Mister Miracle #1-28, Justice League Special #1 (January 1989 – June 1991)
Written by JM DeMatteis (#1-5), Len Wein (#9-13), Doug Moench (#14-19, 21-28)
Plot by Keith Giffen (#6, 20, Justice League Special #1), JM DeMatteis (#7-8)
Scripted by JM DeMatteis (#6), Len Wein (#7-8, Justice League Special #1), Doug Moench (#20
Breakdowns by Keith Giffen (Justice League Special #1)
Pencilled by Ian Gibson (#1-5, 20), Mike McKone (#6), Joe Philips (#7-18, 21-23, 25-28, Justice League Special #1), MD Bright (#19), Ken Hooper (#24)
Inked by Ian Gibson (#1-5, 20), Paul Gross (#6), Pablo Marcos (#7, 25), Bruce Patterson (#8-11, 13-15, Justice League Special #1), Art Nichols (#12), Bob Dvorak (#16-18, 21-24, 27-28), Romeo Tanghal (#19, 26)
Coloured by Frances/Francine Gibson (#1-3), Julianna Ferriter (#4), Nansi Hoolahan (#5-13, 15-17, 19, 21-25, 27-28), Tom McCraw (#14, 20), Carl Gafford (#18), Helen Vesik (#26), Gene D’Angelo (Justice League Special #1)
Spoilers (from thirty to thirty-two years ago)
In the late 80s, there was no team comic like Justice League International. Keith Giffen, JM DeMatteis, and Kevin Maguire made the first successful sitcom comic. They emphasized comedy and character, while still squeezing some decent adventures into the book. They also focused on a number of characters who were B- or C-list at the time, propelling them to greater popularity. Many of the League had their own titles, and in 1989, the line expanded to include a Mister Miracle solo book.
Prior to reading the League, I didn’t know anything about Mister Miracle (Justice League, before it went International, was one of the first DC books I picked up, having had little to no interest in pre-Crisis DC), but I loved his costume from the first time I saw it. I especially loved how Kevin Maguire drew his face, making it look like his mask was painted on.
1989 was a time when I was constantly adding new titles to my pull-file, and seeing that DeMatteis was writing the book was enough to get me to buy it. I didn’t know artist Ian Gibson, but I was intrigued by the concept behind the book. It was centred on the idea of Scott Free (Mister Miracle), and his wife, Big Barda, setting up a home in the suburbs together. The elevator pitch reminded me of the Vision and Scarlet Witch miniseries, and I liked the idea of a book about aliens from a horrible hell-world (Apokalips) trying to fit in with mainstream American culture.
I really remember nothing much about this book. Looking at the covers, some of it comes back to me, but I feel like I’m coming at this series as if it’s a blank slate. By the time it came out, I had a passing familiarity with Jack Kirby’s Fourth World characters, but I didn’t have a lot of interest in them. I don’t even remember how much they impacted this title.
One of the main reasons I’ve wanted to revisit this book is because of Tom King and Mitch Gerad’s excellent Mister Miracle series of a couple of years ago. They examined Scott’s headspace very well in that book, and it made me want to return to the source material and see if the seeds were there. Let’s find out.
Let’s track who turned up in the title:
Doctor Bedlam (#1-2)
The Dark (#3-5)
Vincent Ishkawitz (#6)
Professor Ivo robots (#7-8)
The World Protective League (#11-12)
The Head (#11-12)
Sidney Weisell (Serenity Fields; #12)
Mr. Cutler (#14-19)
Robert Gashe (#14-19)
Granny Goodness (#17-18, 25)
Artemis (Female Furies; #17-18)
Harriet (Female Furies; #17-18)
Bernadeth (Female Furies; #17-18)
Stompa (Female Furies; #17-18)
Lashina (Female Furies; #17-18)
The Lump (#24)
Noodle Alien (#26-27)
Big Bear (Forever People; #3-5)
Beautiful Dreamer (Forever People; #3-5)
Mark Moonrider (Forever People; #3-5)
Vykin (Forever People; #3-5)
Serifan (Forever People; #3-5)
Maya (Beautiful Dreamer’s daughter; #5)
Green Lantern (G’Nort, Justice League International; #6)
Blue Beetle (Ted Kord, Justice League International; #7-8, 10, 13-16, 19, 25-27, Justice League Special #1)
Booster Gold (Michael Carter, Justice League International; #7-8, 10, 13-14, 19, Justice League Special #1)
Maxi-Man (Henry Hayes; #9-10)
Martian Manhunter (J’onn J’onzz, Justice League International; #10, 14, 16, 25, 27, Justice League Special #1)
Max Lord (Justice League International; #11)
Green Lantern (Mogo; #14)
Fire (Beatriz Da Costa, Justice League International; #15-16, 25, 27, Justice League Special #1)
Ice (Tora Olafsdotter, Justice League International; #15-16, 25, 27, Justice League Special #1)
Green Lantern (Guy Gardner, Justice League International; #16, 26-27, Justice League Special #1)
Batman (Bruce Wayne, Justice League International; #16)
Amazon Angel (Beautiful Babes of Wrestling; #24-25, 27)
Pythona (Beautiful Babes of Wrestling; #25, 27)
General Glory (Justice League International; #25)
Betty Bodyslam (Beautiful Babes of Wrestling; #25, 27)
Mini-Maxine (Beautiful Babes of Wrestling; #25)
Mama Mound (Beautiful Babes of Wrestling; #25, 27)
Green Lantern (Kilowog, Justice League International; #27)
Big Breeda (Barda’s mother; #28)
Huntress (Helena Bertinelli, Justice League International; Justice League Special #1)
Metamorpho (Rex Mason, Justice League International; Justice League Special #1)
Power Girl (Karen Starr, Justice League International; Justice League Special #1)
Funky Flashman (#11-18, 23, 27, Justice League Special #1)
Lord Manga Khan (#13-18, Justice League Special #1)
L-Ron (#13-18, 26-, Justice League Special #1)
Mister Miracle Robot (#13-15, Justice League Special #1)
Mister Miracle (Shilo Norman; #21-28)
Fiona Leeway (#24-27)
Let’s take a look at what happened in these books, with some commentary as we go:
Oberon, the dwarven companion to Scott Free, who also always seems to live with them, is napping in a chair in their new house when he’s woken by some demonic voices. He is not happy to be living in the small town of Bailey, New Hampshire with the Frees. He is rude to Barda, and then storms out of the house, only to get hit by a local kid on a bike. He starts arguing with the kids, but Scott arrives and tries to calm him down. He tells the kids that he’s reopening the local fix-it shop, and offers to help fix one kid’s bike. Scott and Oberon walk through the town, and we get a recap of how Scott took over the mantle of Mister Miracle from Thaddeus Brown and became a famous escape artist, a role that Oberon wishes he’d return to. As they keep talking, we also get a quick recap of how Scott was born on New Genesis, the son of Highfather, but got traded to Apokalips as part of a peace exchange, where he was raised by Granny Goodness in her orphanage. We’re reminded that Scott is now part of the Justice League International, and he makes the case that, when he’s not being a superhero, he wants to lead an average life. He shows Oberon the shop, which he’s still setting up, and gets mad when he sees that Oberon hung an old Mister Miracle poster up. Oberon is not convinced by Scott’s goals, and accuses him of hypocrisy because he uses a Mother Box to help fix appliances. Oberon hears the weird voices again, and we see demonic faces on the walls, as they leave the shop. After they’re gone, a boom tube opens. Barda is sunbathing in the yard and notices that a neighbour is watching her. Ed introduces himself, and his wife Kathleen joins them, explaining that Ed is very nosey. They invite the Frees (and Oberon) to dinner that night. In the fixit shop, a half dozen “animates” – walking mannikins – emerge from the boom tube. One of them downloads the consciousness of Doctor Bedlam, and takes his form. Scott and Barda are in bed talking about their new life. Barda also seems skeptical that they can make this work, but seems down to try. She starts to get dressed, but Scott suggests her battle armor might not work for their dinner party. He tells her that he’s heading to the shop, and he’ll meet her for dinner later. When he arrives at the shop, a number of the appliances’ electrical cords attack him. He blasts them away, and hears a voice calling him to the back of the shop, where the demon heads abound. He recognizes Bedlam’s voice, and suits up, preparing for a fight. Bedlam tells him he’s not actually there, but a boom tube opens and dozens of animates emerge and start fighting him. It soon becomes hundreds of animates, and Scott is overwhelmed. Barda and Oberon arrive at the Ferbel’s house, where they have a surprise for them. They explain that their family friend came looking for them at their house by mistake, so the Ferbel’s invited him to dinner. Barda is not too happy to see Bedlam drinking a cocktail and waiting for them.
Bedlam’s animates drag Scott along a cliff face. He returns to consciousness, and yells for Bedlam to show himself. The Doctor appears as a floating head, telling Scott he’s too busy with his family to come to him in person. Bedlam has Scott in some kind of contraption, and when he tries to free himself, he’s attacked by psychic snakes that feed off his doubts. At the Ferbels’, Barda and Oberon are having dinner with Bedlam and their hosts, although Barda’s not able to keep up her facade after Bedlam tells her that he’s checking up on her for her Granny, and smashes the table. Bedlam mentions that he’s seen Scott, and claims he’s going to be late. Scott continues to argue with the projection of Bedlam, who claims to have killed Scott’s Mother Box, and to have taken all his tools from his costume. Bedlam talks about how he’s there to punish the Frees on Granny Goodness’s behalf, after they humiliated her in an issue of JLI. He also explains that he’s dosed the town’s water with a de-evolution agent that is going to start taking effect shortly. Oberon’s had enough of Bedlam, and starts to yell at him, and when Bedlam tries to dismiss him as senile, Oberon knocks his arm off. Barda tries to explain to the neighbours that he’s a Vietnam vet, but Bedlam points out that the Ferbels are de-evolving into creatures. They attack, and Barda, donning her armor, smashes Bedlam’s body to bits. She notices that Oberon has turned into a dog-like creature, and when she goes outside, sees that everyone in the town has changed. Bedlam keeps boasting to Scott, who is able to break out of his bonds by focusing on his love for Barda. Bedlam recalls his animates through a boom tube and departs. Scott flies into town, surveying the damage. He heads to his fix-it shop, where he retrieves his undamaged Mother Box, and looks for other tools. Barda is about to be surrounded, until Scott swoops in and picks her up. He’s surprised to see the state of Oberon, but uses his multi-cube to pacify his old friend. He uses the cube to put everyone in town to sleep, but isn’t sure what his next move should be to restore everyone to normal. That’s when he hears a loud voice telling him that it’s not too late. We see everyone in town restored to normal, with their memory wiped, and all damage repaired. The town’s benefactor is Highfather, Scott’s dad, whose presence is a surprise to Scott and Barda.
Highfather announces that he’s going to stay with Scott and Barda for a bit, and it’s clear that Oberon is not happy about that. As Izaya, as he insists he’s called, looks around the house, Oberon makes cheap jokes at his expense, and Barda feels a little awed, and needs to be told to call him by his name. Scott’s exhausted, and wants to go to bed, but Izaya wants to stay up and watch TV, which is new to him. Oberon appears to be jealous, and feels that he’s been more of a father to Scott, but is also easily ignored. As night falls, we see a shadow creature coalesce outside the house, looking a bit like a dragon, before dissipating. Scott and Barda talk about Scott’s lack of connection with his father, based on the fact that he didn’t raise him. The next morning, Scott struggles to get his car working, even with the help of his Mother Box. Ed comes over, telling him that he enjoyed their dinner party the night before (Highfather faked his memories for him). Izaya comes out, dressed as Fred Astaire, and introduces himself to Ed, and decides to invite him and Kathy over for dinner that night, which stresses Barda out a bit. Scott says he has to go to work, and Izaya insists on accompanying him. Since the car is broken, they walk through town, and talk about Highfather’s admiration for Earth. He makes a reference to the Forever People, calling them Scott’s cousins, which is news to him. Highfather explains they aren’t related by blood, but he sees them as family. He gets Scott to walk through a museum with him, but instead, Scott wants to fly around with him (in their usual outfits), and to continue chatting, while also playing tag. As they talk and fly, Gibson pays homage to the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. They rest against a boulder. Scott asks about his mother, but Izaya doesn’t say too much, before they decide to head home. As they fly off, we see demonic faces in the boulder’s shadow. These faces turn into demonic figures on horseback. When Scott and Izaya get home, they find the kitchen a disaster, and Barda near a breakdown. Just as everything burns, the doorbell rings. Izaya calls the neighbours into the kitchen, causing Barda more stress, but Izaya uses his powers (or magic?) to fix everything and whip together a beautiful dinner. Just as everyone sits down, there’s a loud rumble. Izaya reveals that he invited the “cousins”, the Forever People, and they ride their skycycle into the house.
The two kids we met in the first issue, Wally and Andy, are riding their bikes when they are attacked by the shadow creatures we saw last issue. Highfather welcomes the Forever People to the Frees’, and justifies inviting them without telling anyone. Since the Ferbels are so shocked to see them, Beautiful Dreamer uses her powers to change everyones’ clothes into something appropriate, and Highfather uses his wonder staff to fix the Ferbels’ memories, again. The dinner party starts, with Ed wondering why Scott has a Black cousin, and Kathy flirting with Serifan a little. Barda is surprised to learn that Beautiful Dreamer is pregnant, and even more surprised to learn that it’s only been six weeks, despite the size of her belly. They are also surprised when the fetus starts to talk to them. Oberon can’t engage Mark Moonrider in conversation. After dinner, and after the Ferbels have left, Scott pulls his father aside to tell him off, bringing up years of accrued resentment. Scott storms out, and Mark goes after him. Scott sits and broods on a curb, and is joined by Wally and Andy, who knock him out and drag him away. Oberon confronts Highfather, who is sitting and brooding in the house. He makes the point that he’s a bad father. Dreamer talks to Barda about having had a miscarriage, and how it was a miracle that she got pregnant. They are both surprised when the baby announces that she wants out. Barda calls for help, just as Mark returns to say that Scott has gone missing. Vykin trances out, and senses the Dark in town. Mark reacts badly to this. Scott comes to in an abandoned mansion, where an evil-looking woman stands over him. She identifies herself as Fyre, and as a servant of The Dark. She explains that they are shadow creatures who have been living on Earth forever, influencing human activities, and that they are enemies of the Forever People. Scott tries to leave with the boys, but is attacked by a number of armored servants. He puts on his costume and flies off with the kids. They turn into shadows and engulf him, dropping him to the ground. Fyre explains she wants to use Scott to lure Highfather and the Forever People, so she can destroy them. Oberon, Mark, Vykin, and Serafin head out into the town, and are confronted by more of the Dark’s servants. They start fighting, but the men are quickly captured and dragged off. Oberon is left lying against a tree, where the neighbours assume he’s drunk. Highfather tries to help Beautiful Dreamer in her delivery, while Big Bear sits with her, and Barda frets. She hears the doorbell, and goes down to find the two boys standing at the doorstep. They tell her that she has to send Highfather to the Dark’s house, or Scott’s going to die. She tries to get Highfather to come with her, but Beautiful Dreamer needs her. Izaya struggles to decide, and Barda accuses him of abandoning Scott again. Oberon struggles to stand, but collapses, and Fyre, who now has four prisoners, gloats a bit.
Highfather has a hard time deciding what he should do – go to help Scott and the others, or stay and help Beautiful Dreamer deliver her child. He uses his wonder staff to give Dreamer and Big Bear the strength and love they need to get through the delivery, and then leaves with Barda to help Scott. Fyre has him and the other three Forever People trapped in bubbles. She’s surprised when The Dark decides to leave her, but she has all of her followers to help her still. She flirts a little with Mark Moonrider. Oberon is hurt, and tries to get up to get help. A man in a suit that he recognizes, but whom we don’t see, picks him up and puts him in his car. Barda and Highfather arrive at the house, but Izaya insists he go in alone. Barda waits outside in her armor, where some passersby notice her. Highfather enters the house. Scott is pleased to see him, but is more concerned with the gas filling his prison bubble. His suit has a filter in it, so he is able to maintain consciousness. Fyre starts beating on Highfather, who doesn’t fight back. Scott is bothered by this, and has flashbacks to his own treatment at the hands of Granny Goodness, and that gives him the strength to burst out of his bubble, and attack Fyre’s men. He also frees the others, so they make quick work of her forces. Fyre escapes during the fight. Highfather, who wants to talk with Scott, first wipes their enemies’ minds and sends them home. Barda bursts in, upset that she missed the fight, and that’s when Serafin reminds them they should go check on Dreamer. They rush back to the Frees’, where they find Dreamer resting, and baby Maya floating above the bed, happy to greet them all. The next morning, Big Bear and Dreamer eat breakfast, and we learn that Scott and Izaya were up all night talking, before going for a walk. We catch up with them on the same hilltop from before, where Highfather explains that he didn’t have any other options for peace than to give Scott up to Darkseid. Izaya also tells him about his mother. Later, all of the visitors depart, and while saying goodbye, Barda says something to Maya about maybe giving her a new cousin soon. It’s only after they’ve all boom tubed away that Scott realizes that Oberon is missing.
Issue six is a little out of continuity, which it acknowledges on the first page, explaining that Oberon is not missing because this story is set either before (which doesn’t work because the Fixit Shop is open) or after. It’s also plotted by Keith Giffen, and features are by Mike McKone and Paul Gross, which better fits what I expected from this book. Scott and Oberon are hanging out in the fixit shop, where Scott is struggling to fix a simple toaster (he fixes it, but the toast turns into gold). A couple of men in suits enter the shop and make it clear that they think Scott should pay them protection money, and that the one in charge watches too many old gangster films. Scott and Oberon tell them to go away, and later tell Barda about it. They hear sirens, and go to a nearby diner that’s on fire. Talking to the owners, it’s clear that the gangsters did this because they wouldn’t pay them either. In Queens, Vincent, the lead gangster, talks to his boss about how he’s taking over Bailey, but mentions that Scott wouldn’t cooperate. When Barda gets in her car at the grocery store, one of Vincent’s operatives surprises her, pulling a knife on her. Scott is not happy to learn that Oberon has called in the Justice League to help with this problem. He doesn’t want the League anywhere near the town, so he can keep his identity secret. Barda calls to tell him what happened, and to tell him to come home because G’Nort, the annoying human dog Green Lantern is in their kitchen, having been sent to them by the Martian Manhunter. Vincent decides, after what happened to the man he sent after Barda (we don’t actually learn what happened to him, but it sounds bad), that he wants Scott to pay. Two of Vincent’s men break into the fixit shop, where they find G’Nort waiting for them. He scares them and shoots him with GL energy pellets while Scott watches. Scott wants him to use his ring to read their minds and find out who they work for. It takes G’Nort a long time, but they learn where Vincent is. G’Nort, wearing a suit, tries to sell Vincent insurance, slowly driving him mad with his personality. The next day, G’Nort says goodbye to the Frees, and promises to take Scott up on his empty offer to come visit again. Vincent’s boss tells him he’s given up on Bailey, and is sending Vincent to Florida to work the dog tracks. Scott thinks he has the toaster working now, but when he tests it, it explodes.
With issue seven, DeMatteis moves to a plotting role, with Len Wein providing the scripts. Joe Philips and Pablo Marcos take over the art duties. Professor Ivo takes in a screening of Citizen Kane at the Bailey cinema, where he creeps people out with his strange lizard-like skin and strange facial gestures. He thinks about becoming a child again, but also rants about disemboweling his enemies. At the shop, Scott gives a man his radio back, and takes a call from Oberon. He’s happy to hear from his old friend, who has been missing since issue five (#6 was an anomaly, remember). We see that Oberon is at a bar, but he lies to Scott about where he is, claiming he’s off managing some personal business. We see he’s still with the shadowy figure who found him on the road, and get the idea they’re up to something. Blue Beetle and Booster Gold are in the Beetle’s Bug, on their way to Bailey, where they want to surprise Scott and Barda with a stack of pizzas. Booster isn’t sure it’s a good idea, but Beetle is insistent. Barda’s at the nursery school where she works when she spots the Bug and makes an excuse to slip out of work. Ivo returns to his hotel room, where we see there are four more Ivos, all who seem insane. When they see the Bug fly by, they get murderous. Scott is at the shop with Wally and Andy, who know something odd happened the other night. The Bug lands outside the shop, and the two heroes come out and chat with the crowd that gathers. Scott is not happy to see them, and is worried that they’ll expose his identity. He ushers them inside, and the two boys hear him talking to them about how he’s Mister Miracle. Scott yells at his friends, but then they come up with an idea. They pretend to be actors portraying themselves, as part of the store’s grand opening. Still, Beetle almost gives away Scott’s identity again. Barda turns up, and she’s just as angry. That’s when one of the Ivos turns up and attacks Beetle and Booster. Barda almost suits up, but Scott stops her. The fight moves outside, and the two heroes have a hard time dealing with him. When one of Ivo’s punches sends Beetle flying, Barda catches him and tosses him back into the fight, without getting noticed. As Beetle flies over Ivo, he pulls off his scalp, revealing that he’s a robot. Knowing he’s not human, Booster punches his head off, and it looks like the fight is over. That’s when the other four Ivos turn up, surrounding our four heroes.
Now it seems that Bruce Patterson is the inker on this book. The four working Ivo androids surround Scott, Barda, Blue Beetle, and Booster Gold, preparing to attack. Scott stops Barda from engaging, and they all board the Bug, hoping to draw the androids away from the crowd, and to keep hiding Scott and Barda’s identities. They are surprised to see that the Ivos can fly. They go to a remote area, Scott and Barda change into their uniforms, and when the Ivos arrive, the fight is on. After a few pages of fighting, Barda rips one of the androids apart, but it reconstitutes itself, incorrectly, and keeps fighting. That’s when the severed head and body of the first Ivo arrive and join the fray. Scott uses his multi-cube to scramble the androids’ brains, ending the fight. Later, at the fixit shop, Barda hangs out with Beetle and Booster, while Scott reprograms the Ivos. He’s made them look and sound like the Beatles, with Zeppo Markx being the fifth Beatle. Barda is frustrated with everyone and heads home. Later, they all have a meal together, including the androids, who eat more than the rest. The Ferbels come by, wanting to invite Scott and Barda to the movies, and find the whole scene a little weird. Barda is unhappy with the lack of quiet in their lives. Later, Beetle and Booster leave, taking the androids with them, not noticing that Andy and Wally are watching them from the bushes. A car pulls up to the house, and a very drunk Oberon falls out of it. He and the shadowy guy he’s spent the last couple of issues with approach the door. Inside, Scott and Barda are preparing to enjoy some alone time when the doorbell rings. They’re not happy to see that Oberon is with Ted Brown, their former manager. They’re holding a poster for the Mister Miracle 1990 World Tour.
A guy named Henry Hayes is on a Greyhound bus to Bailey. As he rides, we learn about how he lost his job and family, but gained some powers when the meta-gene bomb exploded. His attempts to use his strength for good were foiled by other heroes, so he decided to move to Bailey to become a hero. Scott argues with Ted and Oberon about how he doesn’t want to go on tour. Hayes rents a room in an older lady’s house, and puts on his costume, taking the identity of Maxi-Man. Scott continues to struggle with the toaster he can’t quite fix. Barda is running the nursery school on her own, and is puzzled to find one of the kids in the basement, cradling a badly hurt monkey. Oberon joins Scott in the shop, and starts arguing with him again. As they argue, a woman comes in hoping to get her lawn mower fixed. Oberon angrily grabs a sprayer off a counter and tries to spray it at Scott. Instead, the gas hits the woman, and her clothes are instantly cleaned. She leaves, having suggested Scott should patent that gas. Scott has to run to the bank, so he leaves Oberon in charge of the shop. Hayes gets a job delivering pizzas, figuring it will be easy to slip away to be a hero as needed. A delivery truck drives past the store and hits a pothole, which causes a box to fall out the back and hit the shop’s door. Oberon brings it inside, wonders that the return address is unreadable because it fell into a puddle, and leaves it behind the counter before leaving to talk to Ted Brown. As Scott arrives at the bank, he sees that it’s engulfed in flames, and because of a computerized fire system that failed, everyone inside it is trapped. Scott doesn’t want to reveal his identity, but has to help people. At the same time, Hayes arrives and figures he can finally be a hero. By the time he’s ready to debut Maxi-Man, Scott’s already flown over to the bank, entering through the roof. He uses his multi-cube to open the locked fire doors and finds everyone together in a single room. Just before they can escape, the roof collapses, and the building comes down. The only thing left is the vault, which has a timed lock, meaning anyone inside is trapped for twelve hours. Scott opens the vault from the inside though, and lets all the people out, before flying off. Maxi-Man is angry that he lost his chance to be a hero, and vows revenge.
Barda, Oberon, and Ted watch as Scott appears on TV. He comes home furious, and convinced that they need to move out of Bailey now, but the others convince him to stay and try to find some balance there, pointing out that there is no reason for anyone to know that he is Mister Miraculous, as the reporter kept calling him. In New York, Blue Beetle and Booster Gold watch the same news coverage, and Beetle is angry that Scott outed himself after giving them such a hard time about his secret. Martian Manhunter points out that it’s normal for superheroes to get the limelight. Henry Hayes is also upset that Scott got attention and he didn’t, and looks to be moving into supervillain rant territory. Oberon is in the shop when Ms. Hardy, the woman he sprayed last issue, arrives with a friend, asking for another display of the cleaning spray. Oberon is thinking of ways to capitalize on this stuff. Scott and Barda talk over breakfast, not knowing that Andy and Wally are spying on them. Scott heads out, and Kathy Ferbel lets herself into the house. She and Barda talk about the monkey Barda found, and how there are a number of labs doing animal research in the area. Barda is upset to learn there may be more animals being tortured, and agrees to join Kathy at a protest soon. As Hayes delivers pizzas, he spots some guy trying to snatch a woman’s purse. He jumps out of the van dressed as Maxi-Man, looking to help, but the woman fights both of them. Scott walks by and gets involved, as Mister Miracle, stopping it all as the police arrive. This builds Hayes’s resentment. In the shop, which is empty, the cardboard box from before sprouts legs and plugs itself into a wall socket. It hides itself just as Scott enters, followed by Oberon, who trips on the box. Scott turns on a TV, and sees that Maxi-Man is at the scene of a burning tanker trailer. He rushes out. Maxi-Man manages to lift the tanker off a car it’s crushed long enough for first responders to pull the people in the car to safety. He struggles to hold the tanker up, and it collapses, exploding just as Mister Miracle arrives. Scott isn’t happy when Maxi-Man tells him to leave, and although Scott doesn’t want to fight, one breaks out, sorta. Scott doesn’t let Hayes lay a finger on him, and in the process, makes him look like a fool, further enraging him. This is all televised, and escalates until the woman Hayes saved from the car yells at them to stop. She makes it clear that Maxi-Man is not really a hero, and ashamed, he walks off. Scott tells the reporter to get his name right, and flies off. Later, Hayes buys a bus ticket to Muscatine, where he hopes to become a hero.
Scott is arguing with Ted as they walk to the shop, but are then surprised to see a massive crowd running to it. Scott has to fight his way through the crowd to get inside, where he finds that Oberon has set up a booth like a shower stall, and is charging people to get their dirty clothes cleaned by his spray, which I guess is such a problem in this town, that people would run to breathe in these unknown chemicals. Scott is not happy, and ends up threatening the crowd with a bat to make them disperse. Oberon tries to explain how much potential this spray has to make money (it’s weird that there’s been no explanation of where it came from yet), and admits that he’s made a deal with an investor. The investor calls, and it’s Max Lord, the guy who runs the JLI. He tells Scott that he’s sent someone to help manage things. That’s when his guy arrives, and it’s Funky Flashman, his old manager or something. Scott is even more angry as Flashman explains his business plan, and he storms out. Now Ted and Oberon take Scott’s side, and head out after him. Barda is at a meeting of animal rights activists, who have decided that, with Barda’s information about the monkey, it’s time for them to act, although that means peaceful protests. Scott changes into his costume and flies away from his friends. He flies around talking to himself for a bit, before Mother Box warns him of danger. Scott is attacked by a half dozen men on flying snowmobiles. The men insist that he has something of theirs, and use metallic tape to wrap him up and dump him on the ground. They explain that the tape will keep contracting until he tells them what they want, but Scott manages to use his multi-cube to cut free and tunnel beneath the ground without them noticing. His tunnel collapses beneath them (why would it be so deep?), and they decide to fly off, never revealing what they were after. Back at the shop, Flashman talks on the phone with two scientists (they look like the Muppets Bunsen and Beaker), learning that they can’t duplicate the cleaning spray. Flashman hears a voice offering him help, and realizes he’s talking to the package we’ve seen the last few issues. It sprouts arms and rips off its paper wrapping, revealing itself to be The Head, a metal computer monitor with a human head inside (that looks like the old Spidey villain Silvermane).
Funky Flashman and The Head walk through the woods together talking about forming a new business partnership. Scott flies through the same woods, and gets annoyed when people on a basketball court recognize him and want to talk to him. He flies back to the shop, and doesn’t notice that Wally and Andy are hiding in his dumpster, taking pictures of him changing his clothes. Once inside the shop, Scott tells Oberon what happened with the guys on flying snowmobiles. Flashman returns to the store and tries to get Scott to sign a contract again. Scott gets angry, again, but the endless arguing is interrupted when the guys from last issue blow the door apart and enter. Barda and Kathy are at their protest at Serenity Fields, an R&D company. The head of the place, Sidney Weisell comes out to talk to the protestors, and to deny having anything to do with the monkey in Barda’s nursery school. Barda gets mad and lifts the man up, and Kathy has to calm her down. The protestors leave at Weisell’s command, and Kahty and Barda disagree on whether laying hands on him was the right thing to do. In the shop, the gunmen demand that they be given what they’re looking for, and Scott denies knowing what they’re talking about. The Head, wrapped back up in his packaging, whispers to Flashman that he has to keep him safe. One of the gunmen grab Oberon, threatening to kill him, but he gets distracted when Ted walks into the shop, and Oberon kicks him. The fight is on, and as the store takes a lot of damage, Scott switches into costume and attacks the guys. Ted and Oberon join in when it looks like the men are piling on Scott, but Scott is really somewhere else. He picks up a package to throw at them, and that causes The Head to reveal himself. Scott is surprised he’s not dead, and confused, since these men see him as their boss. The Head explains that he’s no longer with the World Protective League. The fight gets a little more chaotic, and soon, Scott, Oberon, Ted, and Flashman are all pinned down. Oberon fights back with the defective toaster, which now fires cast iron slices of bread. He manages to trigger one of the gunmen’s metallic wrap things, and all of the men are bundled together. Later, after the cops arrive and roll the men into a paddywagon, a cop advises Scott to get the building checked for structural issues before returning to work. That’s when the shop, and the neighbouring ones, all collapse. The other store owners in the strip confront Scott, demanding that he pay them back. Scott tries to explain that he has no money, and that’s when Flashman reminds him that he has a contract that can fix his problems, if he decides to go back on the road. Feeling he has no other choice, Scott signs. Flashman thinks about how the contract is written so that he will get rich behind it. That’s when Barda arrives, and learns what’s happened. Ted notices that The Head has gone missing. We see him walking on his metallic legs through the woods, when a beam of light penetrates the trees and whisks him away.
The Justice League Special (the cover calls it the Justice League International Special Featuring Mister Miracle, but the indicia says otherwise) fits here. It was plotted by Keith Giffen, but otherwise made by the regular Mister Miracle crew. It opens in space, where Lord Manga Khan talks (and shouts) to his robot L-Ron about heading to Earth. At the JLI embassy in New York, Huntress bristles at having to do monitor duty, complaining to Oberon about it. He heads to the street, preparing to leave on Scott’s world tour; he’s excited when Fire gives him a kiss goodbye. Scott meets with Flashman, and is annoyed to see how he’s set himself up in a massive penthouse. Scott calls Barda to check in, and she tells him she’s planning another animal rights demonstration for the next day. Blue Beetle and Booster Gold get dressed to go to Scott’s show. Backstage at Madison Square Gardens, Scott and Oberon talk about Scott’s doubts and regrets before he heads towards the stage. Huntress takes a brief nap on monitor duty, and wakes to learn that Manga Khan’s vessel, the Cluster, is headed to Earth. She goes to get the Martian Manhunter. Beetle, Booster, Fire, and Ice are in the audience when Scott’s show begins. Metamorpho and Power Girl teleport into the New York embassy just in time to get recruited to join J’onn, Huntress, and Green Lantern Guy Gardner in responding to the Cluster’s arrival. Scott introduces Oberon to the audience, and Booster and Beetle laugh at his clown getup, just as the lights in the stadium go out. We see that the Cluster is floating over the Gardens. J’onn and the others approach the ship, and the Khan orders L-Ron to not attack. Flashman gets teleported onto the Cluster, and finds himself surrounded by crates of Miracle Mister, the cleaning spray Scott developed. He’s joined by Scott and Oberon, who are not happy. Manga Khan joins them, and explains that he is Flasman’s partner in this endeavour. Gardner penetrates another part of the ship and starts fighting the robots. The rest of the League prepare to follow him. In the Gardens, the others realize that the blackout is not part of the show, and head out. Fire immediately flames up and flies to help. Scott is furious to learn that Flashman listened to The Head to enter into business with Manga Khan. Scott learns that the Khan manufactured all of the spray at a very low cost, in return for Scott agreeing to a full promotional tour across the galaxy. The Khan points out that neither of them read the fine print in their contracts, and that they are bound to work with them. Scott says the League won’t allow it (apparently the Khan tried to sell Scott once before), but at the same time, J’onn stops Guy from continuing his fight, and L-Ron goes to talk to him. Booster and Beetle are in a cab that’s stuck in traffic, trying to go help (I guess the Cluster has moved?). There is no sign of Ice. Fire arrives at the ship. Manga Khan and Scott go to talk to J’onn, explaining that there was a misunderstanding, and that everything is fine. Oberon and the real Scott watch this happen – it seems that the Khan built a robot of Scott to leave behind. Scott is not too pleased with all of this. The Khan drops off 250 000 boxes of Miracle Mister outside the Gardens before departing. J’onn points out to Robot Scott that they need to figure out what to do with all of these boxes. Oberon and Flashman are not happy as L-Ron ferries them to part of the Cluster. Scott also feels badly about how this is all playing out, and worries that the League will never trust him again. Scott goes to see the Khan, who shows him his tour poster. Back in New Hampshire, J’onn calls Barda to try to figure out where to store all the boxes.
The Cluster is in orbit over the planet Squaarm, where Scott is giving a show. He gets chained up and sealed in a tube that is then placed beneath a pile driver. The tube is crushed, but Scott is fine, and takes the chance to sell his Miracle Mister to the happy crowd. Scott, Oberon, and Flashman all get teleported back to the Cluster, where Manga Khan greets them. L-Ron tells the Khan that their ship is almost out of Promethium One, their main energy source. The Khan goes to the bridge, where his robots have discovered a meteor field that contains a large supply. They fly there, and use electro-nets to drag in all of the meteors. The Khan and his companions go to inspect their haul, and discover that they’ve dragged in two space dolphins who look injured. L-Ron lets them know that Lobo will be upset about this, and everyone reacts with fear. In Bailey, Wally and Andy help Barda put tarps over the boxes of Miracle Mister in her yard (it doesn’t make sense that Max Lord, who is supposed to be bankrolling this stuff, wouldn’t be involved now). Kathy comes to get Barda to go protest Serenity Fields again. In New York, the Mister Miracle robot left by Manga Khan tries to call Barda. He talks to Booster Gold and Blue Beetle about why he’s staying at the embassy instead of going home, since the League has important business. On the Cluster, the Khan prepares for the possibility that Lobo will attack, and then he does, plowing through the Khan’s defenses and joining them on the bridge. He’s there to kill everyone, but Scott is able to stop him by pointing out that he hasn’t checked to see if the dolphins are okay or not. This makes sense to Lobo, so they head to the hold, where a robot named C-Thomas tells them that they bartered the dolphins away (which must have happened pretty quickly, given the timeline in this book). Lobo is angry again.
With issue fourteen, Doug Moench took over as writer, which is kind of a strange choice for a book like this. It’s also strange that things changed mid-story, and I wonder how much of this issue is based off of Wein’s plot or ideas. Manga Khan tries to have another group of robots stop Lobo, and after he smashes them, he punches the Khan, knocking his head off and apparently killing him. The thing is, the Khan is actually a sentient cloud of gas, and with his containment suit destroyed, he is out of the picture for a bit. Scott is surprised to see Lobo feeling remorse that his vengeance didn’t make him feel better, so he suggests to Lobo that he help him find his missing dolphins. They discover that the dolphins were traded to a green being who appeared via holographic projection, and swapped them. They get the coordinates of where the trade took place, and leave in a ship. On Earth, Barda and Kathy discuss Barda’s desire to do more to help animals, and how Scott (she means the robot one) isn’t calling her. In the backyard, Wally and Andy talk about their plans. When Barda arrives, they tell her they know Scott’s secret, and want to sell all the Miracle Misters in order to keep it secret still. Barda is mad enough that her foot opens a crevasse, and she storms off. Somewhere else, two men, Mr. Cutler and Mr. Gashe discuss the TV footage of Barda they are watching; Gashe wants to use her for something, and gains permission. Lobo and Scott track the dolphins to a large green planet with a wide equatorial belt. They find them eating a yellow substance. Their vessel is hit with lightning and they crash. On The Cluster, Oberon realizes that if Scott returns before Manga Khan is put back in his body, L-Ron won’t stop them from leaving the ship and returning home. Lobo is upset to see that his dolphins aren’t eager to leave with him, preferring to eat the yellow stuff that keeps falling from the sky. When Lobo gets angry, the planet itself attacks him and Scott. At the JLI embassy, Robot Scott calls Barda and tells her that he’s not coming home, again. The planet drags Lobo and Scott into it, shutting a crack around them. Barda reacts badly to Robot Scott’s blowing her off, and that’s when Andy and Wally come to negotiate with her again. She decides to let them sell the cleaner. The holographic green figure appears, telling Scott (who is buried under rocks), that he serves his master, Mogo (at this point, the Green Lantern planet had only appeared once before, in the story where Alan Moore invented him). The hologram explains that the yellow rocks are corrosive and keep falling on the planet. Because of their colour, Mogo can’t protect itself, but the dolphins like eating the rocks, which healed them. Lobo breaks free, and has a hard time accepting that the dolphins would rather stay where they are. Scott and the hologram comfort him, and he decides it’s best to leave them behind. He and Scott fly off in their ship, and we see that the planet is indeed a Green Lantern. Manga Khan returns to his body just before Lobo returns to tell him that, since he didn’t get the dolphins, he’ll take the stuff the hologram traded for them. It’s two tubes of the yellow stuff. Barda receives a visit from Robert Gashe, who tells her that he’d like to give her some news that will help her defend the animals.
The Cluster approaches the massive planet Colossopolis, the next stop on Scott’s galactic tour. The group – Scott, Oberon, Flashman, Manga Khan, and L-Ron take a part of the Cluster down towards the surface, but are hit by rocks flying from the surface. Scott flies out of the ship to see if he can help, and is hit by a giant cat-like creature. He blacks out, while the shuttle crashes. In Bailey, Gashe shows Barda pictures of animals that have fallen victim to animal experimentation. He tells her that he knows when more of the chemicals used to torture the animals will be dropped off at a warehouse he’s discovered. Barda, who doesn’t realize she’s being manipulated, pledges to help. He goes to get something from his car to give to her; this gives Kathy something to gossip about, as she watches with binoculars. Scott is found by a giant alien, who talks as if he’s a god. He takes Scott away from the ship, which is now being attacked by the massive cat. In Bailey, Andy and Wally try to figure out how to sell all of the Miracle Mister, and realize they need to sell in bulk. The big alien puts Scott in a table-top maze, telling him that to get out, he’ll have to face “The Foes of Five.” These foes are lame and not worth describing, except to say that Scott beats two of them at once. Robot Scott answers the phone in the JLI embassy, and when he realizes it’s Barda, pretends she called the wrong number. Barda, we see, is trying to decide what to do with the bomb that Gashe left her. Scott faces the third Foe, and uses its size against it. The cat plays with the Cluster shuttle. Scott defeats the fourth Foe, which irritates the large God. Oberon realizes the scale of things on the Colossopolis, and points out to Manga Khan that they couldn’t ever sell their Miracle Mister there because of the size difference. Scott faces the last Foe, but uses his multi-cube to break it apart (did I mention they are all robots?), and open the lock at the end of the maze. The god, it turns out, is just a kid who is upset to see that all of his toys are broken. His mother comes to calm him down, and Scott escapes. Gashe goes to see Mr. Cutler, and we learn that they work for one of the animal experimentation companies, and are using Barda to discredit the animal rights people, and to collect some insurance money. The Cluster shuttle, which Oberon, Khan, Flashman, and L-Ron are now standing on top of (there are scale issues here for sure) has ended up in the gutter in a city, and the cat is stalking the tiny men.
When the giant cat attacks, it knocks the shuttle through a sewer grate. Oberon, Manga Khan, L-Ron, and Flashman take shelter in an alley, and end up standing on the chest of a “wino” before the cat comes after them. To get away from it, they jump into the sewer too, and move through the current by holding on to some large sticks. Barda looks at the bomb she has and struggles to make a decision about blowing up the warehouse. In JLA #39, the Robot Scott was destroyed by Despero, and the League doesn’t know that it wasn’t the real Scott. Martian Manhunter, Batman, Guy Gardner, Blue Beetle, Fire, and Ice debate who will have to tell Barda. Barda, watching TV, decides she needs to protect animals, and storms out with the bomb. Kathy, watching through her binoculars again, decides she’s cheating. Wally and Andy continue to work in the backyard preparing to sell all the Miracle Mister. Blue Beetle calls, but no one answers. Fire suggests that he calls Ted Brown (although I thought he was staying with the Frees, and I’m not sure how the JLI would have his phone number). Scott finally shows up, trying to track down the others on the giant planet. Barda arrives at the warehouse and finds it full of chemicals. She decides not to use the bomb, but instead changes into her costume and just trashes the place, bringing it down. As she leaves, police approach her. Scott finds his way to the sewer, escaping the cat, and flies around looking for his companions. He hears two sewer workers talking, and leaves his multi-cube tucked into the belt of one. They find the shuttle. The others continue to float through the sewer, and are attacked by a snake creature. Luckly, Scott arrives and helps them. They approach a compactor, and Scott rushes to stop it. Barda is arrested, and Gashe and Cutler watch on TV, proud of themselves. Kathy sees it and gets Ed. Scott manages to shut off the compactor just in time. He uses his mother box to electromagnetically drag them to the multi-cube. Once there, they find the shuttle and get in, just as the Khan’s robots get the shuttle online and return to The Cluster. Ed, who is a lawyer, is talking to Barda as she is processed. Ted shows up and tells her that Scott is dead just as she is locked in a holding cell.
The Cluster arrives at the location of the next Mister Miracle show, but it’s just empty space. Scott realizes it’s a trap when a boom tube opens, and they find themselves transported to an orbit around Apokalips. There, Darkseid monologues about wanting to capture Scott through intermediaries. Manga Khan figures that they should be able to sell all their Miracle Mister, since the planet is so dirty, and Oberon encourages Scott to face down Darkseid’s plans. They decide to take a vessel called the Coracle down to the planet. At Granny Goodness’s orphanage, she has the Female Furies (Artemis, Harriet, Bernadeth, and Stompa) trash some of her orphans. Darkseid comes to speak to Granny, telling her that he wants Scott killed. Darkseid resurrects Lashina (who was killed back in my Suicide Squad column), and the team prepares. Barda is released from jail to attend Scott’s funeral. Andy and Wally hold a yard sale at the Frees’, and by dumping mud on people to demonstrate the powers of the mister, their first customers get very excited. On Apokalips, Scott and his crew prepare an elaborate show that has a muddy Mister Miracle diving through a cloud of Miracle Mister into a tiny bucket, but at the last second, he swerves away and has Oberon spray the crowd instead. The Lowlies, clean for the first time in their lives, are giddy with excitement and start trading away their weapons to buy the cleaner. Granny sends out the Furies. Barda feels intense grief at Scott’s funeral, and apparently confronts Maxwell Lord, but that’s in an issue of JLA. The kids keep selling the mister. On Apokalips, Scott explains to Oberon that the mister uses New Genesis technology, and therefore gives its users some of Scott’s essence. The sale is interrupted by the arrival of the Furies. Scott moves to attack, and some of the clean Lowlies move to assist him. Barda is returned to her cell, where she despairs. Oberon joins the fight as well, against Scott’s orders, and he is knocked down by Lashina. Manga Khan and the others flee in the Coracle while Scott goes to Oberon, and is himself brought down by Lashina, who points out that she should be the Furies’ leader again. Back at the Serenity Fields labs, we learn that Gashe and Cutler have been working for Darkseid (this is a little too neat), testing a mutation virus on animals in order to make it ready to use on the people of Earth. The Furies take the unconscious Scott to Granny, who is pleased that he’s still alive, so she can punish him.
The Lowlies spread the word about the miracle mister, and along the way, start pushing for a cleaner Apokalips. Flashman and Manga Khan convince one another that they should go after Scott. Oberon wakes up to find himself surrounded by Lowlies that want more soap. Scott wakes up in a deathtrap involving lasers and chains, and starts to feel some despair that his life will always be like this. Granny is hard on her students. Manga Khan and L-Ron pilot the Coracle, and are surrounded by Lowlies that want the soap inside. Oberon arrives with his followers, and has them use the mister to increase their ranks. He convinces the Khan to teleport down more mister. In Bailey, Andy and Wally continue to sell the mister in large numbers out of the Frees’ backyard. Scott uses mother box and the multi-cube to free himself. He goes to confront Granny, telling her he’s ready for their unhealthy relationship to end. He talks to Granny about who she really is, and her disappointment that Scott left Apokalips. In the end, he takes off his costume and challenges her to kill him. Ed goes to see Barda in jail, where she is deeply depressed. The Female Furies argue about leadership. Oberon tries to convince the Lowlies to go to Granny’s orphanage to free Scott so he can make them more soap. Granny prepares to kill Scott, but is clearly hesitating. This is when the Coracle drives through an orphanage wall, and Oberon challenges her. She calls on the Furies (there are a bunch that I’ve never seen before, who go unnamed, who respond alongside the regular members of that team). Scott costumes up and tries to stop everyone from fighting. He maneuvers Stompa into position over the remaining boxes of Mister in the Coracle’s hold, and she releases the gas. The Furies are clean, but don’t pick up the change in attitude that the Lowlies did. That’s when Darkseid arrives and uses his powers to dirty up the Lowlies. Some of them use the mister on Darkseid, but it does nothing to him. He orders everyone back on the street, and tells Scott he will punish him for bringing humans to Apokalips (even though it was really him that did that). He also lets them go, and as they leave, he tells Granny that he saved her from falling to Scott’s words. The Coracle returns to The Cluster, and since all the mister is gone, Manga Khan releases Scott, Flashman, and Oberon from their contract. At home, we learn that Andy and Wally sold $6.5 million of mister in their yard sale. Scott worries that he might never overcome Apokalips and its taint on his life. Darkseid speaks to Gashe and Cutler, whose mutation virus thing is ready to be spread.
Barda, still in lockup, celebrates the news that Scott’s alive. Scott and Oberon reprise their old argument about life in Bailey while teleporting from the JLA headquarters to their basement. Scott’s shocked to find the backyard in such disarray, not noticing Andy and Wally wheeling away the last of their cash. Meanwhile, there are two protests happening outside the house. One group, led by Kathy, is protesting Barda’s arrest and for animal rights (although why they would demonstrate outside her house instead of the police station or jail makes no sense), and another is a group of shop owners who blame Scott for the destruction of their business (I don’t understand how there can be so many of them when the fixit shop’s collapse only impacted at most six other storefronts). When Scott walks out front, both groups get angry with him. Kathy’s upset that Scott is not already visiting Barda in jail, while some other guy wants money from him. We learn they’ve launched a lawsuit, demanding $6.5 million, and that Ed Ferbel is representing them. When the guy says that Ed stinks as a lawyer, Kathy hits him with her sign, and a riot ensues. Soon, they all get arrested, and as they ride a van to jail, Kathy makes sure Scott knows that some guy was visiting Barda. Scott thinks this has something to do with the bomb she left at the warehouse. At Serenity Fields, Gashe and Cutler inject a dog and ape with their mutation serum (I’m not sure why there are no lab techs to do this kind of work). They let Darkseid know that this is their final test over a viewscreen, and he makes it clear that if it works, he’s going to roll out the product for humans very soon. Andy and Wally count their money. Scott and Barda are able to talk in their holding cells, and he tries to make it clear to her that she was duped. Scott wants them to escape to deal with the situation. Wally and Andy talk about what they’re going to do with all the money they made. Scott uses his multi-cube to freeze everyone in the police station, so he, Barda, and Oberon are able to walk right out of the place. They change into their costumes and head off, carrying Oberon. The cops realize they are gone. Gashe and Cutler are disturbed by the changes in the two animals, and Darkseid reminds them that they must follow his orders. That’s when Scott and Barda bust in. Gashe tries to shoot them, and when Scott flies into him, he knocks over the cages, letting the monstrous dog and ape out. Scott tells Oberon to go find a bottle of Miracle Mister, suggesting he go door to door to find someone who bought it, while he and Barda try to contain the animals. Scott’s multi-cube won’t work on the beasts, and Gashe and Cutler realize the error of their ways. It takes Oberon a while to find a bottle, while our heroes’ fight causes all the other animals to be released as well. Finally Oberon arrives with a bottle, and sprays the mutated creatures, restoring them to normal. He also sprays the two men, who then agree to admit to what they’ve done. Scott and Barda, back in their civilian clothes, escort the two men to the station, but get stopped by the guys insisting they receive their money. Barda lets them know that the two kids have their money, and they all walk together to the kids’ tree fort. Wally and Andy reluctantly hand over the six and a half million, which leaves them with a little less than seven grand for themselves. That’s when one of their dads shows up with the credit card bill for the ads they placed in various newspapers. This leaves them broke. On Apokalips, Darkseid schemes. Scott and Barda are finally alone together, and make out.
Ian Gibson returns to draw issue twenty, which was plotted by Keith Giffen. Oberon’s insulted Barda’s cooking again, and she kicks him out after a ham-fisted attempt at apologizing. He says goodbye to Scott and heads to a bar. The bartender suggests he stay at a new motel that’s opened outside of town, telling him that the owner keeps coming to the bar to put up posters of missing people. Oberon gets a lift to the place, which is an old house, and most decidedly not a motel, no matter how many times it gets called that. He meets the proprietor, a big, creepy looking man, and rents a room despite his reservations. We see the man retire to his office and start drawing a missing persons poster of Oberon. Scott and Barda talk about Oberon, and she agrees he should go find him. Oberon heads down to the main floor to look for something to eat, and sees the poster of himself. He freaks out, thinking he’s going to get murdered, and tries to run away, but the door is locked, and the phone behind the front counter is dead. He hides as the proprietor heads upstairs. Oberon heads into the man’s office, and sees where he draws the missing posters. That’s when the man comes and puts his hand on his shoulder. Scott ends up at the same bar Oberon frequents, and the bartender tells him where she sent Oberon. He drives out to the motel (again, not a motel), and as he approaches the door, gets knocked over by the owner, who is running away. Oberon comes after them both with a chainsaw, and they run. Scott realizes that Oberon didn’t recognize him, so he heads back in costume, trying to hold him in his cape. Oberon cuts through the cape, so Scott knocks him on the head. When he wakes up, he’s back home with Barda watching over him. Scott explains that the motel owner is an eccentric cartoonist who likes drawing the missing persons posters as a way of dealing with his nervous breakdown. They leave Oberon to sleep, and that’s when he sees a spaceship fly past his window, and starts yelling. There is no explanation as to why the motel’s phone didn’t work.
With the regular creative team back in place, the Frees (and Oberon) decide to move to New York City, thinking that it might be easier to not be heroes there, and weirdly, to hide from the Justice League. Oberon films them loading their belongings into a rented truck, while hijinks involving boxes of coupons and Scott using his aero-disks to move the couch ensue. While they are packing, we keep seeing scenes of a young man spouting gibberish while performing escapes as a busker. The Frees and Oberon say goodbye to the Ferbels and Wally and Andy, and then they’re on the road. They get a flat tire, and attempt to boom tube the truck to Manhattan, but when they’re almost hit by a bus, they boom tube back. Barda fixes the flat, and they drive the rest of the way into Greenwich Village. Scott’s rented a very large loft that all of their furniture can barely fill. After Barda burns dinner, they go for a walk (with Barda in costume) and get some street hot dogs. Mother Box alerts Scott to something, and they head into Washington Square Park, where they find the young man performing his tricks. Scott is excited to see him, just as a thief grabs his hat and money and takes off. The young man, who Scott recognizes as Shilo Norman, goes after the thief and catches him, but doesn’t know how to react when three other men decide to join in. Scott changes into his outfit and goes to Shilo’s rescue. Barda catches the last guy. Shilo, who still talks like a bad absurdist poet, knows Scott from the Jack Kirby days, and Scott walks off with him, talking about passing the torch to him.
The people of Greenwich Village wonder where Shilo has gotten to. A mysterious man sets up to surveil the always-closed Albanian Noodle Factory that the Frees now live above. Barda and Oberon hang out together in the loft talking about Scott training Shilo. We learn that Shilo was Thaddeus Brown, the first Mister Miracle’s apprentice. Shilo shows Scott that he already has a new version of the classic costume that he wants to wear, and Scott looks at the technology that he’s put inside of it. Scott decides to alter some of the tech using New Genesis technology. The man on the street is able to see Barda and Oberon. Oberon is bored, and convinces Barda to spy on Scott with him. Scott gives Shilo his Mother Box, or has a new one for him, that he can understand. Shilo suits up, and they show the others how he looks. They head to the roof so Shilo can learn to fly using his new aero-disks. He flies around while Barda and Scott talk about renewing their vows. Highfather shows up and seems mad at them. Shilo’s shake-down flight goes well until goes to see his girlfriend and finds her making out with some other guy. Scott explains to Highfather why he wants to take some time away from being Mister Miracle. Shilo doesn’t appear to be getting along with his Mother Box, who keeps putting him in dangerous situations while claiming she is showing him the aero-disks’ capabilities. He ends up in a subway tunnel, and hears someone crying for help. A half-dozen tough guys have someone surrounded, but Shilo and his version of the multi-cube take the bad guys out. Scott and Izaya keep talking while Shilo flies around the city, still having problems with Mother Box. Highfather decides he agrees with Scott, just as Shilo comes crashing through the window and tells them that he is going to pass on being the new Mister Miracle. The man on the street reports that nothing important has happened.
The next morning, Scott and Highfather discuss why the Mother Box was so difficult for Shilo to use, while Oberon complains, and the same strange man shows up on the street to spy on our heroes. Izaya suggests that Mother Box is unhappy at not being asked to be shared with Shilo. Scott decides to pursue this avenue while Oberon asks Izaya to play cards with him. Scott gets Shilo to agree to chat with Mother Box, and so they put their two devices next to each other and kind of meditate. They find themselves pulled into Mother Box, and Scott is upset to see that she is malfunctioning. Inside the device, which is attached to the Source, all is chaos. Scott finds himself trapped inside a dark gem, while Shilo is elsewhere. This chaos manifests on the Source Wall on New Genesis. Shilo is attacked by crystal-like antibody things, and manages to break into the gem holding Scott. Barda brings pizza to Oberon and Highfather, while the guy outside decides to spy through the skylight. Shilo ends up trapped with Scott, but learns that was a physical challenge set by Mother Box. Next, the two men bond and share their pasts with Mother Box. We see Scott’s familiar origin, compared to Shilo’s life story (he’s also an orphan who had a hard time at an orphanage before witnessing violence and turning to authority for help. Both men also met Thaddeus Brown and became Mister Miracle). Highfather figures out that Oberon has been cheating him, and Barda decides that the job she’s been looking for might be in the world of women’s wrestling. Funky Flashman appears in the Frees’ teleporter. Mother Box apologizes to Shilo for doubting him, and offers to work with him; this unity is reflected on the Source Wall. We learn that Flashman has been bouncing around from teleporter to teleporter, until he finally found the Frees. Oberon stuffs him back in and sends him to Russia. Scott and Shilo come out of their trance, and Oberon asks Scott what he’s going to do if he’s not Mister Miracle anymore. Highfather brings the spy in (the guy is dressed like a Victorian), and the man reveals that he was watching them because he wants to offer Scott a job on behalf of his employers.
So, the guy who looks a bit like Abe Lincoln that has been spying on Scott for a few issues works for an anonymous executive who wants to hire Scott to work on products like his Miracle Mister, for a very large salary (even by today’s standards). Shilo leaves, feeling tired. Scott tells the “Headhunter” (he doesn’t give his name) that he needs to think about things, and that’s when Barda tells him of her plans to join the Bad An’ Beautiful Babes O’Wrestlin, and heads out to audition, with Oberon following her. Shilo heads to his weirdly-decorated apartment and lies down for a nap. We see a pink lump of clay fly into his window, take on a humanoid form, and extend tendrils from its belly into Shilo’s head. Shilo wakes up, but the thing is gone. He heads to his class at NYU, and as he walks through campus, gets hit in the head by a giant fish scale. He bumps into a woman who flirts with him, and agrees to meet him at the same time the next day. Shilo is buried in more fish scales, and sees a giant shaved fish floating above him. He turns into Mister Miracle and flies up to investigate, at which point the fish swallows him and turns into the pink blobby guy. They start to fight, and the being goes through some rapid size changes. Mother Box gives Shilo advice on how to fight this threat, and Shilo hears voices. Scott and Highfather talk about the job, and Highfather realizes something is wrong with Shilo. He opens a portal, and they see that the creature, which Scott recognizes as The Lump, is a threat to him. Scott explains that one of Granny Goodness’s people created the creature, and that he fought it before. Scott gears up to go and help him. Meanwhile, Shilo, who is fighting the creature in his head, continues to fight. Barda talks to the guy who runs the female wrestling company, and he has her get in the ring with The Amazon Angel, Oberon’s favourite. Barda quickly takes her out, to Oberon’s chagrin, and the guy hires her. Shilo keeps fighting The Lump, and things get weirder and weirder. He heads to the physics lab to get a molecular melter he’s been working on, which disrupts the Lump’s body, and manages to short circuit the actual Lump. Shilo wakes up to find the creature lying on him and Scott and Izaya standing over him. The Lump flies off, and Scott stops Izaya from destroying it. Scott praises Shilo, but he realizes he’s late to meet the girl he met (even though it’s not a new day, and he didn’t actually meet her). He arrives on campus and runs into her again anyway. She introduces herself as Fiona and agrees to go watch him perform his escape artist tricks.
Shilo is in a safe in the middle of Washington Square Park, and his escape appears to go wrong. Blue Beetle is watching from his Bug overhead, with Fire and Ice, and, thinking that Scott is in trouble in the safe, picks it up and flies it away. Scott and Oberon give chase, while Fiona stands around confused. Barda prepares for her wrestling debut, and doesn’t understand when Pete, her boss, tells her that she will win the evening’s match. She’s annoyed that Scott and Oberon aren’t around, but Highfather accompanies her, and she easily beats Pythona. Back home, she speaks to Scott on the phone, and he explains that there’s something going on with him, Shilo, and the Justice League. Barda’s annoyed. A week later, Scott’s still not back, and she prepares for her next match, wherein she’s told to lose to Betty Bodyslam. Barda doesn’t know that wrestling’s fake, so doesn’t understand the subtext of what she’s told. Oberon turns up to tell her that Scott will be gone for a while, due to something involving General Glory. Barda is mad at Scott and Max Lord, and when she’s in the ring, she lets her anger get the better of her and she beats Betty, winning over the crowd in the process, even though this is against Pete’s plans. It turns out the other women in the league don’t like Betty that much, and they gravitate towards Barda. Oberon tries to explain things in a cab on the way home, but Barda still takes everything seriously. The next Friday, she’s set to fight Mama Mound, and is again supposed to lose. She walks in on some guy named Big Lou, who works with Pete, giving Mini-Maxine a hard time. When he hits her, Barda confronts him, and when he pulls out a gun, Barda gives him a beating. She gives Maxine a pep talk, and is told by Mama Mound that they should fight for real in the ring. Barda ends up winning, which angers Pete’s bosses. Barda’s fame continues to grow, but Pete gets fired (and beaten up by his mobster bosses). One of the bosses gives Barda’s next opponent, the Amazon Angel, a tech-belt that will help her even up the fight. Pete calls Barda from the hospital, where he’s in traction, to warn her, but she ignores him. She’s surprised to see how strong the Amazon is, but Izaya points out the belt, and so Barda rips it off her. Someone fires a shot at Barda from the crowd but misses, so Highfather blasts him with his staff. That guy runs off, but gets caught by the other wrestlers. Barda covers the Angel, and pins her in the process. We learn that Granny Goodness gave the mobster the belt, hoping to humiliate Barda. She drags the guy away to her boom tube. Barda, Izaya, Oberon, and all the wrestlers visit Pete in the hospital, and he tells them that the league is dead. Barda offers to train the women as the new Female Furies. In Washington Square Park, Fiona is looking around for Shilo, and decides she’s only going to wait for him for another month before she starts dating again (they haven’t even gone on a single date yet).
Scott and Shilo are arguing at the JLA HQ about how Scott told the League Shilo wasn’t ready to be Mister Miracle (I guess this all happened in an issue of JLA). They take a cab back to the loft, and continue to argue. When they get home, they are surprised to see that Barda is training the new Female Furies, and that Highfather has become obsessed with pizza. Scott works to apologize to Barda for being away for so long, and suggests they have a housewarming party the next night. She forgives him. As Shilo is about to leave, Fiona turns up, looking for Mister Miracle. Shilo explains that he told her his identity, which Oberon thinks was a terrible idea. Fiona explains that she broke up with him (again, they hadn’t been on a single date yet), and storms off, mentioning something about how she came because her friend’s aunt’s husband has been turned into a supervillain. Shilo goes after her, and Scott decides to follow him. Elsewhere, in some supervillain lair type place, the “supreme magnificence” tells his followers to prepare. Fiona leads Shilo to the aunt’s place, and he agrees to check in, despite this not being the type of situation that Mister Miracle usually deals with. As he’s about to knock, the guy rips out of the second floor, yelling about rampaging. Shilo, now dressed in costume, barely rescues Fiona from him and starts to fight the guy. It appears the guy expends all his energy and turns back to normal. Just then, a dozen more people start on their own rampages (they all look bigger and kind of roided out). Shilo wades into a fight with these mutates, and Scott decides he has to join in, which annoys Shilo. They quickly wear out their opponents, and notice that they all return home kind of like sleep-walkers. They notice that one is going off on his own and decide to follow him. On their way, they get attacked by another mutate. As that fight starts, Shilo tosses a tracker on the guy they were following. While they fight this new mutate, Barda calls Kathy and Ed Ferbel to invite them to the party. Andy and Wally overhear, and decide to sneak a ride in the Ferbels’ car. The sleepwalker approaches the Albanian Noodle Factory under the Frees’, catching Oberon’s attention briefly. When Oberon turns away from the window, the guy descends into the sidewalk. Scott and Shilo work together to stop this last mutate (which took longer to deal with than the dozens before him), and start heading after the other guy. Shilo kisses Fiona before they depart. Barda invites Blue Beetle to the party, and he in turn tells Guy Gardner about it. Shilo tracks the guy to the Noodle Factory, and they head inside. They discover that the storefront is empty. The guy, now mutated again, attacks them and they all fall through the floor. Beneath the factory is a massive pile of noodles, tended to by the clone-drones we saw before. The Mister Miracles are captured, and the boss starts to speak to them telepathically. Barda dismisses the Female Furies and invites them back the next day for her party. The being behind the mutates turns out to be an alien shaped something like a stuffed pasta shell. He has plans to take over the world, and this makes Scott and Shilo fear they will miss their party.
Scott and Shilo are left in an energy cage by the alien noodle, and Scott uses this as a teaching moment to help Shilo improve. Barda, Oberon, and Highfather have finished planning for the party and head to bed. By the middle of the next day, Scott and Shilo are still struggling to escape. Guy Gardner and Ice arrive for the party. Shilo reverses his fractal forcefield and shorts out the energy cage. The two heroes go looking for the pasta being. The new Female Furies arrive, as do Blue Beetle and Martian Manhunter. We see that Fire and Kilowog are already at the party. Orion and Lightray arrive via boom tube. The Mister Miracles fight the clone-drones. The big pasta guy teleports in front of them, and when they fly into him, they get trapped, and we learn they can absorb his mutation stuff through contact. The party continues, and Orion talks to Izaya about his desire to get to know Scott better. Guy gets annoyed with Beetle, but J’onn calms him down. Funky Flashman and L-Ron come through the teleporter, but everyone pushes them back in, and Oberon sends them to Antarctica. Scott and Shilo start to transform into beats, and while the party is in full swing, come blasting through the floor, ranting about killing the JLA. Fiona rushes in and explains things to J’onn, and the heroes prepare for a fight. Barda stops Guy from smashing Scott, but then the fight is on. The Female Furies decide to get in on it, just as the clone-drones come climbing into the loft. There’s some chaos, during which Fiona explains to Oberon that the mutates usually run out of steam. Barda threatens to divorce Scott, and Fiona threatens to break up with Shilo, and this knowledge turns them both back to normal. That’s when the Pasta Guy comes through the floor, and all the heroes attack it. Fire and Ice, with help from Guy, cook the creature, which doesn’t kill him but frees the clone-drones, who are also little pasta square guys, from his control. They say they want to take the big guy back to their dimension, so they all leave. Afterwards, Shilo explains to Fiona that Mother Box says that any left over Albanian noodles are inert now, and she tells him that he’s not dumped anymore. Scott and Barda embrace, and Beetle makes dumb jokes.
Ed and Kathy are on the road to the Frees’ party when they blow a tire on a remote road. When they open the trunk to get the spare, they discover that Andy and Wally tossed it out to make room for them. The Frees continue to clean up after their party, and Scott is again talking about how hard it is for him to ever live a peaceful life. Barda agrees with Oberon that it’s impossible, and mentions how it must be nice for Scott to have Highfather, since she was born in a lab and raised in Granny’s orphanage. Scott reminds her that he never grew up with Izaya, but is fine with how things have turned out (despite the fact that he’s spent twenty-eight issues wishing life was different for him). The Ferbels and the kids finally arrive, after having walked, hitched a ride in a garbage truck, and gotten mugged. Scott reveals his identity to them, and introduces Shilo. He tells them he’s quitting the identity. A boom tube opens in the living room, and from it emerges Big Breeda of Apokolips, along with three unconventional looking Parademons. She says she’s there to take Barda back, and Barda reminds her that she has forsaken that planet. This turns into a fight that Scott and Shilo quickly get involved in. Highfather decides to sit it out, knowing that something is coming. The kids, Oberon, and Ed decide to get involved too, although when Andy fires an experimental weapon he finds, he gets wrapped up in a wire with the Parademon he fired at. Ed doesn’t do any better when he attacks with a big serving spoon. Scott insists that the fight move outside. Barda and Breeda appear to start talking, so Shilo traps the Parademons in his fractal forcefield. Breeda reveals that she is actually Barda’s mother, and that unlike all the other orphans of Apokolips, she was conceived out of love and then taken from her. The Parademons break free, but Breeda fires on them, having switched sides in this fight. Highfather finally does something, protecting everyone from the Parademons until Breeda decides to renounce them. He sends them away, and then tells Scott that he has a choice to make as well. Back at the loft, Izaya explains to Scott that he has to pick between the “three faces of being” – demonic, godlike, and normal. He wants Scott to return to New Genesis and learn about his heritage and why he’s the only person from there who doesn’t have powers of his own. Scott admits he’s never thought about his lack of powers, and after receiving Barda’s support (and Breeda’s, for what that’s worth), he decides it’s time to go. Later, the Frees prepare to board a chariot that Highfather has summoned. Scott says goodbye to Shilo, telling him to let the JLA know he’ll still be on the team. Barda says goodbye to the Ferbels and the two boys. They both embrace Oberon, and charge him with watching over Shilo, and then they leave.
Yeah, I’m not sure why I stuck this out to the end, even past the point where I’d originally dropped this title. It’s clear to me that the popularity of the JLI in the late 90s led to the desire for spin-off titles, but I’m not entirely sure that DC took the time to have more of a plan than to just publish this book.
It seemed like JM DeMatteis was torn between setting up Scott and Barda in a normal life and dragging them before half the population of New Genesis. Len Wein’s goal appeared to be to trash the status quo that DeMatteis set up, while making the book more beholden to whatever was happening in JLI/JLA. And then Doug Moench came along, wrapped up the existing storyline about Scott and Manga Khan, and then set about replacing Scott with Shilo.
I thought there’d be a little more commentary or character development. The Giffen/DeMatteis Justice League was known for its silliness, but all of that was character driven, and they managed to do some real work on many of the characters on the team. This book tried over and over to capture the light-heartedness of the League, without ever finding a real emotional centre in Scott, Barda, or Oberon.
I also have to wonder who would have chosen Doug Moench, best known for his runs on Moon Knight and Deadly Hands of Kung Fu, to write a lighthearted comedy title about two New Gods trying to make a life for themselves in Greenwich Village. That’s how you end up with alien sentient pasta. It just didn’t work.
For being the hero of this book, Scott mostly just went along with what was happening around him. He seemed determined to make his fixit shop work, but then just kind of went along with Manga Khan’s plan to have him tour the galaxy selling soap (really, what was that all about?). Later, he was happy to move to New York and just give up his identity, although we then got to watch him undermine Shilo again and again.
Barda didn’t really have any growth moments either (I refuse to count suddenly wishing she had parents and discovering her mother in the last issue as growth). She started off working at a nursery school, but then became all-in as an animal rights activist, only to give up on that cause almost instantly. Even her brief stint in jail, as she mourned Scott, felt a little forced and lacking in any real examination of who she was. Mostly, Barda was around as a punchline for cooking jokes. It felt kind of cheap. Also, while we’re talking about her, I don’t understand how a woman that tall with an odd name didn’t stand out more in Bailey, especially after it was revealed that Mister Miracle was operating there.
In a lot of ways, I felt like Oberon was a more important character than Barda, yet he also never really grew or changed over the course of this run. He existed in this book just to irritate Barda and to argue with Scott about what their life should be like. I never really understood why he needed to live with the Frees, especially since he worked for the Justice League and could have easily stayed in New York with the team if he was so unhappy in Bailey.
Shilo Norman could have been an interesting character, but because Moench was so determined to make him into a cool hipster street performer, he ended up annoying the hell out of me. His Surrealist way of speaking was just too affected, and made him a caricature whenever he was featured prominently. I did like his costume though…
It also didn’t make a lot of sense why Highfather hung out for so long. You’d think that the ruler of a planet like New Genesis couldn’t take an open-ended vacation on Earth. The explanation that he was there to convince Scott to come home that got shoe-horned into the last issue didn’t exactly hold any water with me. It also didn’t make sense that he became a comic foil for Oberon from time to time.
I liked that the book tried to make use of other classic Jack Kirby characters. Funky Flashman was used well, but was also annoying so I was happy to see the end of him. What I didn’t ever understand is just who Ted Brown is, and where he went. He seemed to have something to do with Scott’s escape artist career, but was quickly supplanted by Flashman.
I did like that the neighbours were regular characters in this book. That gave the book some grounding, but I also thought it was weird when a pair of kids sold millions of dollars of soap out of a backyard sale in a single day. Like, why?
The art on this book was pretty decent, but also underwhelming. Ian Gibson’s art didn’t maybe fit the characters so well, considering that people were used to seeing Scott and Barda in the JLI, where people like Maguire were making them more expressive and cartoonish. Gibson’s art reminds me of Shawn McManus, but with less heart.
Joe Phillips struck a better balance with his art, and was able to replicate my favourite thing about Scott’s mask, which is the way it seems to run inside his mouth. I really like the design on Shilo’s outfit, with the hood and different chest design. Phillips was often given lame things to draw (scaleless fish and pasta aliens), but he excelled at character drawing, with one exception – Scott wore the ugliest shirts and sweaters I’ve ever seen in comics. Even taking into account that it was the dawn of the 90s, there is no excuse for the way he was dressed in this book.
This entire run is completely forgettable, and I found that while reading it, I didn’t have the motivation to read my typical one issue a day. I never bought the next Mister Miracle series, by Kevin Dooley. I do have the Seven Soldiers version that Grant Morrison wrote, featuring Shilo, but I don’t think I’m in the mood to revisit that project yet (would it count as Retro?). I did love the recent Tom King/Mitch Gerads Mister Miracle series. I know there’s a MM series running right now featuring Shilo, but I haven’t read it. Is it any good?
Now that I’m done with this character, I think I’m going to stray more towards his cosmic roots for my next Marvel series. But first, I’m going to read up on a precursor one-shot and side project that featured an incredible European artist before tackling the main series. Expect another column pretty soon.
If you’d like to see the archives of all of my retro review columns, click here.