09 Apr Diametrically Opposed: Mister Miracle / Granny Goodness
Of all of Jack Kirby’s contributions to the world of comic books, the one that is perhaps the most expansive while simultaneously being the least understood is that of the Fourth World – the extra-dimensional realm in which reside the New Gods. Split into two factions – the good of New Genesis and the evil of Apokolips – one of the most famous characters of this mythology is Darkseid, and yet the Fourth World’s most potent rivalry involves one of the Dark God’s generals, and the adopted son he cast away. This is the rivalry between Mister Miracle and Granny Goodness.
Originally born on New Genesis, Scott Free was the son of Highfather. When war between New Genesis and Apokolips seemed as though it would never end, Highfather agreed to a peace treaty brokered by Metron, in which both he and Darkseid would exchange sons as collateral for keeping the peace. But where Highfather took in Darkseid’s son and raised him as his own, Scott was thrown into the pits of Apokolips; raised in the cruel “orphanage” under the control of Granny Goodness, Scott was held captive, beaten, and brutally trained in an attempt to break his spirit. It was during his time in captivity that Scott discovered, developed, and honed his incredible talent as an escape artist, fleeing the orphanage and joining the meagre underground resistance of Apokolips. His role as an insurgent would eventually lead him to cross paths with Big Barda, one of Darkseid’s Furies who would fall in love with Scott and help him escape to Earth, where he would take the name Mister Miracle and use his skills and his powers as a New God to become a superhero.
Being a member of the race of New Gods, Mister Miracle is both immortal and largely invulnerable, and possesses superhuman strength and agility, though these advantages are nullified against others of his race. He also possesses the technology of both New Genesis and Apokolips, including aero-discs which allow him to fly, and a Mother Box – a sentient supercomputer powered by the mystical Source which, among other abilities, allows Mister Miracle to transport himself anywhere in the Multiverse via Boom Tube. His years of training in the orphanage gave Mister Miracle incredible athletic ability and hand-to-hand combat skills. Combined with his mastery of multiple forms of escapology and his indomitable will, Mister Miracle is the greatest escape artist in the Multiverse and cannot be held captive.
In addition to being a member of the New Gods, Mister Miracle joined the Justice League during his time spent on Earth.
Always a resident of Apokolips, Granny Goodness was once one of the “lowlies”: the peasant class of Apokoliptian New Gods under Darkseid’s rule. As a young child, she was taken from her family and placed in brutal military training to become one of Darkseid’s guards. As part of her training, she was made to train a dog and then was ordered to kill it. Instead, she killed her trainer, revealing that she had in fact trained her dog to be loyal to Darkseid. She was eventually forced to kill the dog, but her loyalty and skill as a trainer gained her favour with Darkseid, who placed her in charge of the training of his elite soldiers.
Known as “orphanages”, Granny Goodness’ institutions are home to thousands of stolen children who are brainwashed and tortured in order to break their spirits and make them loyal to Darkseid. Those who are strong enough to survive are trained by Granny to become great warriors, and the greatest of those are the Female Furies. The Furies are the most elite fighters on Apokolips, led by Granny Goodness and whose rotating roster almost always included Lashina, Stompa, Mad Harriet, and Big Barda.
As is the case with Mister Miracle, Granny Goodness is one of the New Gods and therefore possesses the same super-strength, stamina, immortality, enhanced healing, and invulnerability typical of her kind. She is also a master military strategist and tactician, as well as being fully proficient in a number of armed and unarmed combat styles. Granny Goodness’ has a particular specialty for training warriors, utilizing various physical and psychological tortures to condition willing, loyal soldiers.
In addition to training and leading the Female Furies, Granny Goodness is a member of Darkseid’s inner circle and is one of the most powerful and influential lords of Apokolips.
Mister Miracle and Granny Goodness have clashed on a few occasions, but the real strength and weight of their rivalry comes not from the frequency of their encounters but the symbolism of their legacies.
At the foundation, Mister Miracle and Granny Goodness have completely opposing upbringings. Not only is one of New Genesis and one of Apokolips – thus representing good and evil from the get go – but their lineages could not be more different. As the son of Highfather, Mister Miracle was born into the highest echelons of power and society on New Genesis, and were it not for the fateful treaty that sent him to Apokolips, he would have benefited from the privileges, comforts, and duties associated with his class of New God. Conversely, Granny Goodness began life as an unknown peasant. The so-called “lowlies” of Apokolips were, unsurprisingly, the absolute lowest class of citizen; they had no possessions, no rights, and lived only in the service of Darkseid. This not only makes Granny Goodness’ rise to her eventual rank and post an incredible exception – no other lowlie ever gained such power or respect – but it also helps to highlight the inverse trajectory of Mister Miracle’s existence, in which his privilege was stripped from him when he was thrown into an Apokoliptian orphanage.
Somewhat ironically, it is the trajectories of both characters that help to reinforce their rather contradictory symbolic meaning.Despite rising from the depths of Apokoliptian society, Granny Goodness is anything but an embodiment of transcendence. Her success and promotion through the ranks of Darkseid’s forces had nothing to do with her uniqueness and everything to do with her buying into the structure of oppression. Everything she achieved was the result of exemplifying exactly the traits demanded of her, and even in her acts of disobedience towards her trainers, she demonstrated unwavering fealty to Darkseid himself. And despite now largely taking on the role of oppressor herself, she is still completely subservient to Darkseid. She may no longer be a lowlie in the technical sense, but in reality she is no freer than she was before.
By contrast, Mister Miracle’s imprisonment illuminated the notion of the freedom that he once had and now had lost. It inspired him to escape, and with every breach of security he solidified his freedom. With every defiant refusal to break in either spirit or body, he exercised the free will and independence of thought that are the greatest enemies to the kind of totalitarian oppression exemplified by Darkseid and Granny Goodness. He cannot be contained or subdued, escaping any conceivable prison thanks to his mind, his body, his talent, and his technology, all of which are symbolic of freedom – flying witht he aid of his aero-discs and teleporting with the aid of his Mother Box may be the two most powerful images of freedom in his mythos.
But most importantly, not only do these characters embody freedom and oppression, they believe in them. As leader and trainer of the Female Furies, Granny Goodness employs the same tactics on her soldiers as the ones once used on her. She has accepted the system of oppression and reinforces its behaviours and practices. Mister Miracle, on the other hand, is one of the few beings in all of creation to possess the Anti-Life Equation – the mathematical proof of the futility of life that grants its wielder the ability to bend any mind to its will. And yet, in spite of possessing its incredible power, he has proven both immune to its effects and also does not use it. So powerful is his belief in freedom that he will not unleash the Anti-Life Equation on any other being.
It is that belief, in addition to that embodiment, that elevates both Mister Miracle and Granny Goodness to the level of godhood. They are not mere representations of freedom and oppression, they are living personifications of those concepts. Their mythological clash is therefore not merely one of fists and wits, but also of symbolism and meaning, making their rivalry integral to exploring and understanding the DC Universe.
**This article was originally published on Modern Mythologies**