incident. Screaming “For Genesis!” as he’s covered in the blood of his enemies. Back with Barda, still soaking from the green blood of battle, we find a sweet moment for them both. Just casual talk. A tone that while still apathetic in majority, shows at least a moment of calm for them. Debating how these off-world showers work, even momentarily joking. Barda complains of her own perceived imperfections as they undress, and Scott simply replies, “You’re perfect”.

At the throne of the Highfather, Scott discovers that his brother Orion is now the leader of New Genesis. Barda and Scott are ordered to kneel, and the tension simply leaps off the page. Scott needing to be dragged down low. It’s reported that Darkseid’s forces have defeated their men in the East, losing 250,000 troops and seven of the gods. In retaliation, Scott is ordered to go after the woman who tortured him through childhood and win the battle. He must return to Granny Goodness.

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As they leave, Scott and Barda discuss their lives under Granny Goodness. How much pain and despair they suffered, how they found each other there, and yet while comparing experiences it’s clear that Scott got the better life. Even in hell. Their meeting with Granny, even with the pleasantries, carries this dreadful tone tensions rising with every panel. At the end of it all, it’s Barda that deals the killing blow. The paranoid pill follows them home.

Issue #3:

Safe at home, Scott has nightmares about his past. The battle they both just survived, and the image of his insane brother holding the head of Granny Goodness, remembering a terrifying story she used to tell him at Christmas. His night continues as he restlessly paces around the apartment, seeking comfort from a pill. Forager, a soldier under Orion, appears by Scott’s side. Telling him the horrors that are still going on back on New Genesis. The amount of people dying under Orion’s rule. That their Queen’s head now hangs alongside Granny Goodness’s. Forager pledges his men to Scott, claiming Orion is dead, only to be executed on Scott’s couch by one of Orion’s men. With the same dull and lifeless expression on Scott’s face, he returns to bed and Barda, holding her close.

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In his colourful costume, the bright sky behind him, Scott returns to life as an entertainer. The world’s greatest escape artist. Performing for his fans. During a post-show lunch with Barda, he’s even approached by a fan and takes a photo with them. Scott continues to bottle his pain, hide it from the world. He knows what he is to many, and that he can’t just lash out. In full costume, he finds himself confronted by his brother. Arguing about the war at hand. Darkseid, and the Anti-Life equation. In anger, Orion beats Scott to the ground and unmasks himself. Sneering with nothing but contempt and superiority on his face. The page distorts as Orion repeats, “This is the face of God”.

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[Part Two Here!]

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JavaScript Part One – Mad Scientist

I wanted to re-familiarize myself with pieces of coding I have been introduced to but not properly taught. First stop of the list is the humble JavaScript.

For my learning tools, I’ve chosen both Codecademy and Lynda.com. Codecademy served me very well when I was first learning HTML, so this is my service of choice.

The first function we are taught is a simple text to screen command.

console.log(“Hello!”);

This will display simply the word ‘Hello!’.

Next up are some key terms:

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  • Strings – Any grouping of Keyboard characters (Letters, Spaces, Numbers or Symbols) surrounded by single quotes (‘) or double quotes (“).
  • Numbers – Any number, including numbers with decimals: e.g. 4, 1516, .002, 23.42.
  • Boolean – Either true or false with no quotations.
  • Null – Can only be null. It represents the absence of value.

Next up are math functions:

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  • Add: +
  • Subtract:
  • Multiply: *
  • Divide: /

Ok, Data types and build-in methods:

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Data Types:

  • Instance – and individual case (or object) or a data type.
  • Length – the number of characters in an instance. (Example: console.log(‘Hello’.length); will return 5.

Build-in Methods:

  • .toUpperCase() – returns a string in all capitals.
  • .startsWith() – returns a boolean based on the letter input in brackets.
  • .trim() – trims blank spaces in an instance.

Time for a little more math. It will come in handy, I know it will:

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  • console.log(Math.random()); – returns a random number between 0 and 1.
  • console.log(Math.random()*50); – returns a random number between 0 and 50.
  • console.log(Math.floor(Math.random()*50)); – returns a random WHOLE number between 0 and 50.
  • console.log(Math.ceil(43.8)); = 44  – returns the smallest integer greater than or equal to a number. In this case 43.8.
  • Integer – A whole number
  • console.log(Number.isInteger(2017)); – returns a boolean based on weather the number in brackets is a whole number.

Commenting out! The most useful thing in programming! Especially for keeping notes when working.

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Variables are a major part of JavaScript. The few times I needed JavaScript it was for functions. There are two major types of variables in JS. const and let.

  • const – short for constant, is a JavaScript keyword that creates a new variable with a value that CANNOT be changed.
  • let – Variables that can be reassigned.

For example:

const myName = ‘Arya’;

console.log(myName);

This will return: Arya.

  • myName – name of a variable, in this case a const variable.
  • = – assignment operator
  • Arya – Value assigned to variable.

When adding them all together, we can use +. For example:

let favoriteAnimal = ‘Fox’;

console.log(“My favorite animal is ” + favoriteAnimal + “.”);

This will return: My favorite animal is Fox.

What have we learnt so far (according to Codecademy):

  • Variables hold reusable data in a program.
  • JavaScript will throw an error if you try to reassign cont variables.
  • You can reassign variables that you create with the let keyword.
  • Unset variables store the primitive data type undefined.
  • Mathmatical assignment operators make it easy to calculate a new value and assign it to the same variable.
  • The + operator is used to interpolate (combine) multiple strings.
  • In JavaScript ES6, backticks (`) and ${} are used to interpolate values into a string.

Taking what I have learnt, I wanted to start to implement and experiment myself. However, when trying to get code to appear in Dreamweaver (the only program I’m familiar coding in), I found that I couldn’t get my simple code to appear.

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So now the task at hand is sorting this problem before moving forward. Searching through a few forums and found them a little tricky to navigate especially with horrible text formatting and a lack of visual explanation. This leads me to YouTube. First video found is clear but still doesn’t solve my problem.

While searching, I did discover the Codecademy forum which included a number of beginners projects to try once I have figured this out. Good to know.

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This next video I came across stated to show me a few things I didn’t know. Such as the alert function in HTML. Still something new, but not what I was learning in Codecademy. I shall quickly try what he has described.

Test run:

This worked fine. Now on to see if I can get the rest to work as I originally learnt it.

Success! I separated the JavaScript in my HTML code to it’s own file. alert.js. This was then linked to the HTML using http://alert.js and I recieved the same outcome. A pop up with ‘Hello!’. In hindsight, this should have been obvious to me. Still not the console.log(‘Hello!’); I wanted to use, but maybe I am getting too ahead of myself. Perhaps the function needs to be added to a text enabled div box to properly display. Will continue with JS lessons on Codecademy and try the projects listed in the forum.

 

The Return of Superman’s trunks!

2018 marks two very important milestones for the Man of Steel. The 80th anniversary of the character and the 1,000th issue of Action Comics, the comic he debuted in. None the less Superman fans the world over are excited by these major milestones. These are not just milestones for the character, but for pop culture as a whole.

DC Comics had originally announced that the 1,000th issue would be released in hardcover format and would feature stories from various creators. Including Brian Michael Bendis’ first DC work, and stories from Scott Snyder, Peter Tomasi, Patrick Gleason, Tim Sale, Marv Wolfman, and many more yet to be announced.

Today (January 19th), DC announced another way they will celebrate the landmark issue. The return of Superman’s iconic trunks.

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The trunks are not only a staple of superhero iconography but a classic component of Superman’s look. The reason we associate underwear on the outside with superheroes is because of Superman. But going further back, the look comes from circus strongmen who would traditionally wear tight spandex to show off their muscles while performing. The trunks were added out of fear of their spandex ripping in unfortunate places. Superman’s creators Jerry Seigel and Joe Shuster took much of the iconography of circus strongmen in order to emphasis the strength of their creation. The cap and boots added from the world of professional wrestling and to emphasis movement. Particularly the cape.

During the 2011 reboot of DC Comics, known as the ‘New 52’. Many superhero costumes were redesigned, with the most noticeable one being that of Superman’s. Discarding the iconic trunks and giving the entire suit a thin armour appearance that made no real sense for the character. In 2016, DC rebranded themselves with DC Rebirth. Bringing the classic Superman and Lois Lane back into continuity. While his initial introduction back into this new universe did include the classic costume for a glorious half an issue in Superman: Lois and Clark. But Superman still chose to use a trunks-less costume. In Action Comics # 967 Jon, Superman’s young son, asks Superman why he doesn’t wear his old suit. A question echoed by many real-world fans.

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Shortly after this exchange in the Superman Reborn storyline, Superman did indeed receive a new costume, though not the return of the trunks. This new suit was still a massive improvement over the New 52 designs. With full red boots, and a redesigned belt incorporating some yellow but it’s still not the classic suit many crave.

The return of the classic look, regardless of how long it will last, is still amazing news to many and a truly wonderful way to celebrate both the 1,000 issue and 80th anniversary.

Superman #39: Goodnight Moon

Superman 039 cov (2018)Despite being one of DCs, and comic books, most powerful heroes. Superman is above all things the best of humanity. Superman #39 showcases this fact beautifully.

While taking on the Demolition Team in Metropolis, Superman finds himself being cheered on by children in the local cancer ward. With the parents and doctor’s permission, Superman with the help of Green Lantern take the children on a day trip to the Justice League Satellite. Made possible by a Green Lantern construct of a rocket ship. Allowing the kids to experience zero-gravity and ‘fly’ along with him. Upon reaching the satellite, the kids are greeted by the looming figures of The Flash, Aquaman, Wonder Woman, Cyborg and Batman. Superman gives each of them a phone and sets up a scavenger hunt for them including finding items such as Superman’s cape, Wonder Woman’s lasso, and the hardest item of all. A picture of Batman smiling. It’s an absolute delight to watch their progress, as well as their progress on the Batman picture. To round off the day, Superman dresses the kids in space suites and allows them to stand on the moon for a while. Knowing many of them don’t have much time left, everyone writes their name on a rock to leave on the Moon’s surface where they will last forever. The issue beautifully ends with the kids and Superman in awe of the Earth from the Moon.

The issue is filled with so many wonderful moments that are a joy to experience. It encapsulates everything Superman should stand for, particularly in darker times. A symbol of hope in a dark world. That absolute power does not have to mean that it’s used for evil and that what makes us human is how we treat others. Superman never gives up on anyone. That as long as there is life in your lungs, no matter how little time you may have left, you deserve to enjoy it. The Justice Leagues action as well in this issue, may show them at their most heroic. Not just patrolling the streets or smiling for the cameras. But acting as heroes and making the kids who look up to them feel hope and joy.

With Superman #39, Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason prove that they understand the character of Superman once again. A must read for all Superman fans and those wanting to know why we love him.

Jorge Jimenez’s original Superboy costume designs

DC Rebirth brought us a brand new Superboy in the form of Clark and Lois’s son, Jonathan Kent. A bright and kind-hearted kid, newly developing his powers and discovering that the father he already looked up to is really Superman. In issue two of Superman, Jon goes along to help his father when he is asked to step up and use his heat vision in action. In the freezing cold arctic weather, he rips open his coat to reveal a two-toned blue shirt with the Superman emblem emblazoned across his chest.

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Once the action dies down, Superman gets to look at Jon’s shirt. Jon states that he got it from a second-hand store and liked that it had the “S” on it. Comparing it to people wearing Wonder Woman’s and Batman’s logos all the time. That he wanted to feel super, like his dad. Clark’s response is both incredibly poignant, and deeply personal to them both.

“Jon, you’re not like the boy who outgrew this shirt and donated it. I’m afraid someday soon – too soon – you will have to pick it up and embrace the “S” for yourself. it’s not about our powers or strength, or heat vision. It’s about character. It means doing the right thing when no one else will, even when you’re scared…. Even when you think no one is looking.” [Tomasi & Gleason. 2016:09]

Jon’s costume is a wonderful mixture of both the classic Superman and the New 52. The world Jon has lived in already had a Superman that was not his father. The shirt was created to celebrate the darker interpretation, and was donated by someone who outgrew it. Only for it to be picked up and embodied by someone who wants to stand for the same thing as classic Superman. Hope and justice. The two blue tones nicely show this divide between the two, while combining them into one garment. A few issues later, Jon gains a cape and completes his wonderful costume.

On Twitter, Supersons artist Jorge Jimenez released his sketches of the possible costume ideas before the current design.

They scream of the classic, and much missed Superman costume design. Complete with red boots and trunks. The lighter blue is striking, though the high collar is heavily reminiscent of the New 52 armour. But those classic trunks not only harken back to the classic Superman design, but the inspiration behind that. The circus strongmen of the early 1900s.

It’s clear that Jon is perfectly aware of the original costume. In Action Comics #967, Jon pulls up images on his phone asking his father why he never wears either the classic look, or the black suit he wore while in hiding. Clearly enthusiastic about both looks.

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While Jon’s current costume fits the character and world perfectly, it’s wonderful to know that in some version of the multiverse. The classic costume lives on through Superboy.

  • Jimenez, Jorge (2018) Do you want to see something curious?? Here my first versions of Superboy’s design. [Twitter] 9th Available from: https://twitter.com/JorgeJimenezArt/status/950760640771182599 [Last Accessed: 09.01.2018]
  • Graydon, D. & Brownie, B. (2016) The Superhero Costume: Identity and Disguise in Fact and Fiction. Bloomsbury Academic: London.
  • Nerdsync (2015) Why Do Superheroes Wear UNDERWEAR on the Outside?!? || Comic Misconceptions || Nerdsync [YouTube] 16th Available from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pOhQlqrp2oM [Last Accessed: 09.01.2018]
  • Tomasi, P. & Gleason, P. (2016) Superman #2. DC Comics: Burbank.

The Flash Rebirth Deluxe Vol. 01

Looking for a great jumping on point to start reading The Flash? Rebirth has you covered!

As someone who had never read a Flash comic until this deluxe collection, I was more than a little sceptical. When I think the Flash, I think of a guy who beats his Rogues gallery simply by running fast. Where’s the fun in that? Having now sped through the first 13 issues and the Rebirth one-shot by Joshua Williamson, I was completely wrong. The DC Rebirth Flash title is an incredibly fun and energetic read even to a complete Flash novice like myself.

Spinning out of the DC Universe Rebirth one-shot (shameless plug here!), Barry Allen is reunited with the pre-Flash Point Wally West. Setting the tone for this Flash series, and giving us a clear idea of where Barry is in live and where Wally goes from here. The series first 13 main issues give us 4 main stories, with the bulk of the book exploring what happens when a speed force storm grants multiple citizens of Central City Flash’s abilities. The Flash takes on a mentor role, and re-evaluates everything he misses about working with the Pre-Flashpoint Wally, until a new villain explodes onto the scene, Godspeed, and begins killing all the new speedsters. Later issues explore The Flash’s relationship with both the pre-Flashpoint Wally, and the new post-Flashpoint Wally. We see Barry taking on a mentor position throughout passing on what he knows, as well as learning that he can always be better. That there is always more to learn. The two-part story, Speed of Darkness highlights this perfectly, as well as how the young Wally is progressing as a hero in training. Ultimately, the series is about trust, optimism, and using your abilities the best way you can, for the betterment of your city. As well as exploring what justice truly means, and what happens when taking it into your own hands turns sour.

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“When you and Kid Flash saved me… I had one last vision. And I saw something in the Speed Force I don’t think I was supposed to see. I don’t know what it was but…. It filled me with hope.”

The art, primarily by Carmine Di Giandomenico, is bright and lively with a number of incredibly cleaver techniques that greatly add to the feeling of speed. During the first issue, there is an incredibly clever moment where Flash is depicted running, and managing to out pace the comics own panel boarders from catching up with him. Giandomenico makes incredible use of their talent throughout to add these minor details, that explode in significance when realised. The energy leaps off the pages throughout with the crackle of the speedster’s lightning becoming almost audible, something that makes the book feel complete along with Williamson’s dialogue.

Dc’s Rebirth Flash is an incredibly uplifting and energetic read. A perfect starting place for Flash novices and those looking for a fun read.

The Flash Rebirth Deluxe volume is available here: http://amzn.to/2FhlX7w