The Insufficient Gods of Mister Miracle

The current Mister Miracle series by Tom King and Mitch Gerads is, to my mind, the best superhero series published by the big two right now. And I’m a little surprised by that, because it kind of sounds like the “grim ‘n gritty” nonsense that usually hate in comics. In this story, DC big bad Darkseid finally gets the fabled Anti-Life Equation and uses it against Mister Miracle, just as our hero has been drafted by his half-brother Orion into final battle against the forces of Apokolops. But all of that high-concept action occurs in the background of the series, which instead focuses on Mister Miracle’s descent into depression.

Again, that sounds like a clumsy “Hey! Adults! Comics are serious!’ story. But instead of cheap Identity Crisis grit, King and Gerads fully humanize their characters, and pair the big ideas of Kirby’s vision with big theological and philosophical ideas.

This combination hits every one of my sweet spots, so I had to write about it for Think Christian. My article takes a page from theologian Paul Tillich’s definition of faith to interpret the series:

Mister Miracle is, in many ways, a story about faith—how belief drives one’s life. Like most superhero characters, Mister Miracle and the New Gods are defined by fighting, as many of their stories involve good guys from the planet New Genesis battling Darkseid, the fascist ruler of the planet Apokolips. These fantastic elements inform the plot of the new Mister Miracle series, but King and Gerads relegate them to the background, devoting as much page time to Mister Miracle and his superhero wife, Big Barda, watching television or hanging out in Los Angeles, where he has assumed the alter ego of an acrobatic escape artist. This mix of ordinary and outrageous does not diminish the latter, but rather sublimates super-heroic combat into the characters’ worldviews. They cannot conceive of themselves outside of struggle with their enemy. Conflict is their faith and their life.

Read the whole thing here, and be sure to read the series as we get excited about the upcoming Ava DuVernay directed New Gods movie!

Three Billboards’ Angry Prayer

In my most recent piece for Think Christian, I wrote about Martin McDonagh’s Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. I initially loved the movie, completely taken by the movie’s audacity and Frances McDormand’s amazing performance as Mildred Hayes.

As I chewed on it, the movie’s choppy storytelling and nihilistic humor bothered me more and more, and that was before I read Allison Willmore’s excellent piece about the film’s reprehensible use of racial violence (I link to the article in my piece below, but it bears pointing out here. You should really read it).

Still, even aware of its problems, I’m still taken by the movie and genuinely moved by some of its scenes. As I write below, there’s something of a hopeless, angry prayer at work in the film:

[The film’s humor] frustrates, in part, because despite the movie’s excesses Three Billboards manages to find some humanity in its carnage. Grace breaks into the story with a force more shocking than the film’s violence, as when a shouting match halts after the cancer-stricken Willoughby unexpectedly coughs blood onto Mildred’s face. The camera lingers on the actors, emphasizing Willoughby’s shame and Mildred’s rarely seen compassion. Her soft answer to Willoughby’s explanations–“I know, baby”–recalls the caring mother she was before someone killed that part of her.

Read the whole thing here!

Twin Peaks’ Spiritual Warfare

Because I’m a nerd who writes things on the internet, I am legally required to write something about Twin Peaks.

So I did. For ThinkChristian, “Twin Peaks’ Spiritual Warfare.” Here’s a little bit of it!

Given Lynch’s signature use of dream logic, it’s neither useful nor satisfying to attempt a coherent statement about the metaphysics of Twin Peaks. The series works on an intuitive level. As I watch, I’m reminded of the warnings made by the first apostles against giving “a foothold” to the devil, who “prowls around like a roaring lion.” Paul develops this notion in 2 Corinthians 10, which teaches the church to use weapons that are spiritual, not worldly. The former, he explains, begins with one’s mental life, and he urges readers to “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”

Read the rest, and a bunch of other fantastic articles, at ThinkChristian!