Image: Nick Derrington for DC Comics

Hundreds of thousands of people think that Tom King is a good writer. Heā€™s won some of the comic book mediumā€™s most prestigious awards for work like The Omega Men, Vision, and Sheriff of Babylon. But heā€™s still nervous about his work.

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I got the chance to talk to King at this yearā€™s San Diego Comic-Con at a DC Comics press breakfast. The superstar writer had just finished regaling dozens of journalists with charming warmth, curse-filled jokes, and earnest explanations of how he views the ongoing romance between Batman and Catwoman. The outdoor patio was quieter when I spoke to King, who seemed more readily confident to talk about his work on Batman. But, having read the entirety of the first issue of Mister Miracle, I couldnā€™t pass up the opportunity to talk to King about it.

A thoughtful person who always owns up to his narrative ambitions, King knows how to work a crowd and talk about the high-minded subtext of his work. Weā€™d already been talking about Batman in this same conversation, but there was a surprising note of neurotic worry after I asked about Mister Miracle. Iā€™ve interviewed him a few times now and have never felt like I was being put on. His concern felt believable. You can read about how heā€™s getting into the head of the Jack Kirby creation in the conversation below.

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io9: So, Iā€™ve read Mister Miracle #1.

Tom King: Youā€™ve read Mister Miracle?! Is it okay? I worry about it.

io9: I think itā€™s a better first issue than Vision.

King: Oh, man!

io9: But your angle got me wondering. For a lot of fans, the most popular recent interpretation have of Scott Free is the happy-go-lucky guy from the Justice League books written by Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis. Heā€™s kind of been off to the fringes, especially since New 52. He hasnā€™t been used, really, in a significant way. And now youā€™re making him fucking depressed! Do you worry about the tension between those interpretations?

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King: No. When I think of Scott Free, beyond the Kirby stuff, I thinkā€”most recentlyā€”of Justice League Unlimited. DeMatteis and Steranko wrote an episode that was about Scott Free, and itā€™s exactly like you said: Heā€™s a happy-go-lucky/nothing-wrong-with-his-life guy.

I love all that, but to me, what makes him interesting is that heā€™s the son of God, given to the Devil. And heā€™s so unlike Orionā€”who is always moody and grumpy despite being raised in Heaven! Scott is a dude who was raised in Hell.

io9: Thereā€™s a nature-vs-nurture question built into that.

King: Yeah. The idea of a guy who is happy-go-lucky, but spent his childhood on Apokolips. Itā€™s not like he just spent his childhood in Hellā€”thatā€™s one thing, to spend your childhood in Hellā€”but to know that your father put you there? To be like, ā€œThis trap that Iā€™m in now? Itā€™s called the X-Pit. This Hell, this Granny Goodnessā€”Iā€™m being tortured every single day of my lifeā€”because my father decided to throw me away.ā€ Like, that is a deep pain inside you.

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You go to your therapy session, when you tell them that, your psychologist is going to be like, ā€œLetā€™s talk about that for awhile.ā€ And so, to me, the happy-go-lucky stuff, when you put it in the context of having that childhood, it becomes a shield. And it becomes something like, heā€™s happy-go-lucky, heā€™s found someone to love, but that might just be something heā€™s putting out there to cover up the pain of his childhood.


io9 will have a review of Mister Miracle #1ā€”by Tom King, Mitch Gerads, and Clayton Cowlesā€”when the book comes out this Wednesday.

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