Mister Miracle #8: Regaining Purpose and Joy
There's a scene in Mister Miracle #8 that is, to me, a defined turning point in the series.
For all we know, Scott Free wants an escape. The series began with the world's greatest escape artist attempting suicide, for what other feat could he pull than escaping life itself?
Since then, things haven't been quite right in Scott's life. He thought Barda's eyes were a different color. He'd forgotten that Oberon had been dead for some time. Every other revelation and interaction he has is greeted with, at best, indifference.
I believe Scott Free is depressed.
He has fleeting moments of joy, particularly with Barda. He looks happy when they visit a carnival. Their more intimate moments bring out flashes of contentment. When he finds out he is going to be a father he is understandably overjoyed.
There are moments in Scott's life he loves, but he does not love life. Save for the rare isolated moment of joy, Scott is going through the motions.
But then something changed.
In the current issue of Mister Miracle, Scott and Barda trade off watching Jacob so the other can lead their troops on the front lines. As the newly appointed Highfather, Scott has an obligation to coordinate and lead the armies of New Genesis against the hordes of Apokolips. Given that he never sought or asked for this position, Scott treats it as just that: an obligation.
Yet even his domestic life feels rote and stale. He has a new child, whom he loves, but he treats warming up a bottle or "tummy time" with the same sort of detachment as he does the military campaign. He becomes annoyed when Funky Flashman makes a faux pas, but it's more a general annoyance than passionate concern.
Does Scott love his wife? Yes. Does he love his son? Absolutely. Yet even with these great loves in his life, he lacks passion and purpose.
Until he finds it again on the battlefield.
Walking aimlessly through a devastated war zone, Scott is battered and beaten, clinging to life. He recites a lullaby to himself, likely to hold on to one last vestige of hope. He stumbles among the fallen bodies of nameless soldiers, ultimately falling to his knees and joining them on the ground. Scott has given up, and we are reminded that Darkseid Is.
Suddenly, his Mother Box pings. Barda is overjoyed, as Jacob has been forming his first word. When he is shown a picture of his daddy, he will coo "dah!"
There have been many moving and important moments in this series before, but I think this one is the turning point. No longer content to go through the motions, Scott has rediscovered his passion for living. Hearing his son's joy at seeing his daddy, Scott picks himself up off the ground, puts on his mask, and resumes the lullaby. No longer weary and beaten down, Scott walks off the battlefield with his head high and his shoulders strong.
Scott has a purpose again.
This sequence has such great importance because it shows Scott at the end of his rope, ready to give up. He's then reminded that he has a wife and son who love him, need him, and, most importantly, want him. So Scott heads home, and for the first time in the series he looks genuinely, sincerely happy. He and Barda relax on the couch, and instead of his joy being interrupted by the reminder of Darkseid's presence, Scott elects to click it off and enjoy himself.
He is happy, and he has love.
Then Jacob begins crying, interrupting the tender moment between his parents. "I can always escape," Scott boasts.
That may be true... but does he want to?