Category Archives: Mister Miracle #2

Mister Miracle #2

Cooke Look: “X-Pit!”

You just gotta love the cover copy on this issue of Mister Miracle: “What is a Follower? Ever wear Aero-Discs? Who is Overlord? Just a few questions on his road to sudden death! Electric tensions means Mister Miracle” and “Also — meet Granny Goodness… she reaches out of this world to make deadly little things like the… X-Pit!

While the interior story is mildly formulaic, Granny Goodness proves an awesome villain (and so is the freakish Overlord despite the one-shot appearance), and I believe the issue is, overall, a vast improvement over #1. Granny is shallow, vain, greedy and even needy, yet always impressive, and researching her entry, it’s obvious she is as much the quintessential nemesis in this title as Desaad is to The Forever People. Her obsession with Scott Free is all-consuming and, as becomes obvious, she refuses to get over his escape from Apokolips and that will doubtless be the cause of her eventual downfall.

There are a couple of other delightful touches in this story, as well, including the bonding of Oberon and Scott Free — particularly when they shake hands after the assistant plies for background information and Oberon notes, “There’s a haunting look of fear in your eyes — and pain! Say no more! I know you as a brave and sincere, young friend!” Replies Scott, “Thank you, Oberon! You’re a big man — the kind one looks up to!”; and when Mister Miracle holds his pal over his head when the mud rises in the X-Pit. The other moment is when Scott revives his Mother Box who has suffered an attack of Overlord. “I haven’t explained Mother Box to you, Oberon — but she is dear to me — and I must help her!” Scott tells his friend. Oberon retorts, “Y-you mean that thing — is alive?” Scott puts his hands to his forehead and concentrates on his sentient computer: “In a way, she is! But, now, she’s hurt — weak — I must pour out my love — my belief — to make her respond!” Great stuff!

Day 94: The X-Pit!

The ill-fated Overlord created the X-Pit, a trap to ensnare and punish Scott Free, at the behest of Granny Goodness. “[Overlord] needs no discipline like my pouting, jealous soldier boys! Overlord is also creative! He makes things for Granny Goodness! That’s why Granny asked him to build the X-Pit! She has lost her patience with rebellious boys! Granny Goodness wants to kill Scott Free! He was the first to run away from her institution!”

Granny threatens her underlings: retrieve Mister Miracle or else… “But we know where he is now, don’t we?” screams the old battle-ax. “Get him! Get Scott Free! Bring him to Granny! — Or take his place in the X-Pit!” The minions kidnap Oberon and what they think is Scott Free (it’s just a Follower) and deliver to Granny, and when the real Mister Miracle comes by to rescue his assistant, Granny springs the trap. “I’m here, Granny! But I can’t stay long! Just to pick up a friend!” Granny demurs, “You’ll stay! You’ll stay for eternity! Open the X-Pit, Overlord!” She then pushes a button and Scott and Oberon plunge into the X-Pit!

There is an ominous humming sound! — An eerie flash — as invisible forces rush from a widening gap in the floor!!

Granny: Ha ha ha ha ha –! I’ve got you, Mister Miracle!

Scott Free: My Aero-Discs have been neutralized! I’m falling!

It is a long fall, because the pit is deep! But the mad downward flight of its trapped victims is slowed as they near the bottom!

Scott Free: Don’t panic, Oberon! We won’t be crushed! The hidden force-poles are reversing from attraction to repelling!

At the bottom of the X-Pit is a transparent cage of unknown substance! Its doors close on its hapless prey as they drift within its confines!!!

Scott Free: We’re still alive, Oberon! But prisoners of Granny! And, believe me — this is no ordinary prison!

Oberon: That shouldn’t stop you, Scott! Not you — Mister Miracle!

The pair then brainstorm and Scott ponders what he knows about Granny Goodness and concludes, “She’ll sacrifice anyone and anything — for gifts — rewards! On that premise — and with these studs — we must stake our lives!”

There appear to be 15 tiny buttons — five rows of three — in the transparent container and Scott pushes one.

Oberon: You pressed one of those buttons — and, now, we’re frying!

Scott Free:
Hang on, Oberon! I know this for what it is — a Torment-Circuit! Made by the creator of this pit for Granny’s pleasure! [Pushes another button] Steel yourself, Oberon! This is the Electro-Shock Cycle!

Oberon: I feel like I’ve swallowed a thousand hot needles!

Pressing yet another stud, Scott and Oberon are suddenly engulfed in muck.

Scott Free: I must continue the cycle! I must press another of the studs!

Oberon: Do it! No matter what happens next — It’ll be better than this! Whew! This is a welcome break! But I don’t suppose Granny rigged this to last too long!

Scott Free: No! Look about you, Oberon! Look at the quickly-rising mud!

Oberon: Scott! Do something! Before this mud covers us!

Scott Free: It will smother you first! This way, friend!

Using his right hand, Scott lifts Oberon above his head, keeping him out of the rising mud.

It won’t help, Scott! Try to press the next cycle!

Scott Free: Can’t — The mud is hardening! Tough to move —

At this point, like Granny, readers think Mister Miracle and his assistant are doomed… but, taa-dah! The Super Escape Artist reappears to explain to Granny how the two got out of the X-Pit! After Granny threatens to kill Scott with her bare hands, she demands, “How did you do this? How?

Scott Free:
Fair enough! Once I knew the Overlord created the X-Pit, I knew the make-up of its structure! Every atom of the X-Pit was linked to Overlord himself! Even the studs of the Torment-Circuit! I activated each terrible cycle —

We see Scott pushing a new stud, telling us, “The mud is hardening fastholding my arm — but my finger is free — touching the next stud –”

Scott Free: Then the mud was gone — as if it had never been there — because Overlord was transforming its atoms into another form of torment!

Oberon struggles to his feet and asks, “W-what next, Scott? What next?” Scott opens his shoulder access to Mother Box, replying, “Mother Box signals — radiation!” Then, jamming his shoulder into the studs, he declares, “And that makes her strong! Strong! Strike at the enemy, Mother Box!”

Scott Free: I jammed Mother Box into the Torment-Circuits — felt her power race with vengeance toward their insidious source! Somewhere, I could feel the power strike Overlord! Somewhere, I could hear his silent scream — somewhere, I felt him — die!

Granny: You killed Overlord! You had him killed by a damnable Mother Box!

Scott Free: I earned many things when I left your institution — like these Aero-Discs — on which Oberon and I rose from that now useless pit!

And so the demise of Overlord’s malevolent trap, the ex-X-Pit!

Day 93: Aero-Discs!

Who can argue that Mister Miracle’s Aero-Discs aren’t the absolute coolest “gettin’ around town” devices ever created? Earned by Scott during his training as an Aero-Trooper on Apokolips (“As a FORMER candidate for Granny’s flight troops, I EARNED these!”), these nondescript metallic cylinders, each a fraction of an inch thick, give the hero the ability to fly through the air standing up, a graceful and imposing sight, each foot placed atop a disc. It’s obvious, in “Himon,” that Scott took the transport mechanisms with him when he escaped via Boom Tube to Earth — you can see him grasping the devices to his bosom during the arduous exit from Slum Area 10 and into the Boom Tube to Earth. But late in the series, in #15, Mister Miracle makes a curious comment when flying with Barda, she on her own pair:

Barda: There’s more than one way to follow a quarry –! These AERO-DISCS are PERFECT for the job, Mister Miracle!

Mister Miracle: I built these for the act, Barda. Where WE grew up, the Anti-Grav vehicle is as COMMON as an Earth automobile.

What’s THAT all about? (And what’s with the use of the lowly period punctuation instead of multiple exclamation points, eh???!!!)

Day 92: Granny Goodness!

The first glimpse we get of the powerful Apokolips personality Granny Goodness is when she is sitting before a vidi-screen console communicating with her beloved Overlord, which is reporting its failed assassination of Scott Free, a.k.a. Mister Miracle. After beating her “pouting, jealous soldier boys,” we learn Overlord has created the X-Pit to eliminate Mister Miracle for his matron. Speaking in the third person, Granny explains to her guards, “She has lost her patience with rebellious boys! Granny Goodness wants to kill Scott Free! He was the first to run away from her institution!” She orders that he be captured and brought before her. Her peons seize a Follower, thinking it is the actual escape artist, along with the “sawed-off” assistant, and the real Scott Free suits up and puts on his Aero-Discs to rescue Oberon.

Granny greets the kidnappers, telling them, “My soldier boys never fail their Granny! My soldier boys are the best!” Denying her sycophantic servants the right to watch her punish Scott and, in response to a bowed soldier telling her, “We love you, Granny! We serve you!” she indicates a bust of the Master of the Holocaust and orders, “Love him! Serve great Darkseid! Wear your pointed helmets proudly where he leads! die for him — and reward Granny!” But the gray-haired villain recognizes the prize is a phony and suddenly the real thing flies in to rescue an acquaintance. “I’m here, Granny! But I can’t stay long! Just to pick up a friend!” But Granny retorts, as she pushes buttons on the Overlord control panel, “You’ll stay! You’ll stay for eternity!” and she traps Mister Miracle and Oberon in the X-Pit.

We’ll discuss this particular death machination in an entry to follow, but it’s important to note that Scott Free figured out the trap by focusing on Granny herself. As the plummet to the bottom of the X-Pit, Mister Miracle and his diminutive pal discuss the predicament:

Scott Free: We’re still alive, Oberon! But prisoners of Granny! And, believe me — this is no ordinary prison!

That shouldn’t stop you, Scott! Not you — Mister Miracle!

Scott Free: I’ve got to think! I’ve got to remember all I know about Granny Goodness!

Oberon: Under other conditions, I’d be glad to forget about her!

Scott Free: Beneath her iron facade lies a hidden fear! I’ve seen it!

Oberon: She’s no youngster! Perhaps it’s just the simple fear of old age — and its insecurities!

Scott Free: Yes! She’ll sacrifice anyone and anything — for gifts — rewards!

And, put a plan into action “on that premise” Mister Miracle tackles the lethal puzzle before him and his friend. Meanwhile, on her rocking chair and sniffling into her hanky, Granny is weeping crocodile tears. “Poor Scott Free! How he must be suffering! It’s too bad he couldn’tlearn to see things Granny’s way!” Her attendant tells her, “don’t weep over that coward, Granny! You must need comfort…” Caressing the cheek of the servant, Granny says, “My soldier boys are so understanding! That’s why Granny trains soldier boys!” Her boy responds with a grin, “Granny helped me earn my pointed helmet!” Turning to the Overlord container delivered before her, she says, “Granny has earned her rewards too! She’s worked hard! Done all the right things! That’s why great Darkseid gave her this wonderful gift!” A present which promptly explodes before her. “My guards — struck down! Attacked –!! No! No!” Standing before her is Scott Free and Oberon.

Granny Goodness: Scott Free! Only a miracle could have gotten you out of the X-Pit!

Scott Free: Not a miracle, Granny! — A memory!! The memory of a gift you once received! A gift for your old age — A gift named Overlord! — the gift that creates and destroys!

Scott explains how he and Oberon escaped the X-Pit and Granny laments the destruction of her beloved Overlord. “Granny is hurt! Granny is ruined! Overlord is gone –” and while she claws her fingers near his face, Granny threatens, “You — you’ll pay dearly for this!” Replies Scott, “And that brings me to my parting words!!! Dry up and blow away, Granny Goodness!” Later, as he and his small friend fly off, Scott confesses, “Oberon — it took a lot of nerve to say that to a terror like Granny!” The assistant replies, “Fly faster, Scott! I’ve got an eerie feeling that she’s warming up for the second round!”

The next we hear of the gray-haired harpy, it’s when Big Barda visits Earth for the first time. After Oberon asks her why the denizens of Apokolips are so mean, she replies “Fool! We serve only Darkseid! — And Darkseid serves conflict! Aaaghh!! You’re making me repeat the phrases taught by Granny Goodness!” The dwarft responds, “Oh, I met that old horror!”

Later in that same adventure, when Barda and Scott meet again and admire one another, she remarks, “Yes, this is a far cry from our days as pupils of Granny Goodness!” Scott replies, “You should have gone with me — when I escaped from her institution, Barda!” Barda agrees, “Yes — Perhaps I should have… But I stayed! Stayed — to become… what I am!

During “Doctor Vundadar and His “Murder Machine,'” the little fake Prussian speaks to the ether, “Forgive the flaws in the things that serve me, Granny Goodness! They may fail you, but never your very own Virman Vundabar! My master machine is ready and waiting to carry out your dearest wish! Mister Miracle shall die!” While preparing for the Civil War cannon trick, Oberon and Scott discuss the escape artist’s background:

Oberon: What is it like — where you come from, Scott–? You said it was a sort of orphanage — run by this old harpy — Granny Goodness!!

Scott Free: You saw her, Oberon… I’m certain you found her quite impressive! Well, she’s in charge of one of many institutions where the young of Apokolips are raised and trained to develop their inherent powers!!

Oberon: I’ve seen some of those powers, too! It can shake a man to his bones!!

Scott Free: You’d find the orphanage a nightmarish place!! Barda and I were raised there! When I’d had enough, it was she who helped me escape! I suppose that’s what I’ve been doing ever since!!

After the rehearsal and Scott says he and Oberon have created a sensational act, he adds, “That’s unless Granny Goodness decides to pursue her traditional taste for vengeance!” Oberon asks, “You mean she might come back and dismantle us — or something–?” Scott answers, “–Or send someone! Perhaps an orphanage alumnus like capable Virman Vundabar!” A little bit later, Scott thinks, “If I remember correctly, Vundabar loves military precision and efficiency! In fact, he patterned his lifestyle along old Earth-Prussian lines!!! When Granny Goodness gave him his name, the fool took it seriously! He literally acts out the fantasies he built up around it!!”

Virman screams at his captive, Barda: “You traitress!!! Granny Goodness will deal with you!!” And, in a classic moment, when Klepp, Virman and a minion, all sporting wide-mouthed grins, believe Scott Free is dead when our hero is, in fact, standing behind the trio, also smiling from ear to ear, the minion says, “How Granny Goodness will beam when we return!!!”

Just before the attack of the Female Furies, Barda muses, “Apokolips always reclaims its own!! And the arm of ruling Darkseid is long! So far his hunters have been kept at bay!! Granny Goodness! — Virman Vundabar!! — I wonder who’s crawling out of the woodwork now!?”

During the opening of “The Apokolips Trap,” one of the transport attendants tells the Harassers, “Lick your chops, you land-rats! These new orphans for the Granny Goodness Finishing School are a shaking mass of gooseflesh. As the handlers beat the tar out of the young and fearful new arrivals, Granny shows up with her huge mastiffs and beckons to Hoogin, one of the “brutal, relentless, and efficient” Harassers. “I have a rough one here, Granny Goodness!!” says Hoogin. “He shows signs of becoming a trouble maker!!” Granny interrupts, “– Or a warrior!! Discipline will do the job!!! Lots of Granny’s discipline” Granny has a few words for the young “worm” who gave lip to Hoogin.

Granny: You must learn to understand and love Hoogin, young one! He’s teaching you how to treat the lowest form of life!

Hoogin: And that’s what you are!!! — worm!!

Granny: All my new boys have that status!! But with time and patience, Hoogin will help to raise you a few notches!! You’ll become a rat! Then a wolf! And who can tell? — You may get to be one of Granny’s fine young tigers! Won’t that be a glorious day!! All praise to Darkseid!! Boot him on his way, Hoogin!!!

Hoogin: You heard Granny, worm!! Follow your friends — and don’t stop!!!

Granny: Good work, Hoogin!! You’re like a big, firm brother to my little charges! Of course, this isn’t the job you once enjoyed!! But I had to break you in rank when Scott Free made his escape to Earth!!

Hoogin: I was the officer in charge of his unit! — I accepted the responsibility for his escape!!

Granny: For reasons of my own, I’ve been trying to recapture him, Hoogin! And I’ve got a hunch that Scott will volunteer — to come back!!

Hoogin: I can’t wait — Granny!

When Scott and Barda prepare their return to Apokolips, Oberon pleads, “Why must you leave!? Why!? You escaped from Apokolips once! Do you think that Granny Goodness and her creepy pets will let you do an encore??” After Oberon departs the room, Scott tells Barda to stay on Earth. “I still insist that you remain here, Barda!! I’m the dish that Granny hungers for!!” But Barda is firm, telling her friend, “No deal, Mister Miracle! We’ll go down that old shark’s mouth together!! — Then I’ll beat her to death from the inside!!

In Jack’s vivid description of Apokolips, he writes, “The new gods are power beings — But on Apokolips their power is maintained by lesser entities! And from these emerge interesting personalities!! Like Granny Goodness, Virman Vundabar, Doctor Bedlam!!” After their encounter Kanto the Assassin bid Scott Free adieu handing our hero a Mega-Rod, saying, “Use this on yourself and the female — now!! Death at Kanto’s hand may be cleaner than death fashioned by Granny Goodness!!

A little later, Scott knocks Hoogin on his butt and orders, “Tell Granny that I’m back!! Tell Granny I claim freedom — by right of combat!!” Hoogin fiddles with his wrist communicator and retorts, “You’ll get combat, all right!! But freedom never!! Hoogin to Granny! Answer — please!!” Granny’s face appears on the tiny video screen. “Make it short, Hoogin! Poor Granny is ailing — and taking her medicine!!” Hoogin says, “Set your trap, Granny! Scott Free is back — with Barda!!”

Next we are witness to a precious scene with Granny reclining with a libation, decked in Victorian sleeping garments (though underneath still wearing her steel and mail uniform!). “See that they’re not harmed!! Barda is to be returned to the female barracks! Scott Free goes to Section Zero!!” Hoogin answers, “Section Zero, eh? I suppose that’s the last I’ll see of him!! Signing off, Granny!!” Granny then speaks to herself, “Hmmff! Those who enter Section Zero — never do come out!! At any rate — who would recognize them — if they did!!!? No — they stay in that house of horrors!! They choose to!!! Granny’s been waiting for this day, Scott Free!! — The day you would march back here and flaunt your impudence!! Well, you forget, sir!! — A trap made by Granny — is a trap of the gods!!!

An introductory caption in “The Battle of the Id” reads:

Section Zero!! In the grim world of the Granny Goodness orphanage, these words alone conjure up the deep, underlying fear and secrecy that shroud a function of Granny’s operation which is never talked about! Those who vanish into Section Zero are never seen again!! But their cries are heard! — And what is done to their bodies — is hidden by seething gases!! — Unidentified vapor rising from deep pits — crossing spiny catwalks — assaulting the senses of Scott Free — Mister Miracle!

Dragging a tranquilized Mister Miracle to the “Psycho-Merge” table, one of the attendants orders, “This way! Quickly! Quickly! Granny Goodness is growing impatient! She is anxious to see this show!” The combatants strapped to the table, Granny, decked out in fancy, ceremonial regalia, bangs her scepter on the window of the viewing room. “You, in there!! Get on with it! My guests and I can’t spend eternity waiting for Scott Free to get his ‘lumps!’ Hahah!!” Turning to her guests, Virman and Kanto, she says with a flourish, “Our little psycho-drama’s only moments away, good friends! Section Zero never fails to provide us with an endless variety of entertainment!!” Virman replies, “One cannot help but envy the facilities at your beck and call, Granny!”

Granny: Clever mechanisms are scarcely adequate against clever enemies, dear boy! — As you must have learned from Scott Free!

Kanto: I heard about your unfortunate encounter, Virman!

Virman: I was dropped into a deep pit!! But Virman Vundabar, with proper tools, was out of there in record time, Granny!

Granny: Marvelous! Aren’t my boys marvelous! — And you, Kanto! — Are you too left undaunted by humiliation? Scott Free was at your mercy — yet, you too failed to kill him!

Kanto: I never fail, Granny! In his case — I merely decided not to succeed! I knew Scott was headed here! — To this!!

Granny: Bully for you! All right, you technical wonders in that room! Get this show on the road!!!

After the “Non-Being” guest (Tigra, mother of Orion and husband of Darkseid) is seated, the caption reads: “Ignoring her notorious prisoner, Granny Goodness champs at the bit!!”

Kanto: Your technicians seem ready, Granny! Whatever they’ve been doing appears to have been completed!

Granny: Fumble-fingered sloths! Deadheads! Lower the energy screen!!

During the action between The Lump and Mister Miracle: “Meantime, the watchers in Granny’s mini-theatre are involved in the scene!”

Kanto: Of course! If Mister Miracle can function in that strange realm — so can his antigrav gimmicks!

Granny: Do I detect a note of professional admiration, Kanto?

Kanto: Perhaps, madam! We are — what we are

Granny: You’re an assassin, Kanto! You kill on order! For reward!

Kanto: — For Darkseid, dear lady! Because I’m very good at my trade!

Granny: I dare say! If the fates decree it, I suppose your talents could be utilized against poor Granny herself!

Kanto takes Granny’s hand to his lips and, bowing, he says:

Kanto: It would fill me with infinite sadness, sweet Granny!! — Still, I should be discreetly silent, — respectful — thorough!

Granny: You charming swine!! On such a day, beware! The pupil shall face — his teacher!!

Later, when all looks lost for Scott Free in the hands of The Lump, Granny rises to leave her mini-theatre, telling her guests, “That’s enough! The show’s over! It always ends this way — on a happy note for Granny!” But the Female Furies break in and Barda confronts her old instructor. “And now for you, you grungy old harridan! Hand over Scott!” Granny retorts, “I should’ve known you’d break the rules again! — For him! Well — you’re too late this time, Barda! Scott Free is dead! Unlike yourself, he understood the rules laid down by Granny — and died an honorable death!! As for you, traitor –” Barda is livid and lunges at Granny, screaming, “Traitor? You dare call me a traitor? Why, I’m the purest, most superior product you ever turned out!” Holding Granny in her clenched fist, Barda promises, “When they find Scott [dead] — I’m going to kill you — Granny!”

Granny: Y-you’re – mad! Defy me — and – you – defy — Darkseid!

Barda: I’m doing it! With Scott dead — I’m going to destroy everything that killed him!!

Granny: Urrrghh–

Barda: Hag!! You taught me how to hate! But you couldn’t teach me whom to hate!!

In the nick of time, Granny is spared with the live appearance of Scott Free.

In the flashback story “Himon!” though the spirit of mean ol’ Granny permeates the tale, she makes no actual appearance. But she is mentioned a couple of times, First, when Himon caresses sweet Auralie: “Poor, brave Auralie! — Trying to survive with her inner beauty — in that grim house of horrors Granny Goodness calls an ‘orphanage!!'” Later, when Scott Free grows some hair, Barda is startled and remarks, “Wha-! Hair! You broke one of Granny’s rules for male troopers!”

Granny also appears in the flashback vignettes titled “Young Scott Free.” In the first, escorted by her two giant mastiffs, she walks in on an orphanage ritual: Young Scott Free is standing, rigid at attention, on the Punishment Block. Cadets greet her with cries of “Heads up to Darkseid!!” and “Hearts out to Granny Goodness!

Granny: What else, boys!? Tell Granny the rest!!

First cadet: The Punishment Block is the throne of truth!

Second cadet: Scott Free must be freed of lies!!

Third cadet: I’LL take your darling demon-dogs, Granny!

Granny: Be careful, dear boy! Their teeth have been newly filed!! Report, Scott!

Scott Free: I was derelict in duty and a traitor to the tradition! When I was given living specimens for my lesson in prisoner interrogation, I allowed them to overcome me and escape!!

Granny: Lies! Lies! The truth is — that you’re jelly-bellied, weak-kneed!! Spineless! Gutless — and generally soft! Those living specimens populate Apokolips to breed for Darkseid! [takes out her baton] To work for Darkseid! [strikes Scott in the belly] — To be killed for Darkseid!! [strikes Scott in the chest]

Scott Free: B-but they look like us! They’re weaponless!! They cry under torment!

Granny: And that’s the truth of it!! All of my words on this Chest Recorder have gone unabsorbed! Unabsorbed!!

Scott Free: No, Granny! Don’t take my Recorder! I love your voice!! It gives me comfort!!

Granny: [ripping the Chest Recorder off of Scott] You’ve denied me! You’ve rejected Granny!!

The next caption reads, “On Apokolips — to disobey a master indoctrinator is close to a capital crime!! But Granny chooses to be merciful!!” The future escape artist is marched away as Granny orders, “Run him through the gantlet three times!” And, after that severe beating, guards throw him in a cell, as a guard barks, “You’re in here until Granny says you’re out!!”

In the next vignette, set in “the iron institution run by Granny Goodness!!,” Granny appears on a video screen in the mess hall where Scott Free and his peers are about to eat. She says, “And now, by the numbers, Granny’s deadly little darlings will eat their ‘Energy-Blocks!!’ — Or I’ll ram it down your darling throats!!”

Granny Goodness only appears once outside of Mister Miracle in the initial Fourth World run, but it’s a vital role in The New Gods #7, “The Pact.” Granny presents the Master of the Holocaust with a bundle, Izaya’s part of the bargain:

Granny: Hail, great Darkseid! See what I hold!! See what so gently nudged through the dimension threshold — from New Genesis!!

Darkseid: Izaya’s whelp, eh? This will hurt him!! He’s surrendered his prize lamb — for a tiger!!

A young, sleeping boy is in Granny’s arms.

Granny: He’s been given some mild sedative, I think!! There is a serene and fragile quality to his features!!

Darkseid: We’ll stamp that out, won’t we, Granny!!? We’ll jam him into that clanking mechanism you call an orphanage!! All the rigors and trials heaped upon the training warrior shall be doubled for him!! His spirit will flag and his bones will ache!! — Until —

Granny: Until — sire??

Darkseid: He may conveniently decide to escape from Apokolips, Granny! Of course, on that day — the Pact I agreed to — will be broken!!

Granny: That fine day will be dear to your heart, sire! Therefore, in its honor, I shall name the lad — Scott Free!!! Ha ha hah –“

Interestingly, this is the only time we see Granny in the presence of Darkseid. And after Mister Miracle effectively becomes a non-Fourth World title for a spell, Granny makes a return in “Wild Wild Wedding Guests,” the last issue of Jack’s run. When Scott Free bests Virman Vundabar, he boasts, “You forget, Virman! I’m still the fastest moving target there is!” The a familiar voice interrupts. “– And you forget that you have more than one enemy on Apokolips!”

Scott Free: Granny Goodness!! You armored old war-wagon!

Granny: You’ll regret those unkind words. Granny will punish you for that!

Minions: Let us handle him, Granny!

Suddenly a gravitation pull is overwhelming our hero.

Scott Free: W-what’s happening? I’m growing heavy — heavy!

Granny: Stand back, my soldier boys. An invisible mass gravity beam has locked onto him! Granny has arranged a proper reception for her defiant enemy! You should’ve been more polite to Granny!

Scott Free: Blast you, you mean old hag! Why don’t you kill me and get this over with?

Granny: You shall die, dear boy — but only when Granny decides to give the order!

But Kanto intervenes and cuts off the gravity beam. “So — you’re turning into a chicken, are you?!” sneers Granny. “I agreed to help you trap him, Granny,” says Kanto. “But I didn’t promise to take part in torture!” Scott exclaims, “Kanto! — The master assassin!” Granny scoffs, “Kanto, the lily-livered, is more like it! Bah!

Kanto: Rewards will buy my loyalty, Granny — but my code of conduct is my own!

Granny: Blast your assassin’s code of honor, Kanto! Just remember that this prize belongs to Granny! [To Scott] Does that please you, dear boy?

Scott Free: It’s as pleasing as falling in a snake pit!

Virman Vundabar: Insolent swine! Let me finish him, Granny! Your own Virman shall still his tongue!

Granny: [to Virman] Shut up!

Virman: [wielding a pistol] No! No! This pig has escaped me once too often!

Granny: Put that thing down! Pompous little egotist! Granny give the orders here! You’ll do as I say!

Virman: Y-yes, Granny! Your authority remains unchallenged!

Kanto: Hah! I’m paid to obey that old monster, Virman — but you shake whenever she barks!

Virman: For all your boasting, Kanto — I’ve yet to see you defy her!

Granny: Silence, buffoons! We’ll dispose of the prisoner as I planned! He must join his friends on the “Bomb-Clock!

Scott Free is placed on the Magna-Wall with his comrades Barda, Shilo Norman and Oberon, and bidding the quartet off, Granny says, “Farewell, Scott Free! Your friends die with you! Hahahahahah! We’ve done it at last! Scott Free is finished!

Suddenly, chaos breaks loose among the evil-doers!!

Minion: Stop him! He attacks without mercy!

Granny: Who dares spoil this moment of triumph!?

A rampaging interloper attacks Granny’s beloved henchmen. Kanto observes, “Your soldier boys are going down like ten-pins, Granny!” Virman exclaims, “Their weapons are useless!” And Granny hollers, “Incredible! Such ferocity has no equal! — Even on Apokolips! There is only one who is driven by such violence! — Orion of New Genesis!

Orion: Stay where you are! — Or feel the wrath of Orion!

Doctor Bedlam: If you came to save Scott Free and his friends — you’re too late!

Virman: Think well before you attack us! — We represent the hierarchy of Apokolips!

Granny: Injure us — and draw the wrath of all Apokolips!

We then learn Granny and her cohorts were tricked into believing Scott and his friends were killed, that a wedding is to take place, and after Orion tells the villains that Darkseid will appear, Granny shakes her fist, berating Orion, “Fool! Lamebrain! We shall all suffer! Darkseid will punish us for failing — and you for succeeding!” Orion replies, “Maggots! You cringe at your master’s name!” Granny is near hysterics. “We are not your match! As you are total destruction — Darkseid is total power –! He can strike us down or toy with us at will! We cannot change his moods –!”

Granny is seen briefly in “Even Gods Must Die!” where she is reduced to a role as manager of the Female Furies, who themselves are subversive machine operators in the Apokolips of Darkseid’s new policy of universal automation. When a monitor device is destroyed by Stompa, Granny appears to lament its demise. “Poor, poor little monitor… Did big bad Stompa mistreat you? I — I can’t believe it! A monitor is a valuable little toy! He tells us all about those zany ones who fritter away their efficiency when Darkseid has need of it.” Stompa retorts, “Don’t call me ‘zany,’ Granny Goodness,.. or I’ll stomp your guts to bits! Until you look like cute little ‘monitor’ there!” The Furies are in all-out rebellion and Granny retreats, calling for guards. A brouhaha ensues and controllers press the discipline button, which zaps the Furies and Granny, as well. One controller says, “Too bad we’ve got to jolt that old warhorse Granny Goodness! Her military school made tigers out of babbling infants!” Another controller replies, “Well, she’s a lousy ‘Compu-Team Supervisor’! She’ll take her jolts with the rest!”

And this is the last we hear of the legendary Granny Goodness…

Day 91: Overlord!

Like a high-tech ticker-tape we see Overlord’s communication with its mistress when the “X-Pit” adventure begins. “–I–AM– OVERLORD — I–CREATE–I DESTROY — NOW — I — DESTROY–! — SCOTT–FREE–DIES! OVERLORD–IN–READINESS–TO KILL! CLOSING-ON-VICTIM — ADJUSTING–SIGHTS RANGE–OF–FIRE–UNLIMITED — OVERLORD AWAITS COMMAND!!! –” Overlord looks mighty big on page four of Mister Miracle #2 after tracking Scott Free as the super escape artist assembles a follower with assistant Oberon. Thank Highfather the bizarre robot-looking device mistakenly targets the Follower in place of the real Mister Miracle (after receiving orders to “Strike, Overlord! Obey!”) and that “stand-in” takes the brunt of a destructive ray shooting from Overlord’s forehead. Scott and Oberon survive the “Explosion! Shock! Flame!” and his Mother Box takes a beating in the attack, prompting Scott to pour out his love and belief to revive the beloved protective device.

We see that at the control of Overlord is a new Fourth World villain, Granny “to know her is to hate her” Goodness, who purrs sweet compliments to her underlings while meting out discipline on their pointed helmets with her truncheon. “Granny communicates with Overlord, boys! Granny must read his words.” Overlord appears on a vidi-screen before her and the read-out reports: “RESULT: NEGATIVE! — VICTIM – LIVES —” One of her boys eagerly asks, “Overlord couldn’t kill Scott Free, Granny! Will you punish Overlord?” Standing up, she begins to unbutton her housecoat. “No! Because Overlord has made up for his failure! He has special gifts.” One of her henchmen notes, “Overlord is Granny’s pet! She keeps him in a warm, safe vault!” Granny throws off her robe to reveal her steel and mail uniform, complete with baton weapon, barking, “Yes, and we talk by vidi-screen! He’s too precious to be exposed to the world!” Whacking the Darkseid out of her boys, she continues to praise Overlord, “He needs no discipline, like my pouting, jealous soldier boys! Overlord is also creative! He makes things for Granny Goodness!”

Granny then tells us about Overlord’s creation of the X-Pit trap and her hatred of Scott Free, ordering her soldiers to kidnap the Happiness Home escapee. Her boys snatch Oberon and the Mister Miracle-adorned Follower, and arriving to rescue his assistant, Scott and Oberon plunge into the X-Pit, where Granny believes the two are destroyed. Granny orders a small box delivered from the vault and it appears to be connected to Overlord, who can grant her wishes. “Granny has earned her rewards too! She’s worked hard! Done all the right things! That’s why great Darkseid gave her this wonderful gift! It reacts to Granny’s every wish!” Suddenly a gemstone suddenly appears from the ether. “I ask it to create a valuable jewel — and behold!” Suddenly the box explodes and before her appear Mister Miracle and his erstwhile companion. Scott reminds her of a gift she once received, “a gift for your old age — A gift named Overlord! — The gift that creates and destroys!

In alternating moods of despair and rage, Granny is beside herself. “You vicious, young savage!” she screams at Scott. “Look! See what you’ve done! Oh — my heart — I’ll kill you with my bare hands! How did you do this? How?” As is his habit, Scott then explains, “Once I knew that Overlord created the X-Pit, I knew the make-up of its structure! Every atom of the X-Pit was linked to Overlord himself!” and, after torturing the pair with one trap, the device would transform “its atoms into another form of torment!” In the flashback episode we see an exhausted Oberon imploring, “W-what next, Scott? What next?” Revealing his shoulder-holstered Mother Box, Scott exclaims, “Mother Box signals — radiation! And that makes her strong! Strong!” Then, jamming his shoulder into the X-Pit control studs, our hero orders, “Strike at the enemy, Mother Box!” Continuing his explanation before Granny, Scott relates, “I jammed Mother Box into the torment-circuits — felt he power race with vengeance toward their insidious source!” The visual becomes a screaming, agonized Overlord. “Somewhere, I could feel the power strike Overlord! Somewhere, I could hear his silent scream — somewhere, I felt him — die!

Distraught, Granny tells Scott, “You killed Overlord! You had him killed by a damnable Mother Box!” As Scott opens a smoking box on Granny’s table, she continues, “Granny is hurt! Granny is ruined! Overlord is gone –” Mister Miracle scoffs, “He was an evil fraud! — like you, Granny Goodness!” And, in a startling moment, we see the contents of the smoldering box: a teeny, tiny ashen shell of Overlord. “Little worms can look like sea serpents when cast on a vidi-screen!” Scott says, “This is Overlord! — shorn of power and life!”

It’s interesting to view the life and death of Overlord as a deadly competition with Mother Box — “her power race with vengeance” — revenge for being almost fried at the beginning of this story. Curious, too, how Overlord resembles an infant robot — giant head and all… this is Granny’s baby? Or is Overlord to grow…? A particularly creepy and effective villain, I say!

Day 90: Follower!

The Follower is an artificial humanoid used to mimic the precise movements of whoever is (apparently) in its proximity. In the beginning of Mister Miracle #2, when Scott Free and his assistant, Oberon, are being observed by Overlord, they are taking inside packages, containing Follower components, for Scott to assemble. Oberon notes that the “factory people came through on time!” indicating, I would assume, it was manufactured to Scott’s specifications. Dressed in a Mister Miracle costume, it looks to be made of metal and, if I interpret Scott’s statement correctly, is of Apokolips design: “My people refer to this kind of unit as a ‘Follower!‘ — a sort of test-figure!” As Scott finishes the assembly, Oberon responds, “Your people, whoever they are, play with strange toys!” Demonstrating the Follower — Scott swings his arm and the Follower copies him exactly — Mister Miracle tells his small friend, “A ‘Follower’ is not a toy! He is in truth — an extension of yourself! Like a mirror-image — he does exactly what you do! I need the ‘Follower’ in this experiment! We’re working with a volatile explosive!”

Scott jumps on a platform and the Follower does the same, and then they are both suited up in straitjackets. “By duplicating my movements, the follower will tell me how well I’m doing!” Oberon gingerly brings over the explosive just as the Overlord strikes! Luckily, the Follower, mistaken for the real Scott Free, takes the brunt of the attack and the super escape artist says over its broken figure, “The Follower seems beyond hope.”

But later, as Oberon is sweeping up the debris, the Follower suddenly rises. “Yipe! Preserve me! It’s that weird, crawly ‘Follower’ thing! I-it’s come to life — trying to rise –” And, yet again, Apokolips agents believe the Follower to be the real Scott Free and they seize it and Oberon to deliver to the matron of Happiness Home of lovely Apokolips, Granny Goodness herself. But the witch immediately recognizes the fakery. “What!” the harpy screams. “You mindless fools! What have you returned with!!?? Didn’t you notice the dead eyes? This is a ‘Follower!’ not Scott Free!” The last we see of this particular model, it is being thrown across the room by mean ol’ Granny.

But the another version of a Follower arises in the penultimate ish of The Forever People, in “The Scavengers,” when Mark Moonrider and Serifan create a model for the spectral form of Boston “Deadman” Brand to inhabit. The Director of an international heist group (that’s his name: the Director) called The Scavengers is watching a surveillance film secretly shot while the Super-Kids are inspecting their Follower, the spitting image of Deadman. Mark says, “The ‘Follower’ is almost ready, Serifan! It will make a fine vehicle for our friend!” The copy-cat cowboy concurs. As he demonstrates the Follower’s ability to copy movements, he tells Mark, “The ‘Follower’ works smoothly, indeed, Moonrider! He has strength and a good response! Using the body of the ‘Follower,’ our friend will be able to pursue his destined purpose on a physical plane!”

The Director henchmen named Operator Twenty-Four tells his boss: “This ‘Follower’ thing should be studied! These Wonder-Kids blabbed that it can be grown from anything organic! — And re-shaped atomically!” (Interesting shift here though maybe the New Genesis model is organically grown; the Apokolips version manufactured as machine.) The Director, who may or may not have been involved in Boston’s assassination, croaks, “Boston Brand is a ‘Deadman!’ Now — this ‘Follower’ is built — ‘to house a friend!’ Your next job is to steal that ‘Follower!’”

Deadman is grateful for Mark and Serifan’s efforts and looks forward to “possessing” the replica. “And in the body of the ‘Follower,'” Boston vows, “I’ll track [my killer] down! — And bring him to justice!” But, wouldn’tja know it, one of The Scavengers has broken into Trixie Magruder’s basement — in the house where the Forever People are staying — and has run off with the Follower (by having the artificial person copy his every move, so there must be a delay option on the mimicry, huh?) The silent, masked intruder notes, “There’s the ‘Follower’ — unguarded — and ripe for the taking! Uncanny! It’s like a zombie — with reflexes!!”

(Interesting that Jack describes the Follower at this point to be “cooperative and meek,” and on the next page, to quote Mark Moonrider, “The ‘Follower’ is active and strong!”)

The Follower is taken for inspection in the Scavengers’ hidden lair, where a brute wearing a steel glove attempts to “test his hide,” but when the thug throws a punch at the thing, the Follower hits him square in the jaw, knocking him cold. The Director’s henchmen then orders the faux Deadman to stop and says to his boss, “He reacts like a mirror-image! Only — with the power to floor an elephant!” The Director is paranoid about the Follower being made in the late Boston Brand’s image. “– I get the feeling that this thing is a — shell! — A shell — waiting for — ‘something’ to possess it!” And, on cue, the restless spirit of the former circus aerialist takes possession of the Follower and a donnybrook ensues. Deadman — or the Follower he inhabits, to be exact — is struck frozen by a “Frost Beam” while The Forever People deal with the Scavengers attack. After being defrosted by one of Serifan’s Cosmic Cartridges, Boston exclaims, “I-I feel nothing! I’m not the Follower! — Just its tenant! Fantastic! I’m a Deadman — moving an organic machine that looks like — myself!” Boston then swings into action — “This sure beats operating in spirit form!” — and uses his acrobatic skills to get the better of the remaining gang, only after being taking six bullets at point blank range. Seizing the gun from the culprit, Deadman is triumphant before the incredulous assailant: “Don’t look surprised, you rat! You can’t kill a Deadman! The Follower’s body has the self-sealing faculty to absorb and close these nasty bullet-holes!”

The adventure concluded, the resurrected hero turns to the team and says, “I want to thank you for this physical body! — With which I can get the job done!” Serifan then retrieves a capsule from his hat belt and hands it to Deadman, telling him, “And this will help you remain in it! — The Blue Cartridge! It’ll link your spirit atoms permanently with the Follower’s form!”

Thus a dead super-hero is given new life, now inhabiting a Follower, one created by the Super-Kids of New Genesis… Leave it to Kirby!