Death chases Mister Miracle in this loving tribute to Jack Kirby (Black Racer and Shilo Norman Special #1 Comic Review)

Black Racer and Shilo Norman Special #1

 

Written by: Reginald Hudlin

Pencils by: Denys Cowan and Ryan Benjamin

Inks by: Bill Sienkiewicz and Richard Friend

Colors by: Jeremy Cox

Cover by: Cowan, Sienkiewicz, and Cox


Previously: Jack Kirby left Marvel for DC and created a pantheon of New Gods, including The Black Racer, the God of Death, and Shilo Norman, the second Mister Miracle, two of the many creations that make him deserving of the title The King of Comics

 

What Happened:

The oversized issue takes place during a performance of Shilo Norman’s, the new Mister MIracle. An unpleasant billionaire named Travis Donald has issued a challenge to Mister Miracle: die in his death trap or escape and win one billion dollars, to be donated to America’s orphans. The issue opens in the locker room before the show, as Mister Miracle’s opening act sizes him up, comparing him to the original. The next thing we know we’re in the middle of the show. Miracle is strapped to a rocket, with three more rockets headed their way towards him. As Mister Miracle devises an escape plan, he is surprised to see a strange figure on skis appear behind him, pursuing him with intent. He asks his trusty Motherbox who he is, and learns of The Black Racer, the herald of death for the New Gods. Motherbox insists this means that Shilo is likely to die during this stunt.

The issue then takes us via flashback to see The Black Racer’s origin story. Not originally a New God, Shilo learns that The Black Racer was an American soldier who came home and was paralyzed while trying to protect his neighborhood. Highfather chose him to be The Black Racer, and he accepted the responsibility to be the death that will come for the New Gods. Mister Miracle insists that he’s not a New God, just a friend of one who took a name, as we are treated to a flashback of his origin as well. Motherbox explains that matters little, as Black Racer chases Mister MIracle. Miracle manages to get the better of him and steal one of Black Racer’s skis, who finds himself back at what was once his home when he was a human. He takes a moment to commune with The Source, asking an important question before resuming his pursuit of Mister Miracle. Even without his ski, he chases Miracle through space and time, to the point where they loop back to see Shilo Norman strapped to the rocket in the beginning. From their angle they see the rocket has been tampered with, and Black Racer decides that Miracle may cheat death one more time. As time realigns itself, the fans of Mister Miracle cheer as they see their hero escape the disappointed Travis Donald’s sinister plot.

The end of the issue features some reprints of Jack Kirby stories from the Bronze Age, featuring Fastbak and Vykin, two of his Young Gods of Supertown.

 

Thoughts on the issue: This was an extremely well put together issue. Straightforward and palatable while still being twisty, turny, and abstract in true Kirby fashion. The issue explains the origins of the key events and characters, but not all at the start and not in a way that just feels like a lesson. The story is immersive and thoughtful, and the art is edgy, dark, and interesting. It’s a story that doesn’t need a lot of prior knowledge, but still carries weight, and feels like it is part of something larger.

 

One Last Thing: A fun little easter egg in the middle has the characters running through Kamandiland and encountering OMAC, which serves as a nice nod to other Kirby creations.

 

Final Score: 9/10

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Scott Shuken