Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Why I Should Write SEVEN SOLDIERS #4: Mister Miracle

I’m sticking this one in the middle because it’s different than all the others. See, I’m not so sure I should write Mister Miracle.

David Brothers has a piece about Afro Futurism and Mister Miracle, and it’s compelling stuff. Morrison’s reimagining of the New Gods mythos was fascinating and relevant, and it elevated the characters above some of their more pedestrian post-Kirby portrayals. Truth be told, I’ve never been the biggest New Gods fan, but Shilo Norman’s experience really opened it up for me. I think the Afro Futurism/“elevation” approach is how Mister Miracle should be written…

…but I’m not the guy to do it. It’s not just a matter of authenticity, it’s one of experience. I’d only embarrass myself if I came on here with my underdeveloped ideas about what Afro Futurism really means, fused it with wacky comic book plots, and passed it off as “something meaningful.”

But, the challenge was to come up with a way to write all these books, so I have to do something. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED:

So, Shilo Norman was the understudy of the original Mister Miracle, eventually became a 21st century celebrity escape artist (only in the DC Universe!) and was tapped by the New Gods to liberate them from the evil gods of Apokalips. After Final Crisis, Darkseid has been defeated and the New Gods are reborn. And what happens to Shilo?

Well, the only thing I can think of is he wakes up one day after Final Crisis to discover that those fabulous space gods no longer have any need for their human savior now that his purpose is complete, and they’re restored on Earth-51 or whatever.

The New Gods have forsaken him.

This would be a less-actiony, more introspective series than my other ones. Shilo Norman knows there’s something bigger than what he can see and touch out there, and he used to be a part of it, but now it’s all gone. All he has left is Motherboxxx, which retains its incredible powers, but seems to have lost its soul; where that “ping!” sound once seemed like the distant echo of a great cosmic bell ringing from Heaven, now it sounds like nothing more than a cheap electronic tone.

Once you’ve tasted what it’s like to be the living avatar of freedom, going back to being a rich guy with a nice house is going to seem pretty shallow. What does the mythical Hero do when his special destiny is fulfilled? After Luke Skywalker vanquished the evil of the Empire, did he have trouble going back to being an ordinary guy? Shilo’s new mission is to escape depression and sorrow, to escape loneliness, to escape the mundane and material -- and find his New Gods once again.

So what does Shilo actually do in the comic? He seeks the great spiritual and/or philosophical leaders and experiences of the DC Universe: Shilo visits Nanda Parbat and Mount Olympus and discovers the final recording of the last science-priest of Krypton, embedded in a crystal in the Phantom Zone. He uses his vast wealth to buy five minutes of Vandal Savage’s time, and asks the immortal terrorist from 50,000 BC for his perspective on life, the universe and everything.

He puts himself through a number of innovative new traps as well. The old physical traps will still be there (being thrown out of a plane with no parachute, stuck in an avalanche, etc.), but, like the monsters in Shining Knight, just as momentary glimpses of Shilo’s everyday life, whereas the stories will be driven by more unusual traps. These will be more conceptual or metaphorical in nature, and they won’t always be something Motherboxxx can just fix. After spending his last penny on the visit with Savage, Shilo will be broke and homeless and living on the streets (where he meets Ali Ka-Zoom, of course!), a trap he accidentally escapes by unwittingly saving the life of Millions, the Richest Dog in the World. Mister Miracle throws himself into a time loop in which he’s forced to replay the death of a young boy in a traffic accident that Shilo is unable to prevent through conventional means (an old chestnut of a sci-fi plot, I realize). And, in a twist on Schrodinger’s Cat, when Shilo volunteers to take part in a quantum experiment that goes horribly wrong, two Mister Miracles emerge -- one alive, one dead -- and he decides to hold and attend his own funeral.

I will also do the unthinkable and admit Brad Meltzer had an idea that I thought was interesting. Doctor Impossible, who’s either Scott Free’s long-lost evil brother from Apokalips, or deranged muscle-for-hire who stumbled upon New Gods technology and only convinced himself he’s a god, returns. But after Shilo’s experiences in Morrison’s miniseries, he’s willing to admit there may be more to Doctor Impossible than meets the eye. On the other hand, the thought that this guy might just be a crazy dude forces Shilo to consider that his own experience with the New Gods might be self-delusion as well.

And it’s Doctor Impossible who pits MM up against a variation of Darkseid’s Life Trap: the Golden Slumbers, which consists of only a powerful hypnotic code, a comfortable bed, and a banner we’ve seen in Morrison’s Invisibles: La mort est un sommeil eternel. Unlike the Omega Sanction, each dream-existence is more pleasant than the last; in some he finds his New Gods once again, in some he learns to live happily without them, in some he is welcomed into the fraternity of superheroes and becomes Earth’s second Superman. It’s like the Black Mercy, but with one difference: sometimes you wake up from the Golden Slumbers … and then you decide to fall back asleep.

So there you have it. I could write Mister Miracle, I suppose. But even though I like some of the ideas above, I’m not so sure I should.

1 comment:

plok said...

Sorry for the delay; been busy.

The "Golden Slumbers" trap is something that I really do like, even thought it does seem a bit Blacky Mercy-ish...I mean, the first thought is "oh God, who wants to see the superhero choose responsibility over ease again?", but the second thought is that to have to do it again and again, and better and better each time, could be some damn fertile ground...because, must the choice always be between ease and responsibility? For Superman, okay...for Batman, okay, but for Mister Miracle (and probably you and me, too) "responsibility" just isn't that big a draw, is it? I know I'm no Eagle Scout, I'm not in pursuit of a return to the status quo, and I certainly know that one day I'll have to let responsibility slip from my fingers anyhow...so a choice between pleasure and doing good isn't really much of a trap either way, really. However if that choice didn't automatically guide you back to real life every time, then you'd have to find some other reason to prefer it, and that does interest me.

Very much in an appropriate vein, this.